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NBA League Preview: Central Division

September 4, 2012

Features, NBA

Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks The Farm Club’s go to guy for NBA knowledge, Curtis Dasch, will be giving you a preview of what’s in store this season. He starts off with the Central Division of the Eastern Conference.

Chicago Bulls:

Last season, the Chicago Bulls finished with a league best (tied with San Antonio) 50 wins in the lock-out shortened season. Think about that for just a moment: 50 wins out of 66 games. Not too bad when your starting, reigning Most Valuable Player, point guard misses over 20 of those games. Not too bad at all even if Rose had played all 66 games, but it is just that much more impressive.

Unfortunately (depending on who you are), we all know the story of what happened next to Chicago. Derrick Rose ruptures his ACL, and the lowly 76ers led by All-Star and gold medal Olympian Andre Iguodala, became the ninth number eight seed to knock out a number one seed in the first round.

Let’s very quickly get something straight here: that was last season. This season will be very different for Chicago. Rose (even being “2-3 weeks ahead of schedule” in his rehab) will probably not make it back before January. While sure, you can make the argument that the Bulls can manage without him that long. They have signed the defensive point guard and ex-Bull in Kirk Hinrich, a marksman from deep in the undersized dunk champion Nate Robinson who will come off the bench. They have also signed Chicago native Nazr Mohammed, as well as Marco Belinelli and stretch four Vladimir Radmanovic. If you haven’t been keeping track, that is one heck of an overall for a team that won 50 games last season.

I’ve read that several people are dismissing Chicago, saying that their title hopes are shot and while yes, I agree with that, I don’t agree with it because of the bench being overhauled (if you can call it that, I wouldn’t say upgraded. To go on record, I was never a fan of the Chicago bench anyway). I agree with it for two reasons.

The first reason is Carlos Boozer. He under achieves and will continue to do so until he is likely amnestied next season. While he can play, I just don’t see him as a second option on a team, and I do not seem him as a primary option ever. It is important to note however, that while typically injury prone, Boozer did play ever game last season. Maybe he can keep that trend on the rise.

The second reason has nothing to do with Chicago at all. It has to do with Miami and Los Angeles. Even if healthy, I’m sure the Bulls (with their newly overhauled bench mentioned previously) could not compete with either of those teams. That’s all due to brilliant front office work on the part of the other teams.

What does the outlook like then? This year, it really means that while you should expect to see a Chicago Bulls playoff team, you should be happy with a first round victory. Depending on match-ups and how healthy either team is, Chicago could luck out further than expected. I would say this team wins a bit over 45 games this season, but they could very well be under that.

The only reason I am saying over is because of coach Tom Thibodeau. He is 112-36 in two season with Chicago, and there is no reason to think the team will blow up without Derrick Rose. They still possess Deng, and Hinrich will make a quality starter, and Boozer will provide points while Noah provides the rebounds. Occasionally they will get a big night out of a bench member and that will push them for a while. Maybe Chicago could sneak up on a team, and have a hungry Derrick Rose prove the world wrong. I just don’t think it’s going to happen this season.

Indiana Pacers:

Here’s an interesting team. They are young, over achieved, and won a surprising total of 42 games last season. Not to be understated, they are bringing the core of the team back but with an improvement at point in D.J. Augustin. They also add a bit of depth through the draft by adding Duke star Miles Plumlee.

The interesting part about Indy now, is that they are no longer going to sneak up on anyone. Miami is certainly going to remember who you are Indiana. You made a lot of noise last season, but good for you. Indiana is well coached, and they play hard on every possession. They may be young, but they’ll be do some damage. I would go so far to say as a contender, but you could easily make the argument that they are not quite there, yet.

Danny Granger continues to improve and be the teams go-to guy, while Hibbert continues to abuse fellow centers down low. David West continues to light up the scoreboard, and you can likely see his numbers going up thanks to the induction of Augustin.

This team has only gotten better, and that’s frightening. I’d like to say they are the Thunder of the East. Young talent, being mentored, and waiting for their time to shine. While waiting, they seem to play hard, and generally care about one an other.

Unfortunately, it won’t matter a whole lot with Miami looking over them. I see Indiana winning about 55 games this year. There is no reason to think they will not win the division though, even if they are not the only team that has improved.

Detroit Pistons:

Moving back into relevancy is not the easiest thing. It involves a lot of pain and lessons. It involves making mistakes, and learning from them. While Detroit may never fully recover from the Darko fiasco (everyone knows, in their defense, Darko was a good pick at the time, right?), they have found a way to manage.

Unfortunately, it’s been a tough process as of late. The past two or so seasons have been pretty unforgettable in the Motor City, but fear not Piston fans, I feel like you all are on the rise. Allow me to explain.

Detroit is getting smarter about this whole rebuilding thing. They managed to get rid of Ben Gordon’s awful contract, and bring an expiring one over in Corey Maggette. They have signed forward Kyle Singler, who played last season in Madrid after coming out of college from Duke. Will Bynum should continue his strong point guard play. Things really generally are on the rise for Detroit, and you can look to see a win improvement for sure.

Just wait your turn Detroit, eventually you will be able to take a shot at contending again. It’s just going to take smart decisions and a little more patience.

Milwaukee Bucks:

Yeah… Milwaukee… Try not to hold your breath. Making only one real free agent signing this year in Joel Przybilla is not really giving the score happy point guard in Brandon Jennings a shot at contending in anything other than the first round draft pick of the 2013 NBA draft. Milwaukee will be bad again this season. There is nothing that can be done about it as of now. You are rebuilding. Just sit back and relax, and hope to see some big games from Jennings. Unfortunately this year, I see them finishing at the bottom of the conference, which means…

Cleveland Cavaliers:

It means that the Cavaliers are improving! It has been pretty hectic since the House that LeBron maintained came crashing down to earth. But, with the bad, comes a positive and the Cavs were given Kyrie Irving, who had an amazing season last year in winning Rookie of the Year. While yes, he is coming off of a broken wrist in the summer, he has had successful surgery and is said to be doing very well. Also, there is more to the Cavs now with C.J. Miles and Luke Harangody, who was signed to a one year deal. Joining them is also University of North Carolina star Tyler Zeller, who seems to be their only true center on the roster. He does seem to be perfectly sized, being 7 feet tall, he weighs about 250 pounds. Look to him to provide big minutes, and give the team some much needed rebounding. He also gives star point guard Irving someone to target down low, allowing for more of the defenders to have stretched the floor in having to guard triple threat Irving, Varejao, and Zeller.

Make no mistake, while Cleveland has improved over last season, they will not be in the playoffs, and will not contend for quite some time. Sorry Dan Gilbert, you should probably just order crow from here on in.

{All statistics are credit to ESPN}

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About Curtis Dasch

Curtis Dasch is currently a student at Bowling Green State University, majoring in English. He is a go-to for NBA opinions and knowledge of the intangibles, but enjoys most sports in general. Considered a "jack-of-all-trades," he also hosts a weekly gaming podcast known as Satellite Gaming's Satellcasts.

View all posts by Curtis Dasch

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11 Comments on “NBA League Preview: Central Division”

  1. daschound Says:

    While they may not have Collison, they upgraded in my opinion with D.J. Augustin. Granted, Augustin’s the only true PG on the roster now.

    Reply

  2. Stefan Jagot Says:

    Trading Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi was a very poor trade imo, but the Pacers GM may know something we don’t.

    Reply

  3. daschound Says:

    Okay, so I can sort of give an explanation on my opinion:

    I agree with Stefan saying that Indy can’t be contenders. But, the reference to the Thunder (and to everyone’s credit, I suppose it can be loose references): Indy was built through the draft (much like OKC) and Indy is also young (also much like OKC). Big difference here is obviously Indy doesn’t have a “Durant”. But, they are still a young team with plenty of talent. I don’t think they’ve hit they’re ceiling.

    As for Zeller, I don’t think he’ll play like an All-Star, which I never said he would, and frankly it won’t matter if he does, but he is definitely an improvement for that team. How can he NOT stretch the floor? Feel free to leave a seven footer open if you’d like. He just needs to take some, very light, pressure off of Irving.

    No comment on the Pistons. They’ll improve, but not much else to say. They’re getting better with time, but I don’t see how they would beat the Pacers right now (in the playoffs).

    Bucks.. This team won 31 games, and finished third so I can see where you’re coming from, and realistically, you can swap Cleveland and Milwaukee if you’d like, but I feel that while the Bucks have sat still, the other teams have improved. But like I said, you could easily argue the other way and it’d make sense. I just picked this way because it seems to make sense by what the other teams have done in the off season thus far.

    Reply

  4. Stefan Jagot Says:

    I don’t quite get the Thunder reference either, except that they are a young and talented team. But they can’t compete with the big dogs right now (Chicago/Miami) they are a 5th seed at best IMO.

    Reply

  5. mahkey Says:

    Bucks for last and speaking about Zeller like he is going to be an all star. Ouch! Pacer’s the young Thunder? The one thing that you might have gotten right is Piston’s improvement and yet you flawed that up. Ouch!

    Reply

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