Diehl ’18: The far-too-brief NBA preview: The Southeast/Southwest divisions

Sports Columnist
Friday, October 30, 2015

This week, we’re heading down south to preview the teams in our beloved lower part of the country. With one division from each conference, this analysis will have more half-and-half than your babysitter’s iced latte from Starbucks.

Southeast Division

1. Miami Heat

Best-case scenario: The Heat’s new starting five makes it work, Gerald Green and Justise Winslow provide wing dominance off the bench, and the Heat make a shocking run to the NBA Finals.

Worst-case scenario: Hassan Whiteside turns back into a clown on the court, Chris Bosh doesn’t recover fully, and Goran Dragić plays merely average. The Heat lose in the first round.

Bold prediction: The Heat will finish in the top-four of the conference and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

2. Washington Wizards

Best-case scenario: Randy Whittman continues to actually make sense as a coach, and John Wall and Bradley Beal gun the Wizards into the top-half of the Eastern Conference.

Worst-case scenario: Randy Whittman becomes Randy Whittman again, and the Wizards grind to barely making the playoffs while Nenê becomes fully confined to a wheelchair.

Bold prediction: Bradley Beal finishes somewhere in the top-10 in the NBA for scoring, and the Wiz advance to the second round, as well.

3. Atlanta Hawks

Best-case scenario: The Hawks continue to play great offense, and one of their wings steps up for the departed DeMarre Carroll.

Worst-case scenario: The Hawks miss Carroll’s production too much, and Al Horford succumbs to another injury en route to missing the playoffs.

Bold prediction: The Hawks squeak — or squawk — into the playoffs as the seventh seed before getting absolutely annihilated by the Bulls.

4. Orlando Magic

Best-case scenario: Mario Hezonja thinks he’s LeBron James and actually plays like him, while the young core continues to grow, making a run at the eighth seed.

Worst-case scenario: The young guys are still not ready to make the leap and fall right back into the lottery.

Bold prediction: The Magic will finish with a better record than the older Hornets. These guys are talented.

5. Charlotte Hornets

Best-case scenario: Frank Kaminsky becomes the new face of something other than JC Penney en route to a rookie-of-the-year campaign that propels the Hornets to a playoff berth.

Worst-case scenario: The Hornets continue to play dreadfully boring basketball, and Al Jefferson finally becomes too slow to run up and down the court semi-effectively while they tank to a high draft pick.

Bold prediction: These guys are going on a one-way highway to Tank City. A top-six draft pick is in the cards.

Five things I want to see:

1. Goran Dragić star in a re-boot of Miami Vice.

2. John Wall and Bradley Beal run for Congress.

3. Kyle Korver switch places with Ashton Kutcher for a game.

4. Tobias Harris average 20 and eight.

5. Frank Kaminsky become a spokesperson for Macy’s in a shocking betrayal of JC Penney.

Southwest Division

1. San Antonio Spurs

Best-case scenario: The Spurs get the best coach in the NBA, and the veterans awaken from their slumber as the playoffs start. Oh wait, they do this every season!

Worst-case scenario: Tim Duncan ages. Gregg Popovich retires. Or … never mind, nothing bad is going to happen.

Bold prediction: LaMarcus Aldridge starts to find his groove around the 50-game mark, and the Spurs advance to the NBA Finals.

2. Houston Rockets

Best-case scenario: James Harden becomes this year’s MVP, Ty Lawson fits in really well, and the reserves hold their own while the Rockets advance to a second-consecutive Western Conference Finals.

Worst-case scenario: Dwight Howard breaks his back, and James Harden cuts his beard. The Rockets exit in the first round.

Bold prediction: Dwight slips a disk; James’ beard becomes more luscious than ever. Does basketball even matter with facial hair like that?

3. Memphis Grizzlies

Best-case scenario: The Grizz bruise their way into the second round of the playoffs.

Worst-case scenario: Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph break down, Conley sprains another ankle, and the Grizz claw their way into the playoffs.

Bold prediction: The Grizzlies slide into the sixth seed of the playoffs and are forced to consider breaking up their team in the offseason.

4. New Orleans Pelicans

Best-case scenario: Anthony. Davis.

Worst-case scenario: No. More. Anthony. Davis.

Bold prediction: Anthony Davis wins MVP while he realizes the rest of his team is incredibly forgettable. The Pelicans allow him to become their general manager.

5. Dallas Mavericks

Best-case scenario: Deron Williams finds his old form from his days in Utah, and the Mavs are able to make a run at the playoffs.

Worse-case scenario: Wesley Matthews can’t recover from his Achilles injury, and the Mavs give the Celtics their really valuable first-round pick.

Bold prediction: Sorry, Dallas, everything won’t be bigger in Texas this year. Unless you count the number of losses.

Five things I want to see:

1. Gregg Popovich dress up as Santa Clause this winter.

2. James Harden not cut his beard. Ever. FEAR THE BEARD! And maybe give me a few tips.

3. Marc Gasol play flamenco guitar for Grizzly pregame introductions.

4. Anthony Davis shave his unibrow for once.

5. Deron Williams decide to move back to Utah after this year.

Joe Diehl ’18 is opening a barbershop exclusively for NBA players. Schedule an appointment at


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