Capsule previews of the NBA's Central Division

Published on NewsOK Modified: October 28, 2013 at 3:45 pm •  Published: October 28, 2013
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COACH: Maurice Cheeks, first season with Pistons, ninth season overall; 284-286.

EYES ON: Jennings. The Pistons made an early splash this offseason by signing Smith, but the acquisition of Jennings may mean more once he takes the court. He's proven he can score as a point guard, but Jennings will also be responsible for making sure the Pistons click offensively with a number of new faces. Cheeks will be expected to win right away in his new job, and he's hoping Jennings can make everyone around him better.

OUTLOOK: The talent upgrade this offseason was obvious, and after four straight seasons without a playoff berth, the Pistons look ready to take a step forward after adding Smith and Jennings to a roster that already included young big men Monroe and Drummond. Chemistry and cohesiveness will determine how much this team improves.

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CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

LAST SEASON: 24-58, missed playoffs.

STARTING FIVE: G Kyrie Irving (22.5 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.7 rpg), G Dion Waiters (14.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.0 apg), C Anderson Varejao (14.1 ppg, 14.4 rpg), F Tristan Thompson (11.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg), F Earl Clark (7.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: Clark (free agent, Lakers), G Jarrett Jack (free agent, Warriors), C Andrew Bynum (free agent, 76ers), F Anthony Bennett (draft, No. 1).

KEY LOSSES: G Omri Casspi (free agent, Rockets), C Marreese Speights (free agent, Warriors), G/F Shaun Livingston (free agent, Nets), G Wayne Ellington (free agent, Mavericks).

COACH: Mike Brown, returns to Cavaliers, eighth season overall; 481-314.

EYES ON: Irving. Entering his third NBA season, the talented 21-year-old aspires to be the league's best player. For that to happen, or for him to even be in that conversation, he needs to stay healthy, become more of a leader, play better defense and take the Cavs to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left town. Irving has superstar potential, and it's time for him to live up to it.

OUTLOOK: Brown shouldn't have been fired in 2010, and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has acknowledged as much. In his second stint, Brown must improve one of the league's poorest defensive teams before the Cavs can be considered a legit playoff contender. Also, they need to show they're better to have any shot at convincing James to return home next summer.

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MILWAUKEE BUCKS

LAST SEASON: 38-44, lost to Miami Heat 4-0 in first round.

STARTING FIVE: G Brandon Knight (13.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.0 apg), G O.J. Mayo (15.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.4 apg), F Caron Butler (10.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.0 apg), F Ersan Ilyasova (13.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 apg), C Larry Sanders (9.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.8 bpg).

KEY ADDITIONS: G Knight (trade, Pistons), G Mayo (free agent, Mavericks), F Butler (trade, Suns), G Gary Neal (free agent, Spurs), F/G Carlos Delfino (free agent, Rockets), G Luke Ridnour (trade, Timberwolves), F Giannis Antetokounmpo (draft, No. 15).

KEY LOSSES: G Brandon Jennings (trade, Pistons), G Monta Ellis (free agent, Mavericks), G Mike Dunleavy (free agent, Bulls), G J.J. Redick (trade, Clippers).

COACH: Larry Drew, first season with Bucks, fourth season overall; 128-102.

EYES ON: All the new guys. So many new players to meld under a new coach. The team placed an emphasis on character when acquiring players to renovate the roster. Most of the attention will likely fall on how the new backcourt of Knight and Mayo replaces the production of Jennings and Ellis (combined 36.7 ppg); and the continued maturation of Sanders, anointed a franchise cornerstone after receiving an offseason contract extension.

OUTLOOK: Optimistic about the chemistry among the new arrivals and Sanders' future as force in the middle. Replenished talent and depth on the perimeter. But new coach Drew faces the challenge of implementing new systems on both sides of the ball to an unfamiliar roster. Preseason injuries to Delfino and Ilyasova have also slowed the learning process.

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