Let’s take a look at how the teams in the Central Division look heading into the 2010-11 NBA season.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls had a relatively quiet offseason, but a good one. The team landed their first post scoring presence since Elton Brand when they signed free agent Carlos Boozer. Boozer will miss the first month or so of the season with a broken bone in his hand, but once he’s in the lineup this team is going to sell a lot of NBA tickets. Point guard Derrick Rose has been working hard on his game all summer and looks ready to take the next step in his development. This is a well-rounded lineup that can hurt opposing teams in a lot of ways.
Kyle Korver is the best shooter in the NBA and he’ll add a nice dimension to the Chicago offense. Joakim Noah will continue to enforce things down low now that the team has locked him up for the long term. Also, don’t forget about the underrated Luol Deng. I think the Bulls could be one of the top teams in the conference if they can steal healthy.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks surprised a lot of people last season in making the playoffs, including myself, and I actually really like what they did in the offseason. Re-signing John Salmons was a very good move and trading for Corey Maggette might have been an even better one. The Bucks now have two perimeter players aside from point guard Brandon Jennings that can create their own shot.
Maggette is great at getting to the free throw line and should help this team’s offense out a lot. I’m dubious of the contract the team awarded to Drew Gooden, but he’s solid if nothing else. Andrew Bogut should be back on the floor, but it could take some time to shake off the rust after his horrific elbow injury. I also really liked the team’s selection of Larry Sanders in the draft; keep an eye on this athletic forward.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are a young team, but they could surprise some people this season. The team played well down the stretch in 2009-10 and finally landed themselves a point guard when they acquired Darren Collison this offseason via trade. With Collison and Danny Granger leading the charge, this could be an exciting bunch to watch in 2010-11. Center Roy Hibbert could be in for a big year and the team has an exciting rookie with major offensive potential in Paul George.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons struggled with injuries and inconsistent play last season, but they’ve got a lot of young talent. Rodney Stuckey keeps getting better, even if he’s not quite the star Joe Dumars envisioned just yet. The team drafted Greg Monroe in the top 10 this offseason, and Monroe could be in line for major minutes with Jonas Jerebko out for five to six months. Austin Daye could be the wild card for the Pistons this season, as he’s flashed serious offensive potential.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavs are going to struggle in the wake of LeBron James’ departure, but they’ve got some young players to be excited about. J.J. Hickson looks like he could be a legitimate post scorer already and will probably get a lot of shots this season. Keep an eye on undrafted rookie Manny Harris if he makes the team, as he’s a talented perimeter threat that the Cavs could definitely use.