How Many Teams Are in the Central Division?

There are five teams located in the central division. They are: Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks.

The NBA is a league split into two halves. The east and west are how most people structure or group the different teams, especially when it comes to standings or the playoffs. However, there are also four smaller divisions that many often ignore.

This guide looks at one of those groupings by breaking down the franchises in the Central Division. In doing so it will build a better understanding of why the NBA is split up in the way that it is, and take a deep dive into the league’s history.

A Strong Split

The NBA is one of the most successful leagues on Earth, but that doesn’t mean it’s always been smooth sailing. They had a lot of success early on, but that stalled a bit during the first merger when the number of teams rose from twelve to seventeen.

Suddenly, there were a lot more logistics to plan. The NBA brainstormed on how best to keep the league streamlined, and they eventually settled on creating divisions.

By grouping the teams into smaller parts, the NBA could better keep track of the new organizations. It made scheduling much easier as well. Rather than having everyone just play each other all the time, teams would have more contests against ones in their own division.

The system worked extremely well, and allowed the NBA to grow without ever becoming too overwhelming or too hard to follow. That’s why the system is still intact today.

Fully Centered

The NBA has restructured a few times since its inception, but the Central Division is unique because it was one of the first groupings created all the way back in 1950. 

At the time, it consisted of five teams. They were the Chicago Stags, Fort Wayne Pistone, Minneapolis Lakers, Rochester Royals, and St. Louis Bombers. All of them came over from the Western Division, but their shift was short lived. 

The original Central Division folded after just one year, when the NBA went back to two big conferences. It then came back later on in its current iteration. It’s a part of the Eastern Conference and still has five teams that are all centered around the midwest.

Those teams are the Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Pacers, and Bucks. The division came about during the 1970-1971 season during the league’s second expansion, and it was originally known as the Midwest. That’s why the location and teams don’t exactly match up.

Originally, it had the Atlanta Hawks, Baltimore Bullets, Cincinnati Royals, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Out of all of those teams, the Cavaliers are the only organization left.

Many Ups, Some Downs

The central division is one of the oldest in the NBA, and it’s done well for itself. The Bucks and Cavaliers both have one championship, while the Pistons have three and the Bulls have six. The Pacers might not have a trophy, but the organization has a winning history too.

Surprisingly, the Bucks have the most division titles (eleven), and the Pistons have the second most (nine). In 2005, all five teams in the division also qualified for the playoffs. That’s a phenomenon that almost never happens.

That firepower shows why the Central Division has the highest percentage of teams to take home a ring. It has a long winning history, even if it’s currently on a downturn from its past successes.

Final Words

The Central Division is one of the more storied and successful in the NBA. It’s had plenty of winners ever since its inception, and continues to garner a lot of respect. While it’s not the strongest right now, there’s always room for its teams to bounce back.

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