NBA Preview/Offseason Grades – Southeast Division
By Scott Barby
Who’s in: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Mickell Gladness, Jarvis Vernado.
Draft: Justin Hamilton.
Who’s Out: Ronny Turiaf.
Summary: After winning his first Championship ring the last thing the neutral NBA fan needed was for LeBron to get even more help but that’s exactly what happened. Jesus Shuttlesworth will bring his Picasso like outside shooting artistry to South Beach adding to an already lethal outside arsenal *Insert Game 5 flashback*.
Rashard Lewis will bring, well, probably nothing to the table. In 23 of the most lethargic outings ever witnessed in pro sports, Lewis reverse Mailman’d the Wizards and mailed in the worst shooting season of his career (23% from three). If Lewis is even 3% invested this season I guess it’s an upgrade over Mike Miller and his pending wheelchair.
The attention now turns to seeing how LeBron approaches defending his title and how annoying a pro-LeBron Skip Bayless can be. With Dwyane Wade reportedly back to 100% there’s no reason why the Heat can’t repeat last year’s efforts. How successful they are at achieving that goal will likely come down to their health.
Offseason Grade: B
Predicted Win Total: 58-62
Who’s in: Kyle Korver, Lou Williams, Anthony Morrow, Devin Harris, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson.
Draft: John Jenkins, Mike Scott
Who’s out: Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Jason Collins, Vladamir Radmanovic, Jerry Stackhouse, Jannero Pargo, Willie Green, Jordan Farmar.
Summary: Goodbye cap crippling contracts and first round exits, hello flexibility and a sexy new hope! New Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry was able to move Joe Johnson’s contract after just one week on the job, what’s up Mayans! Rather than pay Johnson $89,259,016 (I didn’t just keyboard mash that number) over the next four years Ferry pulled off a video game trade which awakened Atlanta from a seemingly never ending first round playoff exit coma.
Moving Joe Johnson’s contract was the Everest of NBA trades and if the New Jersey Nets don’t change faces and relocate to Brooklyn the Hawks remain in Joe Johnson purgatory. Often timing is everything in this league and Kudos to Danny Ferry for taking advantage of the situation.
A core of Josh Smith, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow will see the Hawks lose a little ground on years past but they will still remain competitive, only now they have a bucket load of flexibility coming along for the ride.
With the treadmill stink washed off this is the first time in half a decade that neutrals can been mildly aroused by the Hawks. I don’t care how awkward that last sentence reads it accurately captures how excited I am about the Joe Johnson divorce.
Offseason Grade: A+
Predicted Win Total: 41-45
Who’s in: Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, A.J Price, Martell Webster, Jannero Pargo.
Draft: Bradley Beal, Tomas Satoranksy.
Who’s Out: Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis.
Summary: The Wizards flipped the script over the past six months and revamped their roster from one consumed by young and erratic play to a more balance and veteran influenced squad. The additions of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza combined with the trade for Nene at last season’s deadline see’s Washington with a foundation that could push for a playoff berth.
With a team that suits his style of play this should be the year that John Wall works it all out. Wall’s entire offensive game is built on getting to the rim and he was top ten in the league for free throws made and free throw attempts last season. With the addition of outside threats Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, Wall should find less resistance when driving to the basket and finding a way to improve on last season’s league leadings 255 turnovers.
One scenario you can bank on this season is Jordan Crawford missing more shots than he makes. Crawford had the Wizards highest usage rating last season and ranked thirteenth in overall offensive rating, eleventh in effective field goal percentage and twelfth in true shooting percentage. That’s right, when on the floor nobody else held the ball more often than Jordan Crawford. If Jordan Crawford wants to take the thirty-fifth most shots in the NBA he will, even if Jordan Crawford ranks two-hundred-and-sixty-second in the league for field goal percentage. Why? Because he’s Jordan Crawford. You idiot.
Squeezing all the potential out of this lineup could be a challenge given the man responsible for success is head coach Randy Whittman and his career 118-238 win/loss record.
Offseason Grade: B-
Predicted Win Total: 32-36
Who’s in: Gustavo Ayon, Arron Afflalo, Christian Eyenga, Maurice Harkless, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Nikola Vucevic.
Draft: Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O’Quinn.
Who’s Out: Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson, Von Wafer.
Summary: Call me lazy all you want but I am sick to death of writing about this team. I’ll let YouTube take this one.
Offseason Grade: F
Predicted Win Total: 20-24
Who’s in: Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood.
Draft: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeff Taylor.
Who’s Out: D.J Augustin, Corey Maggette, Jamario Moon, Eduardo Najera.
Summary: I don’t want to alarm anyone but Michael Jordan’s Bobcats are actually starting to resemble a professional basketball team. After a record breaking seven win season the only way is up for the Bobcats, or at least I’d assume.
Charlotte ranked dead last in the league for field goal percentage, field goals made, 3-point percentage and overall offense last season. This team stunk up the joint on the offensive side of the floor. All this points to the newly acquired Ben Gordon resorting back to his Chicago chucking heyday by landing in field goal attempt Heaven, who else is going to score on this team? For a guy who thrives on throwing the ball at the rim with no regard for field goal percentage legacy the parallels between a young Gordon and current Kemba Walker are a little creepy. I for one can’t wait to witness the inefficient brick fight to the death between Kemba Walker and this list being reignited.
Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor was a landmark act of logic for the Bobcats and basically ruined the draft telecast in the process by allowing Jordan to walk away criticism free. Charlotte’s vision for the future looks to be taking shape; Fill the roster with good character guys who play hard or plug a need. What’s surprising is that it took the Bobcats brass half a decade to figure this out.
The Bobcats might be a mile off competing for a Playoff spot but this offseason has definitely been a positive one.
Offseason Grade: B
Predicted Win Total: 19-23
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottyBarby