2023 NBA Central Division Sports Betting Preview
I can smell the NBA just around the corner, but the news cycle never really stops as we had drama involving James Harden and Damian Lillard all offseason. Now the preseason has started and the games are going so we are getting our first look at some of the changes that teams have put in place. I like writing these previews for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that it helps me formulate my futures - those are available with the NBA package. You'll get the futures and 30 days of NBA plays from me when you purchase.
Milwaukee Bucks, 58-24 last year, 1st in division
How did winning the #1 seed in the East go for the Bucks last year? Well, it was a disaster and it cost their coach his job. I don't disagree with the firing of Coach Bud, but what a collapse from the Bucks. They fell to the eventual East representative Miami Heat and then started to retool their team. Now they have Adrian Griffin as their leader. He has coaching experience but now he needs to figure out how to make their bigger acquisition work with Giannis. The addition of Lillard was a bit of a shock to the league and caused Jimmy Butler to go into full emo mode for the media day. Here's the outlook: the Bucks have Giannis, arguably the best player in the league and one of the most dominant. Now they have one of the best shooting point guards in the league, a guy that can literally put up 60 in any game. Khris Middleton was injured a lot of last season, but this year if he is healthy, he should have more open shots than ever in his career. Losing Jrue Holiday will hurt their defense, but not to a point that Lillard's offense won't make up for it. Middleton and Giannis are both solid defenders and Lopez is still a force in the paint to protect the rim. The team is pretty deep too with Cameron Payne, Jae Crowder, and Bobby Portis on the bench. Health is about the only thing that can keep the Bucks from winning 55 or more games this season.
Cleveland Cavaliers, 51-31, 2nd
The Cavs enjoyed a rejuvenated year last season as they made their own acquisition to get Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, combined with Darius Garland, and the combo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, were able to propel the Cavs to 51 wins and a playoff berth. They eventually lost to the Knicks, but they had a nice campaign and something to build off of. Mobley made a really nice progression last season and was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. The bigger issue for the Cavs is they didn't make that much of an addition this offseason. They put Max Strus on the team and while he can shoot well at times, he isn't a good defender and can be a very streaky. Their bench isn't deep, but it does have some solid enough replacement players in Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert. Ricky Rubio's health will be an interesting thing to watch as well because he was giving the Cavs great minutes before he got injured last year. The book is expecting essentially the same season out of them as last year which isn't much of a surprise as they didn't make many changes. I'd be surprised if they get over 50 wins though.
Chicago Bulls, 40-42, 3rd
Speaking of teams that did very little in the offseason... the Chicago Bulls did nothing this offseason to improve their roster. They are still without Lonzo Ball as he returns from injuries, but that shifts Alex Caruso to the starting lineup. His defense and hustle make him a Chicago favorite, but he is still better served as a secondary player instead of a starter. Jevon Carter came over from Milwaukee and he will be a nice addition to the team, but aside from him and Coby White jacking up 3s with the second unit, there isn't much reason for optimism with the depth. Expect the Bulls to trade away LaVine, DeRozan, and potentially more if they need to. LaVine played well near the end of the season, but it came when DeRozan was somewhat injured. This team isn't going to compete for more than the play-in tournament. 37.5 wins seems doable, but with them potentially trading the starting lineup, why risk it?
Indiana Pacers, 35-47, 4th
They weren't always good, but they were pretty competitive at least last season. I'm kind of excited for the team as they should be one of the more fast-paced teams and enjoyable to watch. Tyrese Haliburton is the pilot for this squad and he continues to improve each year. He is a legitimate candidate to lead the league in assists and could even average 23 or more per game this season if he takes yet another step. Obi Toppin should be a nice addition to the Pacers. He flashed some signs of success with the Knicks last year and should be unleashed now that he isn't under Thibs' thumb. They are reportedly looking to trade Buddy Hield which is a bit confusing for me because they can use the shooting, but the sides couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension. Hield is all offense but would still fit in well with the Pacers. Will they finish ahead of the Bulls? I don't know, I would think that was possible only if the Bulls traded away pieces.
Detroit Pistons, 17-65, 5th
Don't sleep on the Pistons. If Cade Cunningham returns from injury and gets back up to speed quickly, they should be able to remain competitive in the majority of games. I like Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic kept them in games last season, Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley are a solid center rotation that can be a balance of offense and defense. The biggest addition was through the draft as they took Ausar Thompson. If he is willing to hustle and do the little things rather than just focus on scoring, he could be a big piece to the puzzle. Defense will still be an issue for the Pistons, but their offense overall should be improved. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they will make the playoffs. They will be in the lottery without question, but we should see some progress from them.
For NBA news, free plays, and general sports betting information, follow David at @futureprez2024