1. Cleveland Cavaliers — 54-28
  2. Detroit Pistons — 45-37
  3. Milwaukee Bucks — 41-41
  4. Indiana Pacers — 38-44
  5. Chicago Bulls — 37-45

The Cavs are easily the Eastern Conference’s best team. They will cruise to a third straight division crown and NBA Finals. The defending champs bring back the same team that took down the legendary Golden State Warriors in last year’s finals. Most importantly, they have LeBron James. That means they’ll always have a chance.

The other teams in the central division will beat up on each other throughout the season.

Reggie Jackson (knee, thumb) missing extended time to start the season is a hit for the Pistons. They won’t improve as much as they’d hoped but Stan Van Gundy’s team will finish fourth in the conference.

The Milwaukee Bucks will bounce back from a disappointing 2015-16 campaign with a playoff berth. A breakout season from Jabari Parker and the addition of sharpshooters Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Delavadova will contribute multiple wins. The Bucks were last in the league in 3-pointers made per game. With Teletovic and Delly now in the fold that won’t be the case.

The Pacers and Bulls don’t make sense. Indiana doesn’t have the personnel for the up-tempo offense they hope to run, and Chicago turned themselves into the antithesis of a competitive NBA team when they added lane cloggers, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade.