NBA Southeast Division Offseason Grades

NBA

In my fourth edition of grading the NBA off-season, I will look at the NBA Southeast division. The Southeast division had two teams in the playoffs in 2021, the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks. The Heat advanced to the NBA Eastern Conference finals after winning 50 NBA regular season games for the first time since 2014-15.

Atlanta Hawks Offseason Grade – A

Additions: Dejounte Murray (trade), Justin Holiday (trade), Mo Harkless (trade), AJ Griffin (Draft Pick), Aaron Holiday (free agent), Frank Kaminsky (free agent), Trent Forrest (2-way), and Tyrese Martin (free agent).
Exhibition 10: Tyson Etienne and Chris Silva

The big question is, did the Hawks pay too much for Murray? Only time will tell. But I love the addition, as Muray will take an extraordinary amount of pressure off of Trae Young. Murray should complement Young well, and he will definitely help on the defensive end.

Griffin was a great pick as he improves the Hawks’ athleticism and was the best shooter in the 2022 draft. Holiday, Harkless, and Holiday were brought in to help the Hawks’ awful defense. Martin, on a partially guaranteed deal, is expected to make the opening day roster.

Charlotte Hornets Offseason Grade: C-

Additions: Cody Martin ( re-signed), Mark Williams (Draft Pick), Bryce McGowens (2-way), and Steve Clifford (coach)
Exhibition 10: Isaiah Whaley
Restricted Free Agent: Miles Bridges

The Hornets hired Clifford to once again sit in the first chair in June. Clifford led Charlotte for five seasons, posting a 196-210 record (2013-19) and reaching the playoffs twice. He was out of basketball after spending the previous two years with the Magic.

Besides bringing back Clifford and re-signing Martin, the Hornets didn’t do much this NBA off-season. I love the selection of Williams, who should help the team on the boards and rim protection from the beginning. They also got a big haul for Jalen Duren on a draft-day trade.

Bridges is the biggest question mark for the team. The Hornets, rightfully so, made Bridges a substantial NBA qualify offer, and, again rightfully so, they rescinded the offer when he was charged with domestic violence. The NBA team is keeping an open roster spot for him once his legal issues are resolved.

Still, Charlotte has one open roster spot and is reportedly looking to add a point guard. Elfrid Payton, Kemba Walker, and Isaiah Thomas are the players mainly bantered around about joining the Hornets. It is expected that the Pistons will buy out Walker – Charlotte’s No.1 draft pick in 2011– while Thomas played well with the Hornets last year.

Miami Heat Offseason Grade: D

Additions: Udonis Haslem (re-signed), Nikola Jovic (Draft Pick), Darius Days (2-way), Victor Oladipo ( re-sign), Caleb Martin (re-signed), Dewayne Dedmon (re-signed), Haywood Highsmith (re-signed) and Marcus Garrett (2-way)
Exhibition 10: Orlando Robinson, Jamaree Bouyea, and James Cain

The Heat lost two tough veterans in their frontcourt in Markief Morris and P.J. Tucker. However, they did re-sign Dedmon, which was much more critical than inking Morris.

Re-signing Oladipo could pay dividends if he stays healthy, as he would give Miami another playmaker – besides Tyler Herro – off the bench. Oladipo has played in just 95 games since 2019. Martin, a versatile forward, is coming off a career season.

I don’t expect Jovic to see much time with the team as the Heat are expected to be one of the top contenders to earn the Eastern Conference spot in the NBA Finals. With Miami only having 13 players on guaranteed deals, Highsmith – on a partially guaranteed contract – will likely make the team as the Heat are expected open the season with one open spot.

Orlando Magic Offseason Grade: B

Additions: Paola Banchero, Caleb Houstan, Gary Harris (extension), Mo Bambo (re-signed), Bol Bol, Admiral Schofield (2-way), and Kevon Harris (2-way)
Exhibit 10: Drake Jeffries, Alex Morales, Simisola Shittu, and Zavier Simpson

The Magic struggled mightily on the offensive end in Jahmal Mosley’s first season as a head coach. Banchero was the right pick at No. 1 as he will provide aid immediately, and the Magic needed help up front as well as in the scoring department, where they ranked 30th last year. Houston can shoot the ball – another major issue for Orlando – though he may not get much run early in the season as he still has a lot of growth to do.

Bol has yet to live up to his draft day hype, but he is still only 22 years old and has been hampered by injuries. Bamba is coming off a career season and was rewarded with a two-year deal.

In other news, the Magic will have a new $70 million practice facility this year. Gary Harris underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in September and will miss at least the start of the regular season (if not more). However, there is hope that Jonathan Isaac will be ready to go after the last two seasons due to an ACL injury.

Washington Wizards Offseason Grade: A-

Additions: Will Barton (trade), Monte Morris (trade), Delon Wright (free agent), Anthony Gill (re-signed), Taj Gibson (free agent), Johnny Davis, and Bradley Beal (re-signed).

Exhibition 10: Makur Maker, Quinton Jackson,and Davion Mintz

The Wizards and the Hawks were the two most active teams in the NBA division during the offseason. Re-signing Beal was a must after they acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the Mavericks in February.

Barton gives the Wizards more consistent scoring than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Morris is coming off a career year. Davis should be able to provide some scoring for the Wiz while Wright adds depth to their backcourt. Gibson and Gill provide depth in the frontcourt.

 


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