State of the NBA (Part 2: East; Central)

For Part 1 of my team-by-team breakdown covering the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division, click here.  Otherwise, here’s the breakdown, as I see it, of each team from the Central Division.  Again, in reverse order of their regular season record:

362 days after the Decision, the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves a far cry from the team that finished with 61 wins and the best record in the league just a year ago.  After bottoming out at 19-63 (2nd worst record in the league) and acquiring the 1st and 4th picks in the draft, Cleveland’s roster looks nothing like the one Lebron jilted last summer. With the Hickson trade, only 4 players remain from the Lebron/Mike Brown era.  The trouble for Cleveland, though, is that they really need to get lucky with their picks, but as I said in my draft recap, I really don’t like Thompson and I have my reservations about Irving, although I really do believe he will be quite good.  Honestly, the Cavs have done a great job of moving out of the shadow of His Quitness, but until they win, it’s merely a temporary victory.  Final Grade B

It’s been a wild fall from grace for the Detroit Pistons franchise, just 3 years removed from 6 straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances is now near the bottom of the Eastern Conference they dominated for so long.  The Pistons should be a warning for all teams who try to hold on to a championship core for too long – good times do end.  Though the Pistons have been building a decent young core, their main problem is that they have huge contracts tied up in under-performing veterans (Hamilton, Prince, Gordon, Villanueva).  Even though it’s been years since the 2004 NBA finals, the team is still defined by that season and is searching for more of that alchemy instead of moving on.  Detroit desperately needs a culture-change and a gigantic shift from their retro-looking perspective.  They can’t win with their current cast, but they need to play their cards right or they might just end up in the eternal purgatory zone.  Final Grade: C

Speaking of purgatory, the Milwaukee Bucks know exactly what that is like.  In the past 10 seasons, the Bucks have never finished with more than 25 losses or more than 50 wins – the perfect purgatory range.  Two big problems for the Bucks right now: 1) they aren’t getting any younger and 2) they aren’t getting any better.  Bogut, the # pick just 6 years ago, has effectively reached his (awfully low) peak and Jennings, the player they sold as the franchise’s savior the last two years, is just not as good as the hype he created with his 50-point game early his rookie year.  Jennings, in particular, can’t shoot (career 38%), can’t pass (5.3 assists), can’t score (16 ppg), and can’t defend.  So much for a franchise player.  And don’t bank on Stephen Jackson to change any of that.  A team destined for perpetual purgatory can only get a C

With the Indiana Pacers, I feel like I can just write “ditto” to everything I’ve written about the Pistons and Bucks.  All three teams have over-priced “stars” and few prospects for the immediate future.  Yet none of these teams is truly “horrible,” which is again, a really bad place to be.  Since the Palace Brawl (which, if you haven’t seen recently, is truly remarkable), the Pacers have failed to win 40 games.  The fact is that Granger is not good enough to build around and Indiana’s supporting cast is truly a mess.  Outside of Granger, no Pacer played over 30 minutes per game, suggesting an unstable roster.  The addition of George Hill will not put this team anywhere near striking range of a deep playoff run and was a poor move simply because Indiana needs to blow this team up or they’ll be consigned to 8th seed perpetually.  It will definitely be interesting to see what the Pacers do sans lockout.  Final Grade: C+

I really think the Chicago Bulls are in a very interesting team going forward.  They had the best record in the NBA, had the MVP of the league, the coach of the year and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.  And looking over their roster, Rose is 22, Asik 25, Deng 26, Noah 26, Gibson 26, Brewer 26, Watson 27, Boozer 29, Korver 30 and Bogans 31.  Basically, their team has a great mix of youth and age, a great defense, a pair of basketball creative geniuses… and they still can’t beat the SuperFriends.  Chicago did nothing to solve its lack of shooting in the draft and the lockout has prevented them from making any other deals, but unless something gets done, I just don’t see this team getting over Miami.  The one thing they can hope for, though, is that Rose becomes a much better shooter, but that might forever be his achilles heel.  Still, I know 25 or so teams that would trade rosters in a heart-beat, so the Bulls still get an A

Yours Truly,

Basketblogger

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    • Josh Taylor
    • July 5th, 2011

    Celebrate good times!

  1. July 8th, 2011

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