2009-10 NBA Central Division Preview
The NBA’s Eastern Conference Central Division includes a team that could certainly take the league championship and another club that will be in the mix. The division is definitely in flux as the Bulls have slowly gained strength, Cleveland has risen to prominence and the Pistons have gone down a peg or two.
The good news for the Cleveland Cavaliers is that they are more athletic than they were last season and should be more prepared for a playoff run. Additionally, the Cavs are not merely a one-man team. There’s more than LaBron James and the addition of Shaquille O’Neal could be key. Six of the guys on this year’s roster averaged double-digit point totals last season. Finally, the defense is even better than it was last season. That is impressive.
This year’s version of the Chicago Bulls looks good in the area of rebounding, decent in defense and weaker in terms of scoring. Swingman John Salmons will be expected to step up as Ben Gordon goes to the Pistons. His play is one of the keys to the Bull’s success. Guard Derrick Rose, who now has one pro season under his waistband, will also be a determining factor when it comes to Chicago’s ability to be competitive.
The Pistons start the season with more scoring than they had last year. But their defense and rebounding are much weaker. First time head coach John Kuester is a welcomed addition and former NBA star Allen Iverson is a welcome departure. GM Joe Dumars made some deals in the off-season but none were good enough to make the team contender.
For the Pacers of Indiana it could be another losing season. There are numerous question marks regarding various key elements including Mike Dunleavy’s durability, Danny Granger’s consistency and Troy Murphy’s ability to repeat last year’s performance. Rookie Tyler Hansbrough, who had a fine college career at North Carolina, may be better than expected, but only time will tell. The salary cap is a major problem for this team and it will continue to be one for the next two years.
In 2009- 2010, scoring will be a difficult for the Milwaukee Bucks as will defense. It’s hoped that Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut can stay healthy. Together, due to injury last season, the two key players appeared in a total of just 69 games. This is an organization that willingly admits that it is looking towards the future as they slowly rebuild the team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are geared up and ready to compete for the top spot in the league. There’s not much to stop them from taking the Central Division and they will certainly be in the mix for first in the conference with Boston and Orlando. The Chicago Bulls should make the post-season and the Detroit Pistons may also make a showing. The Pacers and Bucks will put up losing records.
2009-10 NBA Central Division Predictions
Projected Order of Finish: Click on team name for individual in-depth team outlook.