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The excitement can't be contained. On October 28, the NBA season begins. So a week and a half from Wednesday, we begin our countdown. We'll carefully look into the different NBA teams by division and try to assess how they will perform with their additions and losses. The arrangement will be one division everyday until the jumpball happens on Wednesday. Thus we begin with the Southeast. [firstpara]

Atlanta Hawks
Coach: Mike Woodson
Projected Starting Five:
PG: Mike Bibby
SG: Joe Johnson
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Al Horford

Key Additions: Jamal Crawford
Key Losses: Speedy Claxton, Solomon Jones, Acie Law

Even though the Hawks’ 2008-09 season ended in a sweep courtesy of Lebron James and his gang, the team's future doesn’t look all that bad. Woodson's boy have grown a lot in the playoffs, and the fact that their core remains intact for this season means the organization believes this squad can win.

Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson once again will provide stability for this team, as they are tried-and-tested veterans who offer the highest level of consistency for this squad. The addition of Jamal Crawford can only prove beneficial. Though labeled as a volume scorer, his ball-handling and playmaking skills will be huge, allowing Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby to catch a breather from time to time. The man is also a scorer, which is exactly what he’ll do as the first man off the bench.

Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford are still very young, but you can bet they learned a lot from the previous season. All still lack a certain polish with regard to their offensive skills, but they all play with intensity, which has been a Hawks hallmark. If Smith can be wiser with his shot selection, and if Williams and Horford can continue to finish on the offensive end on a more consistent basis, they have a good chance at getting deep into the playoffs.

Charlotte Bobcats
Coach: Larry Brown
Projected Starting Five:
PG: Raymond Felton
SG: Raja Bell
SF: Gerald Wallace
PF: Boris Diaw
C: Tyson Chandler

Key Additions: Derrick Brown, Tyson Chandler, Flip Murray
Key Losses: Sean May, Emeka Okafor, Juwan Howard

Larry Brown’s defensive philosophy was in full effect last season as the Charlotte Bobcats allowed only 94.9 points per game from their opponents, up from the 101 points per game they've given up in the 07-08 season. They were actually on the way to earning their first playoff berth last season until they lost 7 of their last 8 games on the way to a 35–42 finish.


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WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES & OMAR GLENN BELO

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