Bulls on parade towards playoffs
Influential figure ... Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Photo: Getty Images
- Atlantic division: Sixers primed to knock Celtics over
- South-West division: Mills facing a battle for court time with Spurs
- NorthWest division: Nuggets strike gold for battle with Thunder
- Pacific division: Lakes reload to take shot at Heat
- Southeast division: Heat is on
Chicago Bulls: Chicago, although without Derrick Rose in the early stages of the season, will still be a tough team and should make the playoffs. With Derrick Rose they are one of the best teams in the NBA. When Rose returns, he will be glad to have off-season recruit Kirk Hinrich sharing the point guard duties. Don't be surprised to see Rose play at shooting guard at various stages. If they get it together they can make a deep play-off run.
Last season: 50-16 (1st round playoffs)
Gains: G Kirk Hinrich (Hawks), G Marquis Teague (draft), F Vladimir Radmanovic (Hawks), G Marco Belinelli (Hornets), C Nazr Mohammed (Thunder), G Nate Robinson (Warriors)
Losses: G C.J. Watson (Nets), G Ronnie Brewer (Knicks), G Kyle Korver (Hawks), C Omer Asik (Rockets),G John Lucas (Raptors)
Cleveland Cavaliers: In possibly the weakest division in the NBA, Cleveland will once again hitch their wagon to star point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving exceeded expectations during a superb rookie season and should take his game to another level this year. He will have rookie Dion Waiters alongside him in the backcourt, but Waiters will quickly learn that being a rookie on an ordinary team isn't easy. Another lottery pick looms large.
Last season: 21-45
Gains: G Dion Waiters (draft), F/C Tyler Zeller (draft), F C.J. Miles (Jazz),
Losses: G Anthony Parker (retired), F Antawn Jamison (Lakers)
Detroit Pistons: The blues will continue in Motown. They are far from the worst team in the East but are also a long way from being the best. Their only chance of making a dramatic improvement rests on the shoulders of rookie big man Andre Drummond. Drummond was expected to be a top five pick in this year's draft before teams starting going cold on him. If he struggles, a 30-win season looms large. Free agent signing Corey Maggette will continue to put up shots like they are going out of fashion.
Last season: 25-41
Gains: F/C Andre Drummond (draft), F Khris Middleton (draft), G Kim English (draft), C Vyacheslav Kravtsov (Ukraine), C Corey Maggette (Bobcats)
Losses: Ben Gordon (Bobcats)
Indiana Pacers: An athletic swingman (Danny Granger) who can take over a game, a centre (Roy Hibbert) who can defend and score in the low post and one of the few power forwards (David West) to boast a mid-range game. Sounds pretty good doesn't it? That's the Pacers for you. While they are yet to revisit the days of Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson and Rick Smits, things are looking up in Indianapolis. They made the second round of the playoffs last year and a similar result is on the cards again.
Last season: 42-24 (2nd round playoffs)
Gains: F Miles Plumlee (draft), G Orlando Johnson (draft), C Ian Mahinmi (Mavericks), G D.J. Augustin (Bobcats), F/G Gerald Green (Nets)
Losses: G Darren Collison (Mavericks)
Milwaukee Bucks: Trading Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis last year showed that the Bucks had decided they needed a fresh approach. A quicker tempo on offence (custom-made for Ellis) might help, but they are going to need a lot more than that. A spot in the playoffs would be an enormous shock. It might take a year or two, but rookie John Henson should prove a handy pickup.
Last season: 31-35
Gains: F John Henson (draft), G Doron Lamb (draft), C Samuel Dalembert (Rockets), C Joel Przybilla (Trail Blazers)
Losses: C Kwame Brown (76ers), F Carlos Delfino (Rockets)