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NBA 2013-14 Preview: Southeast Division
By: Staff Writer - StatFox
Published: 10/2/2013  at  12:00:00 PM
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StatFox continues its run of previewing all six NBA divisions in the next six weeks before the regular season tips off on Oct. 29. Next up is the Southeast Division, which the Miami Heat won by a dominant 22 games last season.

Once the NBA season begins, check out NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks both Against the Spread and Over/Under Totals. StatFox Scott was 57% (130-99-5) in Totals last season (including 58% in playoffs) and 52.4% ATS (122-111-2) on his regular season Best Bets. StatFox Gary was 59.4% (19-13-1) on Totals in the postseason, while StatFox Dave was 53% ATS (10-9) Best Bets for the NBA Playoffs and StatFox Brian was 52.1% ATS (25-23) Best Bets in the postseason.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

ATLANTA HAWKS

2012-13 SU record: 46-42 SU (52.3%), T-14th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 39-47-2 ATS (45.3%), 23rd in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Southeast Division: 20-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 90-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 200-to-1

GUARDS
It was a rocky offseason for JEFF TEAGUE, who looked like a goner at one point. Instead, he’ll be the focal point of Atlanta’s offense . . . Coming off a torn ACL, resident gunner LOUIS WILLIAMS is a question mark entering the season, especially as a guy who relied so much on quickness and explosiveness. He may not be right again until 2014-15 . . . JOHN JENKINS was rock solid as a rookie and should see a bump in playing time with DeShawn Stevenson gone. Jenkins is a legit shooter who can hold his own defensively . . . Rookie DENNIS SCHRODER is a year or two away from consistent minutes, but the penniless man’s Rajon Rondo comparisons aren’t off . . . JARED CUNNINGHAM is a middling talent destined for a minor role.

FORWARDS
PAUL MILLSAP was lost in the shuffle in Utah last year, but he’ll be a significant part of this offense in Atlanta. He’s a well-rounded power forward and may prove to be a better fit than Josh Smith was for the Hawks . . . KYLE KORVER is coming off a huge year and will play major minutes at both wing spots again . . . A shadow of his former self, ELTON BRAND will rotate in at power forward and center . . . This generation’s junkyard dog, DEMARRE CARROLL gives Atlanta some defensive options on the wing and energy off the bench. Outside of some transition baskets, he’s a non-factor on offense . . . Euro veteran PERO ANTIC is a finesse stretch four who provides frontcourt depth.

CENTERS
After playing a lot of power forward alongside Zaza Pachulia last year, AL HORFORD will spend most of this season at center. With Josh Smith gone, he’s poised to have his biggest offensive numbers ever . . . GUSTAVO AYON has proven capable of eating up some space on the second unit. He’ll be the second big off the bench after Elton Brand.

StatFox Take: Atlanta has undergone a complete transformation over the last two years and now the team is in Jeff Teague’s hands. New head coach, Mike Budenholzer, will try to implement the style he learned under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. Newcomer Paul Millsap adds an element of toughness inside next to Al Horford that opposing teams will fear. Atlanta will compete for a lower playoff spot in the East.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

2012-13 SU record: 21-61 SU (25.6%), 29th in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 30-51-1 ATS (37.0%), Last in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Southeast Division: 500-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 350-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 650-to-1

GUARDS
KEMBA WALKER has become a more efficient scorer as well as a capable distributor. He’ll sacrifice some shots with Al Jefferson coming in, but he should have more space with which to operate. Down the line, he could mesh nicely with pick-and-pop four Cody Zeller . . . GERALD HENDERSON transformed from a raw athlete into an effective, efficient scorer in the second half of last season. He should be the No. 2 or 3 option this year . . . RAMON SESSIONS is locked in as a sixth man. He’s not a shooter, but his ability to get to the line makes him an effective second-unit scorer . . . BEN GORDON seems to be going through the motions at this point. His real value this season is his enormous expiring contract.

FORWARDS
MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST is going to be a quality NBA player for a long time, but he’s not close to being a major factor offensively. He’ll continue to defend and rebound effectively for a wing, but he’s a No. 4 or 5 option on the offensive end of the court . . . JOSH MCROBERTS proved good enough to be a rotational player on a bad team last year. He has a chance to start early on while the Bobcats bring some young guys along . . . CODY ZELLER struggled against length and athleticism in college, so it seems the ’Cats think he can be more of a stretch, pick-and-pop four. If he proves to be a shooter, he’s athletic enough and a good enough rebounder to be a solid NBA starter . . . JEFFERY TAYLOR is a forgettable second-unit player who can defend a couple of positions. ANTHONY TOLLIVER won’t see the floor much, but he can stretch the floor with his shooting ability.

CENTERS
We’ll see how the Bobcats mesh with AL JEFFERSON, the NBA’s worst defensive big man and a lane-clogging black hole on offense. He can score, and at (an incredible) $40 million-plus, Charlotte will run everything through him . . . BISMACK BIYOMBO will play some alongside Jefferson, as the Bobcats desperately need to cancel out Jefferson’s defense. But the young big man figures to be used more sparingly this year . . . BRENDAN HAYWOOD is still kicking around.

StatFox Take: The Bobcats have spent the last couple of seasons at the bottom of the NBA standings and while they may not be a playoff team quite yet, they are making improvements. Al Jefferson is one of the premier post scorers in the NBA and he, along with rookie Cody Zeller, actually give the Bobcats a balanced starting five. If their young guys make some steady progressions, they could be a playoff team soon.

MIAMI HEAT

2012-13 SU record: 82-23 SU (78.1%), 1st in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 58-47 ATS (55.2%), 7th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Southeast Division: 1-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 6-to-5
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 13-to-5

GUARDS
DWYANE WADE will continue to take a smaller role during the regular season, as the Heat try desperately to keep him fresh for the playoffs. He’s attacking the rim far less than he used to . . . MARIO CHALMERS will continue to start, playing off the ball more than any other point guard . . . RAY ALLEN will once again serve as sixth man, providing long-range shooting off the bench. He didn’t start a single game last year, and at age 38, he’ll rarely play full-time minutes as Miami looks toward the postseason . . . NORRIS COLE continues to inch up on Chalmers’ starting role, improving nicely between his first and second seasons. But as long as Chalmers is the superior shooter, Cole will play behind him.

FORWARDS
LEBRON JAMES is the best player in the league by a wide margin. There’s no reason he shouldn’t win his third straight MVP award . . . SHANE BATTIER is back as a glue guy, flopper and corner-three shooter. He’ll play part-time minutes, often coming off the bench . . . UDONIS HASLEM will likely start, but he rarely stays on the floor for even half of a game. The Heat will continue to rotate big men alongside Chris Bosh . . . MICHAEL BEASLEY provides this team with an athlete who can put the ball in the basket coming off the bench. He must prove he can stay focused and out of trouble . . . RASHARD LEWIS may step into a slightly bigger role now that Mike Miller is gone. His troublesome knees won’t allow him to play a lot of minutes, but he still shoots it well enough to help for a few minutes a night . . . JAMES JONES might have to do more than enjoy a courtside seat now that Miller is gone.

CENTERS
CHRIS BOSH plays center in the Heat’s small-ball lineup. He’ll do his thing in the high post, and he’s one of Miami’s rotating rim protectors . . . CHRIS ANDERSEN did enough last postseason to earn a part-time role this year . . . The Heat hope GREG ODEN and Birdman will stagger their injuries. Oden should be part of a rotation alongside Bosh . . . JOEL ANTHONY is a half-step above team mascot.

StatFox Take: Last year’s champs are the favorites to repeat this season as they only lost Mike Miller from their winning team. Michael Beasley adds bench scoring and Greg Oden, if he can stay healthy, will provide another element for the Heat who lack rim protectors. LeBron James is going to be right in the thick of things to win the MVP again and the Heat look destined for another NBA championship.

ORLANDO MAGIC

2012-13 SU record: 20-62 SU (24.4%), Last in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 36-45-1 ATS (44.4%), 24th in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Southeast Division: 500-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 350-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 650-to-1

GUARDS
JAMEER NELSON will be trade bait all year, as the Magic have no interest in picking up his option after the season . . . ARRON AFFLALO is also on the trade block, and has more on-the-court value than Nelson . . . The Magic will find starter’s minutes for rookie VICTOR OLADIPO somehow, at the expense of Afflalo, Nelson (if Oladipo proves capable of handling the point later this year) or both. He’s the future in this backcourt . . . E’TWAUN MOORE is back mostly because he’s a cheap option at back-up point guard. He’s still a fringe NBA player . . . RONNIE PRICE is lucky to have a roster spot anywhere after a brutal year in Portland . . . Second-year man DORON LAMB will have a chance to prove himself as a second-unit scorer.

FORWARDS
MAURICE HARKLESS has nice upside, and Orlando will find him more opportunities on offense. He reportedly added weight in an effort to be able to attack the rim more effectively . . . TOBIAS HARRIS is a disaster defensively, but after arriving in Orlando he showed the kind of versatile offensive skill set this team lacks. Expect him to win the starting job at the four . . . GLEN DAVIS will battle Harris for minutes, but as A 27-year-old, injury-prone player, he’s more likely to be phased out by the rebuilding Magic . . . JASON MAXIELL will provide some physicality at the four and five . . . ANDREW NICHOLSON is still a work-in-progress, but is showing flashes of becoming an effective stretch four.

CENTERS
NIKOLA VUCEVIC is a cornerstone in the Magic’s rebuilding project. He’s not terribly skilled or athletic, but he’s a high-energy rebounder who has the touch to get plenty of baskets cleaning up garbage . . . KYLE O’QUINN had some nice moments in meaningless games late last year. The second-year pro might be able to hang on for a few more seasons as a back-up center.

StatFox Take: The Magic are a long way away from where they want to be, but they are slowly making improvements. Victor Oladipo has the makings of a very good player in this league and they have a few nice pieces inside with Nikola Vucevic and combo forwards, Maurice Harkless and Tobias Harris. The Magic will be in the lottery again this year, but with a few more pieces in the draft and free agency, they could be a playoff team in the next couple of years.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

2012-13 SU record: 29-53 SU (35.4%), T-23rd in NBA
2012-13 ATS record: 46-35-1 ATS (56.8%), 3rd in NBA
Odds to Win 2013-14 Southeast Division: 15-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 Eastern Conference: 65-to-1
Odds to Win 2013-14 NBA Championship: 125-to-1

GUARDS
Late last year, JOHN WALL finally started to fulfill his promising talent. He got wherever he wanted on the court, and the Wizards were very tough to guard with all the shooters surrounding him . . . BRADLEY BEAL and Wall should mesh beautifully. Beal is a potentially elite shooter, and he rebounds very well for a guard . . . ERIC MAYNOR is fully healthy again after tearing his ACL two seasons ago. He can play some alongside Wall, but mostly he’ll be the league’s best back-up point guard again . . . GLEN RICE JR. doesn’t shoot it nearly as well as his father, but he’s an athlete who could break into the rotation down the line . . . GARRETT TEMPLE is insurance in case Wall or Maynor goes down.

FORWARDS
The Wizards need NENÊ’S low post offense. It seems inevitable that they’ll have to cap his minutes . . . OTTO PORTER is likely to step into the starting lineup early on. They need his defense, as he can guard twos through fours . . . MARTELL WEBSTER will platoon with Porter, providing another outstanding shooter for Wall to feed . . . TREVOR ARIZA is playing out the string on an untradeable deal . . . TREVOR BOOKER has some use as a screener and low-post banger, but not much else . . . AL HARRINGTON may be inefficient, but he can score points in a hurry and is a decent defender…JAN VESELY is still trying to figure out the NBA, though it’s too early to give up on his athleticism . . . CHRIS SINGLETON can defend, but he’s no more than a garbage-time player due to his atrocious offense.

CENTERS
EMEKA OKAFOR may be absurdly overpaid, but he’s settled in as a passable starter who helps defensively and doesn’t hurt on offense. He’ll also miss the beginning of the season with a herniated disc . . . With Okafor’s deal expiring at the end of the year, KEVIN SERAPHIN is auditioning to be Washington’s center of the future. After showing promise two seasons ago, he was a disaster last season.

StatFox Take: The Wizards ended up in the lottery yet again and were able to scoop up Otto Porter, who is a perfect fit at small forward. Washington now has a nice foundation and if John Wall can make a big leap, and all signs point to him doing so, this team is going to be very much in the chase for a playoff spot. The Wizards were insanely competitive last season, evidenced by the third-best ATS record (46-35-1, 57%) in the NBA, but this is the year they must start to win their close games and get back to at least .500.

All NBA Previews

ATLANTIC Division
CENTRAL Division
SOUTHEAST Division
NORTHWEST Division - Wed, Oct. 9
PACIFIC Division - Wed, Oct. 16
SOUTHWEST Division - Wed, Oct. 23
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