Monday, October 23, 2006

NBA Preview 2006-2007: Central Division

Click for each preview:
Awards and Playoffs

Each team is scored on a 1-10 scale based on its projected starting lineup, bench, head coach and general manager. The maximum score possible is 80.

Overall scores, brief summaries and franchise outlooks will predict how a team performs this upcoming season.

A final preview article will predict regular-season awards, playoff results and the eventual NBA champion.

Chicago Bulls
C: Ben Wallace (8)
PF: PJ Brown (7.5)
SF: Andres Nocioni (8)
SG: Ben Gordon (8.5)
PG: Kirk Hinrich (8)
Bench: Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Tyrus Thomas, Mike Sweetney (8.5)
Coach: Scott Skiles (8)
GM: John Paxson (9)
Overall: 65.5
Summary: Wallace, due to his historically terrible free-throw shooting, is a liability in the fourth quarter. What the bench lacks in depth it compensates with talent and potential. PJ Brown will do a solid job until Thomas is ready to contribute. Gordon is the closest thing that Chicago has for a superstar with his explosive offensive game and clutch play.
Outlook: The Bulls hope to reach their first Finals since the Jordan Era.

Cleveland Cavaliers
C: Zydrunas Ilgaukas (8.5)
PF: Drew Gooden (8)
SF: LeBron James (10)
SG: Larry Hughes (8.5)
PG: Eric Snow (7)
Bench: Donyell Marshall, Shannon Brown, Damon Jones, David Wesley, Anderson Varejao (8)
Coach: Mike Brown (7.5)
GM: Danny Ferry(8)
Overall: 65.5
Summary: If Hughes gets injured, Shannon Brown should step in and perform well at the 2. This team would greatly benefit from having a top-tier PG so LeBron could work inside the paint instead of handling the ball in a half-court set. Snow is saavy, but he's also breaking down. Gooden is an underrated PF. Jones should be good for a few game-winning shots and a lot of terrible suits.
Outlook: LeBron wants to carry the Cavs to the Promised Land... and he just might do it.

Detroit Pistons
C: Nazr Mohammad (7)
PF: Rasheed Wallace (8.5)
SF: Tayshaun Prince (8.5)
SG: Richard Hamilton (9)
PG: Chauncey Billups (9)
Bench: Antonio McDyess, Lindsey Hunter, Ronald Murray, Jason Maxiell, Carlos Delfino, Amir Johnson (8)
Coach: Flip Saunders (7.5)
GM: Joe Dumars (9)
Overall: 66.5
Summary: Arguably the best starting five in the league, even without Ben Wallace. Hamilton and Billups are an elite duo, with speed and skill to burn. With the new no complaining rules in place, Rasheed might break his own record for most technicals in a season. The bench is long in the tooth, but they’re playoff-tested. Maxiell might be a Big Ben Lite in the making. Johnson will be seasoned in the NBDL for another year.
Outlook: A humbled Piston squad will try to capture a second title in four years.

Indiana Pacers
C: Jeff Foster (7)
PF: Jermaine O’Neal (9.5)
SF: Al Harrington (8.5)
SG: Stephen Jackson (8)
PG: Jamaal Tinsley (7.5)
Bench: Sarunas Jaskevicius, Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger, David Harrison, Darrell Armstrong, Shawne Williams (8)
Coach: Rick Carlisle (8)
GM: Larry Bird (8.5)
Overall: 65
Summary: There’s no telling how much the strip club shooting involving Jackson will affect the team. Distractions seem to be a yearly motif for this squad. O'Neal, when healthy, is a top-five player at his position. Daniels, Granger and Williams are all athletic wings. Do the Pacers really need all three of them, especially after signing Harrington to a long-term deal?
Outlook: Controversy may potentially derail yet another promising team.

Milwaukee Bucks
C: Andrew Bogut (8.5)
PF: Charlie Villanueva (8)
SF: Bobby Simmons (7.5)
SG: Michael Redd (9)
PG: Maurice Williams (7.5)
Bench: Ruben Patterson, Steve Blake, Dan Gadzuric, Brian Skinner, Charile Bell (7)
Coach: Terry Stotts (7)
GM: Larry Harris (7.5)
Overall: 62
Summary: Williams really stepped up at the point last season, making TJ Ford expendable. Bogut and Villanueva are a formidable tandem. Redd can drop 40 on any given night, and he'll need to more than a few times. The bench is a decent, defense-oriented bunch. Simmons needs to improve his play to justify the contract he signed over a year ago.
Outlook: Anything less than a playoff berth will be a disappointment.

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