NBA 2019-20 Central Division Preview and Handicapping, Part I

Central Division, Part 1

The NBA season has arrived, with games due to tip off Oct 22nd, on Tuesday. Bovada has released odds of divisional crowns for the 30 NBA teams, and we are going to handicap that aspect as well as take a quick glance at each team as it enters the 2019-20 season. There are no over/unders for season wins currently available for betting on Bovada, but we are going to predict season win totals for each team in the brief synopses of each of the six divisions in the NBA, moving here into the NBA’s Central Division, with a look at a few of the top teams (Part 1). Odds c/o

Milwaukee (-1000)

The Milwaukee Bucks are a really safe bet to take the Central Division crown. Failing to do so would probably mean that Giannis Antetokounmpo had been injured. He alone makes the Bucks by far the best team in this division, while also placing the Bucks firmly in the elite tier of NBA contenders simply because he impacts the game in so many ways, so consistently. The Bucks have a well-rounded team surrounding Giannis, too. Eric Bledsoe continues to be under-appreciated and underrated and guides the team as the floor general, having formerly shared that duty with the now-departed Malcolm Brogdon. At the 2-spot where Brogdon had started, steps in Wesley Matthews, whose veteran savvy and soft three-point touch should be a major asset.

Swingman Khris Middleton may be the best in the league who has yet to make an All-Star appearance, and Brook Lopez is a good defensive player and another court stretcher with a recently added triple he incorporated into his game the last two seasons. George Hill is as good as it gets for a backup floor general, while Ersan Ilyasova and Robin Lopez provide steady minutes at the 4/5 backup spots. The Bucks are built to contend, and that includes having niche shooters like Kyle Korver, and energy guys like Pat Connaughton. It is also very tough to identify any real glaring weaknesses with the Bucks, at least on paper. This should be a 60-win season for the men in green and gold.

Prediction: 61-21

Chicago (+6000)

The Chicago Bulls are definitely in a rebuild, but the team is also not sporting a lineup bereft of talent, by any means. Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr at this point are still both more “prospect” than “superstar,” but the transition to the former could await either or both of them as soon as this season. Meanwhile, Zach LaVine is a tremendous scorer with a green light ready to go bonkers this season. Otto Porter Jr. might be ready for a bigger role now that he is in Chicago and away from the suffocation of a John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt.

The Bulls have a lot of youth for depth, with the exception of 4-man Thaddeus Young, whose veteran presence will have to be in charge of four guys with three years or less experience in the second unit. The Bulls reliance on its No. 2 scorer (Markannen) to make a quantum-leap is really where it all begins though, and a lot of experts are very high on Markannen’s overall offensive game, even if the Dirk Nowitzki comparisons border on “absurd.” The Bulls will probably be better than expected, and probably still also very bad, overall. But this is a team that has some nice pieces intact for a rebuild, and Chicago could be relevant again soon with a good 2020 draft and a key signing or two.

Prediction: 30-52

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