Thursday, November 01, 2012

2012-13 NBA Preview: Central Division Wrap-Up

Wins Produced Projected Order of Finish
1. Indiana 48-34
2. Milwaukee 47-35
3. Chicago 45-37
4. Cleveland 26-56
5. Detroit 19-63

Wins Produced All-Central Team
PG George Hill, Indiana
SG Paul George, Indiana
SF Luol Deng, Chicago
PF Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee
C Joakim Noah, Chicago

Eye-Ball Test All-Central Team
PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland
SG George, Indiana
SF Deng, Chicago
PF Greg Monroe, Detroit
C Noah, Chicago

Wins Produced and the Eye-Ball Test match up pretty well in the Central, with the obvious exception of George Hill over Kyrie Irving.  (Of course, Derrick Rose would make the team over both of them if he were healthy.)  I personally think Monroe is in for a monster year, but I don't think Ilyasova is necessarily a slouch.  Carlos Boozer is hated by even Bulls fans, but he is still a productive player who could find himself in the running for this team with a heavier scoring load this year.  Deng beats out a weak crop of small forwards (Danny Granger is his only legitimate competition), while Joakim Noah edges out Anderson Varejao and Roy Hibbert.  As I touched on in my Pacers preview, Paul George has the potential to be a major star, and he shouldn't have much competition at his position from his division-mates.

Wins Produced Anti-Central Team
PG Jeremey Pargo, Cleveland
SG Lance Stephenson, Indiana
SF Kyle Singler, Detroit
PF Austin Daye, Detroit
C Slava Krastov, Detroit

Remember in my Pistons preview when I said Detroit's roster was littered with terrible players?  I wasn't pulling your leg.  Jeremy Pargo is so bad he couldn't even beat out David Sloan (who?) as Kyrie's backup, while Lance Stephenson inexplicably has a cult following among NBA nerds despite not really doing much of anything at any point in his young career.

Wins Produced Central MVP: Joakim Noah, Chicago
Canaan's Central MVP: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland

Noah is the backbone of the Bulls' stellar defense, a great rebounder, and an absolute pest to every opponent and their fans in the league.  He's done nothing but win ever since his Florida days, and he will be a big reason why the Bulls won't fall off as much without their superstar as almost any other team in the league would.  But Irving is one of those superstars, and he could very conceivably single-handedly make me look stupid by carrying a four-man (at best) Cavs team into the postseason.

Wins Produced Central LVP: Austin Daye, Detroit
Some players drafted after the Pistons took Daye--who has contributed 0.6 WP in his three years, highlighted by a stellar -2.2 WP last season--#15 overall in 2009: Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Eric Maynor, Darren Collison, Taj Gibson, DeJuan Blair, Marcus Thornton, Jodie Meeks, Chase Budinger,
Danny Green, and A.J. Price.  To be fair, you could probably come up with a similar list for any draft pick who hasn't panned out (for instance, I could make the exact same list with the same implications for James Johnson, who went one pick after Daye to Chicago), but Daye has somehow found a way to underwhelm even Charlie Villanueva.  Ouch.
Central DPOY: Joakim Noah, Chicago
Noah has some stiff competition from Anderson Varejao, Roy Hibbert, Samuel Dalembert, and teammates Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, but Noah has to be the pick for (nearly) match Varejao's activity and rebounding while also providing much stouter one-on-one post defense.

Central Matador of the Year: Charile Villanueva, PF, Detroit
Villanueva actually had a career-high rebounding rate last season (12.8 per 48 minutes), but a below-average block rate and an astronomical personal foul rate of 6.7 fouls per 48.  This points to laziness on defense, but really it could be laziness anywhere when it comes to Villanueva.

Wins Produced Central ROY: Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland
Canaan's Central ROY: John Henson, PF, Milwaukee
Waiters certainly looked like a rookie of the year candidate in the Cavs debut, but I'd like to see him put similar numbers up for a month before I become a believer.  Henson's biggest strengths--blocks and rebounding--translate well to the NBA, and he should be a big-time contributor off of Scott Skiles's bench from Day One.

Wins Produced Central Rookie Bust: Marquis Teague, PG, Chicago
Teague wasn't much of a distributor at Kentucky (4.8 apg, vs. 2.7 TO/G), but he didn't really score all that well, either (10.0 ppg on 49% True Shooting).  He apparently has tremendous physical tools, but a guy who struggles running the point alongside four other draft picks and under the tutelage of John Calipari (who the Bulls know first-hand knows how to develop NBA point guards) may, just maybe, struggle to find a niche in the NBA.  If everything breaks right, Teague may match C.J. Watson's meager contributions last season.

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