The Central division will be highly contested this season, as two teams (Pacers and Bucks) have a legitimate chance to dethrone the Bulls as “Kings of the Division”.

Let’s see what the Central division has in store for us this season:

Chicago Bulls- Head Coach Tom Thibodeau

  • 2011-2012 record: 50-16 (1st seed)
  • Key additions: Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed,Vladimir Radmonovic and Nate Robinson
  • Draft picks: Ryan Allen and Marquis Teague
  • Key losses: Kyle Korver, CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, John Lucas III and Omer Asik

Once again, the Chicago Bulls faded in the playoffs last season when their captain, Derrick Rose went down with an  injury. This time a  torn ACL. To add insult to injury, Center Joakim Noah had to battle with a foot injury. Chicago will have to step it up this season as they wait for Rose’s recovery. Players like Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Noah will have to play with a sense of urgency from the start. Defense won’t be an issue. Coach Thibodeau will have his players on point defensively. If Rose comes back at full strength without any setbacks, Chicago will be one of the favorites for the top playoff seed.

Cleveland Cavaliers-Head Coach Byron Scott

  • 2011-2012 record: 21-45
  • Key additions: C. J. Miles and Jeremy Pargo
  • Draft picks: Dion Waiters, Tyler Zeller, Michael Eric and Kevin Jones
  • Key losses: Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker and Semih Erden

The Cavaliers are still rebuilding and it will take time for them to get back to the winning days of Lebron James. However, we can’t overlook the talents of second year guard Kyrie Irving. The upside of this young man is tremendous. Cleveland fans should be ecstatic. The additions of C.J. Miles and Jeremy Pargo helps. And rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller will give the fans in Cleveland some hope for the future. With that said, it will be extremely hard for the Cavs to challenge for the division title this season.

Detroit Pistons- Head Coach Lawrence Frank

  • 2011-2012 record: 25-41
  • Key additions: Corey Maggette, Terrence Williams and Jonny Flynn
  • Draft picks: Andre Drummond, Khris Middleton, Kim English,Vyacheslav Kravtsov and Kyle Singler
  • Key losses: Walker Russell, Ben Wallace, Ben Gordon, Damien Wilkins and Vernon Macklin

Remember when the Detroit Pistons donned the nickname “Bad Boys”? Well these aren’t your daddy’s Pistons. In fact they aren’t remotely close to the Pistons team that won it all in 2004. Chauncey Billups is with the Clippers; Rasheed Wallace came out of retirement to join the Knicks; Rip Hamilton is a Chicago Bull; and Ben Wallace came back to Detroit but announced his retirement.  The only one left from that 2004 championship team is Tayshaun Prince but he’s not the player he once was. I don’t see any present nor future potential for the Pistons as they will be looking up at the rest of the teams in the division this season.

Indiana Pacers- Head Coach Frank Vogel

  • 2011-2012 record: 42-24 (3rd seed)
  • Key additions: D. J. Augustin and Gerald Green
  • Draft picks: Ian Mahinmi, Miles Plumlee and Ben Hansbrough
  • Key losses: Dahntay Jones, A.J. Price, Lou Amundson and Darren Collison

The Indian Pacers take care of business this offseason when they resigned center Roy Hibbert who has developed as a serious weapon. David West will look to show opponents that he hasn’t lost it. Danny Granger will continue to bring it offensively. Resigning George Hill was a must. He’s a gritty point guard that will play solid defense and who can shoot as well as dribble penetrate. Indiana will be the Bulls biggest obstacle for the top spot in the division.

Milwaukee Bucks- Head Coach Scott Skiles

  • 2011-2012 record: 31-35
  • Key additions: Samuel Dalembert, Marquis Daniels and Joel Przybilla
  • Draft picks: John Henson and Doron Lamb
  • Key losses: Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Jon Leuer and Jon Brockman

Milwaukee has the perfect one-two punch with a backcourt that features Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Both players are explosive offensively. Opponents can’t leave Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova  alone around the perimeter. Each are deadly from three-point range. Samuel Dalembert and Marquis Daniels were great pickups. Although defense will be the Bucks’ Achilles heel, they have enough offensive firepower to make things interesting in the division.

By Keith Madyun

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