Divisional Odds (From Bovada)
- Hornets +150
- Heat +180
- Magic +380
- Wizards +600
- Hawks +10000
The quick answer to the question posed in the title is, probably. The Southeast almost had all five teams finish below .500 last season, but the Wizards and Heat ended up four and six games above the .500 mark respectfully by seasons-end.
However, those two teams look to have gotten significantly worse from last season. They will both be without their starting point guards for either the rest of the season, or in the Heat and Goran Dragic’s case, for most of the rest of the season. That being said, this Heat team is almost certainly the best team in this division.
The Hornets might still be able to turn things around, but they might also choose to part with Kemba Walker at the trade deadline and start what could be an epic run at tanking. Even with the best odds and best player in the division, the Hornets have more to gain from the lottery than they do being the 7th or 8th seed in the playoffs. Eventually some of these losses are going to catch up to them and reality will sink in eventually.
Only the Hornets rank in the top half of the league in offensive rating, and outside of the Heat and Magic’s upstart defenses, there isn’t much else going on that end of the floor for the rest of these teams. However, if the Hornets end up netting a blockbuster to part with Walker, there will be some serious offensive decline in Charlotte as well. In turn, it will make the Heat serious value at their current NBA Odds to win the division.
The Wizards are by far the biggest disappointment of the division. Without John Wall for the rest of the season and with the Dwight Howard signing not even close to working out, the Wizards needed to blow things up this past summer.
The question is, will they ever break up this failing young core? They have a ton of money invested in Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, but no real trade prospects to speak of for any of them. Beal is easily their best asset, but I don’t think any team is will to meet their asking price for him as this point.
If Beal is not traded, look for him to come down with some phantom injury around February, because there is no way this team is anywhere close to the playoffs this season. Tanking seems to have already taken over in the District.
Add in the Magic as well to the bad. Consistently in the lottery, after starting off the season well, it looks as if this is the same old Magic team. They only won 25 games last season, so obviously there has been some improvement under Steve Clifford, especially on defense. However, they will also likely finish below .500 for the sixth straight season. Nikola Vucevic and/or Terrence Ross could net them another draft pick or asset as well, so this team is going to be selling at the deadline.
It got started when the Hawks traded Luka Doncic for Trae Young during the 2018 NBA Draft. It’s too early to tell how that trade will end up and it’s also possible the Hawks knew they wanted to be bad this season to try for another top pick in 2019.
All that in mind, outside of the outstanding season John Collins is putting up since returning from injury, the Hawks are flat out terrible. They have some nice young pieces to build with, don’t get me wrong. However, this team has a ton of holes that only a top three pick would help fill.
Zion Williamson would be a nice prize for the Hawks and it would make trading Doncic for Young on draft night look a lot better if they were able to snag the top lottery pick in 2019 as well.
Either way, Atlanta ranks 29th on offense and 25th on defense this season, so the only place they are going is very high in the draft lottery. They are on pace for just 24 wins in 2018-19, which is exactly how many they had in 2017-18