December 9, 2022 | 8:07 am
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The Baseline: Central Division preview with Tom Read

In the second of our six division previews, The Baseline fellas check-in on the Central Division where two of the East’s elite reside.  We are joined by Tom Read from the Believe the Hype podcast to help us make sense of this talented division.

  • The Detroit Pistons are being molded into Stan Van Gundy’s Orlando team slowly but surely. Andre Drummond will play the role of the young and bruising Dwight Howard as SVG plugs shooters and playmakers around him. Reggie Jackson got the money he didn’t think he’d get from OKC but will have Brandon Jennings breathing down his neck for playing time. With Greg Monroe now in Milwaukee, the Pistons will have to get offense from wing guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris and rookie Stanley Johnson. It looks like a work in process but can they compete for a playoff spot this season?
  • Indiana wants to play with a faster pace (pun intended) and will look for Paul George to spend time at the four in order do so. Monta Ellis has been added to help with the anemic scoring from a season ago and should also relieve George Hill in spurts when it comes to ball distribution. What isn’t known is how the overhauled frontcourt will play in lieu of the departures of Roy Hibbert and David West. Ian Mahinmi, Myles Turner, Lavoy Allen and Jordan Hill will all vie for time but their impact on both ends of the floor is a question. The Pacers could be surprisingly good or terribly bad…find out which way our panel is leaning.
  • It appears everybody loves the Milwaukee Bucks and their interchangeable young core. Jabari Parker is the headline name but he isn’t the headline player on a roster that is so evenly balanced they don’t need one. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Michael Carter-Williams and the newly added Greg Monroe look to round out the starting five along side Parker. John Henson will have an increased role after an increase in his bank account this summer while veterans O.J. Mayo. Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez hope to provide stability throughout the season. How far can the Bucks take their season as it appears Jason Kidd really can coach?
  • Fred Hoiberg has taken over the reigns in Chicago as the head coach but he’s already dealing with some familiar themes…injuries. Mike Dunleavy will start the season on the injured list and Derrick Rose hopes to be recovered from orbital bone surgery in time for the season. Luckily Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are all healthy for now. Hoiberg wants to increase the pace and the should mean more  minutes for uber talented Nikola Mirotic. The panel speculates on the future of Taj Gibson on the roster with so much talent in the frontcourt. Could Gibson be moved for a true backup point guard or for shooting on the wings?
  • LeBron James and the Cavs are reportedly mad about last season’s finish in the NBA Finals. That’s understandable but also a little cliche as far as motivating factors go. Kyrie Irving hopes to be back soon but in the meantime Kevin Love should feast as LeBron looks for reduced minutes during the regular season. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (when he returns) are the glue that made the Cavs run to the Finals come together along with Timofey Mozgov. Tristan Thompson‘s contract situation is a peculiar one but assuming he’s brought back into the fold that could spell disaster for Anderson Varejao who could be used as trade bait. The Cavs are the class of the division but they need their health and for David Blatt to lead them fearlessly without question from players or staff.

Check out the preview…you won’t be dissapointed.

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