By KEN COHEN | Ball State Sports Link
Four of the five teams in the NBA’s Central Division are in playoff contention, with the Bucks (10th) trying to claw their way in from the outside, as we head towards the second half of the season.
Four out of the five teams are sending a member to compete in the All-Star festivities being held in Smoothie King Arena in New Orleans, not to mention four out of the five starters for February’s second-biggest game play in the central division as well.
I say all this to support this point: the Central Division is back baby!
Okay maybe it’s not the prettiest. The Cavaliers sit atop the conference and division with a 33-15 record, which would be impressive if the Warriors weren’t continuing to be the party crashers of the NBA.
The Pacers have not yet returned as the true contenders a lot of people expected despite Paul George’s return to stardom. George will be making his fourth appearance in the All Star game.
The Bulls aren’t looking the hottest either right now, with very limited Rondo sightings and visible evidence Father Time is, yet again, on the heels of Father Prime.
Jimmy Butler has been undoubtedly the rock of this team. As reluctant as many Bulls fans — including myself — were to giving him the reigns, he has done nothing but prove wade’s comments early on were true.
Both these teams, though in the playoffs, still must improve if they want to keep their team’s spots safe from the hunger of B-list guard Kemba Walker (he makes his first All Star appearance as well).
The Pistons and the Bucks are in the same class.
Both with relatively young cores (Bucks avg. age: 26.4, Pistons avg. age: 25.8) and their centerpieces getting closer to their prime by the game.
The Greek Freak has been playing as the Swiss army knife many projected him to become, leading the Bucks in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
It’s no surprise that he makes his first appearance as a All-Star starter and why the Bucks are looking like a future contending team.
Drummond is continuing to be the defensive anchor for his team on the inside leading the team in rebounds, blocks and steals. Though he was snubbed from this year’s game, he is putting himself in position to be a stronger candidate for years to come.
The Eastern Conference has budding stars all across the board, from Mr. Irrelevant surprises like Isiah Thomas to destined stars like John Wall and Paul Millsap, but the Central Division is soon returning to its star-studded days of the 90s which means intense (and, God willing, lengthy) playoffs series.