Catching Up on the 2016-17 NBA Offseason: The Southeast Division

Between the Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Magic, and Wizards, who got better this offseason?

A couple weeks ago, we began recapping the whirlwind NBA offseason by division. So far, we've covered the Atlantic Division, the Northwest Division, the Central Division, and the Pacific Division. Today, we're hitting the Southeast Division.

In this series, we are hoping to provide you with a one-stop spot to catch up on all the player movement that took place in the NBA this summer, analyzing the changes within each division along the way and finishing it all off with an all-encompassing summary at the end.

For the sake of our analysis, we'll be using our proprietary nERD metric as a point of comparison, focusing on nERD in and nERD out for each team.

If you're not familiar with nERD, it combines several offensive, defensive, and usage factors to produce one number that is meant to project a player's overall value to his team. That final number is an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win over an 82-game season with the player in question as one of its starters. It's comparable to Win Shares, but is meant to be predictive (projecting an 82-game season) as opposed to descriptive (how many wins the player has contributed to his team in the past). For the sake of this study, we'll use last season's nERD scores and leave out rookies and overseas imports (since they're such unknown commodities).

The Hawks, Hornets, and Heat all made the postseason out of the Southeast Division last year, while the Magic and Wizards were on the outside looking in. According to our numbers, the playoff squads look like they'll be taking a step back based on the moves they made this offseason, while the non-playoffs teams look poised to take a step forward after theirs. Will the result be a middling division? Who will ultimately come out on top?

Let's take a look.

Atlanta Hawks

Players In How? nERD Players Out How? nERD
Dwight Howard FA 3.6 Al Horford FA 8.4
Jarrett Jack FA -2.9 Jeff Teague Trade 1.5
Lamar Patterson Waived -1.2

nERD in:
nERD out: 8.7
Net nERD: -8.0

Al Horford was likely the biggest free agent on the market this summer not named Kevin Durant, so the Atlanta Hawks suffered a pretty big loss when he elected to sign with the Boston Celtics. They put a pretty decent band-aid on the wound by adding Dwight Howard, but there's an obvious drop from Horford's nERD of 8.4 to Howard's of 3.6. The Hawks also traded away former All-Star Jeff Teague to clear the way for an up-and-coming Dennis Schroder, while adding Jarrett Jack as a serviceable backup for Schroder at point guard. Overall, the turnover in Atlanta might not seem that significant to the naked eye, but Howard is simply not the dominant center he once was while Horford -- an advanced stats darling -- is one of the league's most underrated players.

Charlotte Hornets

Players In How? nERD Players Out How? nERD
Ramon Sessions FA 0.3 Al Jefferson FA 1.1
Brian Roberts FA 0.2 Troy Daniels Trade 0.4
Christian Wood FA 0.0 Courtney Lee FA -1.4
Roy Hibbert FA -3.3 Jeremy Lin FA -2.0
Marco Belinelli Trade -6.0

nERD in:
nERD out: -1.9
Net nERD: -6.9

The Charlotte Hornets had a fairly strong offseason with the re-signing of Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, but their overall Net nERD of -6.9 suggests that they downgraded at some other key positions. Their outgoing center, Al Jefferson (1.1 nERD), is not the All-NBA big man he was just two years ago, but the newly-added Roy Hibbert (-3.3 nERD) is an even further cry from his productive prime. Otherwise, swapping out solid players like Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee for the decidedly un-nERDy Marco Belinelli (-6.0 nERD) and an underwhelming Ramon Sessions might signal an unfortunate step back for the Hornets after a 48-win season in 2015-16 (the most wins in a single season by the team since 1999-00, if you consider all the weird Bobcats and OG Hornets combined histories).

Miami Heat

Players In How? nERD Players Out How? nERD
Derrick Williams FA 1.4 Luol Deng FA 3.4
Willie Reed FA 0.7 Amar'e Stoudemire FA 1.7
James Johnson FA -1.2 Dwyane Wade FA -0.7
Luke Babbitt Trade -1.3 Gerald Green FA -3.2
Dion Waiters FA -4.9 Joe Johnson FA -6.6
Wayne Ellington FA -5.1

nERD in:
nERD out: -5.4
Net nERD: -5.0

Remember the "Big Three" era in Miami? Well, two seasons after LeBron James went home to Cleveland, now Heat-lifer Dwyane Wade has bolted to play for his hometown team in Chicago. All that's left of that trio is Chris Bosh and his health has put his involvement with the team this season in question. Will new additions like Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams make up for the losses of Wade and Luol Deng while keeping the Heat relevant and in contention for the playoffs? Probably not, so Miami's success this season will hinge almost entirely on Bosh's health and the continued development of youngsters like Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow.

Orlando Magic

Players In How? nERD Players Out How? nERD
Bismack Biyombo FA 4.4 Dewayne Dedmon FA 2.0
Serge Ibaka Trade 1.3 Ersan Ilyasova Trade 1.2
D.J. Augustin FA 0.2 Andrew Nicholson FA -0.2
Jodie Meeks Trade 0.0 Victor Oladipo Trade -0.2
C.J. Wilcox Trade 0.0 Brandon Jennings FA -0.7
Jeff Green FA -3.5 Devyn Marble Trade -1.3
Jason Smith FA -1.5
Shabazz Napier Trade -2.5

nERD in:
nERD out: -3.2
Net nERD: 5.6

Considering the fact that there's only a year left on Serge Ibaka's contract, it feels like the Orlando Magic got robbed when they traded Victor Oladipo, rookie Domantis Sabonis, and Ersan Ilyasova to acquire Ibaka. That said, the subsequent moves they made this offseason have left them with a Net nERD of 5.6, the best of any team in the Southeast Division. That could very well be significant for a team that's entering the 2016-17 campaign without having sniffed the playoffs in the last four seasons.

Overall, the Magic essentially swapped out a bunch of players that don't perform well by our metric and brought in some that do (maybe they're subscribers?), including nERD darling Bismack Biyombo (4.4 nERD), who is fresh off a postseason breakout. Orlando might be criticized for attempting to speed up their rebuild by trading away youth for more proven commodities (while also crowding their frontcourt), but it will be interesting to see if they can now manage to push for a playoff spot in a fairly open Eastern Conference with the added experience on their roster.

Washington Wizards

Players In How? nERD Players Out How? nERD
Ian Mahinmi FA 5.2 Jared Dudley FA 1.0
Andrew Nicholson FA -0.2 Nene FA 1.0
Jason Smith FA -1.5 Ramon Sessions FA 0.3
Alan Anderson FA -0.1
Drew Gooden Waived -1.3
Garrett Temple FA -2.6

nERD in:
nERD out: -1.7
Net nERD: 5.2

The Washington Wizards' big move of the summer was signing Bradley Beal to a lucrative extension, but their other transactions look fairly good from a Net nERD perspective. Ian Mahinmi, in particular, was a savvy, under-the-radar signing, as he represents the best incoming nERD of anyone added in the division this offseason at 5.2. On paper, the Wizards don't seem like a much improved team fresh off missing the playoffs for the first time in three years, but mild improvements coupled with some other teams in the Eastern Conference taking a step back might put them back in the picture.


Team nERD In nERD Out Net nERD
Atlanta Hawks 0.7 8.7 -8.0
Charlotte Hornets -8.8 -1.9 -6.9
Miami Heat -10.4 -5.4 -5.0
Orlando Magic 2.4 -3.2 5.6
Washington Wizards 3.5 -1.7 5.2

No one team in the Southeast Division made a major splash this offseason, with most of the biggest stories revolving around departures -- Al Horford leaving Atlanta for Boston and Dwyane Wade choosing Chicago over Miami. In the end, the Hawks (-8.0 Net nERD), Hornets (-6.9), and Heat (-5.0) all took a step back by our metric, suggesting that their playoff spots earned last season (when they all went exactly 48-34) might be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, playoff outsiders, the Magic (Net nERD of 5.6) and the Wizards (5.2), managed to get a bit better, thus closing the gap on what has become a relatively wide-open division. Since the Magic had such a busy summer and came out on the positive end of the ledger, we'll give them the nod as having had the best offseason in the division.