2023–24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview

by Mark B
2021-22 Fantasy Basketball Division Preview - Central

This 2023–24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview will examine one of the most interesting divisions in the Eastern Conference. Namely, the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks make up this stacked division.

This division had three players in the top 25 ranks last season: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tyrese Haliburton, and Donovan Mitchell. This should also be the case this season, as there is little reason that will inhibit their ability on the court this season.

Be wary, though; Donovan Mitchell has already stated he likely will not extend his time beyond what his contract length states. As I don’t see Cleveland winning with this roster, there is a likelihood that the right deal might sway a trade and move Mitchell, so his value isn't guaranteed.

Tyrese Haliburton has an ADP of 6, going above guys like Giannis and Kevin Durant. Haliburton is a great player, but staying healthy has always been an issue. The Iowa State product averages about 63 games per season and only played 56 games last season. I would classify him as a risk-reward fantasy player, but an ADP of six isn’t justified.

2023–24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview

Preview of Competitive Teams:

This is probably the biggest year for the Milwaukee Bucks, as they were embarrassingly ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. Giannis Antetokounmpo has made it clear that winning is the only important thing. Re-signing players like Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jae Crowder was a priority but their biggest move was acquiring Damian Lillard.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were another team ousted from the first round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks. The Cavs look to have second-year Donovan Mitchell leading them through the first round this year. The Cavs' only moves were signing Georges Niang and Ty Jerome and the acquisition of Max Strus from Miami.

The Chicago Bulls look like a team in dismay. The Bulls were beaten in the play-ins by the Heat. Further bad news came out: Lonzo Ball will not be playing this season due to his continual knee issues. They will be relying heavily on Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic to make a statement and on Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu to provide support. Vucevic and Dosunmu both signed new contracts with the Bulls this off-season.

Preview of Less Competitive Teams:

Undoubtedly, the most interesting team in this division is the Indiana Pacers. They will look upon Team USA member Tyrese Haliburton (still on a rookie contract at $5.8 million this year but has signed a new contract to stay put) to lead this franchise. The Pacers were able to sign 2023 NBA Champion Bruce Brown to a 2-year contract, and they traded picks to the New York Knicks for Obi Toppin. The usual suspects—Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, and Bennedict Mathurin—will help bolster this team.

The biggest question mark in this division is the Detroit Pistons. Cade Cunningham was sadly only able to play 12 games last season and looks to come into preseason healthy. The Pistons have a lot of moving parts, like Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, Marvin Bagley III, James Wiseman, Jaden Ivey, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, and Jalen Duren. Any and all can do well, but it’s hard to figure out what new coach Monty Williams will implement in his system. Their offseason moves include re-signing Isaiah Stewart, acquiring Joe Harris from Brooklyn, and acquiring Monte Morris from Washington.

2023–24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview

New Faces in the Division

NBA Draft

The only player here with actual potential this season is Ausar Thompson. I would not expect him to run out of the gates but rather be a good fantasy player towards the end of the season. The Thompson twins are known for their high-energy rebounding and defense on the court. Thompson could provide sneaky stocks much like a Matisse Thybulle type. Keep an eye out late in the fantasy season for his output and opportunity.

Impact Free Agents

  • Indiana Pacers: Bruce Brown
  • Detroit Pistons: Joe Harris, Monte Morris

Bruce Brown was an interesting choice by both Indiana and Brown. Indiana already has so many guard forwards. Brown will be competing with Buddy Hield, Bennedict Mathurin, and Obi Toppin. His stats were not arguably great in Denver, but he is a jack of all trades. I would target him outside your top 100 to be safe.

Trades

  • Milwaukee Bucks: Damian Lillard
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Max Strus
  • Detroit Pistons: Joe Harris, Monte Morris

Damian Lillard is instantly the biggest move in the entire league. He will help carry the burden off Giannis and make the Bucks more offensively sound. It will be a headache for teams to defend the interior and perimeter with these two future Hall of Famers. Look for the rest of the Bucks roster to capitalize on the opportunity to shine with less pressure. Dame will be slated to send the entire league to Cancun and should more or less match his stats from Portland.

The Cavs picking up Max Strus from the Heat was a great move, as they need more shooters around Darius Garland and Mitchell. Look for Strus to be a three-point specialist with a mid-range game. He didn’t shoot well from deep last year at 35%, but he is not being looked upon to provide as much offense as he was on the Heat. He will be a good late pick with an uptick in three-pointers, as expected.

Joe Harris also seeks to help bolster the Piston’s three-pointers on the wing; the hope is he stays healthy.

Monte Morris’ job will be to be the backup point guard for Cade and to relieve him late in blowouts.

2023–24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview: Draft With Confidence

  • PG - Tyrese Haliburton, Damian Lillard, Darius Garland, Cade Cunningham
  • SG - Donovan Mitchell, Zach LaVine
  • SF - Khris Middleton, DeMar DeRozan
  • PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Evan Mobley
  • C - Nikola Vucevic, Myles Turner,  Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen
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Category Specific Players

Points/Three-Pointers: Bojan Bogdanović , Joe Harris, Buddy Hield, Max Strus, Pat Connaughton

Rebounds: Bobby Portis

Stocks: Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso


Enjoying this 2023-24 Fantasy Basketball Central Division Preview? Check out our Southeast Division Preview.

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