Tuesday, 13 October 2009

2009 NBA Offseason Reviews: Southeast Division

Heading into last season, everyone assumed it would be either the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers that would represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Nobody told the Orlando Magic, however, and they made a surprise playoff run all the way to a series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, they weren't content to simply stand pat, and they made a couple of moves to try to make their team better. The biggest was the acquisition of Vince Carter, who will replace Hedo Turkoglu (who left via free agency). Carter had a great year last year, and should be an improvement from Turkoglu when it comes to outside shooting, defense, and athleticism. The Magic also signed big man Brandon Bass from Dallas, who should add some athleticism and beef to a front line that was sometimes think behind Dwight Howard. The Magic are again the favorites in the division and one of the favorites in the Conference.

After the Miami Heat made the playoffs, there was a lot of buzz that they might get a guy like Lamar Odom or Carlos Boozer, who would help entice Dwyane Wade to stick around after next season. However, the biggest pickup for the Heat was Quentin Richardson, who is solid though not a game-changer. They will hope that the improvement of guys like Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley will take them to the next level.

The Atlanta Hawks have slowly become the fourth best team in the East, simply by letting their talent grow and get better. Once again, they didn't make any big moves... their biggest was signing Joe Smith to add some depth to the front line. They will just hope the continued improvement of guys like Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams will help them challenge the big boys in the Eastern Conference.

The Charlotte Bobcats are still looking for their first playoff berth in franchise history. They traded Emeka Okafor, who has long been a centerpiece for them, to the New Orleans Hornets for Tyson Chandler. This will improve their defense and athleticism up front, but they will have to to find ways to make up for the offense lost. They are also a very young team, and we have to figure that Larry Brown will get them at least close to a playoff spot. Optimism is high that they could finally get over the hump.

The Washington Wizards struggled with injury problems all of last season, and wound up 19-63. The biggest thing for them is getting back a [mostly] healthy Gilbert Arenas, who is the center of the franchise when healthy. They added Randy Foye and Mike Miller from the TImberwolves via trade (the #5 pick), and added Fabricio Oberto to help the front line. If Arenas is truly healthy, then the Wizards believe they can contend for playoff spot, possibly even in the top half of the bracket.