The King LeBron James has returned home and that spells bad news for the Central Division and the entire NBA. The Cavs will win their division because Lebron will be on a mission to show the league he made the right decision. The Bulls will be their stiffest competition within their division, but will not have enough firepower offensively to beat out the Cavs.
Moreover, the addition of big man, and 20 PPG/ 10 RPG juggernaut Kevin Love will prove to be the best trade the Cavs have ever made in their franchises history. Point Guard Kyrie Irving can beat anyone off the dribble, and his jump shot is as sweet as a glass of Kool-Aid.
The two impediments the Cavs will have are their ability to defend the paint. They do lack size, and depth at the big man position. Anderson Varejao will be key to the Cavs success because he is their best defender down low, but has not been able to stay healthy. Second their ability to gel as a team and build chemistry, and an identity on offense will be key. If they figure those two things out quickly the Cavs will have an amazing regular season.
Will Derrick Rose be able to stay healthy? If he does the Bulls will challenge for the division and the Eastern Conference’s top spot. If he doesn’t the Bulls will not be able to be successful in the playoffs.
The addition of former Laker Pau Gasol is huge, and gives the Bulls one of the most talented big men in the NBA, and a leader. Him and center Joakim Noah give the Bulls a strong, and tenacious interior presence. Combined they will give teams nightmares, and create the advantage they need to defeat and challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Central Division.
Their bench will be key and should be solid this year. They have added sharp shooting rookie Doug McDermott, and still have Mr. Hustle Taj Gibson. If the Bulls continue to play amazing defense, and get off to a quick start. The Cavaliers and the rest of the NBA will have their work cut out for them.
The Pistons strength is their formidable frontcourt of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Anthony Drummond. However, that is also their weakness. Last season none of these guys seemed comfortable playing with each other, at times looked lost on the court, and seemed out of position. If new coach Stan Van Gundy can figure out an offensive scheme that works to their strengths, the Pistons could have some success.
However, their backcourt needs to be consistent, and that starts with point guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings has to concentrate less on shooting and more on getting his big men involved. If he can increase his assist rate, and turn the ball over less. The Pistons could be a sleeper to make the playoffs.
This is shaping up to be a lost year for the Pacers because they will be without their superstar Paul George for the entire season. George broke his league in an intra-squad scrimmage for Team USA. Subsequently, there is little that the Pacers did to try and replace him.
The Pacers have never been a team that scores a lot of points, and with the departure of Lance Stephenson it will be worse. Analyzing the Pacers it is hard to see where their scoring is going to come from on a day-to-day basis.
Center Roy Hibbert disappeared in the playoffs last season, and is a big reason why the Miami Heat was able to beat them in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, he better pull of a Houdini and reappear this year, or the Pacers will be looking at a lottery season.
The Bucks will have one of the youngest teams in the NBA this season, and are looking at a year filled with growing pains. Second year head coach Jason Kidd’s focus this year will be teaching these guys how to play at the NBA level.
In order for the Bucks not to be a laughing stock and an easy win for teams around the NBA, they will have to embody the player Kidd once was. They have to be unselfish, tough and committed to playing defense.
First round draft pick and former Duke star Jabari Parker, will be a sight for the sore eyes that Bucks fans are going to endure. His development, and ability to learn the NBA game will be fun to watch, and gives the Bucks a bright future.
2014 NBA Central Division Prediction
1- Cleveland Cavaliers- 60-22
2- Chicago Bulls- 58-24
3- Detroit Pistons- 35-47
4- Indiana Pacers- 32-50
5- Milwaukee Bucks- 25-57