The Central Division has a lot of talented teams in it, as the Bulls, Bucks, and Cavaliers all have strong cases for winning the division this year and possibly even the conference. With that said how do the Detroit Pistons stack up against their divisional peers?
5. Indiana Pacers
Unless you’re an Indiana native or a Pacer die hard you probably don’t see how the Pacers could be any higher than 5th. They currently have the weakest roster in the division, and are sort of stuck in rebuild limbo. The team is actively trying to sell away their vets for picks and future draft capital, but so far it’s been a rough go. The Pacers have lost three of their top scorers from a season ago and two of their potential starters played less than 30 games last year. Not to mention the Lakers trade rumors that could potentially rid them of two f their most skilled players either before the year or halfway through the season.
4. Detroit Pistons
Last year Detroit had the 2nd worst record in the conference, and dwelled at the bottom of the Central Division. The Detroit Pistons aren’t considerably better than last year, but better nonetheless. Which is why they are not only projected to do better than the Pacers, they have a good chance to win 30 games and improve to 12th in the East at least. They have talented young athletes, and a good defense that will only get better. Still though, the team has a long way to go to catch up to the star studded Bucks, Bulls and Cavs teams. Nobody being honest with themselves will put the Detroit Pistons any higher, but the rebuild is winding down, and sooner than later these blossoming young players will put the Pistons back on top.
3. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls were 2nd in the division last year behind the Bucks. They played well through the year and the DeMar DeRozan acquisition seemed to have paid off, at least in the regular season. The next step is capitalizing on the success with a deep playoff run, and getting the “Windy City” back to its glory days. The roster is still mostly intact bringing back the LaVine, Ball (though he’s injured) White, Vucevic, Caruso, and of course Derozan. This continuity will serve the team well on their quest to run it back seeing as how they were close to the getting over the hump, but fell just short. They even added a few new pieces, most notably the former Piston Andre Drummond. The roster is well constructed and looking to take aim at the top spot in the East, however the Cavs have been cooking up a winning team of their own and it’s looking like they could be the best team, or among them, in the East. For that reason 3rd place has to belong to the Bulls.
2. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have been the class of this Division for some time now. Pretty much instantly following the departure of NBA legend LeBron James form the Cavs in 2018 the Bucks have been won the division every single year. A wise man would think twice before betting against odds like that, but it’s hard not to with a beautifully concocted Cavs team seemingly on the rise. The Bucks still have the core of their championship roster intact, and the return of Middleton should give them what they were missing last year in the playoffs. When he returns is still up in the air, but he will be back at some point. This year will be the Bucks toughest year yet in the division. With a feisty young Pistons team trying to build up a defensive culture, and a new and improved Cavaliers team attempting to create its own luck without the use of LeBron or Kyrie. The Bucks certainly have their work cut out for them.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
When the Mitchell trade happened many people were surprised at first, because the Knicks seemingly had the 25-year old All-Star locked down. Clearly the Cavaliers had more to bargain with, and “lo and behold” the revamped Cavs have arrived and are looking pretty scary. With a team this skilled they not only are threats to run away with the division, but should compete with the Celtics for the top seed. Not to completely write off the Bucks, but the Cavs have a more star- studded cast and in the movie business the best actors always make for a much better film. Now true in the past we’ve seen these super teams fall apart from time to time, but you can’t speculate about locker rooms, or state of mind. All we can do is judge on a basketball talent. On that basis this team looks legit, and it’s gonna be very interesting to see who (if anybody) can upset them.