The NBA’s Southeast Division has undergone a substantial facelift in the last five weeks, the dual result of fruitful drafts for the bottom-rung clubs and monumental free-agent moves — both positive and negative — involving nearly every team.
And that includes every team in this division, fiven that Orlando and Charlotte have made tremendous strides, roster-wise, over the last 24 months.
3. Pierce may be on his final NBA stop, but he’s still an efficient scoring presence. For the Nets’ five-game series defeat to the Heat in the playoffs, Pierce averaged 16.5 points and shot 46 percent or higher for Games 2-5.
4. The Wizards couldn’t have timed their ascension better, in respect to the Heat (losing LeBron James to Cleveland) and Pacers (losing Lance Stephenson to Charlotte) poised for dropoffs.
2. For a late-round draft pick (or trade, technically), the Heat scored with the Shabazz Napier acquisition. His playmaking skills, especially when facilitating offenses, would have been ideal for Miami during the NBA finals.
2. It’ll be interesting to see if Bosh — whose scoring and rebounding averages have dipped for four consecutive seasons — re-establishes himself as a classic post player with James gone. Or will he primarily set up shop around the 3-point line?
3. The Heat’s lack of quality depth will be a killer at various (low) points of the season. There’s no way around it.
4. Miami finished dead last in total rebounds per game last season (36.9) — with LeBron. That’s a not good sign for the future.
2. Atlanta’s house is back in order, now that Al Horford (18.6 points/8.4 rebounds) has returned from a major shouler injury. By extension, the second-year Antic makes better sense as a perimeter-oriented reserve (three triples, 18 points against the Pacers on April 6).
2. Atlanta has solid pieces to make a division-title run and advance far in the playoffs. But the club still needs an unmistakable go-to scoring option — during lulls of action in the first half and/or buzzer-beating chances.
3. It’s fun to think about Nikola Vucevic’s numbers (2014 tallies: 14.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.8 rebounds) whenever he builds up the endurance for 36-plus minutes a night.
2. The wing options, particularly at the 3-spot, are neither plentiful nor prolific. The Magic finished in the bottom third of three-pointers made last season (6.9 per game).