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Preview Review

Traditionally every year around this time we've run a season preview detailing all 30 teams, their stats, and changes they've made.  It's a ton of fun and a ton of work.  Last year, however, I noticed something else going on.  A gentleman who goes by the moniker Grey Home started posting divisional previews in the sidebar.  And they were good.  Not just "Bite-Sized Almond Joy on Halloween" good, but "A Plane Filled with Caramel Nougat Just Fell on a Milk Chocolate Tanker Truck Right Outside My House" good.  They were so good, in fact, that I seriously thought about asking Grey Home to assist with the official Blazersedge season preview this year.  Timing issues prevented that.  But then I got to thinking...if this guy is kicking butt with his work in the sidebar, why am I breaking my back doing the same thing (with maybe one or two changes) on the front page?  Why indeed.  So I am making an executive decision this year to promote Grey Home's fanposts to the front page, making them the official Blazersedge preview.  I haven't told Grey Home this yet, so let's hope he doesn't quit midstream or, you know, demand a foot rub or something. 

In addition to my own stuff I'll be running his previews every few days as they come up.  Two are out already.  We'll start where he started, with the Southeastern Conference.  Atlanta and Orlando are both interesting teams and the Wizards are a wildcard.  After perusing G.H.'s analysis and predictions chime in with your own in the comments.  How many of these teams make the playoffs?  Can the Hawks challenge the Magic at all?

Preview begins after the jump.

--Dave (


Southeast Division


Playoff Seeds

Orlando Magic



Atlanta Hawks



Washington Wizards



Miami Heat



Charlotte Bobcats




Charlotte Bobcats

Prediction: 32-50 do not make the playoffs

Depth Chart

Point Guard

Raymond Felton

D.J. Augustin

MVP: Raymond Felton

Biggest Surprise: Gerald Henderson

Biggest Letdown: anyone playing PF

Key to success: Felton and Augustin playing together

Grab bag: Larry Brown quits coaching, but doesn't tell anybody

Shooting Guard

Raja Bell

Ronald Murray

Small Forward

Gerald Wallace

Vladimir Radmanovic

Power Forward

Boris Diaw

Derrick Brown


Tyson Chandler

DeSagana Diop

After several years of positive growth, the Bobcats have seemingly regressed.  No new talent outside of the draft was added and a trade that seems very lopsided.

Gerald Henderson could very well end up being a good player, but not a star, and not yet.  He figures to do well in the Larry Brown "system" having come from a very structured program in Duke, but he'll have to earn his minutes behind Raja Bell, who is still a good on-ball defender and the newly acquired Flip Murray who will play almost exclusively at the two, because of the duo of Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin at the one.

Felton has played very steadily over his career, good for about 14ppg and 6+ apg, but from game to game he is very inconsistent.  There were many weeks where Felton would put up 32 points followed by 4 points,followed by 14 points.  The per game average isn't bad, but the lack of consistency is.  He did become more steady the last month of the season, so the Bobcats hope it continues, which I think it will.  If it doesn't, the Bobcats have another option at PG in Augustin.  Augustin had a pretty successful rookie campaign, but with Felton ahead of him on the depth chart he doesn't have much time to procure.  Augustine and Felton will need to learn to play together.  Both are kind of combo-guards in that they can score and passing isn't the first priority.  They  both can pass though.  Felton will still run the point when they are in together so that Augustin can be more of a spot up guy off the ball. Felton isn't tall, but he is his strong so he shouldn't get taken advantage of by opposing shooting guards.  And with Tyson Chandler behind him, he can afford to play up on his man.

Tyson Chandler is the new man in the middle with the Okafor swap.  While he can certainly block or alter shots on the defensive end and throw down alley-oops on offense, the Bobcats aren't going to get much low post sets from Chandler.  Chandler won't be getting nearly as many ‘oop opportunities without Chris Paul either.  Boris Diaw is his partner up front.  Diaw, an excellent passer, will be counted on to give Chandler good looks, but still, Diaw isn't the classic post up PF, and the lack of an inside game should give the Bobcats problems when the lane is closed and the outside shots aren't falling.

The best player on the team is Gerald Wallace.  He is an athlete and slasher and his midrange game has improved.  He still isn't great at breaking down a defender off the dribble, but he can usually find a way to get a shot off. His health is a concern as he has never played more than 72 games in a season (71 last year).  The depth behind him isn't much, most likely Gerald Henderson and Vlade Radmanovic finding the limited minutes.  There just isn't anything exiting about these guys, and Larry Brown won't be able to get this roster to the playoffs.  At least Iverson would have added some intrigue.

Miami Heat

Prediction: 39-43 8th seed playoffs

Depth Chart

Point Guard

Mario Chalmers

Chris Quinn

MVP: Dwayne Wage

Biggest Surprise: Beasley doesn't start

Biggest Letdown: Jermaine O'Neal

Key to success: Wade's heath...seriously

Grab bag: If team gets really good, Riley takes over...again

Shooting Guard

Dwayne Wade

Daequan Cook

Small Forward

James Jones

Quentin Richardson

Power Forward

Udonis Haslem

Michael Beasley


Jermaine O'Neal

Jamaal Magloire

Miami made the playoffs last year due to one thing.  And while you can't disagree to much with Lebron James being awarded the MVP trophy, Dwayne Wade's Heat would have been near the bottom of the standings without him.  Not something you can say about the Cavaliers.  Wade being healthy for most if not all of the season makes this a playoff team.  He just plays so damn hard. Regardless of what you think of the questionable foul shots earned, he makes his team better and can win a game by himself.

Mario Chalmers will continue at the point, and as long as he plays within himself he is a decent option.  He won't do anything special, but he has a respectable jumper, doesn't make a lot of mistakes and plays above average defense.  He is less of a facilitator and more of a means to an end of getting the offense started.  Quinn offers a lot of the same qualities on offense, but with a better three point bomb and is a lesser player defensively.

James Jones will split time with Quentin Richardson and Michael Beasley at the three.  Beasley will take a couple more years before he can be a full time small forward if that is indeed what the Heat need him to be.  I envision Beasley as an Anthony Mason type when he played with the Hornets and Heat in his later career.  Beasley will need to put on some weight either way to become a big strong guy who can handle the ball and can move over to the 4 spot occasionally because Udonis Haslem, while a good player can't man the power forward spot himself. 

Haslem is so dependable he hasn't lost his starting spot.  His biggest problem is his height.  His size is fine in that he is athletic and strong, but his arms aren't freakishly long nor is he the athlete that Beasley appears to be.  Without a dominant center next to him, Haslem won't find many easy opportunities such as the ones he used to get at the top of the key when Shaquille O'Neal was down low.  To his credit, Haslem has found ways to keep scoring, but with a different O'Neal, Jermaine, who is a jump shooter as well, Haslem has lost some of his effectiveness.

Jermaine will be only 31 years when the season begins, but his body has worn out and his post game is almost non-existent.  The last few seasons he has vowed he is healthy to start the season, but shortly after there is a set back.  His backup, Jamaal Magloire, is actually a pretty decent option, just not as a starter.  If O'Neal can indeed find some rejuvenation powers in his legs he can be the second option until Beasley finds his way, and maybe Miami can get back into the playoffs with a chance at the second round.

Washington Wizards

Prediction: 41-41 7th seed playoffs

Depth Chart

Point Guard

Gilbert Arenas

Randy Foye

MVP: Gilbert Arenas

Biggest Surprise: Gilbert's attitude

Biggest Letdown: Not a huge win total improvement

Key to success: Defense

Grab bag: No hibachi, no agent zero, no fun?

Shooting Guard

Mike Miller

Nick Young

Small Forward

Caron Butler

Dominic McGuire

Power Forward

Antawn Jamison

Andray Blatche


Brendan Haywood

Javale McGee

The return of Gilbert Arenas has been prophesized as the return to the playoffs and a run into the second round for the first time since 2005.  Arenas has vowed not to be a "character" this year, which he deemed a distraction.  It sounds good in theory, but the Wizards hope it doesn't take the joy out of Arenas' game.  Don't be surprised if Arenas' scoring numbers fall, but his assists rise, as he now has two more weapons to feed in Randy Foye and Mike Miller.  Miller will add some floor spreading ability and Foye is a combo guard not unlike Arenas, meaning they can play together and both are dangerous with the dribble creating problems for the defense which can open up the outside.

Caron Bulter has been a steady contributor, making two of the past three all-star games and is dynamic enough to hit jumpers and slash.  His defense is above average and he will spend a lot of time guarding the opposing teams' best wing because of Miller's defensive deficiencies.  Dominic McGuire and Deshawn Stevenson can still come off the bench as "stoppers" but with Bulter's and Miller's heavy minutes don't expect those two to see much time.  Nick Young is the scorer off the bench who pairs with Foye in the backcourt.  He should be able to add a lot of the same things that Miller does with his outside shooting.

Antawn Jamison is old faithful.  He keeps on rebounding and making a variety of shots.  When you watch him play, you don't immediately see or feel his impact, but by the end of the game he has 21 points and 9 boards.  Over the last 2 years he has only missed 3 games.  He just doesn't get the credit that Vince Carter, the player he was traded for, gets because of his down to earth game.

Jamison, Butler and Arenas can be counted on to perform. And when the 3 are healthy, or at least mostly healthy, they make the playoffs.  Now with these added pieces, which don't include Flip Saunders, the Wizards should have a good opportunity to meet their fan's expectations.  Arenas is still the key.  If he goes down, the team might be able to get to the playoffs still, but they won't take the next step.  Even healthy, a low seed in the playoffs will make it very difficult to get to the second round.  The Wizards need to shoot for the fourth or fifth seed to have a chance.

Atlanta Hawks

Prediction: 47-35 4th seed playoffs

Depth Chart

Point Guard

Mike Bibby

Jeff Teague

MVP: Joe Johnson

Biggest Surprise: Jamal Crawford

Biggest Letdown: Won't make any steps, as everyone at the top got better.

Key to success: road wins

Grab bag: Who would win in a game of Chess; ZBo or Josh Smith?

Shooting Guard

Joe Johnson

Jamal Crawford

Small Forward

Marvin Williams

Maurice Evans

Power Forward

Josh Smith

Joe Smith


Al Horford

Zaza Pachulia

Atlanta has better talent than last year.  Jamal Crawford is a perfect scorer off the bench. He can create his own shot and play with the ball or off the ball.  He is a perfect compliment to Joe Johnson when Bibby is out and Johnson runs the point.  Both are ball handlers and Johnson; who is still underrated, even on a two time playoff team with great scoring, rebounding and assists numbers for a guard/forward, can be a distributor and playmaker instead of a scorer.  Even with Joe Johnson playing more of a Point Forward or Point Guard, I still think Bibby is one of the biggest keys to playoff success.

Bibby statistics have lowered, but his game is still there.  He is only 31 years old, was healthy, and during the season had decent if not great numbers.  It was his playoff numbers that dwindled, and that is when he has shined in the past.  The Hawks aren't expecting Kings vs. Lakers 2002 numbers, but rather for him to get in that zone during parts of the series or at least parts of the game. He has great handles and a good pull up jumper.  Great pull up jumpers are the most lethal shot a player can have because it is un-guardable, and Bibby as that capability.  On offense Bibby can have his way with even the elite guards and it was sorely lacking against the likes of Mario Chalmers and Mo' Williams in the last post season.  Jeff Teague was a nice pick up for a backup man behind Bibby, and could eventually inherit the starting job in a few years when Bibby really begins to decline.

Marvin Williams will start at the three, with Josh Smith at the four.  Neither are very good defensively.  Williams lack the lateral quickness to stay with smaller, quicker small forwards, and Smith, outside of weak-side blocks hasn't shown any real ability to slow down true post forwards.  These two positions are really where the defense breaks down.  They both have incredible length and can be good off the ball defenders. Smith is better at guarding small forwards and Williams still hasn't shown the ability to guard any position.  On the offensive side of the ball Josh Smith's game is high flying with an added touch from mid range the last few years.  He is shooting more three pointers but they aren't falling any more regularly.  He needs to continue to play like Amare-lite, except try on defense.

Al Horford mans the five spot again, and again he gets closer to never playing his natural position at the four.  He doesn't really have a choice as the only other option at center is Zaza Pachulia.  Al Horford is a good center, but he can't contend with the likes of Dwight Howard, Shaquille O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins on a nightly basis.  And Pachulia is even worse.  Those are the centers on the top three teams.  Atlanta gets beat inside, and having a center, at least defensively, so that Horford can move to the power forward position for parts of the game could help challenge the Celts, Magic and Cavs.  It would be nice to see some sort of a trade for a Nazr Mohammed or Desagna Diop type center, at least for Horford's sake.

Orlando Magic

Prediction: 58-24 2nd seed playoffs

Depth Chart


Point Guard

Jameer Nelson

Jason Williams

MVP: Dwight Howard

Biggest Surprise: Matt Barnes

Biggest Letdown: JJ Redick

Key to success: Integrating Vince Carter

Grab bag: This team is stacked, and I don't mean Stan Van Gundy's sweater.

Shooting Guard

Vince Carter

JJ Redick

Small Forward

Mickael Pietrus

Matt Barnes

Power Forward

Rashard Lewis

Brandon Bass


Dwight Howard

Marcin Gortat


I like that attitude that the Magic expect to be playing the Lakers again in the finals.  Going out and getting Vince Carter, Brandon Bass and resigning Marcin Gortat proves it.  They are playing to win it now.  Jameer Nelson is fully healthy and he should provide a pick and roll option now that Hedo Turkoglu is off in Toronto.

Critics seem to think that the pick and roll with Turkoglu was there most effective weapon, and it no doubt yielded results, but it also became the single focus of the offense when others shots weren't falling and it bogged down the flow of the entire game plan.  Yes, it worked well against the Cavs, and was still working against the Lakers, but it can be game planed against, like it became so versus the Lakers.

Carter makes the offense more dynamic.  He is a player who can find his own shot without relying on being set up.  He is a better defender than Turkoglu (when he wants to be) and unless he doesn't buy into the team concept, is an overall upgrade over Turkoglu.  I don't think it should be too much of a concern that he will cause chemistry problems because he knows what is at stake.  This is the best collection he has been a part of in his career. Starting in the backcourt with Carter is Jameer Nelson, who was an All-Star last season, but missed all of the playoffs until his return in the finals.  Nelson still wasn't comfortable in the finals, but his injury is healed and has time to re-mesh with his team.  He should have another good year at All-Star level.  Jason Williams is interesting as his backup.  It's not quite certain how many minutes he will play and how effective he can be, but Anthony Johnson is solid and can play the backup minutes as well.

Pietrus will most likely start as the "stopper" small forward so that Carter won't have to guard the best of the two wings.  Pietrus will most likely be substituted for Brandon Bass and have Rashard Lewis slide down to the three spot.  This is probably the best lineup, Nelson, Carter, Lewis, Bass and Dwight Howard at center.  With Lewis starting at the four he will be able to bring the opposing power forward out on the perimeter giving more space for penetration and, most importantly, Dwight Howard.  As Bass and backup center Marcin Gortat will play together a lot and feed of each other's hustle.

Howard is again at center, and with Yao Ming out for the year is no doubt the best center in the league.  His free throw shooting improved as the playoffs went on and if he shoots closer to 70% than 50%, he is going to be that much more dangerous.  His rebounding, defense, and athleticism are all top of the class, he just needs to find a little better offense touch, and a 8-10 foot jumper to keep the opposing team from sagging in.  The Magic rely on Howard to get good looks outside and his passing out of the doubles will be essential to open shots.

The Magic think they should get back to the finals because their team more experienced and better equipped that then team last year.  As long as the offense is straightened out and Carter has a commitment to defense, there aren't too many reason why it can't happen.