A division that is about one team, that also concentrates most of the individual talent in it. The Miami Heat, the NBA champions, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It also has the worst team in the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats, who probably won’t look much better this season.
The Orlando Magic, sans-Dwight Howard for the first time since 2004, also don’t have a player worthy of making the all-division team, and aren’t going to be even close to bothering the Heat, as they have in previous years (or won it) in the contention for the division title. Same goes for the Atlanta Hawks, despite Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Point Guard – John Wall, Washington Wizards
A big test year for Wall, who seemed to be running on neutral during his sophomore NBA season, averaging 16.3 points and 8 assists per game on a bit less minutes than his rookie year. In short – no progress, although being a talented young star on a bad team isn’t always the recipe for personal growths. Hopefully, the tweaking around him will allow Wall to break through and continue and develop the potential everyone saw in him the moment he came out of Kentucky.
Shooting Guard – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
Is Wade on the decline? Possibly, probably. His numbers were certainly down to 22.1 points per game, missing 17 games last season due to injuries. But the way the Miami Heat have evolved over the last two years makes it so Wade doesn’t have to be the go to guy anymore, and can take a step back. In fact, him taking a step back and giving LeBron James full control over the team is one of the keys to success. Establishing, finally, an actual hierarchy in the team.
Small Forward – LeBron James, Miami Heat
Easiest pick in the league, probably. Not because the lack of competition on other teams in the division, but just because James is the best player in the NBA, with an MVP, finals MVP and NBA title to prove it. Last season was the final step in becoming a legend, a living basketball legend. The numbers (30.03 points, 9.7 rebounds in the postseason) were always there; but it was the leadership, the taking responsibility part and withstanding the pressure that made it so special, and the end result so satisfactory for James and the Heat. He’ll probably be playing much more Power Forward next season, like he did in the playoffs.
Big Man I – Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Probably on his last year with the Hawks, and the biggest question will be whether Smith finishes out his contract in Atlanta or gets traded before that. He enjoyed his best season last year, averaging career highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.7), and will probably be even more of a focus point on offense, with Joe Johnson gone and the backcourt looking a bit thing, compared with his and Al Horford’s tandem upfront. Quietly, he’s turned into one of the best power forwards in the NBA, waiting for his first all-star appearance.
Big Man II – Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Center? Power forward? Doesn’t really matter. Bosh shed off the soft and half-superstar labels last season, first in a very good regular season for the Miami Heat, stepping in for an injured Dwyane Wade quite often, averaging 18 points per game and more importantly, making his return from his injury in the postseason, late in the Boston series and later in the finals. He’ll be scoring less, but Bosh’s awareness and improvement in doing the little things that help the Heat win is just as important.