NBA - Central Division Preview
The story of the central division was easily the Bucks with them having the best record in the NBA, all led by MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Giannis Antetokounmpo. This year should be no different, but let’s take a look at them and the rest of the division to see what is available.
The Bucks are -4000 to win the division, which is to say… they are a heavy favorite. It really shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The rest of the teams in the division are either rebuilding or uncertain about what they are doing, or are still recovering from losing the last person to lead them to a championship (that goes for the Bulls and Cavs). The Bucks were going to win 60 games last year and this year their over under is 50.5 (remember 72 game season). They upgraded at point guard, and have some nice bench pieces to replace some of their other players. I think they should easily hit the over on their win total and take the division, even if Giannis sits out a few games here and there for health.
The Pacers were the 4 seed in the playoffs last year. Victor Oladipo has been very enjoyable to watch and reminds me of a poor man’s Jimmy Butler. He’s also been the rumor of being traded once again, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up. If Oladipo stays the whole year, the Pacers should easily make the playoffs, but I don’t think they will be in the top half of the division. More likely that they end up as the 5th or 6th seed. As far as their win total, they opened at 39.5. Their winning percentage last year was .616, going 40-32 this year would put that as a winner and their winning percentage would only need to be .556. With a team that is largely the same and a lot of bottom feeders in the conference, this should be a pretty easy win – remember Oladipo missed most of last season.
The revamped front office and coaching staff of the Bulls still can’t help the team that takes the floor. Zach LaVine is fun to watch a couple of times a year, Coby White showed flashes of being a potential starter, and I think Patrick Williams will be a solid player in the next year or two. All of this does nothing for the team immediately. Do they have a chance that everyone takes a step forward under Billy Donovan? Sure, and maybe they will be in the mix for the 8 seed. Their over under is 29.5 wins, and if I had to pick, I’d probably lean under. I think the administration is going to sell people like LaVine for picks.
Detroit has… professional basketball players. They have the somewhat transformed Derrick Rose, and the ghost of Blake Griffin. Killian Hayes could surprise people and be a dark horse rookie of the year candidate. They did have what seems to be a productive draft so maybe in a couple years they will be better. Aside from that there really are not too many bright spots for Detroit. 23.5 wins seems a couple wins too high for the Pistons.
Cleveland won 19 games last year in 65 games. This year they get an extra 7 games and a total 22.5. If you can find this number, take the under. They added JaVale McGee, Thon Maker, and Damyean Dotson. They took Isaac Okoro with the fifth pick. I’m still trying to figure out where they are getting four additional wins from. Maybe they think Kevin Love and Andre Drummond are going to be the all-star versions of themselves. Either way, I don’t see them getting to more than 21 at most.
- David Troy
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