Yet again, the NBA finds itself at the mercy of LeBron James.
Come rain or shine, Cleveland or Miami, King James has dominated the Eastern Conference for the last seven years. And, looking at the team he has this season, that streak is likely to continue.
For the other teams in the Central division, life is a whole lot less glamorous. The Bulls are in turmoil, the Pistons are without a clue, and the Pacers are left without thier biggest star.
Although things seem pretty cut and dry, many questions still remain for these teams as the new season inches closer.
Position: 14th in East
Biggest Concern: When will they find their next superstar?
As storied and respected as the Bulls franchise is, their present situation is much worse than anything they’ve experienced in the past.
The front office has no idea what it’s doing, the roster is void of any talent, and their only hopes of a better future lie in the luck of lottery balls.
The 2017-18 campaign will serve as nothing but a nightmare for Bulls fans. On the bright side, the devlopement of Zach LaVine and Denzel Valentine could be interesting to see. If they turn out to be better than expected, it could make this rebuild much more bearable.
Regardless though, the Bulls will need to get their front-office sorted out soon if they hope to take meaningful strides forward.
Position: 12th in East
Future: Myles Turner
Biggest Concern: Can Myles Turner be a leader?
The Indiana Pacers have slowly fallen apart since their consecutive Conference Finals appearances in 2013 and 14.
Paul George practically begged to get traded, leaving the Pacers with hardly a ounce of regret.
Now, the team will turn to Myles Turner, their 21-year-old big-man, to be next franchise guy. Being a 14.5 Point per game scorer last season, the guy certainly has potential. But is he the one to bring this franchise back to respectability?
They’ll have to spend the best few years trying to find out. In the meantime, it won’t hurt to stock up on draft picks and young talent, in hopes they’ll find someone to put beside him.
Position: 7th in East
Biggest Concern: Will the pieces fit?
On paper, the Pistons have the talent to be a top four seeded team in the East. I’m real life, however, it’s a completely different story l.
Something just reeks in Detroit, and nobody can quite figure out what it is. Something just doesn’t fit. Is it Andre Drummond? Reggie Jackson? Stan Van Gundy? All three?
Whatever the case, the Pistons aren’t expected to make too much noise in the East this year. They’ll be a playoff team, but nothing more than that.
If their situation doesn’t reach a breakthrough soon, however, expect major changes to the organization.
Not because the Pistons are not bad, though. In fact, they’re pretty good. But “pretty good” is pretty much mediocre in the NBA, and the Pistons have yet to find someone to take them to that next level.
Position: 5th in East
Future: The Greek Freak
Biggest Concern: How far can Giannis carry them?
We could spend all day chatting about Jason Kidd, and how successfully he’s implementing a postitive culture. And we could spend all day talking about how awesome young guys like Jabari Parker and Malcom Brogdon have performed.
But when talking about the Bucks, only one name needs to be mentioned: Giannis Antetokounmpo.
He is “it” for the franchise, and is one of those players that comes once in a lifetime. This upcoming season will likely see him bumped into the NBA’s top five best players, and could be in the running for MVP.
So while Milwaukee does not have enough talent to compete with Cleveland or Boston, they will remain relevant so long as the agree Freak stays on their roster. This season is all about him, and it should be.
Position: 2nd in East
Future: Closing Fast
Biggest Concern: How much longer do they have?
How good are the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Sure they have LeBron James, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose , Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder. That’s not including all the other decent role-players. The team looks stacked, right?
But Wade is 35, Kevin Love is a different player, I.T. Is dealing with injury, Rose is injury prone and last his prime, and Jae Crowder has always been a bit overrated.
So while it’s only logical to give the Cavs the benefit of the doubt, nobody can know for sure how good the team will actually be.
And with LeBron’s Free-Agency looming, Cleveland’s future is in doubt as well.
We’ll see as the season goes on, but everything may not be going as good for this team as it seems. LeBron James is the only one holding it all together.
This could be their final run… let’s hope it’s a good one.
Central Division Overview
Most of these teams, even if their team today is good, are facing major questions about their future. With stars a-plenty, things could always be worse for the Central Division squads. But if they want to stay relevant for years to come, they’ll have to make some moves for tomorrow, even if it means blowing it up today.