NBA Central, Part 2
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/under 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 2).
The Indiana Pacers have yet to release any real timetable on Victor Oladipo, but the original timeline would place his return sometime around the All-Star break. Obviously, this is crucial while evaluating what the Indiana Pacers are as a team. If Oladipo returns at full-health and shakes the rust fairly quickly, Indiana could be very formidable by the time the playoffs begin. Without him, they are not even a threat. Sure, this is probably a generously .500 roster without “Dipo,” but it is nothing compared to what it is with his 20-plus points per game plugged in.
Former Virginia Cavalier Malcolm Brogdon will take on a much bigger role with Indiana than he previously had in Milwaukee, but not everyone is assured the former Rookie of the Year is really cut out for a huge role. TJ Warren probably is, but no one thinks he is. There are a lot of questions for Indiana to answer, and its starting lineup is part of that. Will the Pacers start both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, simply to maximize the talent level of its starting five? Because without Oladipo, it very well may have to. This team will be tough to get a final reading on until we see both how Brogdon handles the bigger challenge, and how well Oladipo can slide back onto this team without disrupting whatever is built in his absence, the first half of the season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are by far and away, easily, the worst team in the Central Division, and probably are the worst team in the entire Eastern Conference.
There are some young talents to get excited over in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but it is confusing to see a team like Cleveland draft a point guard in back-to-back drafts. How often will Sexton and Garland play together? Can they even? Beyond that, the Cavs have some mismatched discarded veterans filling out the rotation, like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.
These are guys with clear talents, but they don’t actually factor into whatever rebuild Cleveland is winding up for. Nor do any of the guys on the entire roster perhaps save Larry Nance, Jr, who is little more than a stat-stuffing role player that probably would be much better used on a contending team. The Cavs are going to lose a lot of games, but hopefully, it can figure some things out during this season and develop a clearer sense of direction with both its best two young talents essentially playing the same position so far.
The Detroit Pistons are a team that could be said to be in some form of limbo. There is too much talent to tear it down and start from scratch, but it really also does not stack up in any way with the real contenders, even in its division. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are both All-Star caliber at the 4/5 positions, but the entire backcourt and wing rotations are filled with mediocre (at best) talents. Derrick Rose is somehow interesting again, but that really should not be the basis for overwhelming optimism for obvious enough reasons.
The ancient Joe Johnson coming out of retirement signals much the same, in terms of adding talent that really does not better the roster save for perhaps giving the second unit some isolation buckets. It is unclear how the Pistons are going to get over any sort of humps, particularly with a scoring point guard, like Reggie Jackson, backed up by yet another scoring point guard in Rose.
Sure, Griffin can run a point forward’s role and create a lot of offense, but it is tough to say this roster makes sense, fits together, or that it is very good. Detroit will be back in much the same place it was last year, missing the postseason while not being quite poor enough to secure the chances at a top 2020 lottery pick. Limbo, as stated.