Last year, the division sent just one team to the playoffs – Orlando. The Magic went 8-2 in their final 10 games to end up 42-40, three games ahead of Charlotte and Miami. It could be more of the same this coming season. The Magic will not even enter the new season as the favorite to win. Here’s a look at the odds to win the NBA Southeast Division.
The Butler Did It The Heat check-in as a -140 favorite to win the division thanks to the arrival of one Jimmy Butler. Butler, who averaged 18.7 points in Philadelphia last year, will replace Miami leading scorer Josh Richardson (16.6 ppg) who is now a 76er. The Heat are hopeful that their youth will continue to develop. Bam Adebayo is a big-bodied (6-10, 255) athlete who scored 8.9 points per game and pulled down 7.3 rebounds. Justise Winslow scored at a 12.6 per game clip last year and averaged 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Miami has a total of nine Southeast Division titles, the most of any team. With Butler leading the way, the Heat are a safe bet at -140, but are they the best bet?
Wizards, Hornets Longshots Washington and Charlotte, according to nearly every online sportsbook, are longshots to win the Southeast. The Wizards do have a true star in All-Star guard Bradley Beal and another in John Wall if he is healthy. Last season, Beal averaged nearly 26 points per game, but Wall, who tore an Achilles tendon, is not expected to play at all in 2019-20. Without Wall, Beal cannot carry the load by himself. Rookie Rui Hachimura left the FIBA World Cup because of knee discomfort. Hopefully, that does not carry over into the season.
It’s a similar story in Charlotte, a +4500 longshot to win the Southeast. The Hornets now must replace their best player – Kemba Walker – with a player not quite as good – Terry Rozier. The Hornets’ roster lacks the kind of firepower needed to win a division.
Have to Believe We Are Magic It might have been magic that helped Orlando win last year’s division crown. It will take a little more magic this season. Orlando appears to be the only real contender for the Southeast title this season. The Magic are given +150 odds to win it all and the roster has the depth to do it.
Nikola Vucevic might have been the NBA’s biggest surprise last year. The seven-footer averaged 20.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Aaron Gordon (16.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Evan Fournier (15.1 ppg) are two young rising stars. Magic head coach Steve Clifford can go deep into his bench for quality minutes and remember, Orlando was one of the NBA’s better defensive teams. The Magic finished fifth in points allowed per game (106.6) last year.
Hawks Up With the Wizards priced out of the market, the really intriguing bet is the young Atlanta Hawks. The lineup of Trae Young (19.1 ppg, 8.1 apg), long-range shooter Kevin Heurter (9.7 ppg), and John Collins (19.5 ppg) will add rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. That youth, guided by veterans like 42-year-old Vince Carter, Evan Turner (30), and Chandler Parsons (30), might prove to be this year’s surprise team in the NBA and at +600 to win, the Hawks offer great value.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.