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2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 5:53 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young



We're less than a week away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We continue with the Central Division.

2011 Standings:
Chicago Bulls, 62-20, lost Eastern Conference Finals to Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers, 37-45, lost in first round of Eastern Conference Playoffs to Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks, 35-47, NBA Draft lottery
Detroit Pistons, 30-52, NBA Draft lottery
Cleveland Cavaliers, 20-62, NBA Draft lottery

Best team: Chicago Bulls

The Central really is left to the Bulls. It's their division for the next number of years and it's really hard to see anyone challenging that strongly. The Pacers are better than the 37-win team they were a season ago, but David West isn't going to make that much of a difference.

It's really more of a question of how much better the Bulls are than everyone else. Meaning, can they have this division locked up by the end of March? February even? And after that happens, it's about playoff seeding and home court advantage. This Bulls team has big goals in mind. They fell short in the Eastern Finals, but they're a year older and Derrick Rose has now tasted the sting of failure. This team will be driven and hungry to avenge last season's shortcomings, but it's just a matter of if they can beat the Heat.

Worst team: Cleveland Cavaliers


The Cavs will be the Central's worst squad again, but not The Worst, like they were last season. They aren't going to set any record losing streaks. They aren't going to flirt with the worst record in basketball history. They probably won't even flirt with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. But this is a group in a total rebuild. The rubble is still smoldering from "The Decision" and the franchise hasn't completely recovered. There are questions: Is Kyrie Irving a franchise player; is Tristan Thompson worth his draft slot; is Anderson Varejao's hair self-aware -- these are the things the Cavs will have to start answering before they begin the climb out of the hole and back into the postseason.

Biggest surprise: Detroit Pistons

I want to just say that the Pistons aren't a playoff team and move on. But here's the thing: This is the Eastern Conference. The conference where teams five games under .500 make the playoffs. The conference where if you win 30 games in this shortened season, it might be enough. The Pacers used this formula to get a postseason series with the Bulls and it feels like the Pistons could be next in line to make a small push. It's not a terrible core in Detroit: Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Greg Monroe, Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince. Is that a good team? No, not really. But if 30 wins could be enough for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons might have just enough to claw their way in.

Three Best Players: Derrick Rose, Danny Granger, Joakim Noah

Do I need to explain why Derrick Rose is in this list? No, no I don't. But after him, there's really a lack of talent in the Central. Danny Granger is a good player and a former All-Star, but it feels a bit funny to have him listed as one of the three best players in a division.

It feels really funny to have Noah listed as one. But honestly, who else would you put there? Andrew Bogut, a guy still playing with one arm? Carlos Boozer? Brandon Jennings? Kyrie Irving? There's just not a lot of household names in the Central. Rose is a star among stars, but after him, pickings get slim. Noah is a supreme defender, excellent rebounder and makes a major difference on both sides of the floor because of his energy. When a guy impacts games as much as him, he has to be recognized for being a great player. It's not pretty like a Rose up-and-under or a Granger pull-up jumper, but Noah gets the job done and is an anchor for the league's best defense.

Biggest Question: Will Richard Hamilton really make that much of a difference for Chicago?

The Bulls were hunting a shooting guard. They wanted Jamal Crawford, didn't get him. They wanted J.R. Smith, can't get him. They wanted Arron Afflalo, couldn't afford him. They settled on Richard Hamilton, who was bought out by the Pistons and you know what, they might have gotten a steal in free agency.

Hamilton fills their need of providing a player that can score on his own, take pressure off Rose and add an extra much-needed dimension to the Chicago offense. Luol Deng is a nice third scorer, but he can't carry the weight of being the No. 2 option. Same goes for Carlos Boozer. Last season's playoff success for Chicago depended on two things: 1) Can Rose take over the game and 2) if he can't, can Kyle Korver or someone else make every 3-pointer they shoot? After that it was just about the Bulls trying to survive by dominating the glass or holding a team to 45 points or something. Hamilton will help alleviate some of that pressure. But it's just a question of if it's enough.

2012 Projected Standings:
1. Chicago Bulls
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Milwaukee Bucks
4. Detroit Pistons
5. Cleveland Cavaliers

Comments

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:32 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago. Take 2 through 5 and mix them up anyway you want. They're all lottery teams.



Since: May 2, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:07 am
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

i bet i could swipe the ball from d rose



Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: December 22, 2011 8:49 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

u see the picture above of D Rose?????????.......NASTY HOPS........BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA....You disagree???..Tell me who can guard this kid one on one??..NOBODY..Quickest PG in the league..most explosive by far..unguardable..MVP ..only 22 years old..And getting better..most explosive talent on the planet



Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: December 22, 2011 6:09 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

think you mean the MLB. You can only polish a turd of a sport so much. Kids today are growing up playing basketball, football, and even soccer. Baseball will continue to slide.
For a sport that you claim is sliding they still get 30,000 fans per game, which make the 2 best after the NFL.  NBA and NFL broadcast their draft live, for MLB and NHL I would be surprise that many fans know when they hold their drafts.



Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:24 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

all i gotta say is two things: 1st bogut is healthy. had a large bone chip removed and is feeling much better and looks strong. second FEAR THE DEER! nuff said.




Since: Mar 7, 2009
Posted on: December 22, 2011 3:08 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

Yes, Chicago fans, get ready to watch your offense bog-down with Rip as 3 guys try to set 5 screens for him to run around to finally find an open look. This was the demise of the Pistons since 2005.



Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:36 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

The Indiana Generals should place just ahead of the Milwaukee Generals.  The Detroit Generals will be battling the Cleveland Generals to stay out of the basement.  Should be an exciting season this NBA with five or six teams beating up on all the Washington Generals placed around the country.  The NBA will be no more than exhibition in my mind until they adopt a system similar to the NFL which allows small market teams to compete against the richer markets.  

So what do I want to see? Globetrotters, Roller Derby, or NBA? hmmm, I think I'll just watch an old Abbott and Costello flick. 



Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:57 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

Actually it's a three-prong analysis for teams. So two teams will get left out there, and if those teams don't have players that fall into the two-part player breakdown, then yes those teams will not get mentioned -- in great detail at least.



Since: Mar 21, 2007
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:54 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

I can't wait until about 2018 when the NBA is looking up at the NHL and frantically trying to hold off freakin' soccer for the #4 professional sport in America.
I think you mean the MLB. You can only polish a turd of a sport so much. Kids today are growing up playing basketball, football, and even soccer. Baseball will continue to slide.

And if you're team wasn't mentioned, it's because this was a four-prong analysis, as is has been on every other NBA division. So with four prongs and five teams in each division, one team will get left out of getting a long-winded analysis. Get it now?



Since: Apr 20, 2009
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:52 pm
 

2011-12 NBA Season: Central Division Preview

 Fresherdaeva I think you should change your profile name to dumberdaneva. How the hell is rip washed up. Did you happen catch the last preseason game between the Bulls and your Pacers the other day? He hardly looked washed up to me. Hamilton's numbers went down last year becuase of disagreements with Detroits head coach about playing time which lead to him being benched. Rip played in only 55 games last year and 46 the year before. his min per game went way down the last 2 years, which just happens to coincide with the Pistons signing Ben Gordon. Both of those guys are 2 gaurds and they had to play both of them, so of course rips minutes and numbers are going to be down. Plus the fact that Detroit was so bad last season.

 I believe Rip is a great fit for the Bulls for multible reasons. He can run the floor, he's excellent off screens as you mentioned, he's still a scorer and a former champion. He's averaged 17.7 points for his career. Now Rip is not a great 3 piont shooter but he's decent. He shot 38% from 3 last season, which isnt bad and he's going to get some open looks now with everyone focused on Rose. So Rip is definitely going to help spread the floor. Think about it, the Bulls dont need him to score 18-20 a game, if he gets 14 a game(which is what he averaged last season) the Bulls will be in great shape.

 So either you dont know much about Basketball, or your comments are just wishful thinking coming from a jealous Pacers fan... I think its a little bit of both.     
      
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com