Southeast Division Part II
Odds C/o Bovada
Orlando: Over/under 31 wins
The Orlando Magic have been in basketball hell for six seasons since the departure of former superstar Dwight Howard. There have been few steps towards any sort of progress, and the Magic have to live daily with watching its former shooting guard Victor Oladipo absolutely exploding for the Indiana Pacers (we touched heavily on this in our Central Division outlook). Now, the Magic turn its attention towards developing some new youngsters, while also hoping Aaron Gordon becomes the superstar he has hinted towards becoming for the past couple seasons. Gordon absolutely can be the star of this team, but to what end? He has won dunk contests, put on shows, and had nights where he looked pretty unstoppable, but counteracting all that is a lot of inconsistency and poor basketball decisions, which more or less sums up the franchise itself in a single phrase.
No. 6 overall pick Mo Bamba is perhaps the best athlete Orlando has had since Howard or even Shaquille O’Neal. He also dialed up 4 of 4 from three-point range during the preseason, hinting he might be much more adaptable to this “new era;” that was even suspected on draft night. His instincts are impeccable and his athleticism is off the charts, but can he find a way to make it work on a team that has been so dysfunctional for so long?
The biggest issue for the Magic will be at the point guard position, where it plans to start the 5’10” D.J. Augustin, backed up by the nephew of former forward Horace Grant, Jerian Grant. Neither is starting caliber in the NBA, but it is the best the Magic have to offer at this point. Should Orlando somehow prove to be playoff-worthy, it will look to obtain a point guard before the trade deadline. If the playoffs are already firmly out of the picture, it will hardly matter, and the team can continue to muddle along trying to develop its loaded frontcourt.
The Magic still have little to no idea what it has in last year’s lottery pick Jonathan Isaac, who seems to be mostly a gifted defender and injury prone walking question mark. Similar can be said about last year’s second-round pick Wesley Iwundu, who is a great defender and decent talent but shot 18 percent from three. So, of course, the Magic went out and drafted a clone of him in Melvin Frazier just to make things more interesting and confusing. Perhaps the words “interesting and confusing” best sum up this team, and simply due to the point guard situation it is tough to see it making the playoffs. Is 31 wins low? Maybe. But the team has not won more than 35 since Howard left, and betting on an ‘over’ seems ridiculous with a first-year coach and little to base much of anything on. Call this PUSH city.
Washington: Over/under 45.5 wins
The Washington Wizards have been in basketball purgatory for nearly a decade, and little is changed in the capital to lead us to believe that the team is any better than the first round out it has been repeatedly under superstar point guard John Wall. For all Wall is and is not, he also is crippled with one of the weakest benches in the NBA, and only Bradley Beal to masquerade as a second fiddle. Beal has his stretches, even months at a time, of playing like a legitimate sidekick to Wall, but this duo has not got it done in the postseason and even on its most explosive nights, the Wizards still often lose games.
Former No. 3 overall pick from Georgetown Otto Porter Jr is a solid player, but not a superstar, and he never will be. Kelly Oubre Jr. has yet to breakthrough in any meaningful way. And if that was not all enough, the Wizards replaced Marcin Gortat with the guy he used to play behind in Orlando, none other than Dwight Howard.
Howard has been known to be a toxic presence in locker rooms, and the Wizards already lack chemistry. It is hard to say this has anything but the makings of a sheer disaster, and perhaps the Wiz finally blow it up and start over since it has never managed to do much of anything under its current leadership, on or off the court.
We can confidently say this team is capable of winning 50 games, so why do we predict it goes more towards 40?
Dwight Howard. Simply. UNDER.