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Heat Favored to Win Southeast Division; Are Magic the Best Bet?

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Can the Miami Heat win the Southeast Division in 2019-20 now that they have Jimmy Butler? Photo by pxhere CC License.
  • The Orlando Magic won the Southeast Division in 2019 with a record of 42-40
  • The Miami Heat, who won 39 games last season, acquired Jimmy Butler
  • The Atlanta Hawks look like a team on the rise with two future All-Stars in Trae Young and John Collins

As the 2019-20 NBA season approaches, the Miami Heat have been installed as the favorite to win the Southeast Division. The Orlando Magic won the division last season but the Heat acquired Jimmy Butler in the offseason, so that’s expected to tip the scales. Are the Heat the best bet or is there value elsewhere?

 2020 NBA Southeast Division Odds

Team Odds at BetOnline
Miami Heat -125
Orlando Magic +175
Atlanta Hawks +700
Washington Wizards +2000
Charlotte Hornets +5000

*Odds taken 09/11/2019.

Heat Acquire Butler

The Heat had an interesting offseason as they pried Butler away from the Philadelphia 76ers. At the same time, they traded away Hassan Whiteside, who wasn’t a great fit with the team, drafted Tyler Herro and kept Goran Dragic. They’re now looking at a starting five that includes Dragic, Dion Waiters, Butler, James Johnson and Bam Adebayo.

For the Heat to be a contender in the Eastern Conference, a lot of their young guys are going to have to step up. That means Herro has to be a hit, Adebayo has to take the next step and Justise Winslow has to continue to shine how he did at the end of the season. The addition of Butler takes the pressure of the young guys, which is important.

If Butler is, in fact, a leader and makes life easier for Adebayo, Winslow, Herro and others, this team should win the Southeast Division. They’re not a lock by any means but it seems like they’ll be above .500, which is all that’s needed.

How Good Are the Magic?

Remember that the Magic “emerged” last season and won the Southeast, but they were merely 42-40. They almost won it by default as every other team couldn’t even finish above .500. The question for the Magic is will they be better or if they are, by how much?

This team has plenty of talent with All-Star Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac. At the same time, it’s hard to trust this franchise as they don’t have a pedigree of developing stars. If they could get anything out of Markelle Fultz or Mo Bamba, it’s possible that they have the pieces to surprise. I’m not counting on it, though.

Value With Hawks?

The Hawks had just 29 wins last season but they look like a team that has upside. They were a team that started 6-23 but finished 23-30. Trae Young showed he was one of the best playmakers in the game, finishing with 8.1 assists per game (fourth in the NBA) while John Collins was a stud in the frontcourt.

Now the team adds two more Top 10 picks in Duke’s Cam Reddish and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter. With Young and Collins looking like future All-Stars, this team has tremendous upside. In a weak Southeast Division, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it.

What’s the Best Bet?

You can scratch Charlotte and Washington off the list from the NBA Southeast Division odds, which leaves just three options. Of the three, I’m not interested in backing Orlando as I see them as a .500 team (or worse). I don’t like their upside.

The Heat are the safe bet as they have a star in Butler and a decent cast around him. With Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, you have the best coaching-managing tandem in the division. Spoelstra helps his teams overachieve and with Riley, you never know when he’ll make a big splash.

If you’re looking for some upside with a flier, I’d put a small bet on Atlanta but with the Heat at -125, you don’t have to pay a lot of juice for a team that should come away with this division crown. They won 39 games without Butler and should get to 45 wins next season. That should be good enough to finish with the top spot.

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