Rethinking The Central

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The departure of LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the arrival of Carlos Boozer in Chicago was supposed to dramatically shift the power in the Central Division from the shores of Lake Erie to the shores of Lake Michigan.

But what’s supposed to happen and what actually takes place are often very different things. The waters on both shores are calm at this stage of the season.

In fact, much of what we assumed about the Central Division race this season (we picked the Bucks as the surprise team not only in the Central but also in the Eastern Conference overall) has not materialized yet.

Boozer’s out with that broken finger. The Bucks have struggled. Byron Scott has the Cavaliers playing hard but they’re about what we thought they’d be without James. Two other teams that many people felt would take at least a small step up this season, Indiana and Detroit, have not. And the Pistons are on the brink of disaster, with internal strife and a new ownership situation compounding their 0-5 record.

As of this morning, the entire division is on a combined 12-game losing streak.

“It’s hard to pick any one team in that division right now,” an Eastern Conference scout friend admitted. “Chicago has the best tools to work with, but they have a new coach and really a new system that they are all trying to get adjusted to, plus they don’t have Boozer right now. I think they’ll be fine, eventually. I don’t know what to say about the Bucks. Andrew Bogut just doesn’t look comfortable yet. It seems to me that he’s still favoring that right arm. But that said, they could have easily beaten the Celtics the other night and then there’s a totally different feel about them right now. It’s still too early to make any definitive statements about how things will turn out for those two. But the rest of the division … it’s just a mess right now.”

Boozer did get the pins out (he broke his pinky Oct. 2) and the hard cast off of his hand earlier this week. He gets the stitches out next week, though there is still no specific date for his return to action, per Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com.

The Bucks looked better than their record against the Celtics. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sees some signs of hope where Bogut’s bunch is concerned:

A lineup that included center Andrew Bogut, power forward Ersan Ilyasova, small forward Corey Maggette, shooting guard Carlos Delfino and point guard Brandon Jennings – with help from Keyon Dooling – was able to take the Celtics to the wire in a 105-102 defeat.

Maggette, who ranks as the Bucks’ second-leading scorer (15.0 points per game) and is emerging as a steady influence off the bench, played 22 minutes against Boston and had 11 points and three rebounds.

But coach Scott Skiles also was happy to see strong contributions from Ilyasova (15 points and seven rebounds) and Dooling (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting) as eight players gained significant on-court time against the Celtics.

“I’m not the only one with this opinion, but it’s got to be based on productivity,” Skiles said of his decision-making process to dole out the available minutes. “Then it will just show itself to you and everybody gets a comfort level in it.

“So far we haven’t gotten to that point where we can count on the productivity of all the guys, at least to the level we’re going to need it at.”

Things will only get more interesting tonight. All five teams in the division will be in action, with the Bucks and Pacers squaring off against each other, so the division-wide losing streak will be snapped.

It’s probably too soon to scrap our initial predictions — we’ll give them until Thanksgiving — and we still need to see how Derrick Rose and Boozer work together.

But we’ve got the eraser ready.

47 Comments

  1. erwin says:

    im a bulls fan but man antwan jamison shud be leading scorer for that team…and cavs shud ,ake playoffs they good..

  2. Adonis T.Tinio says:

    In the lurk is a dark horse that everybody predicted is in a doom. Watch out for the Cavs, this line-up will gel together in no time. They only have to add a real center and all is done with. Byron Scott is the key, he has experienced putting mediocre teams in the playoff, as done before and this Cavs have better pieces. Watch out for Samardo Samuels who can make life miserable for any PFs and Manny Harris will be a bigger revelation better than John Salmons. I still go for Cavs battling Bucks in Chicago in the Central. Go Cavs and shine on.

  3. bigl16 says:

    Its pretty much like the NFC West in the NFL, noone is dominating the division and neither of those teams are really that great. But someone is gonna win which is why Chicago will be in the playoffs and division champ with probably 41 games this season.

  4. erwin says:

    why is evr1 talking about the bulls here lol

  5. michaelcantre says:

    the bulls need carmelo anthony bad trade loul deng he can’t score he sucks and he never does any thing only one game he is not reliable and rose need help now and we would be a championship conteder

  6. CJ says:

    The whole central division is over rated. the northwest division is the best and guess who’s winning it, the blazers!!!!!

  7. PistonsFan says:

    The Central is not looking so good this year, usually they are good, but the same can be said for the Atlantic. Aside from Boston, there is no good team in the Atlantic, well maybe New York, and thats a big maybe. I think the Bulls will easily win the Central once Boozer comes back, it will be pretty exciting seeing him play with Rose. The Bucks are also developing well as well. I think once the Bucks get Redd back, they will be a dangerous team.

    Me, however, am a Pistons fan, and, I will admit, we are severely struggling. We have such great talent of both younger and older players. As much as it hurts me to say, we do need to trade either Prince or Rip or even both of them. I think it would be fair to them to be traded to a team that can possibly win a title in their remaining few years. I think they could go very well as a package deal, instead of sending them to separate teams. We are in desperate need of another big player and possibly another point guard. I say we try to get a trade with either the Clippers or the Hawks and get either Chris Kaman or Josh Smith. I think both Detroit and one of those teams would benefit equally to a trade, I agree as well in keeping T-Mac because even though hes not the same, he could explode during any game. We should also look into the idea of trading Stuckey, because he obviously is starting to get impatient. If though we don’t however trade him he would be a great asset if we can improve toward the midseason.

    I think this would be an amazing lineup for the Pistons, here are two possible scenarios: Kaman, Daye, T-Mac, Gordon, and Stuckey or Wallace, Day, Smith, Gordon, and Stuckey.

  8. modernmalice says:

    I can understand some of the skepticism about Boozer due his health, but people negatively project his health issues on other parts of his game. At this point in his career, Boozer is better than Amare — and if you are complaining about Carlos’ defense have you ever seen Amare play??? Boozer is a better shooter, better rebounder, and better defender than Amare. You have a PF who will grab you 10 rebs and can go off for 30pts on any given night. More importantly he is a good passer, so when he opens the lane up with his 15-18ft jump shot he can also drop it down low for cutting Noah’s and Taj’s.

    There will be an adjust period as Boozer gets back into game speed, and learns to play with Noah and Rose. This is going to be a very very good team by the end of the year, on equal footing with Orlando, Boston, Miami.

  9. Omarisgay says:

    bucks are surprisingly bad right now but last year they were 10th seed up until the 2nd half of the season they exploded. Maggette should start imo.

    Chicago, yeah plug in boozer and itll be more wins

    detroit: feel sorry for them, kinda sucks u cant even throw away the players cuz big contracts. they’re crowded what they need to do is run the ball through a player and inflate his stats so its easier to trade him, and do that process over and over.

    indiana is arite

  10. Ben says:

    First of all, acquiring Boozer last summer is already a major improvement on the Bulls’ organization. Sekou’s right, we haven’t seen what the combination of D-Rose and Boozer can do on the floor and mind you, it’ll be a difficult task to contain either one of the two All-Stars. Yes, Boozer may (s)lack in defense but Joakim Noah will fill that void undoubtedly. Luol Deng in my opinion is one of the most underrated players in the NBA today and he gives them a third scoring option. I think that the Bulls have a decent and more than capable bench with Brewer, Korver, Gibson, Brewer, Thomas, and Watson. The problem I think for their team is the chemistry between the old and new players plus a new system under their new head coach. Once they get the feel for each other’s game, the Bulls will/can contend for the Eastern Conference title. Mind you, they are a young team and time is on their side.

  11. CJ says:

    the bulls are not legit contenders. 5th place or lower in the east. compleatly overated team

  12. Rufus1 says:

    Correction

    Allen Iverson played in a very, very, very, weak east, this is a different EAST. Iverson had plenty of games when he had double digit asst….He(D-Rose) also had a game when he took 31 shots to score 30pts, like Iverson.

    The Bulls have 2 1/2 legit offensive threats

  13. Rufus1 says:

    KEEP DREAMING!!!

    @jake

    Allen Iverson played in a very, very, very, weak east, this is a different EAST. Iverson had plenty of games when he had double digit asst….He also had a game when he took 31 shots to score 30pts, like Iverson. Iverson played with Carmelo and couldn’t take that team anywhere….But Chauncy(a true PG) change the team in one year.

    @leggomymelo

    The Bulls have 21/2 legit offensive threats(Boozer, D-Rose and sometimes Deng). You have an unproven coach, you admit your bench, Deng is not an Allstar caliber player and the most important fact…….YOU HAVEN’T WON ANYTHING YET.

    PS. Dend is the Marvin Williams of the Bulls, except the Bulls pay Deng 13mil and the Hawks pay Marvim 7.5mil.

    @Berto

    Allen Iverson cared very much about winning….he just didnt know how. A low post scorer doesn’t change the fact that the Bulls have one legit 3pt threat…..All the other contenders have atleast 3 3pts threats.

    @All the people who replied

    The NBA is a league of HYPE, the Bulls came in with a lot of HYPE, that HYPE blurred your REASONING. It is crazy to think that a team with a weak bench, can’t shot, a shot first PG, an unproven coach and an Injury prone big man who doesn’t play “D”, is an ELITE TEAM.

    I WAS SAD TOO WHEN I FOUND OUT SANTA DOESN’T EXIST

  14. TCheatChi23 says:

    Okay, lets get real here. Everyone’s downing Booz cause of his injury history. Lets just get one thing straight. Sure, injuries hit the guy, but when he’s healthy, he’s on target. Rose, unwilling? Have you seen any games this year? Just because he isn’t Rondo and dishing out 17 assists on a nightly basis doesn’t mean he’s unwilling. The guy is averaging a double-double. Calm your beard. Lets get another thing straight. When it comes to Centers in the east. There’s Dwight, and then there is Noah. I don’t care if Horford made the All-Star Team last year. To add to it, Noah’s a defensive anchor, nuff said. Its a new team, a team needs time to gel. Its 4 games in. Give them a break. You can say Booz is injury prone, but when he’s back putting people on posters and staring them down like he did Ibaka and Blair last year, none of you will have anything to say about it.

  15. Kyle says:

    I honestly think the only thing that is holding Chicago back from being elite is their huge weakness at the shooting guard spot…all they have to do is wait until dec. 15 when they can trade their free agent signings then make a trade for Andre Iguodala or Kevin Martin. Bulls would be sick with a starting lineup of Rose Iguodala/Martin Deng Boozer Noah! Now that’s a team that can beat the Lakers!

  16. erwin says:

    and pacers sukk

  17. erwin says:

    bucks sukk..detroit sukk..cavs sukk..c’mon bulls wud whoop those teams dont kid around

  18. Jack Ass says:

    You’re all chuckleheads! Im out!

  19. Rufus1 says:

    How good do you think Boozer is????

    The Bulls problem is you don’t have scorers and your BENCH SUCKS!! That SCRAP metal that they signed in the offseason is TERRIBLE. The Bulls won’t win 50 games because without Boozer they were BARELY 500 and Boozer isn’t worth 10 Wins. D-Rose is the 2nd coming of Allen Iverson, so he doesn’t make anybody better.

    The Idea that national writers thought the Bulls would be elite was a JOKE!

    • Jake says:

      Whoa settle down there. If you’ll remember Allen Iverson helped his team to the NBA Finals in 2001, and Derrick Rose has already had a couple double digit assists games this year. If you ask me, that’s making other players better. So how about you quit joking okay?

    • leggomymelo says:

      @RUFUS1. Calm down bro its not that deep. besides, its not that ridiculous to think that the bulls would be elite. first off, they have derrick rose who is quickly becoming a top ten player if he isnt already. youre right, boozer doesnt add 10 wins, but boozer and an improved Joakim noah add 10 wins or more. Luol deng is obviously more tha capable of being a legit star on the team. They have 4 all star caliber players on their team. yes their bench is pretty week, but cj watson, taj gibson, kyle korver, and brewer isnt the worst bench you could have. its just as week as miami’s bench. bulls can make major noise once boozer is back and everyone is acclimated. there post will eat up miami’s. rose and wade cancel eachother out, and deng and the rest of the group can hold it down against lebron.

    • Berto says:

      woah woah woah there. You definitely cannot say Derrick Rose is any “second coming” of Allen Iverson. Derrick Rose is a willing passer and truthfully cares about winning. Allen Iverson is a guy who’ll pass you the ball once and, otherwise, just shoot whenever he wants. Chicago needs a LOW POST SCORER. Noah is a defensive/rebounding big man. Boozer is an OFFENSIVE/ PICK AND ROLL bigman. You put them two with Derrick Rose and the Bulls are DEFINITELY a 50 win team.

      • MB37 says:

        yeah man. And dont forget the allround abilitiy of Luol Deng! ;)

        I think the Bulls will be at 4th or 5th place at the end of the season. It depends on, what ATL will do with J-Smoove.

  20. Chris says:

    The Bulls were unlucky agaisnt the Knicks… they went on 3 or 4 7-10 / 0 runs but then they just kept pouring in 3s ina unnatural manner. The were brilliantly active on the d creating good offensive options, with time and Boozer they will shine. Good run to the semis!

  21. Lawrence says:

    You create an article about the Central Division, feature a photo on NBA.com of a player from each of the Central Division teams, and then you talk about two of them. Great job…I feel very good with what I’ve learned about Indiana and Cleveland from this article.

  22. Dominique B says:

    First off yes the Bucks are not playing as well as they should be not to make any excuses for it but you have to think the Bucks have i believe 7-8 new players this year and throughout the whole training camp and preseason, you had guys up against their injuries…so the start of the season is kinda like their preseason because they didnt have the time to adjust during training camps or preseason. Im not worried at all about the Bucks eventually they’ll pick it up and start winning games overall as a team they are jus over-coming injuries and the new players aer adjusting to a new defensive and offensive system….john salmons is slowly returning from a ankle sprain but like i said eventually the Bucks will pick it up and start winning games….im not too concerned niether about the Bulls they have a good team as well…both the Bucks and the Bulls will make the central Division interesting like people predicted as the season go along!…chemistry is a under-rated thing in sports especially basketball….the Bucks became so good last year because of their chemistry besides a exciting rookie in brandon jennings and a good 7 footer in Andrew Bogut the Bucks didnt have “star” kind of players but they were able to notch a 46 win season due to good talent, a great coaching system and CHEMISTRY!…the Bucks still have the coaching staff, they still have the team of last year (besides Luke Ridnour) and they’ve gotten even BETTER when it comes to Talent adding Corey Maggette…resigning John Salmons..Drew Gooden..trading for Chris Douglas Roberts etc. i think the most important thing come this season for the Bucks is the Chemistry department….the question is can Scott Skiles get the team playing together well to where they can be a threat in the Eastern Conference and i think yes! Skiles expects alot out of his guys and i think everyone will eventually get going and get on the same page…if you didnt notice how well the Bucks played against the Boston Celtics in Boston…they took it to overtime and they did it with a struggling John Salmons so jus picture the same effort…but with a John Salmons getting atleast 15+ points in the game your going to see GOOD RESULTS Fear the Dear

    • rodney says:

      The bucks most important player is John salmons…….thats it they were good when he was healthy and now struggling when he not doin well. and thay have far too many wings just like indiana and detroit. they need to make some trades. i agree they have new players and they are gettin use to playing with jennings and bogut. i think they are better than the hawks…though. it doesnt seem to me that jennigs impoved he looks like the same player?????

  23. Andrew From Iowa says:

    Are you crazy…there has been only 6 game Max that a team has played so far. YOU CAN’T DRAW AN CONCLUSIONS YET. The Chicago Bulls have lost 2 really close games…Knicks and Thunder….both of those teams are pretty good. The Cavs beat the Celtics…point is they haven’t played enough…..calm down. Put the Eraser away until January not Thanksgiving.

  24. benmkapa says:

    Chicago are good whatever the current results are,
    They will end up with the division title and top seed in the conference ( 2 or 3 no way to beat Miami before the playoff ) even if Boozer does not reach the expectations.
    This is a a young team with an excellent coach a big defense ; and a fast attack.
    Noah is just perfect to assure the transition to put fast break points , Rose is a flying man and i support N.Y

    • Will says:

      No way with or without Boozer that the Bulls are better than the Celtics or Magic, even the Hawks are better than a fully healthy Bulls team.
      You cant put all your hopes on being a good fast break team with a flying point guard, if that’s so why aren’t the warriors up there?

  25. Tom says:

    I don’t understand why people are so high on Boozer going to Chicago; although he is very talented as an inside/midrange threat, and is an above average rebounder for his size, he is still undersized against a lot of the elite teams like the Lakers and the Celts…or am I missing something?

    • Derrick says:

      You do realize boozer averaged over 11 rebounds a game last season, right? I do not disagree about his size being a problem against teams with more interior size though.

    • rico says:

      Nobody ever said boozer would make them better than Boston of LA. there are projected as the 4th seed in the east with a chance to make it to the conference semis. Which I think is accurate enough.

    • Law064 says:

      I agree Tom I’m from Chicago and I think Bozzer was the biggest mistake. He’s a decent player but he’s way to soft. The moron injured himself at home taking out trash. I think the Bulls should’ve fined him for being careless. I think Al Jefferson would’ve been a better pick for Chicago. Boozer is undersized and will get exposed against bigger PF’s KG Tim D, Amare just to name a few. Chicago will be good but 2nd round is my prediction for them. I love my home town but I think they could’ve done better this off season and aquired some real talent.

      • Jake says:

        Boozer is one inch shorter than Amar’e and he’s heavier than all the guys you just mentioned and offensively he’s one of the best power forwards in the game. His problem is he can’t play defense and he only plays in about half the games anyway. We found that out the hard way in Utah.

      • leggomymelo says:

        i dont know. the way that noah is playing i dont think that boozers size is really such liability anymore. if noah can keep up the play of late i believe the bulls are the drakhorse to win out the east. mind you i said darkhorse. obviously stoudemire would have been a better option than boozer, but you cant argue that boozer makes that team better. once he is back they will be a very deep post team. im not a huge miami fan as of late so im excited to see what they can do against the heat

      • fred says:

        Look how soft bosh is…really I would of prefered either boozer or amare, and actually out of those 2, boozer has the best post game, and is a better rebounder. Amare is more exsplosive, but the bulls desperately needed a post up player. Plus noah can hold his own against any big man, except dwight. Boozer never had a good big man to play with, okur is a soft 3pt shooting center, noah is the complete opposite. Boozer was a good choice to pick-up, but I admit I am worried about his injury problems.

        When the bulls become completely healthy (boozer, brewer), and they gel and build a strong team chemistry, they should have a really good team, although I still think they need another 2-guard.

    • @ TheHeatSuck says:

      @ Theheatsuck T MAcs career i think aint over he was on the knicks last year in his debut he had like 26 points. Hes in beter chape now then with th knicks and teams are giving him a small role, because they want to develop their young players….same thing with iverson he averaged 15 points his last year with the sixers i think???? put the ball in Mcradys hands and he will be one maybe top ten iam telling u they are giving him a small role.. and hes on a team with so many wings.

  26. Andrew says:

    Milwaukee has had a tough early schedule and John Salmons isn’t playing for a contract anymore, you can’t fix the latter problem but things will get better with the former. Brandon Jennings also hasn’t improved as expected but like you said it’s still early.

    • Tyler says:

      Your right about John Salmons, and Brandon Jennings, but just wait for the second half of the year. Like an announcer said during the game, the Bucks coaching staff is a very good coaching staff without having any big name coach. Last year, the Bucks didn’t start as bad, but finished the year really strong. They will pick it up later on though. So I think Smith, needs to calm down because they will be a force in the East this year.

    • Billy "the mop" Thomas says:

      The central division is not good at all. iam still shocked the pistons have a load of talent and they are struggling like last year. i think they are gonna have to trade one or two of their wings. and maybe get another big. i think they might keep Mcgrady cause his contract isnt to big and they probably going to trade prince maybe thats why their easing him through the begining part of the season so he might be able to contribute after allstar break.

      • CORRECTION: Billy "the mop" Thomas says:

        Thats why their easing Mcgrady through the season so he can be fresh after all star break. and thats maybe when they will trade prince.

    • Billy "the mop" Thomas says:

      The pistons need another big maybe trade one of their wings to teams with bigs like portland, sacramento, boston i mean they could trade for ben gordon so maybe when ray allen retires they can just plug in ben gordan???

      • THEHEATSUCK says:

        T MAC’s career is over

      • leggomymelo says:

        i think that would be a great idea for boston. however, i cant really see detroit getting much value back except for maybe kendrick perkins and i doubt boston will let him go. i think portland would be a good idea. they could trade gordon or maybe stuckey for camby or possibly a draft pick. detroit has talent but they dont have any leaders.

      • 3 says:

        portland wouldn’t give up camby for either of those guys.