Season Preview: Central Division

Posted on September 05, 2013 by Jacob Raim

Jacob Raim |

In the second installment of how the Eastern Conference breaks down for the 2013-14 season, here is a look at the Central Division.

Who They Brought In: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Erik Murphy

Who Left: Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Richard Hamilton

The Bulls made several offseason moves, but as we all know, it's all about the return of somebody who was already on their roster.  If Derrick Rose comes back healthy, he changes the entire complexion of not only the Bulls of course but the Eastern Conference.  Nobody has seen him play 5-on-5 yet but reports out of Bulls camp are very positive, and there are rumors going around that he could be ready for game one of the preseason.  The Bulls allowed Robinson to walk. As a scoring point guard, he was a necessity with Rose out, but he was just a luxury with Rose back in the lineup.  The Bulls lost Belinelli, a quality shooter off the bench, but replaced with him with Mike Dunleavy.  Dunleavy is a career 40% shooter and is a reliable rebounder and defender.  He's had his share of health problems over his career but if healthy is a solid replacement for Belinelli. He will be one of the Bulls' first options off the bench.  The Bulls' first round draft pick, Tony Snell, is a three and D type player on the wing out of New Mexico who will be fighting to crack the rotation.

Expected Starting 5: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah


Who They Brought in: Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix

Who Left
: Shaun Livingston, Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights, Omri Casspi
Kyrie Irving got a lot of help this offseason.  The two most intriguing moves were in the front court, as the Cavs used the number one overall pick on Anthony Bennett and then signed Andrew Bynum.  Bennett is an undersized four but has the potential to be an elite front court scoring option who can shoot and play with his back to the basket.  Bynum is clearly one of the most talented centers in the league but has to prove he can come back healthy after missing the entirety of last season.  If he's healthy, Bynum will start at center and form a dangerous inside/outside tandem with Irving.  Bennett needs to get healthy as well, so that he can battle Tristan Thompson for the starting four spot.  With Bennett, Bynum, Thompson and Anderson Varejao in the front court, the Cavs have a ton of talent but also lots of health question marks.  The Cavs lacked backcourt depth last year, so Jarrett Jack enters the picture as a guy who will play a lot of minutes spelling Irving and Waiters.  Last year in Golden State, Jack played the same role and excelled, averaging 12 points and 5.5 assists per game.  He even took the offense on his back at times during the playoffs.  Earl Clark will step in as the new starting small forward after a breakout year in which he proved himself to be an excellent wing defender.  Sergey Kasarev, the Cavs' second first round pick, will play behind Clark (along with Alonzo Gee). He shot the lights out in Europe, but needs to bulk up for the NBA game.  The last significant move for the Cavs was bringing in Mike Brown to be the new head coach.  Obviously, Brown had a tumultuous time in LA, but he is an experienced NBA bench boss who should be able to help mold this young roster.
Expected Starting 5: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Earl Clark, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Bynum (if healthy)


Who They Brought In: Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Luigi Datome, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell

Who Left: Brandon Knight, Jose Calderon, Jason Maxiell, Slava Kravtsov, Khris Middleton, Kim English
From one team which made a lot of changes to another, the Pistons will have an entirely new look this year.  Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are both big time scorers, and it will be interesting to see how the offense looks with Jennings and Smith added to Monroe and Drummond.  Going from Calderon to Jennings is a big change at the PG spot as they are completely different players.  Calderon is an unselfish, pass first guy, while Jennings is somebody who loves to have the ball in his hands and can be an elite scorer.  Smith will play more on the wing in Detroit, a relatively new position for him after playing primarily at the four in Atlanta, though he will still play a similar role in the offense.  Caldwell-Pope was the Pistons' lottery pick. He will probably play behind Stuckey at the outset but is a fantastic shooter who should steal a lot of minutes as he becomes accustomed to the NBA.  Luigi Datome is a wing player who is coming off an MVP season in the Italian league and is another shooter who will help with the Pistons' potential spacing issues.

Expected Starting 5: Brandon Jennings, Rodney Stuckey, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe


Who They Brought In:  Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill

Who Left: Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee, Jeff Pendergraph
The Pacers were very close to knocking off the Heat last season, and while they kept the same core, the role players changed significantly.  First off, Danny Granger will return for the Pacers after missing almost the entirety of last season.  He will take Stephenson's place in the starting lineup and provide a major scoring threat on a team that had defense as their calling card.  Scola is a major frontcourt upgrade off the bench, a veteran scorer who can spell the aging David West. Chris Copeland is a floor spacer off the bench who blossomed for the Knicks last year.  CJ Watson takes over for DJ Augustin as the backup point guard behind George Hill and should effectively run the second unit like he did in Brooklyn.  In the draft, the Pacers elected to take a four year college kid, Solomon Hill from Arizona.  Hill is a polished wing player who should be a versatile rotation player for Indiana.

Expected Starting 5: George Hill, Danny Granger, Paul George, David West, Roy Hibbert

Who They Brought In: O.J. Mayo, Brandon Knight, Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia, Carlos Delfino, Luke Ridnour, Caron Butler, Khris Middleton, Miroslav Raduljica, Nate Wolters, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Who Left: Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, J.J. Redick, Samuel Dalembert, Mike Dunleavy, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Gustavo Ayon, Ish Smith
When it comes to turnover, arguably no team had as much as the Bucks.  Of the seven players who played 15+ minutes a game during the Bucks’ playoff series with the Heat, only Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova return.  All five members of the projected backcourt rotation are new, including starters OJ Mayo and Brandon Knight.  Knight is a shoot first point guard who is a very good defender, while Mayo is a pure scorer at the two.  Neal replaces Redick, and while he isn't quite the shooter Redick is, he is still a good shooter off the bench in his own right.  Caron Butler, who hails from Wisconsin, comes home to start at small forward.  Butler was healthy last year for the Clippers and gave them 24 solid minutes a night.  Delfino and Middleton will take those other minutes at the three with Delfino as the shooter and Middleton as the better defender with a solid mid-range game.  In the draft, the Bucks swung for the fences with Antetokounmpo, a Greek wing, who is a raw 18 year old player. The Bucks believe he will eventually develop into one of the two or three best players in the draft.  
Expected Starting 5: Brandon Knight, OJ Mayo, Caron Butler, Ersan Ilysasova, Larry Sanders

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