Eastern Conference Offseason Grades: Central Division

Day 2 of the offseason grades bring us arguably the strongest division in the East. On paper, there is a chance that all of these teams could be in Playoff contention, with the Cavs leading the way. This Division also looks a lot different than it did last year, with the Bulls and Pacers making major changes to their squads. Seeing Dwyane Wade play in a Bulls jersey for the first time is going to be a weird sight, but at least now we can see him battle his banana boat pal LeBron a couple more times per year.

 

Chicago Bulls

Key Additions: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant, Denzel Valentine (Rookie)

Key Losses: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Justin Holiday, Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks

Rondo, Wade, and Butler, this team is going to be interesting on the offensive end. The Bulls haven’t been an exceptionally gifted offensive team in recent years, but at least they had three point threats in the past. Coming into this season, their best (and only) outside shooters are Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. With Thibs as coach the Bulls were a guaranteed top-10 defense, but now this team’s point differential could be really bad. One positive, which earned them a D+ rather than a flat D, Denzel Valentine is legit. While Summer League doesn’t really mean much, his performance in the final two games and the big shots that lead to their championship were a great sign. I would’ve liked him to start if Wade hadn’t decided to come home, but let’s hope he can prove himself with less minutes.

 

Grade: D+

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

Key Additions: Mike Dunleavy, Kay Felder (Rookie)

Key Losses: Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov

The Cavaliers didn’t need to make any changes after bringing Cleveland its first sports title since 1964, and not losing any super key pieces makes it a successful offseason. They couldn’t afford to retain Dellavedova which does hurt, but they did bring in Dunleavy to be an actual backup small forward. Timofey Mozgov was out of the rotation for the majority of the postseason, so losing him isn’t a huge deal. Kay Felder is a quick, young point guard who could break into the rotation, and if not Mo Williams will hold the backup point guard position. If there are any bought out point guards near the end of the season, expect the Cavs to pick them up for playoff run.

 

Grade: A

 

Detroit Pistons

Key Additions: Boban Marjanovic, Ish Smith, Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson (Rookie)

Key Losses: Jodie Meeks, Anthony Tolliver

Stan Van Gundy made small moves with the little space he had, and those moves have made the Pistons incredibly deep. Jon Leuer is a better backup stretch-4 than Tolliver, Jodie Meeks never played up to his contract, Ish Smith made the hilariously bad 76er’s quite a bit better. And they got Boban Marjanovic! Detroit’s real offseason move occurred during last season when they acquired Tobias Harris, and that helped push them into the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Now that they’re deeper, I expect them to be further up the Eastern Conference standings.

 

Grade: B+

 

Indiana Pacers

Key Additions: Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Al Jefferson, Georges Niang (Rookie), Nate McMillan (Coach)

Key Losses: George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, Ty Lawson

A starting lineup of Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, and Miles Turner? Yes please. The spacing this team will be able to operate in will make them an exciting, up-tempo squad. Al Jefferson is an odd fit; off bench he’s a solid post scorer, but there’s no way he’ll be running up and down the floor. Not sure if Teague is a major upgrade at the point, but he was an All Star. Solomon Hill was a great, flexible piece, but they still have plenty of wing depth. If Miles Turner takes a major step in his sophomore season, especially as a rim protector, this Pacer’s team could join the upper echelon of the East. Nate McMillan never got out of the first round with a great, Brandon Roy-led Blazers team so we’ll see what he can do with Paul George and Co.

 

Grade: B

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Key Additions: Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Thon Maker (Rookie)

Key Losses: Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez

If only the Bucks hadn’t signed Greg Monroe last season, could you imagine if they could have somehow signed Hassan Whiteside? Or even on a lower level, Ian Mahinmi or Bismack Biyombo? This Milwaukee team looked like they could grow into being the best defensive team in the league with their absurd length, and now they potentially have their future big man in Thon Maker. He could be 19, he could be 25, nobody knows, but his length and “young age” fits in perfectly with this Milwaukee Bucks organization. Dellavedova will bring some much-needed toughness, and is an upgrade over Bayless and Vasquez. Losing Vasquez after giving Toronto a 1st round pick for him does bring their grade down though. Teletovic is a nice backup power forward for them, adds a bit of shooting.

 

Grade: B

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