The NBA Blogger Previews keep rolling along with the Eastern Conference’s Southwest Division, a group very near and dear to the hearts of ETB. Some of the most dynamic young talent in the NBA resides here, starting with those fleet-of-foot Hawks. Joe Johnson will lead the way for a team that put a scare into the Celtics in the first round, and this time they’ll have Mike bibby for a full season and a (hopefully) more mature Josh “J-Smoove” Smith and Alfred Horford.
Charlotte and Miami figure to be more fun to watch this season as well, with intriguing new names like veteran stat-stuffer Shawn Marion, rookie beast Michael Beasley and petite passer D.J. Augustin thrown into a mix that already included box-score mainstays Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Emeka Okafor and Dwyane Wade. The big question for these two teams: who can return from serious injury to produce among Wade, Shaun Livingston, Sean May and Adam Morrison?
Barring a superhuman effort from D-Wade (and after watching the Olympics, let’s not be too hasty to rule it out) the division figures to be headed up once again by the Magic of Orlando and the Bullets of Washington. Orlando will be returning with largely the same formula from last season that led to an impressive 52-30 record and a division title – though Dwight Howard should be improved and wing Mickael Pietrus will bring some much-needed athleticism and defense on the perimeter. That will leave Washington hoping young Andray Blatche can emerge as a defensive presence in the paint while the rest of the crew holds down the fort until Agent 0 returns in a few months. Keep an eye on JaVele McGee as well, the kid was impressive in preseason play.
Without further ado, the Southwest Division Blogger Previews…
Ben: Third Quarter Collapse