With the NBA season fast approaching, let's preview the landscape of the league. As part of a six-part series, we will preview each team division by division. We will discuss our thoughts on each team, as well as provide a potential team MVP, breakout player, and whether the team will be over/under on their win totals projected by our friends in the desert.
Let's get into the Central Division.
2017-2018 Record: 27-55
Team MVP: Lauri Markenen
Breakout Player: Lauri Markenen
Over/Under - 30 Wins: Under
I find the Bulls oddly intriguing. I like a lot of their young players (Markkenen, Carter Jr., Dunn), but they lack that standout franchise guy. It would behoove them to suck this year. I'm not sure they will, but they should.
It didn't help that they resigned Zach Lavine to a ridiculous contract, however, everything could click for Lavine and he becomes this year's Victor Oladipo, there's definitely a possibility of that.
Chicago. Please do not try to win this year. Get a stud in the draft, just think of your team with R.J. Barrett or Cam Redish. There would be a youthful core that can compete in the Eastern Conference if you do.
Either way, the Bulls are a weird team that I will watch just to see how the young talent on their team will develop.
2017-2018 Record: 50-32
Team MVP: Kevin Love
Breakout Player: Colin Sexton
Over/Under - 31 Wins: Under
Colin Sexton is so fun to watch. The Cleveland Cavaliers will not be.
I can't stand what they are trying to do. Dan Gibert, Owner of the Cavaliers, refuses to rebuild because he will not give credit to the importance of having LeBron James on your team. Gilbert believes that the Cavaliers can still compete, and they can be competitive in games, but no team will fear Cleveland.
I don't understand why the Cavaliers would not go all-in on a rebuild, instead of the on-the-fly style they seem to be doing. Trade Kevin Love for future assets and bottom out. Cleveland won't be competing for a title for a long time, shorten that time by getting better, young players, sooner rather than later on. No players were attracted to playing in Cleveland, they were attracted to playing with LeBron. Now that he's gone, you need to find the next cornerstone of your franchise. Maybe that player is Colin Sexton, if it is, surround him with more young talent that can grow around him. J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love are not those guys.
2017-2018 Record: 39-43
Team MVP: Blake Griffin
Breakout Player: Luke Kennard
Over/Under - 38.5 Wins: Over
Congratulations to the Detroit Pistons for becoming the new incarnation of your 2010's Los Angeles Clippers. Mediocre basketball talent, with a mediocre coach to boot. You're going to be a bubble playoff team for the next couple of years, so enjoy being the median of the NBA.
The Pistons have missed on several draft picks over the years, the biggest being Stanley Johnson. Entering his 4th season it's a make-or-break campaign for Johnson. He hasn't shown much in the NBA, in fact, the highlight of his career is that he scored 86 points in an OVO Bounce Championship Game. Even for the lack of accomplishments, he is still only 22 years old. But we are at a point where we cannot expect much from him in terms of improvement.
One player on Detroit that I am intrigued to see improvement on is Luke Kennard. He is an oddly athletic player and can shoot the lights out, yet he did'nt show that last year. Will Kennard be a pick that the Pistons hit on, or will he be another Stanley Johnson?
2017-2018 Record: 48-34
Team MVP: Victor Oladipo
Breakout Player: Myles Turner
Over/Under - 48 Wins: Over
The easiest call on the over/under for team wins would be the Indiana Pacers. All the Pacers have to do to hit the over is replicate their record from last year, all while possessing a better roster. There is also room for growth on their roster. How big of a jump that player can take will determine if the Pacers can force themselves into the conversation for best in the east with the Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto.
Indiana is a team full of breakout out players of the past. Victor Oladipo was a salary dump in the Paul George trade, but the Pacer's saw something in him. Maybe it's because he's only good when he plays for a team in Indiana. His breakout was uncalled for last year, and he could get even better. Tyreke Evans resurgence last year for the Memphis Grizzlies was improbable. Evans turned into a modern-day NBA player last year and a player who once shot under 30% from three-point range throughout the majority of his career has posted a 43% and 39% from three-point range in back-to-back years.
Those two breakouts are in the past and are expected to at least replicate their past season's performance. The one to focus on now is Myles Turner's. Can develop into the prototype for modern big men? He has all the tools to and is in shape too. If he does not make the leap this year he could be supplanted by Domantas Sabonis, who had a better year than Turner last year.
2017-2018 Record: 44-38
Team MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Breakout Player: Giannis Again
Over/Under - 48.5 Wins: Over
The Milwaukee Bucks went the route of addition by subtraction this offseason with Jabari Parker signing with the Chicago Bulls. They hired Mike Budenholzer as their new head coach, who will be a significant upgrade over the incompetent duo of Jason Kidd and Joe Prunty. Milwaukee signed Brook Lopez, who will probably start for them and be a good fit to help stretch the floor compared to John Henson. Looking at their offseason, I would say it was underwhelming.
All that being said the Bucks are a better team this year for one reason alone. Giannis Antetokounmpo. If Giannis learns how to shoot three's then team's should literally throw five guys on him on defence, because how else can you stop him? I forgot how young Antetokounmpo, 23, actually is because it seems like we've been watching him for a decade now. I can't wait to see what Giannis is this year and as fans, we should just enjoy him while he is at this athletic peak.
I think its time to give up on Thon Maker. I thought he was going to be their centre for the next 10 years after seeing him torch the Toronto Raptors in the 2017 playoffs. Now he's fighting with the likes of John Henson and Tyler Zeller for minutes off the bench. The outlook on Maker is not looking promising this year.
The Buck's are the consensus 4th best team in the East. The Pacer along with the Buck's will jockey for the 4 and 5 seed in the East, they are just a tier below the elite in the conference.
Buck's fans treat Giannis like the king that he is, or else Masai Ujiri is going to take him to Toronto in 2021.