NBA Southeast Division 2019-20 Handicapping Preview (Part I)

Southeast Division (Part I)

The NBA season has arrived, with games due to tip off Oct 22nd, on Tuesday. Bovada has released odds of divisional crowns for the 30 NBA teams, and we are going to handicap that aspect as well as take a quick glance at each team as it enters the 2019-20 season. There are no over/under for season wins currently available for betting on Bovada, but we are going to predict season win totals for each team in the brief synopses of each of the six divisions in the NBA, moving here into the NBA’s Southeast Division, with a look at the top two teams (Part 1).

Miami (-120)

The Miami Heat presumably made a big upgrade in obtaining Jimmy Butler this summer, but how far does that really move the bar for Miami? The Heat will also be moving away from Hassan Whiteside and handing the reigns at center off to Bam Adebayo, which most presume is another upgrade (an addition from subtraction, yet nevertheless). The rotation around Butler and Adebayo is what it needs to be: shooters. Kelly Olynyk, rookie Tyler Herro, and Goran Dragic all possess good outside shots to capitalize on the attention that Butler and Adebayo will draw.

It adds up to a competent offense. Justise Winslow becomes the sixth man of the rotation by virtue of adding Butler, and he should stabilize the second unit while Dion Waiters will have something of a green light to keep the unit afloat in the scoring column. Miami will likely have to tighten its rotation up to eight by the postseason due to lack of depth in the bottom half of its bench, but NBA oddsmakers are projecting Miami to be better than Orlando this season, which it was not a year ago. With Miami basically adding Butler and shifting its attention to Adebayo, it will probably be better than last season’s 39 wins, but by how much? It is still tough to say Miami is vastly better than Orlando, and especially at the -120 odds granted (while Orlando hovers at +150). We are bullish on the Heat.

Prediction: 42-40

Orlando (+150)

The Orlando Magic are mostly counting on internal improvement to make it better than the 42-40 it was a year ago. That is a safe wager. Orlando’s entire core (with the exceptions of Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier) is a young core by all accounts.

Mohamed Bamba enters his second season still blocked by a re-signed Nikola Vucevic in the rotation, but the Magic need Vucevic both for his creation of offense and his overall competence, even if Bamba is already a superior defender. Orlando is counting on Aaron Gordon finding more consistency, while also hoping Jonathan Isaac’s offensive talents at least somewhat catch up to his defensive lockdown capabilities.

Whether or not Isaac progresses offensively, the Magic will also have Markelle Fultz rapidly rounding into shape after an extended break from organized basketball. Fultz only cost the Magic Jonathon Simmons in trade, so the low-risk investment in the former No. 1 overall pick could eventually pay off, and if it does not, the Magic have risked almost nothing given that it currently relies on the 5’10” DJ Augustin. The Magic have to solve its situation at point guard long-term, and that may or may not happen this season, but the Magic are a team that has a lot of the right pieces already in place, pending their respective developments. Al-Farouq Aminu adds some veteran presence and he has his big nights, as well. Look for Orlando to make a small jump based on last season’s successes putting down a good framework for what we can expect.

Orlando will be a good defensive team, but it probably will fail to average over 110 points per game like the top-4 teams in the East do. That puts Orlando a notch below them, simply because Orlando is relying on both its defense and its offense to ultimately fuel its overall success. Besides this, Orlando finished just 15-26 on the road last season and they have to win at least another five road games given that it will not have home-court advantage most likely in the first round.

This is a team still a couple of years away from coming anywhere near its peak, but it is the division’s best until Miami proves on the court that it is actually better with the addition of Butler.

Prediction: 46-36

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