FanPost

2013 Predictions: Central Division

For Atlantic Division results and a brief discussion of methods, see here.

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CENTRAL DIVISION:

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This is a really bad team, both short term and long. Monroe is a smooth and efficient offensive big, but I don't think anyone expects him to figure it out defensively. In theory him and Drummond can grow into a well matched synergistic big-man tandem, but who seriously wants to bet on Drummond panning out? After nearly 3,500 possessions of terrible basketball from Brandon Knight, the Pistons proceeded as if he is the answer at the point. I don't like their odds.

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The obvious story here is the injury to Derrick Rose. They are a totally different team without him. That said... I would be really pissed if I was a Bulls fan. Reinsdorf seems to have used the Rose injury as an excuse to mulligan the season and pinch pennies, but he easily could have kept the Rose-less Bulls in the playoffs without burning money. Hinrich is well past his prime, Nate-Rob is too physically limited to play serious minutes, and Teague wasn't even good against collegiate competition. Those are not stop-gaps.

If Jimmy Butler's small sample size last season (~650 possessions) proves accurate and Chicago gives him minutes, their season might look a little better. Given the weak state of the east, they could still make the playoffs and set-up for a triumphant end of season Rose return.

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Kyrie Irving is already a stud offensively. Unfortunately, on/off and counterpart numbers agree that he has a long way to go defensively. Ed Wieland likes Waiters quite a bit, and he is often right, so maybe Dion is worth getting excited about. Leuer was a good if unspectacular pickup. Alonzo Gee is a decent role player... Lots of mediocrity, which in the East may be all it takes.

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This is a really weird team. How many good 6'8"/6'9" and skinny players can a team have? Ilyasova, Luc, Harris, Dunleavy, Henson, Udoh... Add the weird pairing of Jennings and Ellis to that... So much redundancy. I really like many of the individual players, but Milwaukee's sense of roster construction is awful. That said, the Bucks may end up a playoff team in spite of themselves.

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The Central Division is the Pacers then everyone else. It is difficult to see Indiana beating the Heat or any of the top teams in the West, but they are the second best team in the East and look uniquely robust to injury. Their starting five are all positives on both ends of the court, and they have competent bigs in Mahinmi and Hansbrough to step up if someone goes down. Even as an underdog I found Indy hard to cheer for due to their dirty and overly-physical style, but they would be fun to root for if I were an Indianian (Indian? Hoosier?). The Pacers could win the title this season, but it would take some luck and likely an upset in the finals.

Next up: The Southeast Division (If you think the Central looks bad, wait until you see the Bobcats and the Magic.)

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