The NBA’s Southeast division is expected to feature a clear top two between the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are the defending division champs, but the Heat are slight favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook to win the crown this season. They won the division in 2019-20 and made one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason.
Can the Heat take back the Southeast title? Let’s dive in on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Championship Odds: +2500
Eastern Conference Odds: +900
Division Odds: -125
Win Total Over/Under: 48.5
MVP Contender: Jimmy Butler (+5500)
Coach of the Year Contender: Erik Spoelstra (+950)
6th Man of the Year Contender: Tyler Herro (+1400)
Defensive Player of the Year Contender: Bam Adebayo (+1400)
The Heat are coming off a subpar year, but they were hit extremely hard by injuries. Jimmy Butler was limited to just 52 games, and he is clearly their most important player. The Heat increased their Net Rating by +10.6 points per 100 possessions with Butler on the court last season, so just getting some additional minutes from him should automatically improve the team.
The team should also have better talent around Butler this season. They acquired Victor Oladipo last season, and while he was limited to just four games, he’s a potential All-Star caliber player when healthy. Kyle Lowry was also brought in as a free agent, and he should give the team some better production at point guard.
Bam Adebayo also returns, and he’s one of the most complete centers in the league. He’s outstanding defensively, and he’s capable of doing a bit of everything on offense. He averaged 5.4 assists per game last season, which was one of the top marks in the league among centers.
The rest of this roster is also solid. Tyler Herro took a step back as a sophomore after dominating the playoffs as a rookie, but he’s one of the favorites for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Duncan Robinson is also one of the best floor spacers in the league thanks to his elite 3-point proficiency. Veterans like P.J. Tucker, Andre Iguodala and Markieff Morris round out the rotation, so there is plenty of talent for Erik Spoelstra to choose from. He’s one of the best coaches in the league, so expect him to put this roster in a position for success.
Championship Odds: +3500
Eastern Conference Odds: +1500
Division Odds: +135
Win Total Over/Under: 46.5
MVP Contender: Trae Young (+2000)
Most Improved Player Contenders: John Collins (+4000), Bogdan Bogdanovic (+6000)
Coach of the Year Contender: Nate McMillan (+1500)
6th Man of the Year Contender: Kevin Huerter (+1300)
The Hawks started the year in a major funk, but things changed after making the switch to Nate McMillan at head coach. He led them to a 27-11 record to close out the regular season, and they made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals in the postseason. They managed to beat the 76ers in the playoffs despite being significant underdogs, so excitement is high for the Hawks this season.
The Hawks are built around Trae Young, who finished with 25.3 points and 9.4 assists per game last season. He was even better in the playoffs, and he proved he is not afraid of the moment.
The next step in his progression is to become a more efficient scorer. He has deep range with his jump shot, but that can sometimes lead to bad shots. He made just 34.3% of his 3-point attempts during the regular season, and that number dipped to 31.3% during the playoffs. If he can improve in that department moving forward — which is reasonable for a 23-year-old — he could join the truly elite guards like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard.
The rest of the Hawks' core is basically unchanged. John Collins signed a massive extension to stay with the team in the offseason, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari are still under contract.
De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are also still on their rookie deals, and both players have shown flashes at times. Hunter was instrumental in shutting down Julius Randle during the postseason while Reddish carried the Hawks’ offense in the final game of their series vs. the Bucks. If those players can stay healthy and build off their success from last year, the Hawks could be improved next season.
Championship Odds: +18000
Eastern Conference Odds: +8000
Division Odds: +1500
Win Total Over/Under: 38.5
Rookie of the Year Contender: James Bouknight (+2800)
Most Improved Player Contender: LaMelo Ball (+4000), Terry Rozier (+6500)
6th Man of the Year Contender: Miles Bridges (+2800)
The Hornets are smack dab in the middle of this division. They’re not really good enough to contend with the Heat and Hawks for supremacy, but they’re clearly better than the bottom two squads.
LaMelo Ball won Rookie of the Year last season, and a lot more will be asked of him as a sophomore. He started just 31 games and averaged less than 29 minutes per game last year, but he still averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds. He’s a special passer, and while his jump shot is still a work in progress, it’s lightyears better than his brother’s was at a similar point in his career. There’s no doubt this kid can play.
There’s also some young talent for Ball to work with. James Bouknight was selected with the No. 11 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but many analysts thought he would go much higher. He’s fared well in the preseason, averaging 15.75 points per game in just 23.8 minutes.
PJ Washington is entering his third season, and he should get to play more minutes at center with Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo off the roster. That should undoubtedly be a good thing: he posted a 21.2 PER at center last year compared to a 13.8 PER at power forward. His effective field goal percentage also increased from 48.8% at power forward to 57.7% at center.
The rest of the roster is full of solid but overpaid veterans. Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier are still capable of getting the job done while Kelly Oubre Jr. and Nicolas Batum were acquired in the offseason.
Ultimately, this team should be able to contend for the play-in tournament.
Championship Odds: +25000
Eastern Conference Odds: +10000
Division Odds: +2500
Win Total Over/Under: 33.5
MVP Contender: Bradley Beal (+6000)
Most Improved Player Contender: Kyle Kuzma (+5000)
The Wizards are not going to be good enough for Bradley Beal to be a serious threat in the MVP race, but he should put together the best season of his career. He’s spent his whole career playing alongside a “superstar” point guard — first with John Wall, then Russell Westbrook — but Beal is the only show in town in 2021-22. He finished second in the league in scoring last year, and it would not be a shock to see him lead all players this season. He should also be able to improve upon his 4.4 assists per game average.
That’s going to make Beal a prime fantasy target this season.
The Wizards did acquire Spencer Dinwiddie in the offseason, and he should ease some of the burden on Beal. He was limited to just three games last season due to an ACL tear, but he should be ready to go for opening night. He averaged 20.6 points per game two years ago, so he has some talent.
Kyle Kuzma is the Wizards’ x-factor. He was acquired in the trade that sent Westbrook to the Lakers, and he’s had an interesting start to his career. He did a lot of the dirty work for the Lakers last season, but he was one of their primer scorers in his first two seasons. If he can put those two roles together with the Wizards, he could be looking at a career year.
The rest of the Wizards’ core is full of unproven young players. Rui Hachimura has shown some promise, but he’s yet to truly breakout. Deni Avdija was the Wizards’ first-round pick in 2020, but he had a bit of a lost season. Corey Kispert was their first-rounder this season, but he doesn’t seem to have a ton of upside. The Wizards will likely need one of those three players to take a major step forward if they have any chance of competing.
Championship Odds: +100000
Eastern Conference Odds: +30000
Division Odds: +15000
Win Total Over/Under: 22.5
Rookie of the Year Contenders: Jalen Suggs (+700), Franz Wagner (+3500)
6th Man of the Year Contender: Terrence Ross (+1800)
The Magic might have the worst roster in basketball at the moment, but that is 100% by design. They were stuck in a state of mediocrity, so they decided to blow things up before the trade deadline last year. They shipped off Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, leaving the cupboard extremely bare for this season.
The Magic used the No. 5 pick in the 2021 Draft on Jalen Suggs, and he’s one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, he’s gotten off to a dreadful start during the preseason, averaging just five points per game while shooting 27.3% from the field and 20% from 3-point range. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to turn things around during the regular season, but he hasn’t given bettors a ton of reasons to get excited.
The rest of the roster is comprised of former lottery picks who are hoping to put things together for the first time. That includes Markelle Fultz, who started to fulfill some of his massive potential before getting injured last year. It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up being their best player.
It also includes Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba in the frontcourt. Bamba is particularly interesting. He has the potential to be a game-changer defensively with his size, and he ended this season on a high note last year. He started five games after the Magic traded away Vucevic, and he averaged 11.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Terrence Ross is one of the only members of the team with a defined role at the moment. He’s asked to come off the bench and get buckets, and he does that at a high level. He’s not among the favorites for the Sixth Man of the Year award, but he’s comfortably in the next tier.
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