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NBA Preview Part 2: Central Division

October 13, 2010

NBA previews continue with a look at the Central Division. One correction from the Atlantic preview, I project the Celtics to win the division and get the 2nd seed in the East.  Now on to the Central.

1)  Cleveland Cavaliers
Last Year: 61-21, lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals
Additions: Ramon Session, Samardo Samuels, um....Joey Graham?
Subtractions: Lebron James, Delonte West, Shaquille O'Neal

When your disappointing playoff elimination and subsequent offseason is being compared to the sports Hindenburg, it doesn't take a history major to know that the year 2010 was not ideal for the Cavs. In a span of weeks, a 2-1 series lead against Boston was lost when Lebron lost all aggression (whether it was the elbow, the Delonte West situation, or something bigger, who knows), Danny Ferry and Mike Brown were fired, Tom Izzo declined the coaching job, Lebron left Cleveland in the most disrespectful way possible, and Dan Gilbert like a scorned lover declared that the Cavs would win a championship before Lebron would.  Which was more excruciating for the city of Cleveland, "The Decision" or the robbery of the Cleveland Browns by Art Modell?

As for the this season, when the best player in basketball leaves, instead of drowning in sorrow and playing the Downward Spiral on repeat, they should of have moved on and looked to replace his production and make the team better (Wow this does sound like a breakup with a girlfriend).  Instead they have a team of role players dependent on a star player no longer available.  Best case scenario, J.J Hickson and Leon Powe have career years, Antawn Jamison reaches into the well for one more great season, Mo Williams becomes the absolute leader of the team, and they possibly contend for playoff spot.  Worst case scenario, the Lebron hang over continues into the season, nobody steps up, the most valuable pieces get traded, and they finish with the worst record.  Anyway you slice it, I consider a under .500 record an absolute lock let alone last year's record.
Prediction:  25-57

2)  Milwaukee Bucks
Last Year: 46-36, lost in 1st round
Additions: Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Keyon Dooling, Larry Sanders
Subtractions: Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Dan Gadzuric

As surprisingly bad it has gotten in Cleveland, the complete opposite can be said for the Milwaukee Bucks.  In what was predicted to be a bad team last year became a very good team that won 46 teams and challenged the Hawks to 7 games in the first round.  Breakout seasons for Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut as changed the projection for the franchise and has placed them in solid footing for the next few years. They needed to address their offense and acquired Corey Maggette who can score and get to the line.  They have a deep bench with viable backups at every position.  Two question marks are the health of Bogut after the nasty elbow injury last season and the ability to score more efficiently, as only the Nets had a worse field goal percentage than the Bucks last season.  I predict another playoff appearance, but Bogut needs to be 100% for this to happen.
Prediction: 48-34 5th place 1st round exit

3)  Chicago Bulls
Last Year: 41-41 first round exit
Additions: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans, Kurt Thomas
Subtractions: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller

Despite the funds the Bulls could not pull in Lebron James or Dwayne Wade, but they still had a successful offseason that puts them in the conversation for the top in the Eastern Conference.  They acquired Carlos Boozer, who desperately fills the need of a low-post scorer and the perfect pick and roll mate for Derrick Rose.  They were a poor 3 point shooting team last year, and they addressed that need by adding Kyle Korver, who hit 53.6% of this threes last season.  By all accounts they upgraded at coach with Tom Thibodeau replacing the overmatched Vinny Del Negro. They will be a great defensive team, but it will be a matter if the new offense pieces can mesh together well enough to improve the consistency on offense.  I think they will take the next leap and win the Central this year.
Prediction: 50-32 3rd place 2nd round exit

4)  Indiana Pacers
Last Year: 32-50
Additions: Darren Collison, James Posey, Paul George
Subtractions: Troy Murphy, Earl Watson

It feels like the Pacers have been rebuilding for ages ever since the Artest Melee and the exodus that followed.  They didn't do much in the offseason as they got thinner upfront with the loss of Troy Murphy but got better at point guard with the addition of Darren Collison. Two major problems: Besides Granger, will anybody step up to be the consistent second scoring option and who in the front line of Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough, and Josh McRoberts will replace the rebounding and scoring in the post provided by Murphy. Ultimately I expect the same mediocrity as last season unless this front line improves immensely or Darren Collison becomes Chris Paul lite.
Prediction: 34-48

5)  Detroit Pistons
Last Year: 27-55
Additions: Greg Monroe, Tracy McGrady
Subtractions: nobody of note

Pistons spent $100 million dollars on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva to make shots and they finished last in 3 point percentage last season.  Oof.  That combined with injuries to Rip Hamiliton and Tayshaun Prince led to a disastrous season in the Motor City.  Detroit will be better this season with less players on the injury list and production from Greg Monroe, but this team is just boring.  They have no star power and play a plodding isolation style that reminds me why the NBA was unwatchable in the 90s.  Until the Pistons can rid themselves of these bad contracts and infuse younger all-star talent, this team won't be doing much in the near future.
Prediction: 31-51


berndon4 said...

gotta say i agree with the bulls pick....although i am slightly a bulls fan, I'm actually a little worried about had it right with them needing a healthy bogut to make any noise...but don't forget they'll probably get michael redd back at some point.....having salmons, redd, and maggette gives them 3 shooting guards better than anyone the bulls have on their roster

October 15, 2010 at 2:29 AM
Teach said...

When does Carlos Boozer get a nickname that demonstrates that he's the new Mr. Glass?

October 15, 2010 at 4:35 PM

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