Preseason prediction: Bulls to take Central Division

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Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Central Division?"

1. Chicago Bulls (10 votes)

Henry Abbott, ESPN.com's TrueHoop: I think this could be Chicago's year in the East.

Jon Barry, ESPN: An excellent team, but again, no post presence. You must have that to win, particularly in the playoffs. Joakim Noah is a significant addition, and Luol Deng's becoming a superstar.

John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Young, talented and tenacious. Even without Kobe, the Bulls might be the class of the East.

Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com: The headband rule has been dropped. Now they can ball.

Keith Lipscomb, ESPN.com Fantasy: I like the Bulls' chances to win the division more if they hang onto the youngsters, rather than trade them.

Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: Built similar to Detroit, the Bulls' superior tenacity and hunger finally makes them king of the Central once again.

Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio: A very sound, well-coached team, led by Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich -- and a contender to win it all if they acquire Kobe.

Jalen Rose, ESPN: A team more geared for 82 games than Detroit. Deng's the most underrated player in the league.

David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Team should start off with more confidence than it had at this point last season, and the Bulls can still guard people. The rookies will deepen their bench, and Deng should emerge as one of the best players in the Central.

Kiki Vandeweghe, ESPN: Very good players who are now experienced. But this Kobe talk has potential to destabilize the team.

2. Detroit Pistons (7 votes)

J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: If all's right with Rasheed, this team can contend for a championship.

Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: A boost of youth to the East's best starting five.

Chad Ford, ESPN.com: This is the deepest Pistons team we've seen since they won the Finals in 2004. If the young players like Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson step up, the Pistons have the tools to win it all.

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com: The Pistons didn't do anything sexy in the offseason, but they now have a collection of young guys who will give a championship-caliber team some depth.

Mark Jackson, ESPN:
A team that has been there and done that. Added some young talent to a club that's now as deep and as talented as anybody in league.

Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Can't understand why they want Chris Webber back, but aside from that it's all good. These guys are embarrassed over losing to Cleveland, and they'll finally be hungry again.

Marc Stein, ESPN.com: The toughest division to handicap, because Chicago is deeper and wiser and because Cleveland has ample motivation to hush its growing legion of naysayers. But I'm sticking stubbornly with the old heads from Motown.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers (1 vote)

Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: LeBron will be better than ever. Larry Hughes is finally healthy. Team will improve simply because of continuity, experience and swagger gained from last season's run to the Finals.