The Southeast may be the most top heavy in division in basketball. Actually, let me rephrase that. It is the most top heavy division in basketball. The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, both at 14-6 a quarter of the way through the year, have already separated themselves from third place Orlando by six games. Orlando finds themselves in no mans land, with a 9-13 record and just two games ahead of the once hot Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats, once sporting a solid 7-5 record and looking like an upstart team that was growing into it’s own, has since lost 10 straight, in which they have only scored 100 points twice(one of those being an overtime loss). The Bobcats haven’t won since an overtime win over the Wizards on November 24th. Ohh The Wizards, how can you forget about them. The Wizards are not only the basement dweller of the Southeast, but also find themselves at the bottom of the league with a 3-17 record. Their main excuse is that John Wall has not touched the floor yet this year, but this team keeps finding new ways to lose.
Miami Heat 14-6
-The defending champs have created alot of noise in the couple of weeks due to their lack of an inside presence on defense. They are currently 29th in the league in rebounding, and are also 19th in the league in defensive efficiency. The Heat looked flat out over matched in their loss to the Knicks last week, and seem like every game they need to either make a decision whether to guard the three or to guard inside. Make no mistake about it, this team is still a contender, and many peoples favorite. However now that December 15th is here, you have to think that the Heat would be searching for a big man to bang with some of the bigger bodies in the East, and even more important, in the West when looking at possible finals matchups. Here is a trade that could work.
-Marcin Gortat(2 Years/7.5 Million)
-Norris Cole(3 Years/1.08 Million)
-Joel Anthony(3 Years/3.75 Million)
-James Jones(2 Years/1.5 Million)
-Miami get the big guy down low they need, and they can keep him for next year too if they wish too on a pretty discounted price. Gortat has started to speak publicly how he doesn;t like playing for Alvin Gentry, and is going to be a coveted piece moving forward. Phoenix in turns get an excited player in Cole who could be alot better if he was given consistent minutes, a sturdy veteran in Joel(with a very tradeable contract that they could turn into something) and James Jones, a shooter who has fallen out of Miami’s rotation since Ray Allen arrived.
Atlanta Hawks 14-6
-The Hawks have quietly become of the best stories in the NBA, and while their ceiling may be he 3 or 4 seed in the East, it is certainly an improvement over what people had them at. The Hawks have been exceptionally well on the defensive side of the ball this year, and are currently fifth in the league in points allowed. Even more impressive, the Hawks have had this great start against the 12th toughest schedule in the NBA thus far. They, like the Heat however, get killed on the board. Horford is only one man, and isn’t a great rebounder anyway, and Josh Smith only rebounds when he wants too.The Hawks don’t need to make a trade here, they need to make another signing. A guy like Kenyon Martin, who will come in simply to play defense and rebound could help out the Hawks in a major way. If it seems as though they are willing to hold onto Josh Smith(their biggest trade piece this winter) until the end of the year, the FA market may be their best option to bolster that back line.
-I have said it before, the Magic need to bottom out. The Jameer Nelson signing never made any sense to me. Why sign a point guard past his prime who was never going to be a franchise player anyway to 3 years/ 8.5 a year deal? Had they convinced Nelson to take a little more money, and signed a one or two year deal, he is a much more attractive trade piece for contenders who may be looking for a point guard(cough, Lakers, cough). At this point however, it is very tough that anyone would take him on this year. J.J. Redick has cooled off a bit, as as Big Baby. While some of the younger guys have shown flashes(E’Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson), the current core in Orlando simply isn’t going to do much better than a 10th or 11th place in the East. I think a dump should be in order, getting rid of contracts including Redick, Turkoglu(if possible) and Big Baby to contenders, and ask for draft picks back to stock pile for the future.
Charlotte 7-15/Washington 3-17
-At this point, you could say the same thing for both of these teams and you wouldn’t know who I’m talking about:
-Neither has a proven go to scorer who can consistently take late shots with confidence
-Neither has a big man who can play on both sides of the ball with efficiency
-Both have young guys on 1,2 or 3 year contracts that give the teams alot of flexibility, but at the same could see themselves right back here in three years if no one improves.
-Their first round picks(Beal and MKD) have had some really great moments, and some really bad moments.
-While Charlotte showed hope at the beginning of the year, it’s become obvious that Kemba Walker is going to have to score 30 a game to make this team consistently better, and that isn’t happenning. The Wizards meanwhile, are proving more and more to their franchise player that he should jump ship in two years when his contract expires. For these two teams, trades don’t make much sense, as they really don’t have anyone that is super attractive to a contender. Okafor may get some buzz, and Nene as well, but both have contracts that no contender who even dream of taking on. These teams need to hope they can get a solid enough draft pick to continue building through prospects.
Interesting Southeast games coming up in the next week:
12/18 Atlanta @ Washington
12/18 Minnesota @ Miami
12/19 Washington @ Orlando
12/19 Oklahoma City @ Atlanta
12/20 Miami @ Dallas
12/21 Atlanta @ Philadelphia
Until Next time, here is your amazing NBA YouTube Clip!