The Baseline With Laz Jackson: NBA Preview Edition (Eastern Conference – Southeast Division)

With the Atlantic and the Central divisions covered, there’s one more to go in the Eastern Conference. Orlando wins the Southeast division, but how the rest of the division shapes up depends on the health of two stars: Dwayne Wade and Gilbert Arenas. I’d bet more on the guy with Finals MVP on his resume, though.

Follow the jump for the full rundown.

Atlanta Hawks

Motto:”Remember? We took the NBA champs to seven games!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: SG/SF Josh Childress

Ceiling: 45-37, 6th Seed in the Eastern Conference, first-round exit.

Floor: 34-48, out of playoffs.

Lots of potential here. Good mix of veterans that aren’t that old (Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby) and young guys who don’t play like young guys (Marvin Williams, Al Hortford). What they (almost) did to Boston last year put the entire East on notice: These guys are coming… just probably not this year. When they learn to play better half-court D, though…


Charlotte Bobcats:

Motto:”We do more than just left turns in Charlotte!”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 40-42, out of playoffs.

Floor: 25-57, out of playoffs.

OK, so Larry Brown is coaching again. I give him 30 games until he pisses Jason Richardson off. J-Rich and Mr. I’m-so-Underrated-I’m-Overrated Gerald Wallace head this team. Then we have… a sometimes ineffective Emeka Okafor, I-Cried-When-RaTM-Broke-Up Adam Morrison, and the actively being shopped Raymond Felton. Good times down south.

Miami Heat

Motto:”Did anyone else see how D-Wade played in the Olympics? Hell yeah.”

Major Acquisition: PF Michael Beasley.

Major Loss: None.
Ceiling: 47-35, 6th in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

Floor: 30-52, out of playoffs.

Ok, so D-Wade, Shawn Marion, and Michael Beasley make a good core. There’s a HUGE X-factor in Shaun Livingston. And they have Super Mario Chalmers. The problems lie on the defensive end, where Zo ain’t coming back soon, and identity. Is this a running team? A half-court team? A Riley-team? Hope they figure it out in time.


Orlando Magic

Motto:”Dwight Howard is better than you. And that’s hopefully enough.”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 55-27, 3rd in the Eastern Conference, Eastern Conference Finals exit.
Floor: 48-34, 5th in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

The motto is very, very true, Hedo stepped up in the playoffs, and Rashard Lewis is always a threat. The issues lie with the backcourt guys: can Jameer Nelson play smart PG, and can rookie Courtney Lee or Keith Bogans be enough of a perimeter threat to keep teams from clogging up Howard’s post? And I’m trying not to forget, Lewis can have an effect on that perimeter game as well. Definitely a team to watch


Washington Wizards

Motto:”Agent Zero is our hero, but our Butler is best.”

Major Acquisition: None.

Major Loss: None.

Ceiling: 52-30, 5th seed in the Eastern Conference, second round exit.

Floor: 38-44, out of playoffs.

Yes, I know that ceiling is low, but listen. Arenas could get hurt again (Ask C-Webb how a bad knee can hamper a career). And while Caron Butler is my boy, I don’t think he can carry this team. He’s a Robin, not a Batman (But he’s a damn good Robin, make no mistake). And this team has no inside presence. Who’s going to rebound for you? Etan Thomas? Wrong Answer.