As the NBA quickly becomes a global sports league with all its international flair, the conventional wisdom is that the league is the strongest it's been. As you'll see, with all of its optimism, there is a lot of room for improvement. Many divisions are top-heavy or just mediocre. Will the Milwaukee Bucks, as Central Division champions, push the rest of their familiar competition to become better in all facets? Hopefully. Now, let's take a look at the NBA and its divisions to see what shakes out.
#1 Pacific Division (West) combined record: 210-150
This division is loaded and easily the top division in the NBA. Whether it's the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns looking to repeat, the Lakers and Warriors' ambition to win it all again, the uncertainty of the Clippers and the Sacramento Kings' continued ineptitude, at least we'll know the division is entertaining. Much of the NBA news during the season will come from the Pacific division. How Golden State bounces back after a few down years is the biggest storyline in the division (Russell Westbrook to the Lakers notwithstanding).
Tell us who will win in the comments NBA fans.
#2 Atlantic Division (East) combined record: 201-159
The Atlantic Division could be the best in the NBA. Toronto won a championship just two years ago, and the rest of the division looks to climb - outside of Philadelphia, that is. Will all the drama swirling around Ben Simmons as training camp is a blink away, how Philly reacts professionally could put the division up for grabs. Yes, the Brooklyn Nets are a juggernaut on paper, yet last season showed that nothing is a given. Will the New York Knicks continue on an upward trajectory to challenge Philly and Brooklyn? Can they really? The Boston Celtics, despite all their new blood, are a huge question mark. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are so talented, and anyone with a sense of basketball love wants to see the Celtics compete. Ime Udoka, newly the C's head coach, has an opportunity to shake up the division as well. The Celtics seem like a young old team if that makes sense. Seems like a lot is going on in Boston, and with Tatum's favorable Olympic experience, his hunger for team success has to be immense.
#3 Northwest Division (West) combined record: 186-174
This is another loaded division in the NBA. As top heavy as it is, Utah, Denver and yes, Portland have contended in the west with anyone. Portland has some healing to do with all the Dame Lillard trade talk, Denver simply has to get healthy, and a Finals appearance would not be a shock. Nikola Jokic, the MVP, surely wants more team hardware on his mantle as well. The level of excitement in the Northwest is top notch. We're all waiting for Donovan Mitchell to return to his recent NBA greatness in consistent measure, and Jamal Murray is seen with the same eyes.
#4 Southeast Division (East) combined record:169-191
Trae Young is becoming a face of the NBA-type player. He will keep the Hawks in contention singlehandedly. Atlanta is developing into a serious contender, and Philly's mishap has become their shot to move up in the league. Miami had a down season after losing to the Lakers in the Finals a season ago, yet there is no shot the Heat will be content with a second-place slot in their own division. The Washington Wizards have to address so many issues in their front office as well as with personnel, and in my estimation, the Charlotte Hornets will be the surprise of this division in 2021-22.
#5 Southwest Division (West) combined record: 161-199
This division is loaded with star power. Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson will be names the league will feature for the foreseeable future. The problem is, with starpower also comes a lack of team success. Other than Dallas, Memphis was the only team .500 or better. The San Antonio Spurs, once dynastic in the NBA, are playing out the Greg Popovich string it seems, and New Orleans should accept Zion's challenge to get better or he's out of there. You will see a lot of high scoring games in this division, and Pop is the only coach with a defensive mindset to slow down the explosive numbers these teams will put up.
# 6 Central Division (East) combined record: 153-207
As steady as the NBA champion Bucks have been all season, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Central Division. The Indiana Pacers, at 34-38 are the only other team within the division to have a better than .500 record. The irony here is that the NBA champions are also in this division, and rarely is it said that the Bucks are weak because of their division competition. With the moves Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit made this offseason, could we see a shift and somehow the Central Division hits the top spot?