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NBA Central Division Predictions + Season Preview

2010-2011 NBA Central Division Predictions + Season Futures

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With regular season NBA odds just around the corner, it’s time to start handicapping the division races.

Chicago Bulls

Last season: 41-41, third in the Central
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +1400
Regular season wins: Over 46.5 (-105), under 46.5 (-125)
Player additions: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer
Player losses: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller

After underachieving last season, the Bulls may be on the cusp of a Central Division title. The addition of Carlos Boozer not only gives the Bulls more scoring and rebounding—it makes star guard Derrick Rose much more dangerous, as he has someone to dish to as well as draw double teams.

Boozer can also spend more of his energy concentrating on offense thanks to the presence of Joakim Noah. The Bulls wisely turned down several trade offers for Noah, as he’s developed into one of the NBA’s best defenders and agitators. Boozer and Rose will have plenty of room to operate with Noah swinging elbows around on the floor. Luol Deng is also back at small forward after averaging over 17 points per game last season.

The Bulls have put together a great little trio in Rose, Boozer and Noah, and they have some solid depth. When NBA observers talk about how much the Eastern Conference has improved over the summer, Chicago is one of the teams they’re thinking about.

Milwaukee Bucks

Last season: 46-36, second in the Central
BetEd.com odds
NBA championship odds: +4500
Regular season wins: Over 45.5 (-125), under 45.5 (-105)
Player additions: Drew Gooden, Kenyon Dooling, Corey Maggette, Chris Douglas-Roberts
Player losses: Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas

Fear the Deer! Last season’s rallying cry should be in full force in 2010-11, as the Bucks try proving last year’s resurgence wasn’t a fluke—and there’s every reason to believe it wasn’t.

Brandon Jennings enjoyed a fantastic rookie campaign and certainly has room for growth, while Andrew Bogut finally broke out as one of the NBA’s better big men. Had it not been for a late-season injury to Bogut, the Bucks likely would have won a playoff series. Milwaukee also added a few new starters in Drew Gooden and Corey Maggette.

Maggette could be especially important if John Salmons suffers a drop off. The swingman struggled with the Chicago Bulls for a good chunk of the season, but he went on a tear after arriving in Milwaukee, averaging 19.9 points over 30 games.

The Bucks are young, talented, and have added some quality new faces. Winning a playoff series looks like a very good possibility this year.

Indiana Pacers

Last season: 32-50, fourth in the Central
BetEd.com odds
NBA championship odds: +10000
Regular season wins: Over 33.5 (-130), under 3.5 (+100)
Player additions: Darren Collison, James Posey, Paul George
Player losses: Luthor Head, Troy Murphy, Earl Watson

Adding Darren Collison was a great move by the Pacers. The second-year guard enjoyed a very strong rookie campaign for the Hornets, and was brilliant at times in relief of the injured Chris Paul. Collison should steal the starting point guard job from T.J. Ford, who is much better served as a speedy scoring threat off the bench. Whether or not the moody Ford is willing to accept that remains to be seen.

Danny Granger remains Indiana’s best player, and he should have some more room to operate with Collison in the fold. Still, there’s a dramatic drop off in talent after that dynamic duo. Guys like Mike Dunleavy and Roy Hibbert would excel as back-ups on championship caliber teams—not as full-fledged starters.

The Pacers should improve simply because they have a lot of youngsters with room for growth, but the playoffs remain a very unlikely possibility.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Last season: 61-21, first in the Central
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +10000
Regular season wins: Over 30.5 (-105), under 30.5 (-125)
Player additions: Joey Graham, Ramon Sessions
Player losses: LeBron James, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Shaquille O’Neal

Well, that was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? The LeBron James era is over in Cleveland, and basketball might as well be too. The fan base is predictably gloomy after James bolted for sunnier pastures, leaving behind a motley crew of solid players who will undoubtedly prove James has been carrying them for the past several years.

Antwan Jamison is the best of the holdovers but, at this point in his career, he’s much better served as a second-fiddle—not the go-to guy on a bad team. Mo Williams will also take on a larger role in James’ absence; he’ll probably be good for about 17 points per game.

At the end of the day, however, there’s no getting around it. James is gone—and Cleveland’s playoff hopes with him.

Detroit Pistons

Last season: 27-55, fifth in the Central
BetED.com odds
NBA championship odds: +10000
Regular season wins: Over 30.5 (-115), under 30.5 (-115)
Player additions: Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace, Tracy McGrady
Player losses: Kwame Brown

Detroit has assembled a roster that looks spectacular on paper—assuming it was 2005. Ben Wallace, Tracy McGrady and Richard Hamilton have all seen better days. Tayshaun Prince is solid if unspectacular. Ben Gordon just endured the worst season of his career.

There is some hope for the future. Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva are useful youngsters, while seventh-overall pick Greg Monroe will hopefully work his way into the rotation at center sooner than later. Gordon certainly has time to turn things around. If the Pistons can flip some of their aging vets for more young talent, there could be light on the horizon.

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About Ian Van Den Hurk

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts. Looking for more sports betting tips and expert sports handicapping articles from Ian V? We've got your back...


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