It’s finally here.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin their 2023-24 regular-season campaign with a game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Cavs will tip off at 7:30 p.m. EDT at the Barclays Center. The game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Ohio. Cleveland will face the Nets three more times throughout the regular season, including two matchups at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in January and March.

Cleveland’s Central Division rivals have seen their fair share of change before they start their respective seasons. The Bucks made the blockbuster move for guard Damian Lillard in September. The Pistons hired head coach Monty Williams while adding forward Ausar Thompson through the NBA Draft. Chicago brought in guard Jevon Carter and forward Torrey Craig. The Pacers traded for forward Obi Toppin and signed guard Bruce Brown.

Where do some of the Cavs star players rank among some of the best in the Central Division?

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo agreed to a three-year, $186 million contract extension on Monday. The seven-time All-NBA selection and a one-time NBA Champion were selected to be a finalist for the league’s MVP award in May. He earned the MVP honors in 2019 and 2020.

Antetokounmpo led a Bucks squad that took the top spot in the Eastern Conference last season with 31.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. The seven-time All-Star averaged 33 points, 11.7 rebounds and six assists per game during the three games he played against the Cavaliers last year.

2. Damian Lillard

Lillard, a seven-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, averaged a career-high 32.2 points per game during the 58 regular season games he played for the Portland Trail Blazers last season. He earned a spot on the All-NBA Third Team last year. Lillard will have the chance to play alongside a star-studded starting lineup that features Antetokounmpo, forward Khris Middleton and center Brook Lopez this season.

“Damian Lillard is an elite player in our league and someone we’ve long been fans of,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said, via “These opportunities are rare and hard to measure and execute.

“His character, competitiveness, talent and experience complement our group and gives us the best chance to win at the very highest level as we create new memories together.”

3. Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland

Mitchell earned a spot on the All-NBA Second Team during the 2022-23 NBA season. The former Utah Jazz guard ended last season with career highs in points per game at 28.3 and field goal percentage at 48.4%. He scored a Cleveland-record 71 points during a 145-134 overtime win over the Bulls in January.

Mitchell led the Cavaliers with 23.2 points and 7.2 assists per game during Cleveland’s five-game playoff series against the New York Knicks. He must continue to show he can be a leading option for the Cavs as they work through their 2023-24 regular season schedule.

4. Tyrese Haliburton

Tyrese Haliburton earned his first All-Star selection during a 2022-23 season that saw him average 20.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. The former Iowa State guard garnered 12 or more assists on 22 occasions last season, including the 14 he dished during a 118-112 Cavs win over Indiana in December. Haliburton played for Team USA in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“He’s like a quarterback who’s finding five different receivers and then if there’s no pass rush, he’ll just line up his set shot and knock it down,” Golden State Warriors and USA Men’s National Team head coach Steve Kerr said, via ESPN Senior Writer Brian Windhorst. “He’s really a unique player and a beautiful player to watch and obviously very effective.”

5. Darius Garland

Garland ended the season with averages of 21.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game in 69 games played and started in for the Cavaliers. The former Vanderbilt guard provided a reliable presence on the perimeter for the Cavs as he knocked down 41% of his 3-point shots last season.

Garland has shown plenty of improvement during his first few seasons in the NBA. His production remained nearly the same even after Mitchell joined Cleveland in 2022. Garland must continue to take strides next season for the Cavs to solidify themselves as one of the top contenders in the East and beyond.

6. Zach LaVine

LaVine took a prominent scoring role on the Bulls roster during the 2022-23 season, leading the squad with 24.8 points per game in 77 games played and started in. He knocked down 48.5% of his tries from the field and 37.5% of his shots from the 3-point line.

The former UCLA guard grew into a 20-point-per-game scorer after he was traded to the Bulls in 2017. He earned All-Star selections in 2021 and 2022. LaVine will again need to take an increased scoring role for Chicago when the Bulls tip off against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. 

7. DeMar DeRozan

The Bulls acquired DeRozan in a 2021 sign-and-trade with the San Antonio Spurs. He earned an All-Star selection last season, joining Mitchell and former Cavs forward Lauri Markkanen on Team Giannis. DeRozan hasn’t dipped below 20 points per game or more since the 2012-13 season. He scored 44 points in 46 minutes of play during Mitchell’s 71-point game in January.

“Being able to play with DeMar these last two seasons has been great. He’s one of my best friends on and off the court,” LaVine said in April, via NBC Sports Chicago Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson. “Learning different things from him and him learning different things from me, it’s been fun playing off each other. We’re really close on having one of those offenses that’s unstoppable.

“When we’re both on, it shows. We’re able to take over games. But we just need to do a little bit more and figure out how to get that to a little more winning. I think that’s the thing that we were both a little bit frustrated about, how we can both play off each other better.”

8. Evan Mobley

Mobley was a finalist for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year last season. He joined Lopez and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The former USC forward was named to the 2023 Jordan Rising Stars for the second straight year in January. Mobley received high praise from Antetokounmpo in November.

“He can be better than me,” Antetokounmpo said, via a 2022 article from Cavs reporter Chris Fedor. “I don’t see why he can’t. It’s up to him. I will always try to improve. Every day. But he has the skill set to be a very, very good player.

“He’s 7-feet tall. He can move really well. He can shoot. He is very smart. As you said, he watches tapes of other players, which is very, very good for a young player. If he takes this seriously, he is going to be great.”

9. Khris Middleton

Middleton won a championship with the Bucks in 2021. The former Piston scored 20 points or more seven times during the 33 games he played in last season. Middleton’s shooting will be essential to the Bucks’ potential run for the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond during the 2023-24 NBA season.

“He’s huge,” former Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said in February, via Bucks Zone. “Just his ability to space, his ability to get off quickly, his range, he extends behind the line.. pretty significant amount. He just does a lot of little things for us on both ends that really make a big difference.”

10. Cade Cunningham

Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, earned a spot on the 2021-22 All-Rookie First Team. He played in 12 games during the 2022-23 season after undergoing season-ending surgery on his left shin. Williams highlighted the 6-foot-6 guard’s leadership skills during the Pistons media day.

“I think you can still see some of that stuff in the offseason – the way he handles certain situations and the way he talks to his teammates,” Williams said when asked what he’s learned about Cade Cunningham’s leadership so far, via MLive Detroit Pistons and Lions writer Kory Woods. “He has an understanding that he has a big voice, so he uses it well. In my opinion, we’ll see more as we get into training camp, in the preseason, and all of that.

“But I saw that from him even before his rookie year when I was in Phoenix in that particular game. That was pretty impressive. I saw the skill, the play on the floor, and then I could see the leadership ability down the stretch. And that was something that, for whatever reason, stuck in my mind. Coming here and spending time with him in our building, I’ve been able to see more and more.”