NBA Futures Predictions
The Chicago Bulls were unable to give the Cleveland Cavaliers the kind of spirited competition for top spot in the Central Division – and Eastern Conference, for that matter – that many expected last season, and one wonders if a fully healthy Bulls team would even be capable of doing as such.
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LeBron James is at the height of his powers at the moment, and with another year of experience with the talented group around him, it seems logical that he’ll again put the Cavaliers in position to compete for top spot in the Eastern Conference, and the NBA’s top overall record.
Here’s a look at which teams you should keep your handicapping eye on from the Central Division.
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA Odds -500)
This offseason was whisper-quiet for the Cavaliers compared with what they were able to do a year ago. Shawn Marion shuffles out, and Mo Williams joins the fold.
The team did make the NBA Finals, so it’s not hard to justify keeping the squad largely together.
They were able to keep Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, which is good. For all intents and purposes, a healthy and bought-in Love is effectively addition.
Keeping the big three on the court has to be a top priority of the Cavaliers are to run the table, as each of LeBron, Love, and Kyrie Irving spent extended periods dealing with injury.
Chicago Bulls (NBA Odds +450)
Tom Thibodeau’s out as the team’s head coach, and it will be interesting to see how that impacts the Bulls’ win total this season. He’s one of the few coaches around that can actually influence the number of wins his team finishes with.
There won’t be much change to the roster, though Derrick Rose is already on the injured list before the season’s even started.
Re-signing Jimmy Butler was big, as he’ll probably be seeing a fair bit of time at point guard, and they’re desperate for any offense they can get out of him.
Milwaukee Bucks (NBA Odds +2000)
No one expected the Bucks to bring in Greg Monroe. He gives the team a threat on the offensive post that just wasn’t there a year ago. Given the team’s difficulties scoring the basketball a year ago, he could make a major difference to an already strong core.
Khris Middleton was also locked up to continue growing under Jason Kidd, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks will again have trouble spacing the floor because of their inability to put out a legitimate deep threat.
Indiana Pacers (NBA Odds +2000)
The Pacers took a major step backward a year ago, so it’s no surprise management chose to go in a completely different direction this season.
Gone are the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West, and coming in are the younger, quicker duo of Monta Ellis and Jordan Hill.
They’ll be supplemented by a healthy Paul George, and that group of players could have the Pacers in position to return to the postseason, even if they aren’t quite ready to make the jump to legitimate title contenders quite yet.
Detroit Pistons (NBA Odds +10000)
The Pistons pulled off a bit of a surprise move on draft night, adding Stanley Johnson over Justise Winslow.
They also overpaid Reggie Jackson, and let Greg Monroe walk, but Stan Van Gundy has a clear vision of what he wants to do, and ownership appears content letting him go through his process.
The team could flirt with a playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference, but it seems more likely they’ll again be in the lottery.
2016 NBA Central Division Prediction: Bucks +2000
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