As the season grows closer we’ll take a look at each division’s betting odds and try to build a better picture of the 2018 NBA season. We started with the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference which is one of the easier ones to project and now move on to an even easier one, the Central division.
|2018 Central Division – Odds to Win|
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While the loss of Kyrie Irving stings and there is questions about how healthy Isaiah Thomas is, this team should do well once again. The offense will probably need some tweaking, with the team hopefully unlocking Kevin Love more, but the fact of the matter is that this is the best team in the East and the most likely to make the Finals no matter what happens.
The rest of the roster is a who’s who of people you know. Dwayne Wade, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson are all a big part of this team, but it might be Jae Crowder who makes the biggest difference of all this year. The rare younger player, he can cover multiple positions and nail a three when needed. While the acquisitions of Wade, Thomas and Rose got all the headlines, it might be Crowder who helps take them back to the promised land.
The only real challenge to them in the division this year could be the Milwaukee Bucks and that is almost entirely dependent on what happens with Giannis Antetokounmpo. There is a lot of MVP buzz around him and if he can make some sort of leap this year, the Bucks could be trouble for Cleveland. We know that Cleveland often coasts through the regular season and the Bucks are young and hungry so that won’t be an issue. They are a big underdog here, but there is a path that sees them moving up here.
Giannis will need help. A step forward from Thon Maker would really make this offense exciting, a quick recovery for Jabari Parker is necessary as well as Malcolm Brogdon continuing to advance. The defense led by Giannis and Khris Middleton should be solid with Greg Monroe and Matthew Dellavedova causing trouble as always. It’s hard not to get excited about the Bucks, but it doesn’t seem like they are there quite yet.
The Pistons are the only other potential playoff team here and that is a big question as well. Andre Drummond hasn’t made the type of progression that Stan Van Gundy expected when he took the job. The drama with Reggie Jackson last year is very real and still around. Hopefully Stanley Johnson is able to make a step forward and the addition of Avery Bradley could be huge for them. Still, this is a lower seed playoff team at best.
Indiana and Chicago should both be in the lottery. There are interesting pieces here for both teams: Miles Turner, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for Indiana; and Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen for Chicago, but overall there is nothing to get excited about here.
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