Coach Treal | October 22nd, 2019
The Central Division might not leap off the page as the best division in basketball from top to bottom, but with the reigning league MVP playing in the conference and so many talented young players looking to turn the corner and potentially have a breakout season, the Central Division is one to keep a close eye on for the upcoming season.
The Bucks coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history not only owning the best record in the Eastern Conference but in the entire league going 60-22. That wasn’t all for the team as they cleaned up in the awards category with Giannis Antetokounmpo winning the MVP of the league and Coach Mike Budenholzer won COTY (Coach of the Year) for the second time in his career. But that wasn’t the end as GM Jon Horst won the executive of the year and the team found itself just two games away from the NBA Finals. This season, with some solid acquisitions, the Bucks to make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals. With the experience of last season, they hope to make it over the hill this time around. Eric Bledsoe for me is the key to this team’s success as he is coming off a productive season and made first-team all defense last season as he averaged 16 PPG along with 5 AST, 4 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. The team locked up Khris Middleton long term coming off his first All-Star season which saw him post 18 PPG along with 6 RPG. I feel they have all the makings to make another run at the eastern conference finals but I do have them falling short again this time to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Predicted Record: 55-27
The Pacers are coming off their fourth straight playoff exit in the first round and look to be one of the surprise teams in the eastern conference when their star Victor Oladipo gets back onto the court. After missing almost 50 games last season with a Ruptured Right Quadriceps Tendon there is no timetable for his return this season but as of press time, he was cleared a couple days ago for 5-on-5 half-court work. The Pacers are one of the teams I think can surprise many around the league if the new players are able to accept their roles and stay healthy the have a realistic shot at making a deep run this season and finally making it out of the first round of the playoffs.
Predicted Record: 48-34
The Pistons’ biggest strength and/or weakness this season will be the same health. With the addition of Derrick Rose in the backcourt with Reggie Jackson, this should become a benefit for both players this season when they can play together or if one is coming off the bench. But this team’s success will depend on the health of All-NBA Blake Griffin, who reminded many people of the talent he has last season making another All-Star game but missing most of the playoffs with another injury. He has support in the frontcourt with Andre Drummond, who posted another monster double-double season and seems to be motivated heading into the season before he could possibly hit the free-agent market this upcoming summer. With some solid additions to the roster and adding more outside shooting, I see the team making another playoff push this season and continuing to build toward a bright future in the Motor City.
Predicted Record: 42-40
The Cavaliers have one of the youngest rosters in the league and will not be looking to make any type of playoff push this season. The development of this young roster, minus a few veterans that will play heavy minutes, will fall on the lap of the first-year coach John Beilein, who is making the jump from college to the professional ranks. Not much is expected this season as the team is clearly in year two of a rebuild. Having two championship holdovers still on the roster making a ton of money will be interesting to monitor if both Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, who will make $46.5M for next season, are still around come the trade deadline. The second-year improvement of Collin Sexton will be a factor in how much this team has to go to become a contender along with how fast it takes rookie Darius Garland to get adjusted to the pros.
Predicted Record: 20-62
The Bulls will look to bring a different style of play to the court this season as coach Jim Boylen looks to have the team play a more uptempo style in his first full season as coach after taking over the role last season. The team used the 7th overall pick to select UNC Guard Coby White, who looks to earn minutes in a crowded backcourt with newly acquired Tomas Satoransky and hold over Kris Dunn, who played less than 50 games last season and may not last the entire season in Chicago. This team’s season will fall on the shoulders of two players for all intents and purposes; Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. With LaVine averaging close to 24 PPG last season, most have him making a push to make his first All-Star Game appearance this season and what better place to do so as the 2020 game is in Chicago. Not to be left behind, Markkanen posted 19 PPG and 9 RPG last season while only playing 52 games. If these two can stay healthy and jell playing with each other on the court, they could win games and far surpass the 25-win prediction total I have team penciled down for this upcoming season.
Predicted Record: 25-57
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