NBA Southeast Division: Without LeBron, who’s the favorite?

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Apr 23, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) is pressured by Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010, the Southeast Division was a doormat. In that time, the division has gotten younger with talent such as John Wall, Victor Oladipo, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And what was once an automatic division winner in the Heat has become a team on equal footing with the most competitive division in the east. In 2010, no one could have imagined the strength of teams that have sprouted in the southeast.  Now that LeBron has left to re-join the Cavaliers, winning the division puts that team on the fast track to an Eastern Conference championship.

MIAMI HEAT

Now without King James, the Heat still possess an intriguing unfinished lineup. Adding Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts before The Decision 2.0 was not enough to shake the earth, but Chris Bosh choosing to take the max deal of five-year/$118 million is the new centerpiece to the Heat table. The Heat also drafted UConn point guard Shabazz Napier (seemingly at LeBron’s request) and in the recent days re-signed Mario Chalmers and Chris Anderson.

Dwyane Wade announced via social media his return to the team and it was confirmed, however the terms of the deal are still not entirely released. So now the team is back to Wade, but he’s a shell of his former self, playing poorly in the Finals and even if he sits for long stretches like he did last season, will still count on his teammates for a lot. Coach Erik Spolestra has a curious task ahead of him, now that Birdman is back, does he go to center so Bosh can be more productive at the power forward spot? Does he throw Napier to the fire immediately and run a small ball unit similar to Jeff Hornacek‘s speedy Phoenix Suns unit?

There are still a handful of intriguing free agents out there, but none that come close to filling LeBron’s shoes, but you shouldn’t count Pat Riley out when it comes to making another stellar Heat lineup.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Charlotte Hornets Featured Lists Miami Heat NBA Orlando Magic Popular Washington Wizards

  • Adam Banig

    Gotta be the wizards. They have one of the best back courts in the nba and a very experienced front line that gives them leadership and will do the dirty work. They also have Glenn Rice, Jr. and Otto Porter, Jr developing as young reserves off the bench

    • Kevin

      3 team race w/ Miami, Atlanta, & Washington