2021 NBA Southeast Division Preview
Another division in our NBA Previews brings us to the Southeast Division. This one had some surprises last season. Let’s take a look at the entire division and what we can expect. This year, I’ll also be doing the NBA bets for Team BTB, so if you want to get all of the future plays and the individual games, click Buy Packages above.
5th in conference, 1st in division, 41-31
You might be surprised about this, but Trae Young had a pretty average season overall, but he only hit 136 three-pointers last season. That was the lowest total of his young career. The rest of the supporting cast for the Hawks each has one or two special skills, but none of these guys will win a championship without a superstar on their team, Young is not a superstar yet (I doubt he ever will be). I just keep thinking about how much better the Hawks would be if they kept Luka Doncic. Doncic on this team could compete for at least the Eastern Conference. Anyway, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela are good, complementary pieces. Collins is a hustle and effort guy. If he can take a big step offensively, he could make a big difference on the team. If De’Andre Hunter is healthy, he could also be difference-maker. As far as futures go, there are just too many question marks for me to be sure of anything with them.
6th in conference, 2nd in division, 40-32
I think it was clear the Miami Heat were not ready for last season. Most of it felt like they were going through the motions. Jimmy Butler now has some new running mates in Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, and at some point, Victor Oladipo. Lowry should be a bit more reinvigorated after coming from Toronto. The biggest difference that I think people are underestimating is just how good Miami should be defensively. Lowry is a skilled defender, Tucker can guard positions 1-4, Bam is a good rim protector, and Butler can lock down almost any player on the court. The struggle for the Heat will still be offensive. Bulter is far too passive in many games, and the Heat cannot just rely on Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro to score for them. I don’t see them being in second for the division this year.
8th in conference, 3rd in division, 34-38
I can only tell you this… Bradley Beal will not lead the NBA in scoring this year. Not if Kyle Kuzma has anything to say about it. Kuzma is going to look to re-establish himself as a scorer on a team with significantly lower expectations than with the Lakers. Beal will still be the leading scorer this year for the Wizards, and hopefully, he makes an All-Star team like he deserves. Just expect most of the Wizards games to have a 230 opening for their total, because defensively, there is very little hope for them. It is hard to see them winning fewer games than last year with 10 more games to play, but I don’t think their team is better than last year either.
4th in division, 33-39
The Hornets kind of overachieved last year. LaMelo Ball stole the Rookie of the Year honors after putting together a nice, but shortened season due to injury. I think the big difference in voting was that they made it to the play-in game. That’s all behind us though. The Hornets didn’t make any changes outside of that. They did add James Bouknight through the draft and he could potentially be some nice scoring off the bench. This team will largely look the same as last year though. Can Gordon Hayward stay healthy for a full season? Do Terry Rozier and Ball establish strong chemistry? Maybe they take third in the division, but there is no chance that they do any better than that. They are still a few players away from being ready for a firm playoff spot.
5th in division, 21-51
There is no magic on this team. Jalen Suggs was a good college player, and maybe he will be a great NBA player, but to me I feel like he is closer to a role player than a superstar. Best case scenario to me, he ends up like Marcus Smart, a strong defender with good passing skills that doesn’t hurt you on offense. They have some other decent guys, but nothing to get excited about. 22.5 is their win total and it will be a sweat getting the under, but it probably hits.