The Heat‘s starting five is both a source of optimism as well as concern for the team, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “It’s going to be a challenge,” Dwyane Wade said of this starting group, each of whom averaged double figures in scoring last season. “We don’t know how shots are going to be passed out. We don’t know how it’s going to affect someone’s confidence when they’re not getting the opportunities they’re used to. The only thing that scares me about it is that we’ve got a lot of guys who are offensively minded … in that first unit. There’s not a lot of role players in that first unit. It’s a good thing to look on paper saying we’ve got scorers, so you don’t necessarily have to rely every night on one or two guys. But that could be a bad thing, too, because maybe there’s no one willing to sacrifice. When you have a lot of [scoring] depth, sometimes guys like to individually will it.”
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Thabo Sefolosha suffered ankle ligament damage in the incident in which he also suffered a broken leg at the hands of police outside a New York City nightclub in April, as the Hawks swingman writes in a first-person account for GQ.com. He lost 15 pounds in the month leading up to training camp from worry over his trial, in which a jury ultimately found him not guilty on charges that Sefolosha says could have landed him in jail for two years. The testimony that coach/executive Mike Budenholzer made in that trial sticks in Sefolosha’s mind, as the 2017 free agent makes clear. “It was emotional, hearing him say those things, me feeling that I let the team down and him having my back like this,” Sefolosha wrote about Budeholzer. “He was incredible throughout the whole ordeal.”
- Hornets coach Steve Clifford is in the final year of his contract with the team, but he indicated that he wants to remain in Charlotte long-term, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports writes. Speaking about his coaching future, Clifford told Wojnarowski, “I hope it works out. I really like this place. [Owner] Michael [Jordan] has been great to me. I like the people here. And I love the players. I remember when I first got into the league with the Knicks, seeing the fan-base here. It’s terrific. If we become a consistent contending team, or a playoff team, we can get those fans back and have that same type of environment.”
- The Magic enter the season needing to determine if their young nucleus can be successful together, or if the team needs to head in another direction with its roster, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. “Because of the lack of wins so far we have to also be in evaluation mode and see who going forward are guys who can truly be built around,” coach Scott Skiles said. “And that’s hard to know when you’re not winning enough games. It’s really hard to know. We’re high on all the guys. We like all the guys. We think we have good, young talent. All that stuff I’ve said many times before. But until you go out and perform in crunch time and win big games, go on the road and win games — that’s when guys really show themselves to you.“
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.