When the reigning MVP Derrick Rose tore his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs last year, it drastically changed the landscape of the NBA. Really, the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Bulls, a team tasked with fighting off the Indiana Pacers for division supremacy. The Pacers, who once held a 2-1 lead on the eventual champion Miami Heat, are loaded with talent and appear ready to take that next step.
Aside from the Pacers, the Detroit Pistons are a team looking to take advantage of a sure down-year for the Bulls. Despite missing the playoffs, the Pistons finished the season strong as the young core started to mesh nicely.
The Cavaliers have their star of the future in Kyrie Irving but the challenge for Byron Scott lies in finding a strong supporting crew for Irving to work with. Other than Daniel Gibson, there is a huge drop-off in talent, which is why I see another sub-.500 year in store for the struggling Cavs.
A team to watch out for is the Milwaukee Bucks. They had some relatively strong off-season pickups, most notably Monta Ellis, which should make this team an entertaining watch. In the past, the Bucks have been offensively challenged but a Jennings/Ellis backcourt could change that this year.
Division Standings Predictions:
1. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
2. Chicago Bulls (46-36)
3. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)
4. Detroit Pistons (38-44)
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (28-54)
Next Page: Indiana Pacers