Central Division Round Up: Fun with the Trade Machine

On December 15th contracts signed in the off-season became available to trade. In this week’s round up I will point out weaknesses for each team in the central and a viable trade to fix these weaknesses. These trades were brought to you by the ESPN trade machine. http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine

CENTRAL

W

L

DIFF

L10

14

10

.583

8-6

6-4

4-2

10-3

92.8

90.3

+2.5

Won 1

7-3

13

10

.565

 ½

7-5

6-5

5-1

11-5

96.1

97.0

-0.9

Won 1

6-4

13

12

.520

1 ½

7-3

6-9

3-2

7-6

91.1

90.7

+0.4

Lost 1

6-4

7

20

.259

8 ½

5-8

2-12

2-2

5-7

93.4

97.0

-3.6

Lost 5

2-8

5

21

.192

10

3-8

2-13

0-7

3-13

94.2

100.3

-6.1

Lost 4

1-9

The Chicago Bulls
http://www.nba.com/bulls/
This Week’s Games: 3-1
1. Win @ Philadelphia 96-89
2. Win vs Brooklyn 83-82
3. Loss @ Memphis 80-71
4. Win vs Boston 100-89

Next Week’s Games: Projected outcome 2-1
1. @ New York
2. @ Atlanta
3. vs Houston

This week the Bulls have showed themselves to be an upper echelon team even without Derrick Rose. They beat 3 teams in the top half of our rankings with their only loss being to a top 5 team (Memphis). This week they will be tested against New York and Atlanta who are both currently top 10 teams. I expect them to split these games and beat Houston.

Trade Machine Fix:
Biggest Weaknesses: 30th in Three Pointers Made, 28th in offensive turnover percentage

The Bulls need three point shooting. However, they don’t want to bring in a three point shooter that doesn’t fit their defensive identity. Jared Dudley is a very good three point shooter and although he isn’t the greatest on the ball defender he plays solid help defense. Chicago would trade a first round pick and use their $5 million trade exception from the Kyle Korver sign and trade to acquire him. Phoenix would do this deal because they are bad and their cheapskate owner loves to shed salary. The other statistical weakness the Bulls have is offensive turnovers. This should be lessened with the return of Derrick Rose.

The Milwaukee Bucks:
http://www.nba.com/bucks/
This Weeks Games: 3-1
1. Win vs Sacramento 98-85
2. Win @ Cleveland 90-86
3. Loss vs LAC 111-85
4. Win vs Indiana 98-93

Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 2-1
1. @ Memphis
2. @ Boston
3. vs Cleveland

Milwaukee is currently playing good basketball. They knocked off two bottom feeders in Sacramento and Cleveland, as well as coming away with a solid victory against division rival Indiana. This week I expect them to lose to an elite Memphis team, beat a reeling Celtics squad then beat an inexperienced Cavaliers team.

Trade Machine Fix:
Biggest Weaknesses: 25th in effective field goal percentage, 28th in three point percentage

On draft day the Bucks traded for Samuel Dalembert to shore up their defensive interior. With the emergence of Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert has had trouble getting off the bench. Despite this, he is a legit seven foot shot blocker and those are always in demand around the league. If the Bucks are smart they will try to leverage Dalembert’s contract to get a pass first point guard to spread the ball out and improve their shot selection. Goran Dragic is just the guy to them out of the bottom 20% in the league of eFG%.
With Brendan Jennings talking about looking for a big market team as early as last year the Bucks would be best served to move him before he becomes a free agent. In order to get Dragic, Jennings will be collateral damage.

Phoenix is openly shopping Beasley saying he is a locker room cancer (I’M SHOCKED). In order to move him it is going to cost them Dragic and a protected first round pick (going to Milwaukee). In return they will get an exciting player in Jennings who will be happy to put up as many shots as possible in a contract year. Courtney Lee and Jennings will make up a very good young athletic back court for Phoenix.  But their main motivation in this trade is jettisoning Mike Beasley.

The Celtics are in need of another shot blocker to aide Kevin Garnett, Samuel Dalembert would be the perfect fit. With Avery Bradley coming back the struggling Courtney Lee becomes expendable. Kris Joseph is thrown in for salary cap purposes.

The Indiana Pacers
http://www.nba.com/pacers/
This Week’s Games: 3-1
1. Win vs Cleveland 96-81
2. Win vs Philadelphia 95-85
3. Win @ Detroit 88-77
4. Loss @ Milwaukee 98-93

Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 3-0
1. vs Utah
2. @ Cleveland
3. @ New Orleans

Indiana continued their staunch defense and was able to score enough points to win 3 of their four games. Their only loss came when they did not keep the Bucks under 90 like they do to most teams. They will be tested against Utah but should be able to win in a knock down drag out brawl. Cleveland and New Orleans are simply too young to stand up to the defensive onslaught that the Pacers will bring.

Trade Machine Fix:
Biggest weakness: 28th in effective field goal percentage

The Pacers can not score. When they lose, more often than not it is due to a lack of scoring. Say what you want about Tyreke Evans, he can score the rock. The Kings did not offer him a contract extension over the summer as he does not seem to fit into their future plans. Dj Augustin is the type of pass first floor general that the Kings sorely need. Augustin just doesn’t seem to fit in Indiana, he is struggling mightily as the Pacers back up point guard. Combining him with stout defender Sam Young and a first round pick might be enough to get the Kings to bite and turn the Pacers around in the process.

The Detroit Pistons
http://www.nba.com/pistons/
This Week’s Games: 0-3
1. Loss @ Brooklyn 107-105 OT
2. Loss vs Indiana 88-77
3. Loss vs LAC 88-76

Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 3-0
1. @ Toronto
2. vs Washington
3. @ Washington

Detroit is coming off three losses to what will probably be three playoff teams. Now they are facing three bottom feeders. Three teams who I expect the Pistons to beat. This week we will find out if the Pistons are the worst of the worst.

Trade Machine Fix:
Biggest Weaknesses: 22nd in points per 100 possessions, 23rd in points allowed per 100 possessions

The Pistons are not a good team as evidenced by their record, offense and defensive ratings. They are not going to be making the playoffs this year. They have a good core of young players who will grow together and eventually win. What they need now is talent.
Derrick Williams is talented, he was the second pick in the draft last year for a reason. He has a high ceiling that he does not seem likely to reach in Minnesota. Minnesota needs to make a playoff run this year or they could lose their star player in Kevin Love. They have good defensive veterans at most positions, except the two guard (Roy when healthy is not a good defensive player at this stage in his career). Tayshaun Prince would improve what is already a very good defensive team and bring them to the next level. In order to get Williams the Pistons would probably have to add a protected first round pick.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
This Week’s Games: 0-4
1. Loss @ Indiana 96-81
2. Loss vs Milwaukee 90-86
3. Loss @ New York 103-102
4. Loss vs Toronto 113-99
Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 0-3
1. @ Boston
2. vs Indiana
3. @ Milwaukee
The Cavs should lose all their games this week just like they lost all their games the previous week. It is possible that they win one of those games but not likely enough that I pick them to win against any of those solid teams.
Trade Machine fix:
Weaknesses: 30th in effective Field Goal percentage, 27th in effective Field Goal percentage
There is no trade machine fix for the Cavs. They are a bad team but they are a young team without veterans who could be useful to a playoff team. The lone exception is Anderson Varejao. However trading him would be a mistake. He is signed to a reasonable contract and is the only player on the team that can provide veteran leadership. Trading him would amount increasing the engine size of a speed boat at the expense of a rudder. It is important to have a strong young core but to do it at the expense of losing the only player who can guide the Cavs young players would be foolish. There is no reason for the Cavs to trade Side Show Bob they will take their young core a high draft pick and hope for improvement next year.



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