The 2021-22 NBA regular season is scheduled to kick off on October 19, and in the weeks leading up to opening night, we’re previewing every division in the NBA.
Here you can find projected win totals, best player and best rookie predictions, under radar scenarios to follow and a bold prediction among all five teams.
First of all … the Southeast Division.
NBA 2021-22 season preview: Southeast Division
Projected victory totals
Top / Bottom payout totals provided by Action Network.
Miami Heat: 48.5 wins
Atlanta Hawks: 46.5 wins
Charlotte Hornets: 37.5 wins
Wizards of Washington: 34.5
Magic of Orlando: 22.5
Best player: Jimmy Butler
It wasn’t an easy decision, but Butler is the best player in the Southeast Division.
The 32-year-old established that title during Miami’s run to the 2020 NBA Finals, in which Butler elevated his game to a level we’ve never seen before, battling with LeBron James on the biggest stage in the league. Aiming for a 40-point triple-double and a 35-point triple-double in the Finals, Butler led a shorthanded Heat to a few hard-fought wins, making him one of the best players in the NBA. . .
Following the shortest offseason in U.S. professional sports history, Butler was overlooked as an All-Star in 2020-21 due to games missed due to injury while voting. And yet, he still enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 21.5 points to go with career highs of 7.1 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals per. league-leading game.
Butler was awarded a spot on the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team for his efforts.
Star guards Trae Young and Bradley Beal certainly challenge Butler’s title as the best player in the Southeast Division, but neither has edged the Miami franchise player. Young made a strong case with an impressive playoff streak last season, averaging 28.8 points and 9.5 assists per game to lead the Atlanta Hawks to the Eastern Conference Finals. , and he could very soon surpass the title of “best player in the division”. . Beal’s case is built around his elite scoring ability, averaging over 30 points per game in each of the past two seasons.
But, for now, Butler is still atop the throne as the division’s top player.
Best recruit: Jalen Suggs
This one was obvious: Suggs is the best rookie in the Southeast Division.
The Gonzaga product will make a strong run for 2022 Rookie of the Year as he hands over the keys to the Orlando Magic franchise. Suggs is anything you could ask for of a General and a Warden, standing coolly well beyond his 20s. Its utilization rate should be staggering right off the bat, filling the stats sheet for a Magic team in the midst of rebuilding. Having been passed down four times in the 2021 NBA Draft, Suggs will play with a chip on his shoulder as the ultimate contender with the knack of winning at every stage of his career so far.
Other rookies to mention in this division include Gonzaga’s teammate of Suggs, Corey Kispert, who will be a sniper for the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets rookie tandem of James Bouknight and Kai Jones, who will be a sniper for the Washington Wizards. will surely produce a handful of highlights this season, and Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson, who has had a stellar Summer League that suggests the Eastern Conference finalists may have found a steal with the 20th choice.
Under the radar: are the Hawks still the best team in the division?
Practically all conversations surrounding the Southeast Division this offseason revolve around the Heat and their acquisition of Lowry. Bringing in the six-time All-Star and sole NBA champion elevates Miami to title contender, and it is assumed that they will once again be one of the top three or four teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
But what about the defending Hawks Division champion, who lost in the Eastern Conference final last season?
Atlanta’s roster hasn’t changed much, as it sacks all the key players from their 2020-21 rotation. With Young, John Collins and Clint Capela locked up for the long haul, the Hawks have their core for the present and the future in three players who all stepped up in the team’s playoffs last season. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari will start the season healthy, which could not be said last year.
Kevin Huerter is set for another big role on the bench after the breakout playoffs. Lou Williams and newly signed Delon Wright provide additional backcourt depth. De’Andre Hunter is making good progress coming back from the knee injury that kept him sidelined for most of last year and Cam Reddish is expected to continue improving in his third year in the league. . To add to all that depth, rookie forward Johnson seemed capable of making an immediate impact on the basis of his play during the NBA Summer League.
The Hawks are as deep as any team in the NBA and they’re not just going to turn around and hand the division top team title back to Miami. It will be a dog fight for the South East Division title this season.
Bold prediction: LaMelo Ball will be an All-Star
When you think of the Eastern Conference guards, you might think of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Trae Young, Jaylen Brown, Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Kyle Lowry, and Jrue Holiday.
It’s no easy task to beat the vast majority of these guards for a spot on the All-Star Team, but in the second year of his career, Ball will do just that.
The reigning Rookie of the Year title was better than announced in his debut NBA season, dispelling any doubts. At 19, Ball became the only teenager in NBA history to average at least 15 points, six assists and six in a season. While notable players like Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Penny Hardaway, Chris Paul, Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons also made it as rookies, none of them were teenagers when they achieved the feat. .
Even compared to the league as a whole – not just rookies – Ball has always stood out. The only players to average 15 points, six assists and five rebounds while shooting at least 35% out of 3 last season were Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, James Harden, LeBron James, Julius Randle, Lowry and Ball.
On January 10, Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double. When he took on the role of full-time playmaker, the Hornets jumped into the playoff image to clinch a spot in the Play-In tournament.
With a year of experience under his belt and a more talented roster around him, Ball will shine in his highly anticipated second season. If he can beat his averages from last year and the Hornets are back on the playoff list this season, Ball will be rewarded with an All-Star offer in his sophomore year.