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Last year, a team from the Central Division were the Eastern Conference champions, but with LeBron gone, that seems very unlikely. However, some of these teams show a lot of promise. So, how far are the teams from the Central Division gonna go?
The Bulls are in rebuilding mode right now. After losing first their MVP Derrick Rose and then All-Star Jimmy Butler, they're are struggling, but are finding good pieces that fit. Adding Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn from the Butler trade was very useful. These two players are good pieces to add to this team. Lavine can score and DUNK the ball, while Dunn was a consideration for Most Improved Player last year.
The Bulls also got Lauri Markkanen from last years draft. The kid can play ball and is deadly from the three-point line. He was deserving of 1st Team All-Rookie. However, his role is limited on this Bulls team. The team makes him seem better than he really is. But I still do see lots of potential out of him. Wendell Carter was another good pick from this years draft and I expect to see good minutes from him. Keep your eye on him.
I think the biggest piece though was Jabari Parker. Adding Jabari will be a huge lift for the Bulls. Jabari had TONS of potential when coming into the NBA. His first year he proved that he could be a star for the Bucks, but injury really prevented him from doing so. While he was injured, other Bucks players like the Greek Freak and Kris Middleton really rose up and when Jabari came back from injury, he didn't really fit into the system anymore. His defense may be weak, but offensively, he is a talent and if the system works, Jabari will be their go-to man. Despite that though, I don't see the Bulls improving too much and will miss the playoffs. Expect a good fight out of them though.
Prediction: 30-35 wins. Miss the playoffs.
LeBron is gone. Simple as that. There isn't much to say about the Cavaliers expectations next year. Currently, they are just a mess of decent-to-good players that were formed together around LeBron James. But now that they center piece is gone, this team falls apart. The chemistry just isn't there and the coaching... well, we all know who the real coach of the Cavs were last year...
However, the Cavs do have some good pieces like Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, JR Smith, Larry Nance, Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson. These players have proved that they can provide valuable minutes, but I'm just not sure they fit in the system. The Cavs won't be as bad as they were the first time LeBron left, but still expect them to make the playoffs.
Oh and P.S. Those of you who think Cedi Osman is gonna rise up and be a star for the Cavs, just stop. Why?
Prediction: 30-35 wins. Miss the playoffs
I don't see the Pistons changing much from last year either. No moves were made, but they are still a solid team that will make a fight for the playoffs.
Stanley Johnson and Reggie Jackson are there in the frontcourt. Jackson showed that he could be a star when playing behind Russell Westbrook in OKC, but when teams offered him big contracts expecting him to be their go-to man, he didn't live up to it. Yes, he is still a good player have but he won't be the star you need.
The bigs are the real threat on the Pistons. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. Drummond has been showing significant improvement, especially at the line. He's been adding a long-range shot to his arsenal too which can be helpful. Blake Griffin... well, we all know about Blake. Highlight reel whenever he jumps up for a dunk. However, he hasn't really improved. When he came into the league, he wowed everybody that came to watch, but he really has plateaued. He's added a long jumper to his skills but hasn't improved other than that. He consistently puts up All-star numbers but they haven't gotten better. And that is shown easily by him not making the All-star team anymore, while as before he easily did.
The Pistons will be in the same spot. Fighting hard for the 8th spot but barely missing it.
Prediction: 35-40 wins. Miss the playoffs.
The Pacers are a good team and they are gonna get better. When Paul George got traded for Victor Oladipo, everyone thought that it was one-sided. The Thunder got a superstar and the Pacers got screwed. But in the end, both teams ended up winning the trade and Oladipo became the league's Most Improved Player and 1st time All-Star. With Oladipo and Darren Collison running the backcourt, this team is gonna have no trouble on the perimeter, especially with their superb defense.
Their frontcourt is a force too. Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis. Turner is an expectant for the MIP award next year too and with the addition of Kyle O'Quinn, the Pacers have a strong case for the playoffs.
Two other additions this offseason are noteworthy too. Doug McDermott, a straight shooter, and Tyreke Evans. Evans proved in the past that he can be a star. He's not gonna have that role this year, but he will provide very valuable minutes behind Oladipo.
This team is good. Good chemistry with lots of role players that work well together. Remember that this is the team that took LeBron to seven games and almost ruined his legacy by beating him in the first round. Expect them to be even better next year.
Prediction: 45-50 wins. 4 seed.
The Bucks have some really strong players. I think there biggest weakness however, was lack of experience. Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is still young. He is a little wild but with experience, he can be even better. The Greek Freak is already in talks about winning MVP so don't sleep on them. Kris Middleton is a good piece too. Improving lots the past few seasons, he is gonna the sidekick to Giannis.
The Bucks have other strong pieces too like Eric Bledsoe, John Henson, Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon. Bledsoe is a good player but he can also be bad for a team. He didn't want to be in Phoenix and although that is the reason he's in Milwaukee, management should still keep an eye on him because of the locker-room and/or chemistry problems he might bring. Brogdon (still don't understand how he won Rookie of the Year...) will provide good bench minutes like he usually does.
I think losing Jabari Parker will help. Although Jabari is a really good player, he didn't fit into that system and wasn't making them better. But adding Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova will help the team a lot. Lopez is a former All-Star and provides good experience to the team.
I see them doing better than last year but still making a first-round exit.
Prediction: 45-50 wins. 6 seed.