The Milwaukee Bucks stunned the NBA landscape when they acquired Damian Lillard to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Still, as they’re reeling off a disappointing 2023 playoff stay, they’re hoping that by having the best duo in basketball, all will work itself out. Will it, though?
In a Central division with many unanswered questions, here are our breakdowns and win total projections for each team.
- Chicago Bulls
Do the Chicago Bulls think they are going anywhere with this team? A trio of Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic doesn’t work, and I’m shocked the Bulls’ brass is running it back with this team expecting different results. This team won 46 games in 2021-22, then regressed to 40 wins in 2022-23, but nothing has changed from a roster standpoint to think their skid will stop. Once they are staring at reality come January, they’ll do the right thing by blowing it up.
Win Total Pick: UNDER 37.5 Wins (-110)
- Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 51 games last season before losing to the New York Knicks embarrassingly in the postseason. Still, Cleveland has plenty to be excited about for 2023-24. Their core young pieces, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, should improve with another year of NBA experience under their belts, with Donovan Mitchell remaining the superstar that he is. Surrounding them, acquiring depth pieces like Max Strus and Georges Niang, who have playoff experience, are vital in getting this team over the hump into the upper echelon of East contenders. Still, they may not be there yet come playoff time, but they’ll rack up the wins in the regular season.
Win Total Pick: OVER 50.5 Wins (-114)
- Detroit Pistons
To say I’m all over the Detroit Pistons would be a stretch since their win total sits at just 27.5, but I truly believe that come April, we will be much more confident in the long-term future of the Pistons and how their young core is looking. People have forgotten about Cade Cunningham since he missed 70 games last season, but he still is one of the best up-and-coming NBA stars in the same class as guys like Paolo Banchero. Around Cunningham, guys like Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren, and even James Wiseman make this a fun team that will benefit immensely from the Pistons bringing Monty Williams in to lead the ship. Is this a playoff team? Absolutely not, but they’ll win nearly 35 wins, with pundits next offseason projecting them as âthat teamâ to take the leap next summer.
Win Total Pick: OVER 27.5 Wins (+100)
- Indiana Pacers
This Indiana Pacers team is undoubtedly improved, but it all comes down to Tyrese Haliburton. With Haliburton, the team went a respectable 28-28; without him, they were 7-19. This is Haliburton’s team, and the addition of Bruce Brown will be huge to glue all the pieces together on both ends of the floor. I also anticipate rookie Jarace Walker to step in and have an immediate impact defensively from day one. Around them, the Pacers have some interesting young pieces, as Bennedict Mathurin could make a second-year leap, and Obi Toppin could benefit from a scenery change. With all things being equal, if the Pacers stay healthy, they could very conceivably compete for the six-seed in the East.
Win Total Pick: OVER 38.5 Wins (+104)
- Milwaukee Bucks
Do I have to explain the pairing of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard? Man, they’re going to be electric. Still, I can’t help but be worried about them taking some time to gel together to start the year, especially with a new, unproven head coach in Adrian Griffin leading the way. I have no doubt the Milwaukee Bucks will be fine come playoff time, but could the Bucks get off to a mediocre start as the growing pains show face? I’d bet on it.
Win Total Pick: UNDER 53.5 Wins (-118)
All Odds Courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook
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