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Previewing the NBA: The Central Division - Pinwheel Empire
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Previewing the NBA: The Central Division

submitted 1 year ago by in Daily Empire | Game Preview

Will this finally be Cleveland’s first major sport title in over 50 years and will Chicago finally keep Rose healthy enough to make a legit title run?  Let’s take a look.

LeBron and Co

Image Courtesy of Cleveland.com

Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29, lost in NBA finals to Golden State):

Headline: LeBron and Co Look to Finish the Job and Bring Cleveland its First NBA Title

Summary: Just as with the first year in Miami, the first season for LeBron on his return to the Cavs was not exactly smooth.  They started out poorly, he got hurt and they stumbled their way through much of the regular season.  However, they found their groove in the playoffs and even with the injuries they had, they could have won it all.  Assuming players stay healthy this year, Cleveland should be the favorite to hoist the trophy next June.

Overall Trend: Up, provided they stay healthy.

Salary: $111.4M (over luxury tax threshold)

2016 Draft Picks: Owed the Clippers’s 2016 Second Round Pick (Protected for Selections 31-55).  Owe Phoenix their 2016 First Round Pick (Protected for selections 1-10) and Boston their 2016 Second Round Pick.

Biggest Addition: Mo Williams

Losses: Mike Miller, Kendrick Perkins

Best Case: NBA Champions.  This team is the title favorites for a reason.

Worst Case: Second Round.  The Cavs are too good to lose in the first round but a second round exit is possible, if highly unlikely, especially if they get hit with injuries again.

Most Likely Case: NBA Champions.  Healthy, this is the best team in the league.

Rose and Co

Image Courtesy of the Associated Press

Chicago Bulls (50-32, lost in the second round to Cleveland):

Headline:  Can the Bulls Stay Healthy Enough to Contend for a NBA Title?

Summary: Well, the soap opera that was Thib’s end of his coaching run in Chicago was fun wasn’t it?  Its not like he left a team in disarray, however.  Although it seems unlikely that Rose will ever regain his MVP form, he can still be one of the NBA’s best PGs.  With Butler and Noah alongside them, this team has a legit title shot.

Overall Trend: Up, provided Rose stays healthy

Salary: $88.5M (over luxury tax threshold).

2016 Draft Picks: Owed Sacramento’s 2016 First Round Pick (Protected for Selections 1-10).  Chicago will convey the more favorable of its own and Portland’s 2016 Second Round pick to Orlando, keeping the less favorable of the two.

Biggest Addition: Bobby Portis

Losses: Nazr Mohammed

Best Case: NBA Champions, if it all comes together for them, they are certainly title contenders.

Worst Case: First round, First year head coach, Rose being injury prone, there are plenty of reasons this could be an early payoff exit for the Bulls.

Most Likely Case: Eastern Conference Finals  The Bulls are still a step behind Cleveland and so it would seem likely their season will end here.

Bucks

Image Courtesy of Fox Sports

Milwaukee Bucks (41-41, lost in the first round to Chicago):

Headline: After a 26 Game Improvement and a Playoff Spot, the Young Bucks Look for a Even Better Sequel

Summary: The Bucks were proof that just because a coach failed at one spot, he can succeed in the right situation.  Jason Kidd certainly did, guiding this team to a playoff spot despite the fact that its first round pick (who may have been on course to win rookie of the year at the time) went down with a season ending injury fairly early on. Provided he remains healthy, the future is bright for this bunch.

Overall Trend: Up, this team is no title contender, yet, but they are building towards it in a few years

Salary: $73.7M (over salary cap)

2016 Draft Picks: Milwaukee will receive the more favorable of Sacramento and New Orleans’s 2016 Second Round Picks.

Biggest Addition: Greg Monroe

Losses: Jared Dudley

Best Case: Conference finals.  Call me crazy but this team is good enough to make a fairly deep playoff run.

Worst Case: Miss playoffs.  Unlikely as it is, given the state of the bottom of the east, they could take a step back and miss the playoffs altogether.

Most Likely Case: First Round.  It’ll be another one and down for the young and improving Bucks.

Pacers

Image Courtesy of the Associated Press

Indiana Pacers (38-44, missed playoffs):

Headline: The Pacers Look to Pull Out of Their Self-Inflicted Nosedive

Summary: The Pacers weren’t going to be a great team last year after Paul George’s freak injury but then the rest of the team decided it didn’t much care either.  Despite a late season run that got them close to the playoffs, this team was never going to be that good.  With Hibbert gone, and George hopefully healthy, they look to reverse course this season.

Overall Trend: Down, they at best treaded water this offseason and arguably they got slightly worse.

Salary: $71.1M (over cap)

2016 Draft Picks: Own both their own picks and do not have the rights to any other team’s.

Biggest Addition: Monta Ellis

Losses: Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, David West

Best Case: First round.  This team is not that good but a playoff spot is possible.

Worst Case: Just miss the playoffs.  If you’re not going to make the playoffs, you might as well really really suck.  Odds are the Pacers could be the 9th best team in the east, which is not a good place to be.

Most Likely Case: Miss playoffs.  The bottom of the east playoff race is a mess but the Pacers are just not that good anymore.

Drummond

Image Courtesy of the Associated Press

Detroit Pistons (32-50, missed playoffs):

Headline: Detroit Looks to Finally Make a Playoff Push After Years Stuck in Neutral

Summary: Detroit was seemingly everyone’s a favorite as a surprise playoff team last year.  In the end, however, they won three more game than last year.  Stan Van Gundy may want to build a “f-ing wall” and it may take that for this team to get much better.

Overall Trend: Up, they lost Monroe but its not like he really wanted to be there, and they should win more than 32 games.

Salary: $83.4M (over cap)

2016 Draft Picks: Own both their own picks and do not have the rights to any other team’s.

Biggest Addition: Stanley Johnson

Losses: Greg Monroe, Caron Butler, Tayshaun Prince

Best Case: First round. Look Boston and Milwaukee surprised everyone last year, why can’t Detroit?

Worst Case: Just miss the playoffs.  This team is not bad but neither are they that good.  They could certainly just miss out.

Most Likely Case: Miss the playoffs.  Detroit is certainly playoff-worthy but I’d rate them a step behind the other contenders in the race for the last few spots.

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skywaker9 (David) is a Portland native and passionate Blazers fan. He currently works as a University fiscal analyst for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. He also has a PhD in Public Affairs and Policy at Portland State University. David is a former political activist who chose to focus on sports because they made him happy. He primarily writes previews for PWE and one of his primary goals is to inform Blazer fans everywhere about those players on other teams they may not have heard of but should (such as Nikola Vucevic).