Sports-Kings Offseason Grades: Southeast Division

  • Frank Santos

The NBA season is rapidly approaching, and we are finishing up our Eastern Conference offseason grades. If you missed the Atlantic or Central Division grades, click those two links.

Do it.

NOW.

Did you do it yet?

Okay, good. Now that you’re all caught up, let’s tackle the Southeast Division AKA the Miami Heat and the other guys.

Like the other previews, which you’ve seen by now since you clicked those links like we asked, we start from the division winner last season and work our way down:

Miami Heat

Will the Miami Heat three-peat?
Photo Credit: thescore.com

Key Additions: Greg Oden, Michael Beasley

Key Losses: Mike Miller

Draft Picks: None

Frank’s Analysis: The defending champions made a couple of wise moves; take a chance on a couple of guys with something to prove and hope for the best. If it works out, then you’ve just acquired two huge assets for the league’s minimum. If not, you are still the defending champions. The loss of Mike Miller may end up hurting them, but it also creates more minutes for Beasley, and Shane Battier come playoff time. All that being said, I think the Heat made a huge tactical error this offseason by not at least exploring trading Chris Bosh.

Now, I know that seems extreme, but if there was one thing you should have learned about the Heat this past season (if you didn’t see it yet), it was that the Heat are vulnerable. When the “Big Three” was formed, pundits assumed the Heat would run through the NBA in a Jordan-esque fashion. Despite their three Finals appearances, and two Finals, the Heat haven’t been dominant. The decline of Wade, who may not have a ton left in the tank, and only gives you flashes of what we’ve come to expect from the future Hall of Famer. You throw that in with Bosh’s game seven no-show last year, and I think the Heat should have seen what they could get for Bosh. Do the Knicks accept a Tyson Chandler/Iman Shumpert swap for Bosh? I don’t know, but I would’ve asked.

Offseason Grade: 5 (They’re still the Miami Heat though…)

Cody’s Analysis: Despite the outward appearance of a dynasty with three Finals appearances and two straight championships, all is not well in South Beach. Dwyane Wade seems to be past his prime and Chris Bosh has failed to meet the expectations placed on him when he became the third wheel in this dominant unicycle. Lebron has further blossomed into legendary status and has pretty much carried the Heat the past two seasons, but he is entering free agency in 2014, and the Heat will face fierce competition for his services from the 29 other NBA teams, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Cleveland Browns, and probably the White House as the new regime will require a King.

All of these issues are going to come to a head within the next year, and the Heat decided to sign… Michael Beasley and Greg Oden. For those of you unfamiliar with Beasley and Oden, they are the equivalent to the ruggedly handsome but unemployed drunk guy who is in and out of jail that every girl thinks they can fix. “But he has so much potential!” Yes, but one sees gremlins on the rim when he shoots free throws and the other has the knees of a leg amputee. They didn’t explore trades for either of their fading stars and if it hits the fan this season, Lebron may take his talents to anywhere but South Beach.

Grade: 3

Overall Grade: 4

Atlanta Hawks

This season, these two will be playing for the same squad.
Photo Credit: BleacherReport.com

Key Additions: Paul Millsap,  Elton Brand, Gustavo Ayon, Demarre Carroll, Mike Budenholzer (Coach)

Key Losses: Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia, Larry Drew (Coach)

Draft Picks: Dennis Schroder, Lucas Nogueria, Mike Muscala

Frank’s Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks had a strange offseason, and its hard to gauge their prospects for this upcoming season. I thought the team that signed Paul Millsap was going to be rewarded heavily, as Millsap was often overshadowed by Al Jefferson. While I think Millsap and Al Horford may compliment each other very well, it does leave the Hawks undersized. Josh Smith was addition by subtraction, and I will be curious to see how the rest of the team responds, especially with a new coach in place.

The real goal for this team will be to develope German rookie Dennis Shroder, who has been constantly compared to Rajon Rondo. The only issue is that the team also spent over 30 million dollars to keep Jeff Teague, which may end up being a problem if Schroder pans out and you now have a 30 million dollar bench player.

All things considered, it was clear that the Hawks needed a change, and the 5-8 seed non-contender annual formula was not cutting it anymore. This team is intriguing, but unfortunately may lead to the same old “scraping into the playoffs only to get stomped by a contender” Atlanta Hawks.

Grade: 6

 

Cody’s analysis: You guys wanna hear a joke? Drafting a 20 year old point guard that has drawn comparisons to Rajon Rondo, and then immediately after signing your good-not-great point guard to a $30 million dollar contract against his wishes. In other words, the Atlanta Hawks offseason plans.

In all seriousness though, the Hawks made a lot of lateral moves that made them no better or worse. Getting rid of Josh Smith is a plus, but despite the talent of newly acquired big man Paul Millsap, the mixture of him and Al Horford may be a little too small to be dominant. They are better off for the future after this offseason, but ultimately they are no better this season.

Grade: 6

Overall Grade: 6

Washington Wizards

Otto Porter will join John Wall (right), and Bradley Beal (left) to form a young nucleus in DC.
Photo Credit: Hoopnut.com

Key Additions: Eric Maynor, Al Harrington, 

Key Losses: None 

Draft Picks: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr.

Frank’s Analysis: The Wizards had a decent offseason. Eric Maynor is a great addition to the team, and gives them a nice three-guard tandem with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Their nucleus is very young, especially with the addition of rookie Otto Porter. If you were to argue that the bottom two seeds of last year’s playoffs, the Bucks and the Celtics, are arguably worse, it isn’t far-fetched to see the Wizards competing for the eighth playoff spot (with the assumption the Pistons are now a playoff team, only leaving one new spot up for grabs.)

Sure, they gave Martell Webster 22 million dollars, which is probably 20 million more than he is actually worth, but whatever.

I expect a full season of John Wall to make the Wizards relevant, and while the team will have some growing pains, they will also be competitive.

Grade: 6.5

Cody’s Analysis: Otto Porter was one of two players (the other being Victor Oladipo) I predicted to ultimately become recurring All-Stars in an otherwise unspectacular draft, and the Wizards adding him to join Bradley Beal and John Wall can only be a good thing. Eric Maynor was a solid pick up as well, and in the weakened Eastern Conference it’s not difficult to see this team sneaking into the playoffs this year.

Grade: 7

Charlotte Bobcats

Al Jefferson will hope to make the Bobcats a formidable opponent,
Photo Credit: CharlotteObserver.com

Key Additions: Al Jefferson, Steve Clifford (Coach)

Key Losses: Tyrus Thomas, Byron Mullens, Mike Dunlap (Coach)

Draft Pick: Cody Zeller

Frank’s Analysis: Here’s the good news: The Charlotte Bobcats won’t be putrid next season. Oh, and they won’t be the Bobcats anymore after this season. Here’s the bad news: They’re still going to be pretty bad.

So, here are two reasons why I am pissed off at the Bobcats: I believe the reports that they were trying to trade Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and that just makes me sad. I don’t understand why you would spend such a high pick on a guy, and then lose faith in him after one season where he showed some promise. Yeah, he’s raw, but that was to be expected. Does he have some work to do, specifically to his jump shot? Yeah. But, nothing about his 2012-2013 campaign screamed bust to me.

But, here’s the real reasons why the Bobcats are on my sh*t list: They offered Al Jefferson so much money, that he couldn’t turn them down, and now he is going to waste good years of his career raking in stats when he should be on a contender contributing to a title run. Jefferson was supposed to go to San Antonio, learn how to play real defense by Tim Duncan, get coached up by Pop and the Spurs system, and help the Spurs make one last run at the championship before Duncan and Pop rode off into the sunset and left the keys for Parker and Jefferson.

BUT NO, THE DAMN BOBCATS HAD TO INTERVENE WITH THEIR BARRELS OF MONEY IN HIS FACE. F**KING MJ STRIKES AGAIN. I’m not bitter though.

Okay, I’m done.

Grade: 4

Cody’s Analysis:

Franks mad and the Spurs didn’t get Al Jefferson, so the Bobcats get a ten from me… or they would, if they weren’t the Bobcats and didn’t make up for accidentally scoring a player like Jefferson with their typical display of incompetence.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not succeed in Charlotte, and its not because hes not good. It’s because in typical Bobcat fashion they spent a high pick on a project player and then destroyed his confidence by trying and ultimately failing to trade him. Thankfully soon, Charlotte will change its name back to the Hornets and we can forget about the Bobcats being the worst thing to happen to sports ever… or they can just tarnish the Hornet name with further incompetence.

Grade: 4

Orlando Magic

Nik Vucevic is the face of the Orlando Magic…for now.
Photo Credit: Philly.com

Key Additions: Jason Maxiell

Key Losses: Al Harrington, Beno Udrih

Draft Pick: Victor Oladipo

Frank’s Analysis: Who would have thunk you would be able to make a legitimate argument that the Orlando Magic won the Dwight Howard trade just a year later? With the Howard, Bynum, and Iguodala experiments failing for the Lakers, Sixers, and Nuggets respectively, the Magic now have picks and assets to build for the future. In fairness, I don’t even think the Magic thought the trade would go this well when they made it.

Anybody who has read my stuff knows my feelings toward Victor Oladipo; the guy could be the next Dwyane Wade. I also think he has the demeanor to deal with losing well for the first season, with the ability to see the big picture for the team.  My faith in Oladipo was sealed and delivered after he was drafted, and asked what he would bring to the Magic. His response: “A work ethic they have never seen before.”

This season will have its bumps and bruises, but watch out for this young Magic squad. I expect them to pull off a couple of good upsets this year en route to a respectable record (30-33 wins)

Grade: 8

Cody’s Analysis: So the Orlando Magic were the only ones in a four team trade to not get an All Star in their part of the trade. Most would assume that was a bad thing, but one year and three disgruntled stars switching teams later and the Magic are clearly in the best position for the future.

Victor Oladipo was clearly the best player in the draft in my opinion, and he should be a guy you can build around. They already had two very good young pieces in Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, and they may very well be this years New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans. They are a year away from contending in my opinion, and should be very exciting to watch.

Grade: 8

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