The Southeast Division has been controlled by a variety of different teams. The Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards have all won the division since 2010, with all of them advancing multiple rounds in the postseason in that span.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, the Wizards are the favorite to win their second straight division title. They have easily the best player in the division (point guard John Wall) and a solid group of players around him.
But how do the odds at MyBookie see the division playing out? We’ll predict how each team will fare during the year, then take that data to advise the wisest pick as our bet for the 2017-18 division.
Washington Wizards (-150 at MyBookie)
Washington’s strength as a team lies in its dependable starting lineup that is one of the best in the league. Unfortunately, starting power forward Markieff Morris is out for six to eight weeks with a sports hernia, taking him out for the first few weeks of the regular season. However, Washington is strong enough to withstand his loss.
John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter is an elite point guard-shooting guard-small forward trio in a game that is favoring perimeter players more and more. Wall scores and facilitates, Beal scores on and off the ball and Porter knocks down catch-and-shoot trees while playing strong defense.
Washington’s below-average bench is a concern if any more starters besides Morris get injured. But assuming reasonable injury luck, the Wizards are rightly the heavy favorites with the USA sports betting sites to win the Southeast.
- Projected record: 51-31 (49-33 in 2016-17)
Miami Heat (+200 at MyBookie)
Miami started the 2016-17 season terribly, then majorly turned it on to end the season. It’s hard to know exactly where the team stands in 2017-18, but the Heat should be at least average with the chemistry they built throughout the year.
The Heat may also have locked themselves into being an average to above-average team for the next few years with their offseason moves this summer. Miami has a lot of cap space locked into several average to very good players, but no major stars.
For the foreseeable future, a core of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Johnson will have to lead the team. That’s fine, but is it good enough to be a legitimate contender, even in the weaker East? Probably not.
- Projected record: 44-38 (41-41 in 2016-17)
Charlotte Hornets (+250 at MyBookie)
The Hornets made one of the most underrated moves of the offseason in acquiring Dwight Howard from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for very little. Unfortunately, the veteran big man probably can’t play much next to Charlotte’s rising young big man (Cody Zeller), which does put a bit of a damper on the move. Both guys don’t shoot outside the paint.
Even so, Howard will help the Hornets tremendously on the boards. If he accepts a somewhat smaller role on offense, he could also be a big help there as a pick-and-roll finisher. Like the Heat, though, the Hornets are also a team that could use some more star power. Kemba Walker is great, but is he good enough to lead his team to a division title without a true second star?
The Hornets were better than their record indicated last season, though, because they won lots of blowouts and lost lots of close games. Expect some better luck this season.
- Projected record: 42-40 (36-46 in 2016-17)
Orlando Magic (+1800 at MyBookie)
The Magic are in need of some fresh prospects and could probably use a good tank job this season. However, they still have too many quality players to avoid being completely bad.
Guys like Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton will keep this team competitive on most nights. However, this still seems like a team without a clear direction or core of young players that it is trying to build around.
To that end, there’s a chance that Orlando holds a fire sale at the trade deadline to ship some of its better players away for young prospects and draft picks. Either way, there’s almost no chance the Magic pull out a division win. It’s been six years since they’ve won more than 35 games.
- Projected record: 31-51 (29-53 in 2016-17)
Atlanta Hawks (+2300 at MyBookie)
The Hawks are strong candidate to have the worst record in the league, despite entering the season with 10 consecutive playoff seasons. Atlanta lost the heart of its team from a year ago, including Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Thabo Sefolosha. The Hawks didn’t bring in any starting level players, with the exception of perhaps center Dewayne Dedmon.
Point guard Dennis Schroder is far and away the No. 1 offensive option, which is not a good sign. The young floor general is a solid player, but not that good.
Expect Atlanta to play its youngsters more and more as the season wears on. That will indicate the team’s plans to aim for a high draft pick in 2018.
- Projected record: 21-61 (43-39 in 2016-17)
Our Preview’s Southeast Division Betting Predictions and Picks
In the estimation of this preview, MyBookie isn’t very high on the Wizards. Washington has the star power, balance and consistency that none of the rest of these teams possess. Therefore, putting money on the Wizards (-150 at MyBookie) is your best bet and our pick.
Washington’s depth is a concern, but a team’s starting lineup is still much more important than its bench, obviously. Also, the Southeast Division isn’t very strong. It would take a poor season from the Wizards and a very good season from another squad (probably the Heat or Hornets) for a different outcome from last year. So we feel fairly confident with our NBA betting prediction.