The Central Division is the Milwaukee Bucks' to lose, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy.
The Cavaliers went out and made a huge splash adding Donovan Mitchell, and quite honestly, the roster they've put together has a brighter long-term future. But, when it comes to the 2022-23 NBA season, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee are still the team that everyone else is chasing not just in the division, but in the Eastern Conference.
Since the 2017-18 season, no team has won more games than Milwaukee (257), and we could honestly argue that having a healthy Khris Middleton in their seven-game series against the Celtics would've brought a much different result in last year's playoffs. With Middleton healthy, along with the rest of their complimentary pieces like Jrue Holiday still playing at a high level, it’ll be hard to dethrone the Bucks again this year.
Now, that doesn't mean Cleveland at +275 isn't a solid value pick. Having to throw in caveats like "when healthy" if we're talking about Milwaukee gives a younger, and very talented team like the Cavs at least a shot. Milwaukee could spend more time resting their older starters during the season, allowing Cleveland to sneak in at steal the division with them likely valuing the regular season more.
The Cavs' win total jumped from 42.5 to 45.5 at FanDuel right after the deal went down, and it's all the way up to 47.5, with them having their highest expectations since LeBron James was last in Cleveland. The desire to compete for a title is no longer in the distant future.
Cleveland was 10th in the NBA ATS last year (53.8 percent), with early-on surprise wins showing they had clearly clicked, and the market adjusting as the season went on.
Adding an All-Star in Mitchell to a core that still has Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen is a huge boost, but that also means they have to figure each other out once they get to camp.
The Cavs made the right decision going all-in, and it's built up not just a short-term blueprint, but something long-term as well.
The talent is there, now it all just has to come together on the court, and if it does, expect to see Cleveland right in the thick of it with the rest of the contenders for years to come.
The Bucks are still the team to beat, but the new-look Cavaliers are coming for their throne.