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NBA 2018/19 Predictions – Central Division

Being a Pacers fan, I get the joy of previewing the Central Division for the NBA 2018/19 season.  With “The King” plying his trade in Hollywood now, my division is wide open for the first time in 4 seasons.  Here’s my thoughts…


PG:  Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne

SG:  Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday

SF:  Jabari Parker, Denzel Valentine

PF:  Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis

C:  Robin Lopez, Wendell Carter Jr.

Still in rebuild mode, it’s going to be interesting to watch how Parker goes playing back at home in the Windy City.  Markkanen was one of the surprise packets of last season, so lets see if he can continue the upward trajectory this season.

The jury is still out on the Dunn/LaVine back court combination.  Hopefully with a full preseason under his belt, LaVine can finally let his play do the talking.  There is no doubt he is athletic on the offensive end, but what about D?  His ability to be more than a traffic cone on that end of the floor may help sum up how the Bulls perform this season.

Finally, I’m keen to see when during the season Carter Jr may take the starting role from Lopez – or even just the lion’s share of minutes given the Bulls may follow a small ball trend with Markkanen and Portis starting.  Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing him progress in the later part of the season.

Prediction: 26-56, Last in the Central.


PG:  George Hill, Collin Sexton

SG:  Rodney Hood, J.R. Smith

SF:  Cedi Osman, Kyle Korver

PF:  Kevin Love, Jae Crowder

C:  Tristan Thompson, Channing Frye

If you go back to my Cavs team from last year and take a look at the SF line compared to the above – LeBron then, Cedi Osman now…enough said (yes, even factoring in Cedi’s good offseason).  I know an AFL team here in Adelaide, Australia who have some spare tarps you can borrow to put over the empty seats at the Q!

We’ve seen K-Love in this scenario before, back in his Timberwolf days.  He’ll likely rack up the stats as the main man but overall as a team, this looks like a long season which will have them eliminated early.  I’m predicting there will be a fire sale of experienced assets over to contending teams as the season progresses.  Hill, Smith, Korver and maybe Crowder and Thompson all likely to be moved throughout the year once the writing is on the wall this team won’t be a contender.  Too many of those guys are in the twilight of their careers and will want to land in a better situation.

Good news for the Cavs is that should assist the rebuild with smart trading, so lets see how this roster appears come April.  I think vastly different from as printed above.

Prediction: 34-48, 4th in the Central.


PG:  Reggie Jackson, Ish Smith

SG:  Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard

SF:  Stanley Johnson, Glenn Robinson III

PF:  Blake Griffin, Henry Ellenson

C:  Andre Drummond, Jon Leuer

With a fit Griffin, R-Jax and Drummond, plus more experience from Johnson, the starting unit here looks like it could contest in the weakened East.  My worry is bench depth – Smith, Kennard, Robinson, Ellenson and Leuer don’t eaxctly scream ‘contender’.

Big minutes for the starters, assuming health isn’t an issue – and there’s a few blokes there who have previously suffered from being built like tissue paper, so lets just see how it plays out.  There’s enough talent in Griffin and Drummond (assuming he buys in – too often seems to be in cruise mode).

Reggie Jackson is the key here.  The potential on display behind Westbrook in OKC just hasn’t translated to the starter role in Detroit.  This appears to be his last chance to turn it around or he may find some different colours on his singlet later in the season.  I’m predicting he does put it together, and along with a fit and firing Griffin, the Pistons improve on the 9th place finish out East last season and have a playoff round to navigate in April.

On the flip side, if the season does go south again, I’ve heard the BBC is keen to pilot a new series called “The Two Reggies”….

Prediction: 43-39, 3rd in the Central.


PG: Darren Collison, Cory Joseph

SG:  Victor Oladipo, Tyreke Evans

SF:  Bojan Bogdanovic, Doug McDermott

PF:  Thaddeus Young, Domantas Sabonis

C:  Myles Turner, Kyle O’Quinn

The core from last season remains, while an upgraded backup SG and C spot on this lineup making for a promising 2018-19 campaign on paper.  If Turner can follow in the footsteps of Oladipo and have a breakout season, the Pacers should be back in business into May, especially with some other mobs around them possibly struggling more this season.

Oladipo is once again the key here.  He has taken the reins of this team from Paul George and elevated his game to All-Star levels.  Given it has only been one season of this play, he’ll need to hold or further advance those numbers to prove last season wasn’t an anomaly.  The system McMillan has in place seems to suit his style of play and the trust he has earned from this play should ensure he continues to thrive.  Tyreke Evans is the other key here.  He hasn’t played more than 52 games in a season in the past 3 years and if he can stay fit, it gives the Pacers much needed bench scoring.

Although the Cavs are destined to fall down the standings this season, the Pacers aren’t a lock for the division title.  The talented Bucks will be looking to improve on what could be seen as a missed opportunity last season, so Indy will have to keep winning if they want to advance to the playoffs in the top 4 out East.

Prediction: 52-30, 1st in the Central


PG:  Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova

SG:  Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo

SF:  Khris Middleton, Tony Snell

PF:  Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova

C:  Brook Lopez, John Henson, Thon Maker

A full season of Bledsoe at the point, the shadow of Jabari Parker gone from behind Giannis and Middleton, plus of course the continued rise and rise again of Giannis, all points toward a further improvement for these now established Bucks.

It’s not all roses though.  Before he went down injured, Parker was a 20ppg guy, so even though his absence can free some pressure on the two mentioned above, there’s a decent amount of scoring and talent walked out the door.  Added to this, Milwaukee’s love of below average bigs has continued – as if the acquisition of Monroe a few seasons back didn’t teach them, Brook Lopez wanders into a potential starting role now…gasp!  I don’t care how much is written about the movement to bigs who can shoot the 3-ball in the modern NBA, my opinion remains a 7 foot dude who has more three point attempts per game than rebounds per game is an anchor pulling down his team.  Lopez went close to this in his final Nets season (2016-17: 5.4rpg vs 5.2 3PA), then went one better last season as a Laker in 74 contests (2017-18: 4.0rpg vs 4.4 3PA).  Kareem, Bill Russell, Willis Reed and Artis Gilmore would be shaking their heads, while Wilt has given up turning in his grave at this farcical stat!

That said, Milwaukee is all about the Greek Freak.  He turns just 24 in December and it’s very feasible he could push for a 30-10-5-1.5-1.5 type season, with a 50%+ FG percentage too.  Outrageous numbers really.  To add some perspective, Garnett got close to those numbers in 2003-04, short on points per game (24.3) and steals (1.45).  Dr J went close in 3 seasons from 1973 to 1976, scoring in the high 20’s…in the ABA though, so there is a caveat there.   Larry Bird also got close, but always short in blocks and points.  So if he could manage a season of those numbers, it would truly be historical.

And with this elite level of play, Milwaukee will push for the summit of the Central, falling just short of the Pacers.

Prediction:  50-32, 2nd in the Central.

That’s me done with the Central.  Keep an eye out for the other divisions soon…

1 thought on “NBA 2018/19 Predictions – Central Division”

  1. 🙂 Great to see you were able to squeeze in a dig directed towards the Power in your Cavs review. I think Port wishes they could go back and fire the guy who came up with that idea!

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