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NBA Offseason Review: Central Division

When the 2022 NBA season officially ends, we’ll review the divisional roster decisions and drafts that all 30 teams will need to make over the summer. The NBA draft and free agents are only a few days away, so let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference Central Division.

Central Division

Milwaukee Bucks: Chris Middleton’s knee injury in the playoffs derailed another championship season in Milwaukee. All the stars are back for another run, and the Bucks must keep most of their core intact.

Bulls of Chicago: Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, star power is plentiful. Chicago still has obvious weaknesses and is on a level below the real rivals.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Armed with a formidable inner duo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, point guard Darius Garland runs a solid team. Cleveland lost in the play-in tournament last season.

Indiana Pacers: No. 6 owners in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft, the Pacers are on track to retool center player Tyrese Haliburton with an underrated supporting cast.

Detroit Pistons: With the fifth pick in the upcoming draft, Detroit has a rising star in Cade Cunningham.

Detroit Pistons

Possible departures: Marvin Bagley, Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson, Rodney McGruder

Diallo, 23, appears to have stalled in his development, while Bagley, 23, could play a role in offense on a winning team. Both are worthy restoration items at the right price, but are ultimately not needle moves.

When the 2022 NBA season officially ends, we’ll review the divisional roster decisions and drafts that all 30 teams will need to make over the summer. The NBA draft and free agents are only a few days away, so let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference Central Division.

Central Division

Milwaukee Bucks: Chris Middleton’s knee injury in the playoffs derailed another championship season in Milwaukee. All the stars are back for another run, and the Bucks must keep most of their core intact.

Bulls of Chicago: Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, star power is plentiful. Chicago still has obvious weaknesses and is on a level below the real rivals.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Armed with a formidable inner duo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, point guard Darius Garland runs a solid team. Cleveland lost in the play-in tournament last season.

Indiana Pacers: No. 6 owners in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft, the Pacers are on track to retool center player Tyrese Haliburton with an underrated supporting cast.

Detroit Pistons: With the fifth pick in the upcoming draft, Detroit has a rising star in Cade Cunningham.

Detroit Pistons

Possible departures: Marvin Bagley, Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson, Rodney McGruder

Diallo, 23, appears to have stalled in his development, while Bagley, 23, could play a role in offense on a winning team. Both are worthy restoration items at the right price, but are ultimately not needle moves. Detroit will likely retain both, especially Bagley, unless a surge of free will prevents it.

There are rumors of DeAndre Ayton having a seizure. Detroit leads the league in cap size and could invest in a big three around Cade Cunningham and the No. 5 pick.

With Jerami Grant’s contract expiring now, his removal from Detroit seems inevitable. A preliminary deal is possible. The additional choice to add a backcourt mate for Cunningham, as well as a modern element in the frontcourt, would speed up the rebuild.

Besides Cunningham, Saddik Bey is another notable Pistons player. Detroit remains a blank slate for building a vision.

Preliminary considerations: Jayden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaydon Sharp, A.J. Liddell, Orlando Robinson

Off-Season Considerations: Jerami Grant trade, frontcourt star power, cheap wingers

Indiana Pacers

Possible departures: TJ Warren, Jalen Smith

Indiana is quietly teeming with talent. Tyrese Haliburton is a brilliant influence on the roster, helped by a pay cut that has turned into a revitalized asset of Buddy Heald – a familiar face to Sacramento’s Haliburton.

Miles Turner is only 26 years old and is back as a proven interior specialist with real floor bracing and offensive trailer skills. However, his contract is expiring and he could very well be transferred this summer. Isaiah Jackson is an exciting upside down rim runner. Terry Taylor is a sneaky unknown player in the league. Chris Duarte is a good creator under cheap control until 2025.

Malcolm Brogdon is staying – at least for now. He had a poor year from behind the arc and lost a step ahead of his 30th season, but sharing more backcourt with the Pacers than ever in the coming years bodes well. Depending on the organization’s desire to keep him, a major contract swap could give the Pacers a pick by selling Brogdon to a rival.

This Pacers team will surprise people sooner or later. In addition, Indiana has enough assets to complete another deal with Sacramento and move up to 4th place.

Preliminary considerations: Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Schaedon Sharp, Dereon Sibron, Christian Brown, Christian Koloko

Off-Season Considerations: Evaluate potential trades for Brogdon and Turner, keep Jalen Smith as a free agent at the right price.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Possible departures: Colleen Sexton, Moses Brown

The essence of Garland, Allen and Mobley performing just as well as they did without Sexton takes a lot of pressure off conforming to his limited free will. However, Sexton is a bucket and his poor defense could be masked like never before next season. Its market value and subsequent retention will dictate Cleveland’s draft strategy.

Wings are needed. Carys LeVert will play a significant role despite a disappointing end to the 2021-22 season after she made a trade move from Indiana. Besides, it’s gloomy. Isaac Okoro is progressing, but at a snail’s pace. Dean Wade and Dylan Windler are considered good defenders but are not really impressive. Cedi Osman is also not happy.

Cleveland is offensive, not dangerous. It could be Sexton. It could have happened through a draft. With some of the aforementioned wings on deals expiring and pick #39, a rueful contracting could make a positive contribution.

Preliminary considerations: Malachi Branham, Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Williams

Off-Season Considerations: Sexton solution, rotary shake

Bulls of Chicago

Possible departures: Zach LaVine, Troy Brown, Derrick Jones

Re-signing Zach LaVine is unlikely to end well for the Bulls. The chances that Chicago will regret the five-year, $212 million deal by the time LaVine is 30 are high. LaVine is now 27 years old, and even in his best years, there is skepticism that Chicago is vying for a ring with an existing core.

Portland covets Anferny Simons, but he would be a divine use of that capital if it were available. Chicago would be wise to go after Malik Monk. He is only 24 years old, will have a financially flexible future and is a talented scorer. Accompany the Monk with Chris Bushehr or another stopper on a quad. These dollars can be diversified. The clutch play suffers a bit, but LaVine’s role can mostly be explained.

When Alex Caruso was away, this Bulls team was in huge trouble. Caruso’s recovery – the same for Lonzo Ball – will be a huge event for Chicago. At least another quality season from DeMar DeRozan is a reality. Further growth from Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams is also realistic. Nikola Vucevic remains an influential player.

Derrick Jones is a plus as a long-playing quarterback, but re-signing him won’t be mandatory if the Bulls find success somewhere else in free agency. The Bulls have several different picks for home runs in the draft. There are many solutions to eliminate the physically one-dimensional wing roll or lack of explosive power in the defensive position.

Preliminary considerations: Tari Eason, Jaden Hardy, Marjon Beauchamp

Off-Season Considerations: Goals to replace LaVine (if he leaves), powerful stoppers in defense, especially in the four.

Milwaukee Bucks

Possible departures: Pat Connaughton, Bobby Portis, Wesley Matthews, Jevon Carter

Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton will be big losses for Milwaukee. Subtracting two quality defensemen and three-point scorers hurts. Portis has a more impressive overall offensive game and is three years younger, which adds to his price tag, especially after he got a big post-title discount to stay in Milwaukee last season. Connaughton is valued as an underrated finisher and athletic defender. It’s unlikely that Milwaukee will keep both, but the Bucks are worth a try.

Brooke Lopez and Grayson Allen remain. Wesley Matthews could also return. The trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are blocked. With a top-five offense but weak half-court defense, Milwaukee picked No. 24 for the best available player or long defensive tenure.

Preliminary considerations: Kennedy Chandler, Dalene Terry, Bryce McGowans, Trevor Keels

Off-Season Considerations: Offensive spark plug, basic 3-D wing(s), center depth

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