Question marks still remain with LeBron James’ free-agency destination. Even though he won’t be signing with the Milwaukee Bucks, it still impacts the team.
Without LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have chance at winning more than 20-30 games with the players they have currently. That’s barring any trades they cook up to ship out expiring contracts. You’ll be looking at a Kevin Love and Collin Sexton led Cavaliers G-League team. That’s all great news for the Milwaukee Bucks.
If the Cavaliers do end up shipping out Love, among others, and don’t give Sexton the Andrew Wiggins treatment, this team could win less than 15-20 games.
I’m fully on the table in saying that Tyronn Lue isn’t one of the better coaches in the NBA. I think this upcoming season will show that. You’ll see Lue out the door prior to the season ending.
The Chicago Bulls are still young, but are making the right moves to be on the tail end of their rebuild.
Led by All-Rookie First Team member Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls finished last year at 27-55. They won’t finish this upcoming season last in the division, but I don’t think they improve by much. Maybe finishing in the 30-35 win range. Overall their roster stands out with Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Markkanen and new rookies Chandler Hutchison and Wendell Carter Jr.
This Bulls team definitely has the ability to space the floor and score. Defense will remain to be looked at, ranking 27th last season in opponents points per game.
The Bucks are talented, no denying that, but outside of Middleton and Antetokounmpo, there is too much inconsistency.
The Bucks upcoming season is full of holes. Khris Middleton has a player option after next season to become a free agent and Thon Maker has a team option. Who do you keep, let go or trade? There’s question marks around the center position still. Consistency from support pieces around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Whether or not new Head Coach Mike Budenholzer can incorporate a system that will push this team further into the post season.
They drafted Donte DiVincenzo to help with wing scoring/defense and bench production. Jabari Parker might be on his way out unless the Bucks retain him. Free agency will ultimately show which direction the club will be looking at heading into 2018-2019.
Basically, you’re looking at a team that’s either going to miss the playoffs entirely or shock everyone. Also, Greek Freak for MVP!
Detroit Pistons have the highest potential for improvement this year.
Detroit Pistons were a very lopsided team last season under Stan Van Gundy. They ranked 22nd in the NBA in points per game but sixth in opponents points per game. Being able to stop your opponent from scoring but not scoring yourself results in the 39-43 record they finished with.
In steps Dwane Casey. Casey led the Toronto Raptors to a franchise record wins last season and is proven. With players like Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson available, he’ll be able to push this Pistons team into a contender in the East easily.
People forget that the Pistons were still in playoff contention late in the season. With the Bucks, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat slipping. Don’t be surprised to see the Pistons in one of those spots next season instead.
Central Division will go through Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers.
Despite the Pacers declining Lance Stephenson‘s team option to return to Indiana, they will be the team to beat in the Central Division.
Victor Oladipo could very well be someone to keep an eye on for the MVP race next season. Myles Turner keeps improving and showing he can be a dominant big. Thaddeus Young exercised his player option to be back with the Pacers. The emergence of Domantas Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic throughout the season and in the playoffs was also a great thing.
The Pacers were top 10 in the Eastern Conference in both points scored and points allowed per game. With the playoff experience they got this past season, having five plus 10.0 or more point per game scorers and a top offensive and defensive team in the East, they are shoe-ins for a top 4 seed.
The Central Division is the Pacers’ to lose.