NLJ’s 2020-2021 NBA Season Preview: Central Division

The NBA season begins on December 22. After an offseason in which we’ve seen contenders retool their rosters and star players change locations; this 2021 season could be one of the best ever. Here at No Limit Jumper, we’ve got you covered for the start of the season with our official 2021 NBA Season Preview. Join us as we take a look at each division and make predictions on how the 2021 season may shake out.

Next up: the Central Division

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Last Season: 56-17 (3-5 in the bubble), 1st in East, 1st in Central Division
  • Playoffs: 5-5, L East Semi-Finals (vs MIA)
  • Key Departures: Eric Bledsoe (OKC), Ersan Ilyasova (FA), Wes Matthews (LAL)
  • New Additions: G Jrue Holiday, F Torrey Craig, G DJ Augustin, G/F Nik Stauskas, F/C Bobby Portis, G Brynn Forbed, F Jordan Nowra
  • Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer

2020/2021 Season Overview

As much as Giannis would like this season to not be championship or bust, it 150% is. Milwaukee is in full championship mode, and the Jrue Holiday acquisition further solidifies that statement. This off-season was about 1 thing, improving their roster, and they did that. They were able to acquire underrated combo guard Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, Tory Craig, Brynn Forbes, and DJ Augustine. A team that needed an influx of talent, got it. It’s the NBA where the rich get richer.

2020/2021 Season Predictions

It is entirely possible that Milwaukee gets the 1 seed yet again. They managed to win 60 games with Eric Bledsoe at the helm. Replace him with Jrue, along with blustering a second unit who desperately needed some shooting and shot creation, you get one of the best rosters in the league. They may not have the top tier talent of Brooklyn or Boston, but their depth can finally win them games. Without a doubt, Milwaukee still holds the title as the best team in the east, but for how long will be the question.

Detriot Pistons

  • Last Season: 20-46, 13th in East, 4th in Central Division
  • Playoffs: N/A
  • Key Departures: Langston Galloway (PHX), Christian Wood (HOU)
  • New Additions: C/PF Mason Plumlee, F Jerian Grant, G Killian Hayes (R), G Saben Lee, F Issiah Stewart, C/PF Jahlil Okafor, G Wayne Ellington, F/G Josh Jackson
  • Head Coach: Dwane Casey

2020/2021 Season Overlook

As easy as it is to trash the Detroit Pistons, I think we need to give credit when credit is due. Detroit is a better basketball team than they were last year. Granted, they lost Christian Wood who could have been a franchise-altering talent, but they finally made some amazing decisions in the draft. Killian Hayes has the highest ceiling out of any guard drafted this year, and Isaiah Stewart is a polished version of Montrez Harrell. Pair Hayes’ raw talent with Derrick Rose’s tutelage, and put Seku and Stewart in the starting lineup, which easily has the potential to be one of the best young defensive pairings in the league. There is still a huge question mark in terms of what to do with Blake Griffin, as well as the signings of Jeremy Grant and Mason Plumlee, nevertheless, Detroit improved substantially and has a direction with their young talent.

2020/2021 Season Predictions

Just because Detroit improved doesn’t mean they’re a good team. There is a lot of development that needs to happen with the young players in this roster, specifically Seku Doumbouya. regardless, their defensive prowess will make them one of those gritty tough bad teams. Killian Hayes will be in the running for ROTY, as well as Derick Rose being in the mix for 6MOTY (if he isn’t moved before the deadline). As I previously stated, expect Blake Griffin to be on the move as well, Detroit will definitely be selling at this year’s deadline. Detroit will likely finish dead last in the standings for the central division this year, and that’s exactly where they need to be. It’s time for the motor city to get some engine maintenance, and this year is the official start.

Indiana Pacers

  • Last Season: 45-28 (6-2 in the bubble), 4th in East, 2nd in Central Division
  • Playoffs: 0-4, L First Round (vs MIA)
  • Key Departures: Langston Galloway (PHX), Christian Wood (HOU)
  • New Additions: Nate Bjorkgren (Head Coach), G Jalen Lecque, G/F Cassius Stanley
  • Head Coach: Nate Bjorkgren

2020/2021 Season Outlook

Surprisingly, Indiana didn’t make any real moves this offseason. They’re building an insane G-League team by acquiring Cassius Stanley and Jalen Legque, but outside of that Indiana is just the same team as last season. Evidently, the goal for Indiana should be to make the conference finals. With Victor Oladipo coming back fully healthy, Indiana could have a real chance of doing so. It will have to make some kind of move to acquire a player to take them to that, but until then, Indiana will be the same middle of the pack team they were last season.

2020/2021 Season Predictions

I don’t see Indian finishing higher than the 4 seed. Despite having one of the deepest teams in the league, they simply don’t have “that guy” who can win them games when needed. It is still entirely possible that VO regains his all-star form, and Myles Turner finally reaches his potential, but this team’s success is predicated solely on ifs. I could see them trying to make a last-ditch effort at the deadline to acquire talent, but this may be a wait it out the situation. Sorry Indiana fans, you’re once again stuck to mediocrity.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Last Season: 19-46, 15th in East, 5th in Central Division
  • Playoffs: N/A
  • Key Departures: Tristan Thompson (BOS)
  • New Additions: F/G Isaac Okoro (R), C Javale McGee, G Damyean Dotson, C/PF Thon Maker
  • Head Coach: JB Bickerstaff

2020/2021 Season Outlook

One word speaks to me when I think about the Cleveland Cavaliers, POVERTY. Year after year, Cleveland makes bad decision after bad decision, but believe it or not, they’re playing chess while the rest of the league is playing checkers. It is no secret that a frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond will win a team’s game, but it’ll also create extra possessions. This results in more shots for Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, and rookie forward Isaac Okoro. Yes, keeping Drummond restricts their ability to tank, but it is good to see they’re prioritizing the development of the players they already have on the roster. They did lose some frontcourt depth with Tristan Thompson, but outside of drafting Okoro, Cleveland didn’t do much. At least they got Javale and his cool vlogs.

Season Predicitions

Cleveland may actually have a shot to win 20 games this season. Adding Isaac Okoro finally gives them some defense on the perimeter, and having Drummond on the roster for another season locks down the interior. If Darius Garland can take that sophomore step, we could see the makings of another small backcourt duo on a small market team (shout out Dame and C.J.). Despite the Cavaliers starting 5 being formidable, their 2nd unit is utterly atrocious. That will be what puts Cleveland in NBA purgatory. We’ll see Cleveland win enough games to just miss out on top prospects, creating more stagnation for a poverty franchise.

Chicago Bulls

  • Last Season: 22-43, 11th in East, 3rd in Central Division
  • Playoffs: N/A
  • Key Departures: Kris Dunn (ATL)
  • New Additions: Billy Donovan (Head Coach), F Patrick Williams, C/F Noah Vonleh, F/G Garrett Temple, G Zach Norvell
  • Head Coach: Billy Donovan

2020/2021 Season Overlook

Could this be the year where Chicago makes a playoff run? Possibly. Believe it or not, Chicago has a fairly decent team. If Zach Lavine can stay healthy with Otto Porter, this team could seriously battle for the 8 seed. Billy Donavan is also a great hire, he isn’t a guy who will catapult this team to a championship, but you cannot knock his player development skills. Expect Lauri Markenen to have a bounce-back season under Donovan’s guidance. Also, rookie forward Patrick Williams is going to be a problem. Despite being the 6th man in college, Williams has grown a ton throughout this draft process, essentially filling the major holes his game had. It is hard to get a beat on a player watching scrimmage and open run highlights, but this Patrick Williams is not the one on his college tape, and that’s a scary sight for the entire league.

2020/2021 Season Predictions

As I previously stated, Chicago is going to be extremely competitive next season. They may have lost Kris Dunn, but adding Patrick Williams and Otto Porter will make up for that loss of defense. Wendell and Lauri will finally be used the way they need to be with Billy Donovan’s offense, creating more openings for Lavine to create his own shit and get to the hoop. The addition of Patrick Williams fills that giant hole of a backup wing, and with his progression, he will be a great piece off the bench. Chicago showed flashes last season of being a playoff team, and I fully expect this to be the year.

🏀NLJ 2021 NBA Previews🏀

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