Friday, November 02, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview: Southeast Division

Note: My plan was to do a fairly lengthy write-up on each team, as I have done for the teams of the Atlantic and Central divisions.  Unfortunately, I'm out of time.  Instead, I'm just going to do a quick wrap-up of each division.

Wins Produced Order of Finish
1. Miami 65-17
2. Atlanta 52-30
3. Washington 43-39
4. Orlando 30-52
5. Charlotte 18-64

Spoiler alert: Miami is going to repeat as champions (as long as LeBron stays healthy).  Atlanta will surprise some by achieving the exact same results they have the past four seasons or so in an entirely different matter. Instead of the iso-heavy attack of the Joe Johnson years, Danny Ferry has constructed a team of sharpshooters (Kyle Korver, rookie John Jenkins, Lou Williams) surrounding Al Horford.  And I'm in the camp that says Josh Smith has a monster contract year.  Washington will probably fall short with John Wall and Nene already out.  The lineup they threw out opening night in Cleveland did not look like a contender for the NCAA tourney, let alone the NBA playoffs.  Orlando continues to do it wrong, as the train wreck return they received for Dwight Howard still leaves them with too much talent to truly bottom out.  Charlotte will be better than last year's historically awful team, but they will still be the worst team in the league.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looks like he's going to prove me wrong and put together a solid rookie season, but there's only so much one man (child?) can do.

Wins Produced All-Southeast Team
PG Jeff Teague, Atlanta
SG Dwyane Wade, Miami
SF LeBron James, Miami
PF Josh Smith, Atlanta
C Al Horford, Atlanta

Eye-Bal Test All-Southeast Team
PG John Wall, Washington
SG Wade, Miami
SF James, Miami
PF Smith, Atlanta
C Horford, Atlanta

John Wall is still somewhat of an enigma, but--when healthy--he should be the class of this division.  His playmaking still leaves a little to desire, but his defense really picked up at the end of last season.  Teague has a chance to step up into a bigger role now that Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams are gone from Atlanta, and he should build on a promising first season as a starter.  Wade, James, Smith, and Horford are perhaps the most slam dunk choices at their positions in the league.

Wins Produced Anti-Southeast Team
PG A.J. Price, Washington
SG Matt Carroll, Charlotte
SF Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte
PF Glen Davis, Orlando
C Byron Mullens, Charlotte

Between Norris Cole, Corey Higgins, and Byron Mullins, the Southeast is home to the three worst players in the league by Wins Produced.  Fortunately for Cole and Higgins, I am discounting rookies (as well as 2nd-year players).  Higgins, in particular, was horrible, somehow accumulating -2.3 WP in only 423 minutes.  But I digress.  Mullens, despite decent point totals, was awful, especially at making baskets.  Despite his seven feet of height, the former B.J. shot only 47.3% True Shooting (the average center is over 51%).  Thomas was atrocious at nearly every facet of the game last season, and he is at the point in his career where his lack of production has begun to outweigh his potential.  Big Baby is somehow both undersized and overweight and can't shoot, but at least he shoots a lot.  Trading Brandon Bass for him would be bad enough, but when you add the four-year, $25.6 million contract the Magic gave Davis, it is little wonder this organization completely fumbled the Howard trade.  Matt Carroll turned one season of hot shooting into a contract that has allowed him to stay in the league seemingly forever despite never approaching that shooting performance again.  It seems fitting that both Caroll's and Desagana Diop's contracts expire the same year.  Price really isn't that bad, but with Norris Cole being ineligible, Price is the point guard by default.      

Wins Produced Southeast MVP: LeBron James, Miami
Canaan's Southeast MVP: LeBron James, Miami
Give me King James by a hair over J.J. Reddick.

Wins Produced Southeast LVP: Byron Mullens, Charlotte
Shockingly, Mullins shot a better percentage on threes than Matt Carroll (23.5% to 18.6%) and finished 6th on the team in three point attempts (51).  It is little wonder the Bobcats were ungodly at basketball last season.

Southeast DPOY: Josh Smith, Atlanta
You could argue LeBron here, and I couldn't argue, but 3.1 combined blocks and steals, nearly 10 rebounds a game, and athleticism and length that makes Smith nearly as versatile as James on the defensive end is pretty damn impressive.

Southeast Matador of the Year: Ben Gordon, Charlotte
I'm not sure I've ever even seen Gordon pass half-court when his team didn't have the ball, let alone actually try to check an opposing player.

Wins Produced Southeast ROY: Bradley Beal, Washington
Canaan's Southeast ROY: Beal, Washington
Beal has a sweet stroke, and once John Wall and Nene get back on the floor, he should find himself open more often than not.  Beal also can distribute, and he is a pretty good rebounder for a guard.  If Charlotte makes any sort of push towards respectability, MKG may make some noise in this category, as well.

Wins Produced Southeast Rookie Bust: Jeff Taylor, Charlotte
It's hard to call a 2nd round pick a bust, but Taylor was projected as a first rounder heading into the draft, and he should see first rounder minutes on the Bobcats.  Honestly, there aren't really any sure-fire stinkbomb rookies in this division.  Great job, GMs!

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