Hi Bucks’ fans! As we head east following our analysis of the Western Conference and how they stack up relative to the Bucks, it is time to move to the more competitive conference in the NBA, the Eastern Conference. With the Bucks, Celtics, Nets, Raptors, 76ers, Heat, Cavaliers and Hawks, and possibly Bulls and Hornets, this conference is starting to look much stronger. Starting in the Southeast, where I don’t think the Bucks face any “real” threats, the division is nonetheless pretty good and has some teams to keep an eye on heading into the season.
2021-22 Odds: 25,000 to 1
2021-22 Standings: 22-60
I think I nailed it when I said “Orlando has the worst chance of any team to overtake the Bucks,” and then they wound up with the number one pick in the draft in Paolo Banchero. While I did make the Thunder worse, that still was pretty much peanut better, meet jelly. Like Keldon Johnson this year, I stated Jalen Suggs would need to become the next LeBron James if the Magic wanted to have a chance, and I stated that everybody needed to grow up fast and become really good. And then, they would need to package those players for a blockbuster to get a player such as Bradley Beal. Wow.
Safe to say, that didn’t happen. We did see some nice improvement from the likes of Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., and Mo Bamba, as well as a Rookie of the Year attempt from Franz Wagner, but ultimately these guys didn’t do it. With year two of head coach Jamahl Mosely, as well as number one selection Paolo Banchero, the Magic look to take a step forward with their development. They also will be getting solid contributors back in Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz, as they barely played or didn’t play last season.
Do the Magic have any real chance? No. But they have some nice pieces, and if Banchero is the real deal, they will be on an upward trajectory no doubt. Just not this season.
2022-23 Odds: 1,000 to 1
2021-22 Standings: 35-47
2021-22 Odds: 500 to 1
The Wizards had a weird season in 2022, and they didn’t miss out on the play-in by much. They had almost as many players suit up for them as they did wins, and frankly that usually means you have around 20 wins, so kudos to Washington. Instead of diving through that mess of Covid and injuries and trades, I’m going to move on to what they will look like in 2022-23.
The Wizards have made two big moves in the past eight months or so, starting with acquiring Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and others, and then acquiring point guard Monte Morris and wing Will Barton for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. That does two things for the Wizards: it gives them their point guard, and gives them a second (almost) star to place next to Bradley Beal. They also brought in a backup point guard in Delon Wright, signed Taj Gibson for some reason, and drafted former Badger Johnny Davis. Placing him in a young group with Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura and more might finally be starting to catch up to the Wizards in a good way, since the depth is now there.
I think the Wizards have a real chance at making the postseason, but they are clearly worse than the Bucks. If one of those young guys becomes at least at Kyle Kuzma level and the rest play well, Will Barton has a good Will Barton season, Monte Morris continues to impress, Kuzma keeps playing well and Porzingis finally settles in, then the Wizards have a chance to do what the Cavs did last year. They are my dark horse this season.
2022-23 Odds: 50 to 1
2021-22 Standings: 43-39
2021-22 Odds: 50 to 1
I am starting to think more about it, and I’m not as crazy on Charlotte as I was last season. First of all, Miles Bridges is now gone after getting arrested. Montrezl Harrell was acquired for essentially no reason. James Bouknight had a rough rookie season. Gordon Hayward keeps getting injured. Steve Clifford is the head coach again. And this team’s depth is a big injury away from being a major concern.
So why do I have them ahead of the Wizards? The biggest, and frankly only reason, is because they have a lot of continuity from last season. They return 12 players from last season, and the only additions have been rookies. They still need to sign a backup point guard (Rozier doesn’t count unless he doesn’t start, since he can’t be a backup if he’s a starter), because LaMelo Ball shouldn’t have to play 40 minutes a night. Charlotte has proven that they can win, and even without Miles Bridges, I think this team is going to be around the same place as last season because of their continuity. It’s much more important the people realize.
2022-23 Odds: 40 to 1
2021-22 Standings: 53-29
2021-22 Odds: 10 to 1
Last year, I was very wrong about the Miami Heat. They returned to the Conference Finals, and they basically did everything they needed to to have a chance to be relevant. Kyle Lowry stepped up, Tyler Herro did a lot more than just score, and players like Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin came out of nowhere to have some solid seasons. How is it that the Heat keep finding these guys like them and Duncan Robinson, and the Bucks wind up with the Jordan Nwora’s and Rashad Vaughn’s? Anyways, I must be a hater because I just don’t think the Heat are going to be special this season.
This season, the Heat were too cap-strung to do much of anything in the offseason, and they let PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris walk, to decimate their depth at the forward. I frankly don’t even know who they are going to start at forward alongside Jimmy Butler, and since Herro doesn’t start, aside from Lowry, Jimmy and Bam Adebayo, who else will they start? Max Strus and Caleb Martin? If that’s true, what has this league come to that a good team starts those players? The Heat really don’t have a lot of apparent depth again, unless players like Haywood Highsmith and Omer Yurtseven step up. Victor Oladipo is also on the roster, but he is really struggling to stay on the court. And, Udonis Haslem is taking up a roster spot that could go to someone else who may actually play.
These reasons are why I’m not as high on the Heat as I am on the Hawks, again, and frankly it just doesn’t look like this roster is built to repeat what they did last season. Butler and Lowry are both over 33, and the rest of this roster just doesn’t scare me. They’ll find a way to stay competitive, and possibly even win the East again, but I won’t believe it until I see it.
2022-23 Odds: 5 to 1
2021-22 Standings: 43-39
2021-22 Odds: 3 to 1
I said the Hawks don’t need to do much to get better than last season, and they wound up being worse. I think injuries and possibly just basic regression brought this team down, and frankly I don’t think they are as bad as their record showed. They flat out lost to the Heat in a playoff series last year, but I think their youth, skill level, and impressive addition of Dejounte Murray will help this team improve.
Adding an All-Star to pair with Trae Young in the backcourt while simultaneously keeping John Collins is huge for Atlanta. The duo of Onyeka Okongwu and Clint Capela in the middle is not a weakness either, and the Hawks also have wing depth with Bogdan Bogdanovic, DeAndre Hunter, Justin Holiday and more. They also have some intriguing young players led by rookie AJ Griffin to possibly make this team even better than they look on paper.
I did think about dropping the Hawks below the Heat. However, this team just strikes me as being much better than Miami, since they have more obvious talent, just as many All-Star caliber players, and a roster that has recently played deep in the playoffs. I just don’t trust them as much as I would Miami, since Miami just seems to have more “magic.” That’s why I have them even, talent vs. intangibles.
2022-23 Odds: 5 to 1
There you have it, the Southeast Division. Who do you think is better, Miami, Atlanta or someone else? More importantly, who is more frightening for the Bucks? Atlanta has the better team, but Miami has that it factor. Vote below and comment in the comment section.
Who Is the Best Team in the Division?
This poll is closed
How Could You Not Say Orlando?