Ah, the division of the champions – one of the 12 different teams to win a championship in the last 30 years. After the miraculous comeback of the Bucks last year, what can we expect of them and the rest of the Central Division? Below we share a few thoughts on the teams overall. If you want the full NBA Futures card and daily plays, click Buy Packages above.
NBA Champions, 1st in Division, 3rd in Conference, 46-26
Everything had to break correctly for the Bucks last year. The Nets got hurt and they barely survived Kevin Durant’s amazing Game 7 performance. Even Trae Young was somewhat banged up when they played the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the NBA Finals, they went down two games and then Giannis started taking over and the Suns simply had no answer. The Bucks are listed as one of the top teams once again with their entire core coming back. The line on them is 55.5 wins for the season. I can’t see them caring about the regular season the same way they used to, but frankly, the line isn’t worth touching to me. I don’t like the over, but I don’t love the under either. Stay away as we see how this team responds to being champions? Will there be a hangover, or will they be hungry for a repeat?
2nd in Division, 9th in conference, 34-38
The Pacers seem to lack any real identity. They aren’t great defensively. They don’t have an amazing offense. They have some decent pieces and will steal games when better teams take the night off, but they also won’t really compete for anything outside of the play-in tournament. Domantas Sabonis is easily the best player on the team, but on most squads, he would be a second or third option. Caris LeVert can score in bunches and I’m looking forward to his return. Myles Turner has an outside shot at defensive player of the year if he can exceed the 3.4 blocks per game he recorded last year. There is some value at +700.
3rd in division, 31-41
There is an argument to be made that the Bulls made more of an impact during the offseason than any other team in the NBA. They added veteran DeMar DeRozan and improved point guard Lonzo Ball. Now, can Billy Donovan get the most out of this roster? DeRozan does one thing very well, sadly that thing (mid-range jumpers) is one of the least utilized shots in the entire game. Lonzo Ball was on a team with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson last season, he had open shots pretty regularly and improved his 3-point shooting. It also came at the expense of his assist totals. What will he do in Chicago? Facilitate or try and score? Zack LaVine is essentially worthless if he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. The Bulls bench should be a nice second unit with Alex Caruso and Coby White, but the depth somewhat ends there. They should be an above .500 team but will still likely be frustrating to watch.
4th in division, 22-50
Aside from Jarrett Allen, all of the Cavs starters were lottery draft picks, in fact, they were all pick 8 or lower. If 3rd overall pick Evan Mobley starts, then all of them qualify. So far, though, that hasn’t translated to much success. Last season was another bad one and you really just wonder how long before the Cavs trade away Kevin Love – something they’ve seemingly tried to do since LeBron left. They added a couple of former Bulls players to their bench in Lauri Markkanen and Denzel Valentine. Cedi Osman and Ricky Rubio help to make this an effective second unit. I like the Cavs to have a better season, but still be one of the bottom teams in the NBA.
5th in division, 20-52
I really like the team the Pistons are assembling. Cade Cunningham, the #1 overall pick should prove an instant difference-maker for a team that needs a go-to scorer. One of last year’s steals was Saddiq Bey – if he can be consistent, the Pistons will have a nice one-two punch. Killian Hayes, last year’s 7th overall pick should also grow with the team and hopefully have a full season instead of his injury-shortened one from last year. Detroit won’t fight for a playoff game but, they should improve on last year’s win total.
- David Troy
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