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2023 NBA offseason grades: Central Division

NBA Central Division
(Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

2023 NBA offseason grades: Central Division

NBA training camps are just a few weeks away. That means it’s time to look back at the off-season and assess how teams fared. Today, we turn our attentions to the Central Division, a group of teams that did remarkably well in this writers eyes.  

As always, we give a thankful nod to Hoopshype, whose diligence in collating NBA player movements make it so easy for us writers.  

In case you missed it, we’ve already assessed the Atlantic and Northwest divisions. We’ll take a look at the Southwest Division in a few days’ time.  

Now let’s dive into our 2023 Central Division offseason grades!

Chicago Bulls: D+

Major additions:  

Major subtractions:  

The Bulls are what, just a few years back, the Orlando Magic were: Stuck on the NBA’s hamster wheel. Just good enough to compete without threatening the big boys and poor enough to lose without getting near a top draft pick.

It’s ironic then, that the Bulls big push to join the NBA’s elite began with the expensive acquisition of long time Magic star Nikola Vucevic, and where has that gotten them? I think most of you are way ahead of me, here.  

The Bulls lost some veteran talent this offseason, including key culture piece Patrick Beverley, replacing them with solid role players in Torrey Craig and Jevon Carter, the latter of whom the Bulls will be hoping maintains last season’s career best shooting efficiency. Middling veterans, though, only keep the Bulls on their current road to nowhere.

That means it’s time for youngsters Patrick Williams and Coby White to finally show their worth. This writer isn’t confident.  

Cleveland Cavaliers: A-

Major additions:  

Major subtractions:  

The Cavaliers last season had perhaps the best quartet of young players in the entire league. Around them, however, was an ill-fitting or lesser-talented supporting cast. With clear needs around their core, the Cavs front office only went and did a fine job addressing them.

They’ve gained shooting in Niang and Strus, a solid backup playmaker in Jerome and in Bates drafted an all upside talent late in the 2nd round. They’ve also taken a training camp flyer on former 2018 1st round pick of the Sixers, Zhaire Smith. A highly touted talent, Smith quickly flamed out of the NBA in the most bizarre of circumstances. He’s a low-risk, high-reward gamble.  

Detroit Pistons: A

Major addition:  

Major subtractions:  

*Some quick housekeeping: both Hamadou Diallo an RJ Hampton remain unsigned at the time of writing. It’s expected that Diallo will re-up with the Pistons. Hampton’s future is somewhat murkier.  

The Pistons continue to rebuild in the right way. Thompson may not be as heralded as twin brother Amen, but he’s a serious talent who is already in the top five percent of athletes in the NBA. If his jumper comes around, he’s an eventual All Star level player.  

Detroit also stocked up on solid veterans in Morris, a perfect mentor for the returning Cade Cunningham, and Harris who is expensive – not a concern for these Pistons – but one of the best shooters of a basketball walking the earth.

Indiana Pacers: A

Major additions:  

Major subtractions:  

A stellar off-season for the Pacers saw them grab one of the most coveted free agents in the NBA in former Denver Nuggets Swiss Army knife Bruce Brown. He’ll provide high level, switchable defence, excellent secondary playmaking and some serious moxie to this young lineup.  

Indiana flat out stole Toppin from the Knicks. He should have a field day sprinting the floor with Tyrese Haliburton (frankly, he’s probably doing backflips simply by virtue of not being coached by Tom Thibodeau anymore). He and Walker should develop into a formidable pair of power forwards in time.

Milwaukee Bucks: B+  

Major additions:  

Major subtractions:  

The Bucks responded to one of the most bizarre first-round flame outs in recent memory by removing their championship coach and replacing him with a rookie. A well-credentialed rookie, but a rookie head coach nonetheless. With resident megastar Giannis Antetokounmpo recently saying the quiet part out loud, Adrian Griffin is under immediate pressure.

That said, the front office have supported their new coach well. They’ve replaced the fossilised remains of Wes Matthews and Joe Ingles with a shooter who holds serious gravity in Malik Beasley whilst finally giving the aging Brook Lopez a viable backup in…twin brother Robin.

Losing Jevon Carter, who enjoyed a career year last campaign, will hurt though the Bucks will look to give AJ Green increased opportunities whilst hoping for better health from playmaking wing Khris Middleton

How would you grade each offseason from the Central Division? Let us know in the comments!

***

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