The start of the NBA season is almost here. Over the next few days, BangtheBook will be taking a look at each division and providing a free prediction for the winner of that division. Next up is the Eastern Conference- Central Division. All odds listed are from BetOnline.
Odds to win Division: -180
Season Win Total: 48
Key Losses: CJ Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer
Key Newcomers: Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Marquis Teague
Derrick Rose’s injury casts a major cloud over the Bulls season. No one seems to be certain when Rose will be back and whether he will be 100 percent at any point this year. The Bulls are still a good team without him, but certainly aren’t capable of winning a title without Rose in the lineup. The strength of this team is their depth in the frontcourt. Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Taj Gibson are tough for the opposition to handle. Teague was an interesting pick by the Bulls, and he could prove to be a nice player in the next few years. This team will make the playoffs with or without Rose, but they can’t go far without him healthy.
Odds to win Division: +115
Season Win Total: 51.5
Key Losses: Darren Collison, Leandro Barbosa
Key Newcomers: Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, D.J. Augustin
The Indiana Pacers had a nice run in the postseason last year. I believe that run will give this team quite a bit of confidence heading into this season. Roy Hibbert made a huge jump last year, and I expect him to be an All-Star once again this year. David West should be much healthier this year, and that will make a big difference. Gerald Green will join Paul George as another wing with great athleticism. George Hill will take over the point guard spot, and Augustin could be a very nice acquisition. This team doesn’t have as much star power as many at the top, but they are a well-rounded team that will be a tough out in the playoffs.
Odds to win Division: +2,200
Season Win Total: 37.5
Key Losses: Stephen Jackson, Andrew Bogut, Carlos Delfino
Key Newcomers: Marquis Daniels, John Henson, Doron Lamb, Sam Dalembert
Scott Skiles decided to turn this team into a transition team last season, and they piled up the points. They nearly made the playoffs, but in the end their poor defense was too much to overcome. Can this team find a nice balance between pushing the tempo and still playing solid defense on the other end? Dalambert was a nice acquisition to shore up the interior defense. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis in the backcourt means this team should run and gun with the best of them. They’ll need some contributions down low from John Henson and Ekpe Udoh. This isn’t a bad team, but it’s hard to see them keeping up with the Bulls or Pacers.
Odds to win Division: +4,800
Season Win Total: 31.5
Key Losses: Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace
Key Newcomers: Andre Drummond, Kyle Singler, Corey Maggette
The Detroit Pistons took a high risk/high reward draft pick in Andre Drummond. Drummond is the type of guy who could make or break this franchise over the next few years. He looks great in the preseason, but he will need to keep producing through the season. Detroit has a very nice young nucleus of players. The team has basically got rid of their veteran leaders to rebuild, but they appear to be on the upswing again. Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Brandon Knight, and Rodney Stuckey are the main guys who will drive this team. Maggette should give the team another consistent scoring option. Austin Daye and Kyle Singler are two guys who are wild cards for the team, and the Pistons will need them to be good. Consistency was an issue last year because of their inexperience.
Odds to win Division: +4,800
Season Win Total: 30.5
Key Losses: Antawn Jamison, Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker
Key Newcomers: Tyler Zeller, Dion Waiters, CJ Miles
The Clevaland Cavaliers surprised a lot of people by taking Dion Waiters instead of Harrison Barnes in this year’s NBA Draft. Waiters will have a lot of pressure on him to perform. Kyrie Irving earned the Rookie of the Year award last year, and he absolutely looks like a guy to build a franchise around. As long as he stays healthy, the Cavs are likely to be quite a bit better than they were last season. Tristan Thompson has a lot of potential, but he is still pretty raw right now. Tyler Zeller and a healthy Andersen Varejao should both be big contributors in the frontcourt as well. Cleveland won’t keep up with the best teams in the division, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see them compete for the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Central Division Prediction: Indiana Pacers (+115)
The Bulls would definitely be my pick to win the division if Rose were healthy, but the Pacers are a team that is getting better by the year. They added some nice pieces in the offseason, and I think Indiana is a nice value in the Central Division this season.
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