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NBA: Central Division 2016-2017 season outlook

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Chicago Bulls

This team is stuck in a trance and can’t snap out of it. With a great chance to rebuild right in front of them by trading Jimmy Butler on draft night the Bulls could have received Ricky Rubio, Kris Dunn and a future 1st round pick. Instead you don’t trade Butler and sign Rondo & Wade to team friendly deals. This is a desperate attempt by management to stay relevant and this looks like a terrible fit for a team that just needs to rebuild and get it over with. Speaking of rebuilding, trading Derrick Rose trade was a win for both sides.

Chicago received Jose Calderon (Who they flipped to the Lakers) Robin Lopez who is a serviceable center that will help on the defensive end and Jerian Grant who is a nice developing young player that will be in a better situation for him to get the playing time he needs. With the #14 pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Bulls selected Denzel Valentine, who is a nice piece once the Bulls decide to rebuild and fully understand that head coach Fred Hoiberg is a massive downgrade from Tom Thibodeau.

I feel sorry for the fans believing that this team will make the playoffs with Rondo and Wade who hated each other to the point where fists should have been flying during those Boston vs. Miami playoff series of years past. Pairing these players together is like going to a Dixie Chicks concert and remember they still can’t sing or do anything on stage. You can’t look away because it’s so fascinating to watch a train wreck in progress. With a last place finish for this coming season in the division and a record of 28-54. This will cause firings in the front office for putting this band-aid of roster moves together.

Detroit Pistons

Coming off a #8 seed in the East and getting swept by Cleveland last season. The Detroit Pistons will take a small step backward in a crowded race for the #8 seed this season. After fleecing the Orlando Magic for Tobias Harris during last year’s trade deadline.  The Pistons had a lackluster offseason with the only addition worth mentioning is Boban Marjanovic.  Pairing Marjanovic with the re-signed 130 million man Andre Drummond will equal one of the biggest duos at center in the league. You don’t want to mess with this duo if you’re trying to save your PG from making a bad decision trying to challenge either one of them to a fight when they get nailed to the floor trying to drive to the basket.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope needs to have a big year otherwise this team would be crazy to bring him back. He is a volume scorer that doesn’t shoot a good percentage from the field and the 3 pt line. With someone looked at as a building block for years to come isn’t showing the progress you like to see from the #8 overall pick.  It might be time to move on from a player where you can find a glut of options via trade or free agency. Another team who falls victim of a log jam for the 7th and 8th seed in the East will miss the playoffs by a few games sporting a 32-50 record and 3rd in the division.

Milwaukee Bucks

Coming off an injury-filled season with no outside shooting to speak of. The GM of the Milwaukee Bucks John Hammonds made two key signings in Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova in free agency that will open up the offense. This will help first-year full-time point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo to have one less thing to worry about so he can continue to be one of the most entertaining players in the league. What Giannis can do by creating mismatches every time he has the ball standing 6’ ft 11” combine that with the passing ability better than most point guards and you have a scary individual that can finally break through and receive his first all-star selection.

Look for Jabari Parker to finally come into his own and flourish with Giannis running the point. Parker’s strength is his mid-range game and bruising ability to post up smaller players and grab rebounds with big bangers inside. This will prove vital for the Bucks to build a long-standing contender with a duo who are building blocks that are here to stay. The Bucks are a tough team to predict but with a 43-39 record that will be good enough for the #7 seed in the East, this team can challenge the #2 seed in a seven-game series.

Indiana Pacers

Armed with a superstar player in Paul George and newly arrived Jeff Teague who is an upgrade from George Hill in a trade the Pacers had to be happy to make this deal in 2.5 seconds when they received the call. GM Larry Bird was in full force handing out good contracts to players that just fit what this Pacers team want to be. With signings of Al Jefferson and Aaron Brooks to help the bench. Pair that with the fleecing of Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn for a meaningless 1st round pick outside of the lottery.

The development of Myles Turner will be something to pay close attention to for this club to have a bright future alongside George. Turner can possess these qualities and showed many flashes of this last season that make him the center of attention to keep getting better. Leading the way in the locker room is Nate McMillian who is a good replacement for Frank Vogel.

What will be interesting to see with McMillian in charge is if he will keep the ball rolling on offense and not turn into a grind it out offense like he did in his last Portland years. With a record of 46-36, this team will make strides this season to the #4 seed in the East and a 2nd place finish in the division.

Cleveland Cavaliers

With a stranglehold on the conference, how can anybody else even come within shouting distance to this team? The trio of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving & Lebron James can be unstoppable for long stretches in the season where they can feast on other East teams that simply can’t match up. Tristan Thompson off the bench is a luxury most teams can dream of. His rebounding, energy and put back abilities are a huge factor for this squad to get picked up on nights that this team is stagnant and is looking for a spark. With Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova gone this hurts the depth a little bit. Chris Anderson and Channing Frye can fill the void for Mozgov; this just means more minutes for Iman Shumpert and new addition Mike Dunleavy to replace Dellavedova’s production.

Tyron Lue has been a bright light coaching wise for this team. He has command of the locker room, and the players listen to him. Lue uses Kevin Love better than David Blatt ever did. Love is an excellent pick and roll power forward who can play center. Love is a rebounding monster with a terrific 3 point shot that stretches the defense.

Lebron needs this to be able to operate where he is at his best, driving the lane putting his head down and use his massive frame to draw the foul and get the basket vs. someone who never had a chance to stay in front of him let alone stop him. What else will the league expect but a 62-20 record 1st place in the East and the road traveling through Cleveland to get to the NBA Finals?

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]