Happy Holidays everyone! We’ve finally made it to our first report card session for the Southeast division, which probably has the easiest teams to grade because these teams are either good or bad, there is no in-between:
- Grade: Early Drop
Currently 6-24, Atlanta has separated itself from the pack in terms of being the worst team in the NBA. In terms of offense, they are completely reliant on Trae Young (and sometimes Jabari Parker) to get points. On defense, it’s just really hard to describe how bad you have to be to give up 143 points to the New York Knicks. Overall, they rank 28th in both offensive and defensive rating per 100 possessions. Good luck next year Atlanta.
- Grade: B
Currently 13-20, I’ll give Charlotte a B this time around because if you judged their personnel before the season as I did, it’s a mystery how they are still in contention for a playoff spot. But just because they are in the position now doesn’t mean I expect them to keep it up, as advanced metrics tell a completely different story about the Hornets. The only metric they do show well at is offensive rebounding percentage, which they currently rank 8th in the league. All other statistics prove that this is probably not sustainable and I expect a double-digit game losing streak in their future. But, good for Charlotte for proving doubters like me wrong and getting 10 wins before MLK day.
- Grade: A
Currently 21-8, Miami has a stranglehold on this division and should have no competition for the useless banner that comes with winning it. The keyword for this team is depth: they currently have seven players that are averaging double-figure points. But the biggest reason why the Heat have been this successful early is the development of Bam Adebayo. On any given night, Bam is the biggest, strongest and most athletic guy on the court. But he is also skilled enough to put a lot of his talents together to bring the ball up the floor, get to the basket, run a dribble hand-off, and a lot of other things. I would say Miami lucked into a lot of this, and they very much could have. But only the Heat Culture would make this group of players this competitive, and that’s why they deserve an A.
- Grade: C
I recently brought up the point on Twitter that the Orlando Magic might be the Mendoza line of the NBA, where if you’re better than them, you can consider yourself a good team and if you’re worse than them, you should consider yourself a bad team. The Magic have done absolutely nothing to dispel that notion: of their last four games, they beat the Pelicans and lost to the Jazz, Nuggets, and Trailblazers. You be the judge. With the exception of Evan Fournier, this team is wildly underwhelming on the offensive end, which can be equated by their 0.489 effective field goal percentage, ranked 28th in the league. If they can figure out how to score points, then they might be able to turn this thing around. If not, this C can easily turn into a D.
- Grade: D
I have no idea what the Wizards are trying to do. I feel like they think they can make the playoffs because the Eastern Conference is always weak, but it’s hard to win games if you don’t play defense. Currently 8-21, they aren’t technically “out” of it. But seriously, they’re ranked 30th in defensive rating per 100 possessions, they aren’t making the playoffs. Washington should have dropped before the season by trading Bradley Beal, but they’re here now and they deserve whatever grades they will get going forward.