Long dominated by the Detroit Pistons, the central is now owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James. The Cavs won the division by 25 games, and won a league high 66 games. The Bulls finished 41-41 and were the seventh seed in the eastern playoffs, and the Pistons finished 8th at 39-43.
Milwaukee is in rebuilding mode, and that plan was sped up by Michael Redd’s season ending injury last year. Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut has not panned out as hoped, and the Bucks lack a star player to market and sell tickets. They are young, and have some nice players, but losing Richard Jefferson when he was traded to San Antonio was not a good move.
Indiana is an underachieving team in the NBA. The man in charge, Larry Bird, has some quality players like all-star forward Danny Granger, who is the most underrated player in the league. Jamaal Tinsley remains a good point guard, and they also have point guard T.J. Ford. The Pacers need to get better at center, and add another scoring guard because of the departure of shooting guard Marquis Daniels to Boston via free agency.
Detroit is spent major money this year, signing major free agents Charlie Villaneuva and Ben Gordon. They chose not to save some of that money for the 2010 free agent mega-class. It was a good move by GM Joe Dumars because with Ben and Charlie, thye have a very good team. Rodney Stuckey and Tayshawn Prince are excellent young players, and they have young depth up front. They will sneak up on teams this year.
Chicago lost in the most exciting first round series ever against Boston last year. They took great strides all year and 2009 Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose is a superstar in waiting. Tyrus Thomas will continue to improve, and Joakim Noah played very well against Boston in the playoffs. This year we will see if the Bulls are ready to take the next step to greatness.
The Cavaliers will win the division, barring any catastrophic injury to superstar LeBron James. The addition of Shaq looks good, but in basketball sense it does not. Center was not a need. They needed a defensive, versatile forward, to guard the likes of Rashard Lewis and Kevin Garnett. Mo Williams was terrible in the playoffs, but Delonte West emerged as a valuable scoring option. The Cavs are good, but they cannot compete with Boston, Los Angeles, or Orlando. They should have attempted to acquire Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap.