NBA Futures: 2020-21 NBA Central Division Odds, Previews and Best Divisional Bets
The Central Division is home to the team that’s dominated the NBA regular season for the past two years. However, it is also home to arguably three of the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks have had the best regular-season record in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, but they’ve failed to appear in the NBA Finals both seasons and now look to finally make the leap this year.
If you’re looking for more in-depth analysis and futures picks ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season, be sure to check out our NBA Championship winner preview, as well as our assessment of both the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. As for individuals, we’ve also taken a look at the MVP and Rookie of the Year markets.
But for now, let’s break down all five teams in the Central Division.
Christmas has come early for the Milwaukee Bucks this year as their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo announced on Tuesday he will sign a five-year supermax extension, ending speculation of him leaving after this season. Retaining the two-time MVP was the best Christmas present Bucks fans could have wished for!
This is my home, this is my city.. I’m blessed to be able to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks for the next 5 years. Let’s make these years count. The show goes on, let’s get it. 🤎🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/895tCBE9RK
— Giannis Ugo Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) December 15, 2020
Although they made quite a few moves during this short offseason, the Bucks are once again expected to dominate the regular season. They’ve made upgrades in some key areas and have replaced a number of role players. Jrue Holiday comes in to replace playoff unreliable Eric Bledsoe at point guard, a two-way player who has averaged 19 or more points per game in his last three seasons and has been hailed as one of the best defensive players in the league at his position.
Donte DiVincenzo is expected to join Holiday in the backcourt, while Giannis, Middleton, and Brook Lopez are in the frontcourt rounding out one of the best two-way starting line-ups in the league. Key role player additions this offseason include sharpshooter Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig (who is a defensive specialist), point guard DJ Augustin (who brings veteran leadership), and combo-forward Bobby Portis. Being one of the deepest teams in the league, I expect Milwaukee to win over 68.5 percent of regular-season games at -112 odds with DraftKings.
On a completely different side of the spectrum are the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are once again expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA.
In the two seasons since LeBron James skipped town, the Cavs have had won 23 percent and 29 percent of games respectively, which puts them at the very bottom of the league during the two years span without James. As a result, they were able to rebuild the team and draft some young prospects like Colling Sexton and Darius Garland. A lot is expected out of those two this season and it remains to be seen if they are able to take the next step in their development.
The 32-year-old injury-plagued Kevin Love is joined by Andre Drummond in the frontcourt. The jury is still out on Love being able to stay healthy for an entire season, but even if he does, the pairing with Drummond looks far from ideal. I’m backing the Cavs to win under 30.5 percent of their games this season at -110 with DraftKings.
Notching the number-4 seed in the East is normally considered a good season, but when you get swept in the first round it’s anything but.
The Indiana Pacers retained much of their core entering the 2020-21 season. Nate Bjorkgren takes over from Nate McMillan in an effort to join the Bucks as one of the two teams to make the playoffs from this division.
Both Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner were in trade rumors this offseason, but the dust has settled now and both players are expected to be key members of the team. A lot is also hanging on NBA bubble sensation TJ Warren, who averaged nearly 20 points per game on very high efficiency. It remains to be seen if he will be able to replicate those performances in the regular season as well.
With injury problems last season, Indy finished the year with a 45-28 record and with almost everyone being healthy and motivated entering this season I am banking on them to reach the playoffs at -167 with DraftKings.
Like the Pacers, the Chicago Bulls have also made off-court moves this offseason by hiring new GM Arturas Karnisovas and head coach Billy Donovan, who is their fourth head coach since 2015.
Expectations aren’t high for the Bulls entering the season, with a core of Zach Lavine, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markannen, Coby White, and Patrick Williams the young Bulls are expected to use this season as a maturing process more than anything.
They were an above-average defensive team under Jim Boylen last season, however it’s the chemistry and offensive struggles that worry me the most with the Bulls. Donovan can certainly get the best out of this team, as he did with the Thunder last season, but not having a clear cut star on the team puts doubt in my mind they can win more than the 22 games they did last season. I’m backing Chicago Bulls to win under 41.5 percent of their games this season at -110 odds at DraftKings.
Speaking of teams with low expectations, the Detroit Pistons round out the Central Division.
Only three teams had a worse regular-season record than the Pistons last season and although they made some interesting moves this offseason, it is unclear what direction this team is headed towards.
Long gone are the days of Blake Griffin being a superstar in the NBA, but he is finally healthy and could be a bright spot for Dwane Casey. Although fairly consistent the last two seasons, you simply cannot rely on Derrick Rose to carry your team even for stretches.
The addition of Jerami Grant from Denver is interesting, if they are able to build chemistry they can be one of the surprises in the East this season. Will they make the playoffs? I doubt it, the best possible scenario for the Pistons is the play-in tournament. However, I think they are capable of winning more than 32.5 percent of their games. This bet is available at -110 with DraftKings.