Sorry, Southeast Division. One division needs to take the dubious title of being the NBA’s worst, and that’s you guys.
None of the five Southeast squads are playoff locks in the inferior Eastern Conference for the 2019-20 season, and a few of them could finish far worse than .500.
Let’s preview these squads’ outlooks for 2019-20 and then decide on the best way to bet on the division.
Southeast Division Team Previews
Miami Heat (Best odds to win division: -125 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Heat are the Southeast favorites with the US online bookies, I guess? Miami’s big splash of the offseason was acquiring Jimmy Butler, who is probably now the best player in the division. He, along with point forward Justise Winslow and big man Bam Adebayo, will be the three biggest pieces of the rotation after the departures of Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside.
Miami’s defense will be pretty good, so the question will be whether the squad’s offense can push them from an average squad to one that can be a tough out in the playoffs.
The X-factors for the Heat this season will likely be the shooting and scoring from young wings Tyler Herro and Derrick Jones Jr., as well as veteran Dion Waiters.
- Record prediction: 44-38
Orlando Magic (Best odds: +200 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Magic took a key step forward last season, making their first playoff appearance since 2012. They rode an elite defense in the second half of the season to finish the year with 20 wins in their last 28 games, before bowing out to the Toronto Raptors in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
I wasn’t wild about the Magic’s offseason, though. Instead of addressing the issues at the guard spots and with shooting, the team basically stood pat. The squad acquired Al-Farouq Aminu and drafted Chuma Okeke, but the two combo forwards only contribute to the logjam of players in the frontcourt who are defensive-minded but aren’t great shooters.
In the NBA, if you aren’t making conscious moves to get better, there’s a decent chance you are getting worse. Now that the Magic are on the map as a respectable team, I think they’ll take an ever-so-slight step back this season.
- Record prediction: 40-42
Atlanta Hawks (Best odds: +700 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Hawks were supposed to challenge for the NBA’s worst record last year, but they were able to muster 29 wins. That’s not good, but it’s definitely better than it could have been. Atlanta ranked fifth-worst in both overall record and point differential.
This year, in a weaker East, the Hawks could make a strong push for a playoff spot. The rising star duo of Trae Young and John Collins is a year older and there are some decent solid role players. These are both young (DeAndre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish) and more experienced (Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Jabari Parker, Alex Len).
Still, the Hawks’ key players are too raw and the defensive is too porous for the team to be legitimately good.
- Record prediction: 35-47
Washington Wizards (Best odds: +1600 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Wizards are going to be a decent offensive team next season. Bradley Beal is a nice No. 1 option with his versatile scoring game, point guard Isaiah Thomas should bounce back in a bigger role and shooters like C.J. Miles and Davis Bertans will help both of them succeed. Thomas Bryant is a very efficient scoring center inside, and rookie Rui Hachimura will put in buckets.
But boy, is this roster bad on defense. The squad ranked 28th out of 30 teams last year in defensive efficiency, but this year could be even worse. Thomas might be the worst defender in the NBA, and the guys around him aren’t nearly good enough on that end to pick up his slack.
You do have to feel bad for Wizards fans, though. Going through a year without star point guard John Wall, who is making more than $38 million in 2019-20, is not going to be fun.
- Record prediction: 29-53
Charlotte Hornets (Best odds: +2500 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
Without All-Star Kemba Walker at point guard for the first time in nine seasons, this Hornets team now has the task of finding its next franchise leader.
Is that leader on the roster already? It’s highly unlikely. Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges and Malik Monk may beg to differ, but they just aren’t on that level.
Under head coach James Borrego, the Hornets will play hard every night. The lack of offensive talent will, however, be extremely obvious. I have absolutely no idea who will lead this team in scoring. Whoever does so will probably shoot very inefficiently because of being stretched out of their comfort zone.
- Record prediction: 21-61
Our NBA Southeast Division Betting Suggestions, Predictions & Picks Verdict
Honestly, this might be a good division to stay away from as far as betting. All of these squads have one side of the ball where they could really struggle: offense for the Heat, Magic and Hornets, and defense for the Hawks and Wizards. There is also a lot of young talent in this division that could either boom or bust, so we are looking at some potential volatility with that.
None of the odds majorly stick out to me as being particularly favorable. However, the Hawks, at +700 (7/1) with BetOnline or SportsBetting, would be my top recommendation. Atlanta has stockpiled young players with talent and athleticism. A lot of these players have very high ceilings and the squad could blossom earlier than expected and win the division with, say, 42 wins if things go well.
You could also hedge that long-shot bet with a more likely payout by also betting on the Heat’s odds, which aren’t too bad.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.