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2012-13 NBA Central Division Season Preview

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2012-13 NBA Central Division Season Preview

Derick Hingle-US Presswire

On day two of my 2012-13 NBA Season Previews I will focus on the Central Division which has a couple of teams filled with young players who may be ready to make a huge leap this year and a couple of other teams that may be ready soon but not quite this season. Pound-for-pound though this division may have the best young core of players in the entire Association. With the top player in the division sidelined until at least February and possibly for the season the Central is up for grabs and anyone can win it.

In case you missed it you can check out the Atlantic Division Season Preview here.

Now it's time for my 2012-13 NBA Central Division Season Preview.

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#5 Cleveland Cavaliers (35-47)

Eric P. Mull-US Presswire

Last season: (21-45), fifth place in the division

The Cleveland Cavaliers have plenty of young talent to go around beginning with the 2011-12 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. Irving should have another magnificent season this year, but he will experience some growing pains as now defense will game plan to stop him first and foremost. Much of the Cavs success as a team this season will rely on the other young stars (Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller) development; if these guys can turn into players in this league quickly then maybe Cleveland doesn't finish in the Central division cellar again. I think they're just a season or two away from getting back to postseason contention again.

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#4 Detroit Pistons (39-43)

Tim Fuller-US Presswire

Last season: (25-41), fourth place in the division

This season the Detroit Pistons are going to see a substantial improvement in their record and that will be made possible by the growth of big-man Greg Monroe. Last season as a rookie Monroe quietly averaged 15.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while giving Pistons fans hope for the future and even though the future isn't here just yet, it's not far away. The future could be here sooner than later depending if Monroe and Detroit's first round selection from this season's draft Andre Drummond can play with each other on the court at the same time or not. If they can't then the Pistons may have wasted a first round pick on a guy who plays the same position as their best player, but if they can this could be the making of another set of twin towers. Second-tear point guard Brandon Knight is also a key piece to this team especially since he is the one who will have to get the ball down low to the bigs.

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#3 Chicago Bulls (43-39)

Bradley Leeb-US Presswire

Last season: (50-16), first place in the division

The Chicago Bulls got to preview last season what life without Derrick Rose would be like this season and it wasn't that great for them. Last season Chicago fared pretty well when Rose endured his many injuries posting a 16-10 record sans the 2010-11 NBA MVP however in the postseason they were 1-4 without him. Another fact to realize about the Bulls playing so well with Rose is that C.J. Watson and John Lucas III stepped and played tremendous in his absence and Chicago failed to retain either players' services this year. It will up to Kirk Henrich and rookie Marcus Teague to fill the huge void that Rose's absence will bring. Not to mention the Bulls have got to find away to get more out Joakim Noah and especially Carlos Boozer. If Rose can comeback by February like they are hoping then maybe they have a chance to finish second in the division and sneak into the postseason with the eighth seed in the East.

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#2 Milwaukee Bucks (46-36)

Benny Sieu-US Presswire

Last season: (31-35), third place in the division

The Milwaukee Bucks appear to be ready to take that next step w=from team that could have a future to team that should make the playoffs. The Bucks backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis will dictate exactly how far they will go as a team and judging from late last season, the two seemed to finally figure out how to play with one another. Not only does this team feature an explosive backcourt but they also have terrific young players in their front court including Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh, first round draft pick John Henson and of course the surprisingly efficient and hard-working Ersan Ilyasova. With head coach Scott Skiles pulling the right strings this team could come very close to winning 50 games and even challenging for the Central division title.

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#1 Indiana Pacers (54-28)

Steve Mitchell-US Presswire

Last season: 42-24, second place in the division

Last season the Indiana Pacers showed the world that they were a basketball team that should be noticed and taken very seriously, now this year I'm quite every one is going to do exactly that. The two biggest moves which the Pacers made during the off-season was to re-sign both All-Star center Roy Hibbert and starting point guard George Hill to lengthy contracts. Now that those two are locked up the Pacers can focus on winning for the next few season without worrying about who'll be on their roster, that is until superstar in the making Paul George is eligible for free agency in two season. Regardless when you look at the Pacers starting five of Hibbert, Hill, George, Danny Granger and David West they not only have the best unit in the Central division but maybe one of the most balanced in the entire Association. If the Pacers win anything less than 50 games this season it will be an out right crime and disservice to themselves and their supporters.