Last season the Chicago Bulls seemingly ran away with the NBA and all who stood in their way in the NBA Eastern Conference never stood a chance. The victims on the front lines were their mates in their division, the Central Division.
But the Central Division is on the up and up this year with all the teams improving. The Indiana Pacers actually made the playoffs and faced the Bulls in the first round and although the Milwaukee Bucks narrowly missed a postseason berth, they are geared for a serious run this year. And even two teams that finished at the bottom, the Pistons and Cavilers, managed to make improvements with high draft positions.
So although the Bulls are poised to run away with the division again, that doesn’t mean the rest of the division should be slept on.
2011-12 Eastern Conference Central Division Preview
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau (2nd Year)
Starting 5: PG Derrick Rose, SG Richard Hamilton, PF Carlos Boozer, SF Luol Deng, C Joakim Noah
Key Player: PG Derrick Rose
Additions: SG Richard Hamilton
Losses: SG Keith Bogans, PF Kurt Thomas, SG Rasual Butler
’11 Draft: SF Jimmy Butler (Marquette), PF Nikola Mirotic [via trade from Timberwolves], G Malcolm Lee (UCLA)
Preview: The Bulls are favored to win not only the Central again this year, but some are picking them to win it all. Chicago surprised everyone with their serious run at a championship last season which saw them violently and ferociously blow back onto the scene in spectacular fashion. With the reigning MVP and Coach of the Year Chicago returns with all but one of the pieces they had last year. Thankfully the missing piece was irrelevant and replacement adds fire to the lineup. Richard Hamilton has championship experience and will be a veteran leader. Derrick Rose returns as the MVP and a budding new superstar while the likes of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng remain serious supporting pieces. There is also the Bench Mob that can’t be ignored and with the shortened season will be tested to it’s deepest depths.