Talking About NBA Previews: Central Division

The showdown begins. - Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

We give you the lowdown on all of the Central Division teams, along with links to previews from their hometown blogs!

We're going to do something a bit different with our NBA Preview links this year. Instead of just throwing out the links as usual, we'll offer a short take on what the blogs said about their teams as well as what we think will happen. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments!

Our grading scale:

A- Championship Threat
B- Championship Contender
C- First-Round Knockout
D- Below .500
F- Lottery Bound

Central Division

Chicago Bulls: BlogABull.com

Blog-A-Bull is very realistic in its' assessment, knowing the the Bulls are actually pretty terrible at creating offense, sacrificed one of their main assets when they cleared out of the bench, and could potentially even miss the playoffs if things don't go right. However, they do admit that they still have the league's best front-court defense, and that a title is still very much in sight.

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Take Grade_bplus_medium
The Bulls did lose something when they killed off their bench over the off-season, but I don't really blame them for it. The new luxury tax will do this to every contending team, sooner or later. But I really like their new bench options. Mohammed is a decent a fourth string big as you'll ever find, Robinson can explode on any given night, and Bellinelli and Radmonovic are decent outside threats. That being said, the Bulls are really playing a waiting game, and any chance at a title will rest on the health of their injury-prone players.

Sherman's Take
Grade_bminus_medium
I am not optimistic for the Bulls heading into this season, and I feat that it might be the year they have to take a step backward. The team was so fully dependent on Derrick Rose to be Mr. Everything that when he went down in the playoffs last year, they could not even manage 3 wins against the 8th seeded 76ers. Rose is recovering from an ACL tear, so it is doubtful that he'll even regain full dexterity in this season (see the story of Gilbert Arenas to see what happens when a main guy tries to rush it back too soon). To be sure their team construct is 2nd to none, and they should still be able to pull a good record and seeding, but come playoff time when an opponent has time to game plan, it may be an early exit once again.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear The Sword | Waiting For Next Year

Year 3 Post-YouKnowWho looks to be continually dreadful for the Cavaliers, and Fear the Sword admits that. However, they do seem to be rightfully proud of their team for holding out and not jumping on the bandwagon of getting a new star to come to town, like Andrew Bynum. Irving holds the most hope for them, while every other player seems to be just a "wait and see" type of deal. Waiting for Next Year also admits that the teams has major faults, but they seem to be more down on the Cavs picks of Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. However, they do like their team on getting to the lane, using the offensive glass, and think their pace will increase significantly this year.

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Take Grade_f_medium
Cleveland still has some waiting to do before they become a legitimate team, and other than the obvious pick of Kyrie Irving, I haven't really liked any of their moves. Their three non-Kyrie recent picks seem destined to bust, Varejao is injury-prone, and everyone else is a role player, at best. I think this team will crash and burn, but if their picks pan out, they could do better than I say they will.
Sherman's Take Grade_dplus_medium
It does not take much for a team in the East to get out of the basement, and I think that the Cavaliers are building something that will help them begin their climb to respectability. Of course all this rides on Irving, who seems to be up to the challenge but has yet to go through a season with the bullseye firmly on his jersey. What the team needs is an identity. Preferably the kind that comes along with a little bit of defense.

Detroit Pistons: DetroitBadBoys

Detroit Bad Boys is pretty down on their team. In their own words, the team is, "not a move or two away from gettin' serious in the playoffs, it is a move or two away from the roster solvency necessary for comprehensive rebuilding". hey go so far to essentially say that any thoughts on the team's general strengths or weaknesses are essentially useless. Their main focus seems to be getting a good pick for next year and trying to ship some current talent not named Stuckey or Monroe for decent players.

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Take Grade_f_medium
I've always thought of the Pistons as a team eternally stuck in 2004. Ben Wallace reportedly wanted to come back, and Tayshaun Prince is STILL on the roster. Wow. Regardless, this team is pretty much what the Thunder were right before they moved to OKC. A mish-mash of NBA journeymen with a few old regime hold outs and a couple bright spots. Trouble is, Detroit was the same a couple years ago, and they still look like they're moving in place.
Sherman's Take Grade_d_medium
These Pistons are kind of stuck in NBA purgatory. They're good enough to be competitive on a lot of nights, but not quite good enough to win enough games to reach the .500 plateau and flirt with a playoff spot. Therefore, they miss out on the sweet nectar of playoff games while simultaneously missing out on good draft picks. This is what happens when you have to claim Bill Laimbeer as part of your history.

Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Indy Cornrows knows that the Pacers aren't quite up to that Miami level, but they do maintain that the team can improve, and that the #2 seed is attainable. They like the addition of Ian Mahimni and Gerald Green, but lament about the lack of a true superstar to lean on. They also admit that Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson are on the "hot seat" and could be let go or traded is they don't improve themselves this season.

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Take Grade_bplus_medium
The Pacers are the contender in the East that everyone loves to forget, but they are a legitimate threat to win the conference. Even though they might not have a great star, I think that they're one of those teams that doesn't have a huge, exploitable flaw, and that can go a long way in a conference where all of the contenders have been recently constructed and rely on a single guy. Are they the favorites? No, but they're the least likely to fail, and I can't see them falling below the four seed.
Sherman's Take Grade_bplus_medium During the 2012 run of LeBron, people are going to forget that these Pacers had his Heat on the ropes. Indy had taken a 2-1 lead in the series and had seemed to figure out a way to play Miami extra aggressively, and with Chris Bosh missing, stood a chance to pull off the huge upset. Miami subsequently won 3 games in a row and closed them out. The big problem is that Indy did not have a go-to 4th quarter guy, and this lack of offense prevented them from staying in close games. Will this year be any different?

Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoop

Brew Hoop is excited about the size addition of Sam Dalembert and rookie John Henson, but they also like to play on the versatility brought on by the back court of Jennings, Ellis, and Udrih. But they do admit that their offense will probably take a dip with their roster adjustments, and that they don't have a lot of options as far as pure shooters go. The goal for this team is simply to reach the playoffs, and despite the murmurings of trades to bolster the back court, Brew Hoop seems confident that Jennings and Ellis can get them there.

Grade Comments
Zorgon's Take Grade_c_medium
The Bucks, to me, have always been the definition of average. This year's team is no different. While their back court will be fun to watch and they have the tools to seriously compete, I don't see anything that particularly sets them above the rest. They don't have a lot of flaws, but they're not as talented as Indiana, either. In any case, the only way I could see them getting out of the first round is if Monta Ellis summons his Warrior days and this team provides enough mismatches to upset someone.
Sherman's Take Grade_cminus_medium
What would Bucks fans consider a successful year? A .500 record? A low playoff seeding? It is hard to get excited about this team when there is nothing that really stands out about them. For a half season 2 years ago they seemed to find an identity in "Fear the Deer!" but with Andrew Bogut now gone, they're left with a backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, a dynamite duo if we're talking college ball, but in the pros, how are they going to guard anybody?

What do you think about the Atlantic Division teams? Let us know in the poll and the comments!

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