The Central Division in the NBA is actually a relatively easy one however the teams consistently struggle. With high-profile players like Lebron James and Dwayne Wade leaving lingering questions as to how long they plan to stick around with their teams, the division is becoming dangerously close to being irrelevant. Check out our preview for this upcoming season and how the teams look coming out of the offseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Is Lebron going to stick around for another year in Cleveland? If not, this might be the Cavaliers’ last remaining chance to clinch another NBA victory. The loss of Kyrie Irving was a major blow to the franchise, but luckily they brought in a few players to help lead the Central Division. With Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Derrick Rose joining the roster, the Cavaliers looked poised to continue holding that top spot in their Division along with the league. While Thomas will unfortunately start the season off injured, this healthy team of stars should manage without him, especially since Kevin Love is sticking around to provide some much-needed talent beyond the arc. The key problem will be whether this team can gel will enough to convince “King James” to stick around or whether the Cavaliers should remain focused on finding the team for the following years.
Milwaukee Bucks – Last season the Bucks took second place in the Central Division with a promising record of 42-40. Led by head coach Jason Kidd, the Bucks were a relatively young team that have finally found their footing in the NBA. While it’s nearly impossible for them to overtake the Cavaliers this year, they will most likely not fall any further down in the rankings than one spot. Giannis Antetokounmpo emerged as a necessary leader last season averaging a career high of 22.9 points, 1.6 steals, 1.9 blocks, 5.4 assists, 8.8 rebounds, and 52.1% field goal percentage per game. This is his fifth season with the Bucks and don’t expect him to slow down anytime soon. Malcolm Brogdon also had a great rookie season last year, and he showed off his potential on the court. While he isn’t as flashy as other guards in the NBA, he quietly gets the job done and will be a key player for Milwaukee this season.
Indiana Pacers – Landing in third place in the Central Division last season with the same record as the Bucks but less division wins, the Pacers look like they’re heading towards a glum future. With the loss of Paul George and Jeff Teague, fans have to wonder what is going on in the minds of the Pacers’ administration. The two are such horrendous departures, that they almost guarantee that Indiana could have a disastrous season and it will be entirely their own fault. However, the team also released a few veterans, like C.J. Miles, who provided stability to the roster even if they weren’t high-scoring rookies. Myles Turner, the center in his third season, is undoubtedly expected to carry the team on his shoulders this year despite basketball being a team sport. At this point, Pacer fans are probably hoping to scrape through this season, land some good draft picks, and start fresh next year rather than try to fix all the roster problems before the winter.
Chicago Bulls – Like the Cavaliers, the Bulls are looking the inevitable departure of their star, Dwayne Wade, to happen sometime in 2018. Finishing fourth in the Central Division and squeaking into a playoff spot, Chicago needed to do a lot more in this offseason if they hoped to climb the rankings. They lost a lot of key players this year and have yet to find any high-profile stars to replace any of them. Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, Michael Carter-Williams, and Nikola Mirotic are just four who left but they’re the most impactful. Chicago is unlikely to recover from the loss of Rondo or Butler this year even with the hotly anticipated return of Zach LaVine. However the very real possibility that LaVine’s health struggles will continue plagues any thought that he could be the new leader that the Bulls need. Not to mention, the addition of Kris Dunn, who many are relying on to be the new playmaker, will not be able to be the point guard that this Chicago team requires to get the team to mesh together.
Detroit Pistons – The Pistons may have been in last place in the previous season in the Central Division, they are finally poised to make a comeback. Andre Drummond should be a dominant force on the Detroit team after averaging 13.6 points, 53% field goal percentage, and 13.8 rebounds per game. The acquisition of Avery Bradley was also a clever move on Detroit’s behalf because he adds more depth to their defense, something that desperately needed to be bulked up. However, it isn’t going to be an easy route to the top with the team’s chemistry still requiring desperate improvement as well as work on the free-throw line. However, the Central Division is a relatively easy division and it’s likely that they top both the Bulls as well as the Pacers because the two are poised to have disastrous season results.
With so many teams in the Central Division looking subpar, will this section of the NBA be relevant in the next few years? Almost all of the teams need to pull themselves together and start compiling rosters that will be effective against the rest of the league before becoming the Browns of the NBA.