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NBA Southeast Division Futures: Battle Is Likely Between Hornets and Heat

NBA Southeast Division Odds January 3

The NBA’s Southeast Division may have some terrible teams but it might be the most wide-open race to the top. Only one team, Miami, has a record of .500 or better but even the Heat are not favored to stay in the lead as oddsmakers have the Charlotte Hornets as the top contender.

Online sportsbook Bovada has the Hornets as +150 favorites to win the Southeast Division followed by the Heat at +180, the Orlando Magic at +380, the Washington Wizards at +600 and the Atlanta Hawks at +10000.

Let’s check in with each team and see what their chances are to win the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division:

Charlotte Hornets +150

The Hornets have a weird mix of players on their roster which is led by Kemba Walker and his 25.4 points per game. Outside of Walker, it’s a glut of role players who won’t swing most games either way but the one thing those players do is show up at home. The Hornets are 14-6 SU in 20 home games this season and have the best home record in the division. That could prove to be the difference maker when we get to the grind of the season in February but at +150, I think the value isn’t good enough considering I expect this division to be decided in the closing weeks of the season.

Miami Heat +180

My pick to win the division at +180, the Heat are treading water right now with Goran Dragic out due to injury but they currently lead the division by a half-game employing a scoring-by-committee approach. Miami has six players who average double-digit points (excluding Dragic) and is one of four teams in the East with a winning record on the road. Where the Heat have gotten burned, though, is playing against their own division, with a 2-7 SU record in nine games against Southeast teams. Dragic is expected back soon and the Heat have the best coach so I’m going with the infrastructure to carry them to a division title.

Orlando Magic +380

I’m just going to come out and say it: The Magic, a perennial doormat in the East, have no chance to win this division. Orlando has been stockpiling talent since trading away Dwight Howard in 2012 and its peak season since that transaction was in 2015-16 when it won 35 games. The Magic are 27th in points scored per game and unless you like losing money, I would steer clear of this team in any way, shape or form.

Washington Wizards +600

The preseason odds-on favorite to win this division at -140, the Wizards are a prime example that talent doesn’t equate to wins. The Wiz are an atrocious 15-23 SU in 38 games this season and 4-16 SU in 20 road games while ranked 29th in points allowed per game. Washington also got the dreadful news that point guard John Wall is lost for the season with a heel injury. While the Wizards actually played better without him last year when he was hurt, the reality is that losing that type of talent will hamper them in the long run. That value isn’t bad at +600 but it’s a gamble, for sure.

Atlanta Hawks +10000 

Although they don’t have the worst record in the NBA (that distinction belongs to the Cleveland Cavaliers), the Hawks knew what they were doing when they traded away Luka Doncic for a first-round pick and that was to get more talent around Trae Young. They have no shot to win the division at 11-26 SU in 37 games this season and are more focused on getting the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft.

2018-19 NBA Southeast Division Odds
Charlotte Hornets+150
Miami Heat+180
Orlando Magic+380
Washington Wizards+600
Atlanta Hawks+10000

Odds as of January 3 at Bovada

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Last season, Washington was the favorite to win the Southeast Division. But injuries down the stretch put the Wizards against the wall and they were surpassed by a young Miami team. The Wizards still made the playoffs as the eighth seed and now have the best odds at -140 to return to the top of the division where they were in 2016-17.

Washington Wizards (-140)

The Wizards were 26-22 when John Wall was injured and was forced to undergo knee surgery that caused him to miss six weeks of the season. Many wrote Washington off for its playoff hopes, but Bradley Beal stepped up to the plate and the club finished 43-39, just one win less than it had been on pace for. Washington failed to win the division, finishing one game back of Miami. Wall did return for the final seven games of the year but the Wizards went 2-5 SU over that span and they were taken out in six games by the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

During the offseason, the Wizards addressed a weak spot in their lineup, signing Dwight Howard to be their man under the rim. In 2016-17, the squad won the division by six games, finishing with a 49-33 record as Wall played 78 games. With a healthy Wall, Beal taking another step forward and the addition of Howard, there’s a reason the Wizards are poised to contend for the division.

Miami Heat (+170)

The Heat went 44-38 last season to win the division title and now have the second-best odds to return to the top. Miami is definitely a competitive team and surely a playoff team. But I think, much like last year, it will need some help to get past Washington in the division. The Heat have a well-rounded team with plenty of depth, and although nobody really blows you away with talent, they play well as a team. The bright spot for the organization is their bench and there’s a good possibility they could package a few players to land a starter to push them up the ladder.

Charlotte Hornets (+1200)

The biggest storyline heading into Charlotte’s season is its all-star guard Kemba Walker. The 28-year-old is entering the final year of his four-year deal and there’s a good chance he will be dealt at some point in the season. This trade is more likely if the Hornets are hanging around outside of a playoff spot and if there’s a team willing to make a deal (looking at you, Lakers), it would be hard to see Charlotte not pulling the trigger. All wouldn’t be lost if Walker is traded, though, as the club signed veteran Tony Parker in the offseason. Last year, the Hornets went 36-46 and finished in third place in the division, which is right around where I expect them to be again this year, all pending a Kemba trade.

Orlando Magic (+1800)

Orlando came out of the gate hot last season, winning eight of its first 12 games, and looked like a real competitor. Then the Magic hit the wall – HARD. The squad went from an 8-4 record in early November to finishing the season 25-57, meaning they went 17-53 for the remainder of the season. Outside of Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, there isn’t much to talk about with the Magic. The only way they can move up in the division this year is if the Hornets deal Kemba for picks and they fall off.

Atlanta Hawks (+5000)

The Hawks are in the midst of a rebuild, holding on to just one player with more than eight years of experience and that is 20-year veteran Vince Carter. Atlanta seems to be moving in the right direction, though, trading for Trae Young at the 2018 NBA Draft and securing the Dallas Mavericks’ first-round pick for the 2019 draft. Additionally, Atlanta has a couple of strong young players in Taurean Prince and John Collins heading into their third and second years, respectively. The Hawks went 24-58 last year, sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference. They should be more competitive in 2018-19 but not in the conversation of winning the division.

2018-19 NBA Southeast Division Odds
Washington Wizards-140
Miami Heat+170
Charlotte Hornets+1200
Orlando Magic+1800
Atlanta Hawks+5000

Odds as of October 16 at Bovada