2015-16 NBA Southeast Division Capsules
Team capsules for the NBA’s Southeast Division, listed in AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds’ predicted order of finish:
LAST SEASON: 37-45, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Goran Dragic (16.6 ppg, 5.3 apg, 3.4 rpg), G Dwyane Wade (21.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.5 rpg), F Luol Deng (14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.9 apg), F Chris Bosh (21.1 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg), C Hassan Whiteside (11.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 2.6 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Amar’e Stoudemire (free agent, Mavericks), F Justise Winslow (draft, No. 10), G Gerald Green (free agent, Suns), G Josh Richardson (draft, No. 40).
KEY LOSSES: G Shabazz Napier (trade, Magic), F Henry Walker (free agent, unsigned), F Michael Beasley (free agent, signed in China).
COACH: Erik Spoelstra, eighth season with Heat and overall; 351-207.
EYES ON: Wade. He missed 20 games last year with injuries, then thought about leaving before Miami kept him with a $20 million deal for this season. He’s still the leader in Miami and remains one of the top scorers in the East.
OUTLOOK: If healthy, Miami should challenge in the East. The Heat need Bosh to be his old self after blood clots ended his season early a year ago, need Wade on the floor and need Whiteside to keep emerging.
LAST SEASON: 60-22, lost to Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 in Eastern Conference finals.
STARTING FIVE: G Jeff Teague (15.9 ppg, 7.0 apg, 2.5 rpg), G Kyle Korver (12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.9 3pt), F Paul Millsap (16.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Kent Bazemore (5.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 apg) or Thabo Sefolosha (5.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.4 apg ), C Al Horford (15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F-C Tiago Splitter (trade, Spurs), G Tim Hardaway Jr. (trade, Knicks), G-F Justin Holiday (free agent, Warriors).
KEY LOSSES: F DeMarre Carroll (free agent, Raptors), C Pero Antic (free agent, Europe), F Elton Brand (free agent), G John Jenkins (free agent, Mavericks).
COACH: Mike Budenholzer, third season with Hawks and overall; 98-66.
EYES ON: Bazemore and Sefolosha. The Hawks appear set to take a committee approach in replacing Carroll at small forward. Bazemore and Sefolosha provide good defense, but neither has shown the ability to replace the 13.9 points per game that Carroll provided following the All-Star break.
OUTLOOK: The Hawks re-signed Millsap, but Carroll is a significant loss on both ends of the floor. The Hawks can play big with Splitter, Horford and Millsap on their front line, but it will be difficult for them to match the first 60-win season in franchise history.
LAST SEASON: 46-36, lost to Atlanta Hawks 4-2 in second round.
STARTING FIVE: G John Wall (17.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 10.0 apg), G Bradley Beal (15.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Otto Porter (6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 apg), F Jared Dudley (7.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg), C Marcin Gortat (12.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: Dudley (trade, Bucks), G/F Alan Anderson (free agent, Nets), G Gary Neal (free agent, Hornets), G Kelly Oubre Jr. (trade, Hawks; draft, No. 15).
KEY LOSSES: F Paul Pierce (free agent, Clippers), F-C Kevin Seraphin (free agent, Knicks), G-F Rasual Butler (free agent, Spurs).
COACH: Randy Wittman, fifth season with Wizards and 10th overall; 237-365.
EYES ON: Wall. An All-Star starter and second in the NBA in assists last season, he knows he needs to shoot better and score more if he’s going to take the next step toward being elite in his sixth season since getting drafted No. 1 overall.
OUTLOOK: With a strong backcourt in Wall and Beal, and plans to play plenty of fast-paced ”small ball,” the Wizards are aiming for a third consecutive trip to the playoffs. But the big question is: With Pierce gone, who will take all the pivotal last-second shots?
LAST SEASON: 33-49, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Kemba Walker (17.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.1 apg), G Jeremy Lin (11.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.6 apg), F Nicolas Batum (9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.9 apg), F Cody Zeller (7.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg), C Al Jefferson (16.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.3 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G-F Nicolas Batum (trade, Trail Blazers), Lin (free agent, Lakers), G Jeremy Lamb (free agent, Thunder), C Spencer Hawes (trade, Clippers), F Tyler Hansbrough (free agent, Raptors), C-F Frank Kaminsky (draft, No. 9).
KEY LOSSES: G Mo Williams (free agent, Cavaliers), C Bismack Biyombo (free agent, Raptors), Gerald Henderson (trade, Trail Blazers), F Noah Vonleh (trade, Trail Blazers), Lance Stephenson (trade, Clippers).
COACH: Steve Clifford, third season with Hornets and overall; 76-88.
EYES ON: Batum. The Hornets are expecting him to be a key cog in the offense and one of the team’s top three scorers along with Jefferson and Walker. Batum has looked good in the preseason and has helped create spacing on the floor.
OUTLOOK: The Hornets lost their best defensive player, small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, for six months to a shoulder injury. Charlotte made a conscious effort to improve its offense this offseason after finishing near the bottom of the league in most categories.
LAST SEASON: 25-57, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Elfrid Payton (8.9 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.3 rpg), G Victor Oladipo (17.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.1 apg), F Tobias Harris (17.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 apg), F Channing Frye (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Nik Vucevic (19.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.0 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G-F Mario Hezonja (draft, No. 5), G C.J. Watson (free agent, Pacers), C Jason Smith (free agent, Knicks), G Shabazz Napier (trade, Heat), F Melvin Ejim (free agent, Italy).
KEY LOSSES: F-C Kyle O’Quinn (free agent, Knicks), G Ben Gordon (waived), F Maurice Harkless (trade, Trail Blazers).
COACH: Scott Skiles, first season with Magic and 14th overall; 443-433.
EYES ON: Skiles. Orlando has turned to Skiles – a former Magic player – in hopes of making its first trip to the playoffs since the departure of former star Dwight Howard. Skiles has six playoff appearances as a coach, at past stops in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee.
OUTLOOK: The Magic whiffed on their attempts to sign All-Star forward Paul Millsap in free agency. But general manager Rob Hennigan did re-sign Harris and pick up a serviceable big man in Smith. If Skiles improves Orlando’s defensive toughness, a better year is possible.