The Central Division is possibly the only division in the NBA where all five teams will have a lot of ups and downs this season. The one team that is expected to win the division is the Chicago Bulls, but with Derrick Rose out for most of the season, the Bulls may have trouble this year. The team that I expect to do alright is the Indiana Pacers, the “sleeper” team in the East last year, taking the Heat to six games in the Conference Semi-Finals this past season.
The Pacers should be a really good team this year. Trading Darren Collison to the Dallas Mavericks did not hurt the team one bit. They were able to fix that hole by acquiring D.J. Augustin. He should be able to fill the role of Collison and probably better. He did score 11 a game last year with the Bobcats, but going to a much better team, I expect him to have a career season. We cannot forget about Danny Granger, who lead the team in scoring with almost 19 a game. I also expect Granger to have a career season. I do believe that the Pacers will bounce back after losing to the Heat in last season’s playoffs. Gerald Green, Roy Hibbert and David West will contribute tremendously for this Pacers this season. Do not be surprised this year–like everyone was last year–if the Pacers end up with one of the top four seeds in the post-season.
As for the Milwaukee Bucks, we may not know what this team is capable of doing until the season starts. Last year they almost made the post-season with a 31-35 record and ended up 9th in the East. I expect the Bucks to have a similar situation this coming season. I do expect them to make the post season and you would think so with players like Monte Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, Brandon Jennings and Drew Gooden on the team, but I expect them to go as far as the #7 or #8 seed in the East.
The Detroit Pistons will be another team looking up in the standings as they will be in a process of rebuilding mode. They still have the talent that can reach them to 30 wins with players like Greg Monroe, Brandon Knights and Rodney Stuckey. Tayshaun Prince may be getting old, but he can still contribute as a team leader and 10-15 points a game. He has been on the team since he was drafted back in 2002 by the Pistons and young players on this team will look up to him as this team continues to rebuild this season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers a team that is still in the post-Lebron era as they have yet to find the right pieces to build around young Kyrie Irving. It’s still early and they are still rebuidling, but history shows that they have not been able to build a team around a key player. The main reason why LeBron James left is that the Cavs failed to put key players around him and he finally had enough of it and went to a place where he thought he had a better chance to win. Of course, he did. I expect the Cavs to have a roller coaster season and struggle to reach the 30 win mark. However, I do see success in the future for Cleveland, but Cavs fans are just going to have to wait another year or so before any of that happens.
The Bulls will be a team that may also have a roller-coaster season, but with more highs than lows. I do not expect them to win their division without Rose for most of the season, but I do believe that with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Nate Robinson, the Bulls have enough power to get them over the 40 win mark. If Rose is able to return in March and the Bulls are in the 40 wins area, then the Bulls may make a fight for a division title. However, if Rose does come back before the season is over it could also hurt them because he will not have been playing for most of the year. Bulls fans should expect their team to at least get to the post-season and, depending who they face in the first round, they may be able to surprise everybody and move on to the second round of the playoffs.
1. Indiana Pacers 50-32
2. Chicago Bulls 46-36
3. Milwaukee Bucks 43-39
4. Detroit Pistons 30-52
5. Cleveland Cavaliers 25-57
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