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NBA Team Previews: Central Division Fantasy Breakdown

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Team Previews:

Chicago Bulls

Expected starting lineup: 

PG: Lonzo Ball

SG: Zach LaVine

SF: DeMar DeRozan

PF: Patrick Williams

C: Nikola Vucevic

Fantasy Relevant Bench Players: Coby White and Alex Caruso.

The Bulls are doing what a lot of fanbases wish their teams would do. They’re going for it. Fit be damned, they’re just acquiring high caliber players, and making it work. LaVine is a certified bucket, and now he’ll have an elite distributor in Lonzo Ball to create spacing. Further, he’ll have a center that can give you 20 points and 10 boards with his eyes closed, so you can’t just double LaVine. Williams plays defense, while DeMar will give you an extra 20 points per game, any way you need it. The Bulls are a threat to give everyone problems. What their front office has done should be in the running for GM of the Year.

Sleepers: None. There are other teams to look for value. You’ll have to pay full price for anyone that’s worth it on this team. DeMar DeRozan is a potentially asset to supply your rosters with points, but he’ll likely be gone before the late rounds, which is where I’d like to take him.

Busts: Alex Caruso. I think people saw his contract and assumed he’d be getting big time minutes for Chicago, but the Bulls landing Lonzo really holds that reality back. I’m expecting a similar role that Caruso had in L.A. He’s a waiver wire add for me.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Expected starting lineup: 

PG: Darius Garland

SG: Colin Sexton

SF: Isaac Okoro

PF: Kevin Love

C: Jarrett Allen

Fantasy Relevant Bench Players: Ricky Rubio, Cedi Osman, Lauri Markkanen, and Evan Mobley.

The Cavs have another pick in the lottery headed to them. Evan Mobley is a nice pick, but I don’t understand why they want to pair him with Allen, who’s now locked in for $100M. Kevin Love is coming off a season where he looked done and was deemed too out of shape for the Olympics. Okoro is still super young. Sexton has been involved in trade rumors every day for the last two years. Most of the players on this team are auditioning for other teams. There’s no need to rub this in any further. The Cavs aren’t great this year.

Sleepers: Lauri Markkanen is a diamond in the rough in my eyes. He’s a 7-foot guard, but the Bulls wanted to play him in the post (primarily because he can’t defend guards). I think that’s a misuse of his talents. If I was running things, I would start Lauri over Love or Okoro.

Busts: Evan Mobley. It’s hard being a rookie. It’s even harder when you have to play a position that’s unnatural to you because there’s already someone better/more experienced in your spot. Expect growing pains as Mobley learns the game and his role within a rebuilding team.

Detroit Pistons

Expected starting lineup: 

PG: Killian Hayes

SG: Cade Cunningham

SF: Saddiq Bey

PF: Jerami Grant

C: Isiah Stewart

Fantasy Relevant Bench Players: Kelly Olynyk

I don’t mean to be over the top, but I’m not sure this team would win the G-League championship. In terms of fantasy, however, that could mean we have a couple of high-usage players. Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant qualify for those roles. That’s where you should focus your fantasy prep. Other than that, there are not many reasons to get excited about Detroit basketball. Isiah Thomas ain’t walking through that door!

Sleepers: Kelly Olynk. He does all the things that will keep him in the league forever. High motor. Good shooter. Instinctive rebounder. Intuitive passer. He’s just a good basketball player. We’ll need to monitor the preseason, but if he is going to play over 20 minutes per game, you should get him on your roster.

Busts: Hayes. Killian is listed as the point guard, but I think it’s Cunningham that will lead the team in usage rate, and handle the ball each possession. I wouldn’t look to Hayes to provide you with much fantasy production. Even if you can draft him late.

Indiana Pacers

Expected starting lineup: 

PG: Malcolm Brogdon

SG: Caris LeVert

SF: T.J. Warren

PF: Domantas Sabonis

C: Myles Turner

Fantasy Relevant Bench Players: T.J. McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, and Chris Duarte.

This team is stacked. They were almost a playoff team last year, and they missed Warren for the entire year. Warren will be back this year. LeVert will be healthy at some point in the season. Sabonis is an All-Star and so is Malcolm Brogdon. To have a 50/40/90 guy potentially not even be your best player, is quite the treat. They’ve got something exciting in Indiana.

Sleepers: Chris Duarte. He was one of the oldest players in the draft, but talk about a 3 and D asset. He’s a versatile, lockdown defender, AND shot 43% from 3 in college. At 6’6″, he’s going to get plenty of playing time, as he can guard 1 through 3. He’ll be great in categories leagues.

Busts: Myles Turner. Much like Colin Sexton, Myles Turner has been in trade rumors for the last two years. That can’t be good on your mental stability, and it also probably means you’re going to get traded. I tend to avoid drafting players that will be traded because their roles change, and production declines as a result.

Milwaukee Bucks

Expected starting lineup: 

PG: Jrue Holiday

SG: Donte DiVincenzo

SF: Khris Middleton

PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo

C: Brook Lopez

Fantasy Relevant Bench Players: Pat Connaughton, Bobby Portis, and Grayson Allen.

Giannis gets all the usage. That won’t and shouldn’t change. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton fill out the rest of the box score, as needed. This is a three man team, with big games spread out between Donte, Lopez, and Portis. It obviously works, as they’re the defending champs. I don’t think they’ll be better than the Nets, but they’ll be back near the top this year.

Sleepers: Bobby Portis. Not having P.J. Tucker around means more usage for Bobby Portis. The best of Bobby Portis helps win you a real life championship. The best of Bobby Portis can also win you a fantasy league championship. His game is all hustle, boards, and continuation foul buckets. He took a smaller deal to return to the Bucks in a bigger role. He’s a joy to watch and if he gets a chunk of those P.J. Tucker minutes, you’ll want to have him.

Busts: Brook Lopez. His role fluctuates from game to game. You need consistency to win. I’ll pass.

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