5 Guys to Watch for in the Central Division
With four out of the five teams in the Central Division being likely playoff teams, this division will be one of the best this season. Highlighted by players like LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Andre Drummond, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, one thing is certain, there is no shortage of star power in this division. But, with these stars taking up most of the attention, a lot of players who play at a high level may go unnoticed. These 5 players are guys that should get more attention, because this season could be a big one for them.
Coming off his first season in the league, Turner is looking to build off of a great rookie year. He averaged 10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, and shot 50 percent from the field, all while only starting 30 games. He has the ability to stretch the floor with a great mid-range shot, all while standing tall at 6 feet, 11 inches. The Pacers brought in Al Jefferson this off-season, but many are saying that Turner will probably start at the center spot. If he gets the nod, he will not only see a boost in minutes, but expect to see his points and rebounds per game rise as well.
Projected Stats: 15 ppg, 8 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 52% FG
I’ve been high on McDermott to have a big season all off-season and it won’t stop until he either proves me wrong or right. In his first season, he only averaged 3 points per game, but he jumped up 6.4 points in his second season to average 9.4 points per game. With the Bulls not having much three-point shooting at all on both their starting five and bench, McDermott and his 41 percent career three-point mark will be much needed. He also has great height for a stretch forward. He comes in at 6 feet 8 inches, so the fact that he is a great shooter and has great height for his position will force Fred Hoiberg to play him even more.
Projected Stats: 12 ppg, 4 rpg, 43% 3pt
Another young player in the Central Division that is poised for a breakout season is Stanley Johnson. His rookie year was very solid; 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 23.1 minutes per game. This young Detroit Pistons team is set up to be a good team this year and down the line for many years to come, and Johnson will greatly benefit from that. Not only does he have game on the court, but he isn’t scared of the stars, particularly LeBron James. In the playoffs last season, he was quoted as saying, “I’m definitely in his head, that’s for sure ... I’m just trying to play basketball” (via sbnation.com). The Pistons would go on to get swept, but you have to like a little bit of confidence out of a young player. He will surely get more minutes this year and his tough style of defense fits perfectly with Detroit.
Projected Stats: 11 ppg, 6 rpg, 26 minutes per game
Jabari Parker is just the type of player you want in your organization. He is young, humble, and a great teammate. He only was able to play 25 games his rookie season because of an injury, but he bounced back last season and averaged 14.1 points per game. He could really use a boost in three-point shooting, but his defense and rebounding make up for that. He can get his buckets down low and also has a great ability to read the game. Entering his third year, this is a big season for him. Expect a boost in everything but three-point shooting. His three-point shooting may never come together, but the rest of his game is right on track.
Projected Stats: 18 ppg, 7 rpg, 82 games starting
Kay Felder is without a doubt the most underrated player on this list, and for good reason. Nobody really knows how Felder’s first season in the NBA will go, but he is expected to be Kyrie Irving’s backup going into the season. His final season at the University of Oakland he averaged 24.4 points and 9.3 assists per game. He is a highly capable scoring guard and can jump out of the gym. He plays like Nate Robinson, but you can expect much more of a rounded game than that. It’s tough to say how much he will play in his rookie year, but if he is given the opportunity, you can expect him to take advantage and give the Cavs a burst off the bench.
Projected Stats: 15 minutes per game, 6 ppg, 4 apg