Central Division Power Rankings To Start The NBA Season

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Oct 28, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard

Jimmy Butler

(21) drives the ball during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Chicago won 115-100. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

No team in the Eastern Conference faces as uncertain of a future as the Chicago Bulls, but this hasn’t stopped the national media from hyping them up once again.

There’s no doubt that the Bulls possess talent. Jimmy Butler had a break-out season last year, emerging as an elite, well-rounded offensive weapon. He was already among the NBA’s best on the defensive end, but his emergence as an offensive weapon makes him one of the more intriguing players in the league.

Pau Gasol also had a fantastic bounce-back season last year, looking more like the player that helped contribute to two NBA titles than the man who suffered through his final two seasons in LA.

Outside of these two, however, the team faces tremendous uncertainty. Derrick Rose is a shell of his former self, unable to get to the basket with same reckless abandon that made him one of the most exciting players in the league.

Unless Rose improves his jump-shooting, and of course stay healthy for a decent stretch of games, he’ll never come close to the heights that made him the face of the franchise.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that Rose is bad. He’s still a solid scorer, and he can distribute the ball at a decent rate. However, he’s no longer among the league’s elite at his position and it’s doubtful he’ll return to that status again, especially in a league where there are so many elite point guards.

In addition to Rose, the Bulls also face uncertainty regarding their center in Joakim Noah. Noah had a terrible season last year, battling injuries and struggling to get anywhere near his MVP-type level when he did play.

Noah is a key cog in the Bulls team, functioning as a solid-rim protector and low post defender. Part of the reason why the Bulls were consistently one of the NBA’s best on defense can be explained by Noah being at the heart of the machine.

Noah, however, must prove this season that he’s back to 100 percent if the Bulls have any chance of competing for the Eastern Conference title.

In addition to their two oft-injured stars, the Bulls also face the prospect of finding a new identity under rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg. Tom Thibodeau was able to get the team to compete for one of the best records every season, in large part because of his high standards he set on a nightly basis.

Replacing one of the league’s best coaches will not be easy. Thus, the Bulls may struggle in the first few months to find their footing.

They do still boast, when healthy, one of the best starting fives in the Eastern Conference. They also have one of the better benches in the NBA with the likes of Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Aaron Brooks.

The Bulls could be a good regular season team and should be in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. However, things could go south rather quickly if they get injured.

Record 50-32 (3rd in the Central Division)

Next: 2nd: Milwaukee Bucks