Predicting the 2017-2018 Central Division Outcome

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Kyrie Irving
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 23: Kyrie Irving /

The Eastern Conference is wide open this year, but what about the Central Division in particular? Where do the Detroit Pistons stand among their rivals?

The Detroit Pistons are looking to make a return to the playoffs this season. So are the other four teams in the Central Division in the form of the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the clear cut favorites to take first in the Central Division, but other than that, anything goes.

Besides the Pistons and Bucks, every other team in the division blew up their roster. The Cavaliers traded away star point guard Kyrie Irving, the Pacers shipped Paul George out West for next to nothing, and the Bulls traded away their best player in Jimmy Butler.

It was a crazy offseason to say the least. Detroit still made some big moves, acquiring shooting guard Avery Bradley, but they did not have to give up the best talent on the roster to get him. They also let go of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. While he will be sorely missed, Detroit’s roster is moving in the right direction.

Related Story: Detroit Pistons acquire Avery Bradley

After Cleveland, the next team that comes to mind is Milwaukee. They have a rising superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the reigning Rookie of the Year, Malcom Brogdon. The Bucks have all the keys to unlock their full potential.

With the first and second seed seemingly under wraps in the Central Division, where does that leave the rest?

With the condition of the Eastern Conference, there is a case for three Central teams to make the playoffs. The third being the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has a more stable roster than the Bulls and the Pacers, considering the Pistons did not trade away their core.

With that being said, here are some Central Division predictions.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 54-28
  2. Milwaukee Bucks: 49-33
  3. Detroit Pistons: 42-40
  4. Chicago Bulls: 35-47
  5. Indiana Pacers: 28-54

Last season, Detroit won 37 games, good enough for tenth place in the East. This go around, though, 37 wins might mean a playoff birth. So, if Detroit can surpass the 40-wins mark, it is highly likely they find themselves in the midst of the playoffs come April.

For the Bulls and Pacers, the lottery is the most realistic place for them. While Chicago did get some assets in exchange for Butler, it will be tricky for them to piece everything together quick enough.

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Kris Dunn is entering his second season in the NBA and rookie Lauri Markkanen will need time to adjust to the NBA’s atmosphere.

Dwyane Wade is an interesting topic for the Bulls, with rumors ramping up that he will be bought out of his contract. Murky waters lay dead ahead for Chicago.

Indiana also gave up their best player, Paul George. In return, an unproven Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. With more lucrative offers on the table, this move was a head-scratcher.

The Pacers will have to search for a new identity post-George-era, most likely with second-year man Myles Turner.

The Cavaliers did surrender Kyrie Irving, but for a multitude of pieces in return. It is unclear when Isiah Thomas will be ready, but Jae Crowder and Brooklyn’s first round pick were huge in this deal. LeBron James will now have a steady backup at the forward spot, giving Cleveland less trouble when James is on the bench.

Next: Pistons officially sign Dwight Buycks to a two-way contract

Who will finish first in the Central Division? And who will be trailing right behind? Are the Detroit Pistons capable of making the playoffs? What do you think?