This NBA offseason has been one of the most eventful and hyped offseasons in recent memory with multiple star players shifting teams. But with all of these moves has the landscape of the NBA really shifted much at all. I will examine how the moves so far in the offseason have impacted every NBA franchise for this upcoming season.
The Hawks have gotten worse this offseason with the departures of Paul Millsap and Tim Hardaway Jr., as well as the trading Dwight Howard for Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli. Atlanta seems to be in a rebuilding phase now that they have gotten rid of their veteran players. With Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore being the best players left on the team, the Hawks will likely not be in the playoff picture.
The Celtics have made some major moves this offseason, signing Gordon Hayward and trading away Avery Bradley. Boston is attempting to get past Cleveland this season, despite finishing with the one seed in 2016-17, but these moves likely aren’t enough to do that. The loss of Bradley will hurt them more than people might expect because they just lost one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, which is something they will need against Kyrie Irving. Adding Gordon Hayward will provide them with another legitimate scoring option, but unless their are injuries to the Cavaliers the Celtics will likely get knocked out in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Nets will continue to be a bottom of the barrel team this season, even after acquiring D’Angelo Russell in a trade that sent Brook Lopez to the Lakers. Brooklyn’s roster still consists of mostly below average players. Adding Russell to their roster is a move for the future, but it will only marginally help the Nets this season, after getting rid of their best player in Lopez.
While the Hornets have not made many moves other than acquiring Dwight Howard in a trade, they could move up into the playoffs this season. The improved outlook is not because of Howard, but is because they have kept a roster that was just short of the playoffs last year, and teams ahead of them have gotten much worse. With the Pacers and Bulls both losing their star players, and the Hawks going into rebuild mode, three spots are up for grabs in the playoffs for 2017-18 and Charlotte could grab one of those.
With the trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves, the Bulls will be one of the worst teams this season. They no longer have the player that was the key to their success, and along with that they waived Rajon Rondo who was their best option at point guard. Dwayne Wade is past his prime and could still possibly be bought out, however the hope for Chicago is the young players they got back in the Butler trade. Those players are Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen as the draft pick they acquired. Zach Lavine was having his best season yet in 2016-17 prior to tear his ACL, which could limit his explosiveness and make him unavailable at the start of the season. Kris Dunn was a promising talent when he was drafted fifth overall in 2016, but he did not live up to that promise in his rookie season, averaging just 3.8 points per game. Along with hoping both of those players can contribute this season, the Bulls will also have to hope Lauri Markkanen plays to his upside of being the next Kristaps Porzingis. While he could possibly become that at some point it is unlikely he will do so in his first year. All of this adds up to the Bulls likely being one of the worst teams in the NBA this season.
There isn’t much to talk about here because not much has happened with the Cavaliers this offseason. There was talk about possibly getting Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but neither of those happened. Even without those moves they will definitely still be in the Eastern Conference finals and unless the Celtics can improve more than just getting Gordon Hayward, Cleveland will once again be in the NBA Finals. Without making any moves however the Cavs are not going to win the the title against Golden State.
The Mavericks have not made any major moves this offseason. They have resigned Dirk Nowitzki and drafted Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall pick. Dallas despite getting possibly the steal of the draft, will likely fall in the Western Conference standings. Dirk is far past his prime and the teams that were beneath them last year have gotten better, while they have stayed the almost the exact same team.
Here we have a team that could surprise some people next year. The Nuggets just missed the playoffs in the West last season, and they have improved by getting Paul Millsap in free agency. If Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay can improve even slightly Denver should jump into either the seven or eight seed in 2017-18.
Here is a team that despite losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency will likely remain in roughly the same spot, tenth, in the east. Their first round pick Luke Kennard could contribute to the team right away. Despite them not making any moves to fill the void left by KCP’s departure, the Pistons won’t fall much in the standings in the east. This is due to many other teams in the east getting worse, and only a few of them getting better.
Golden State Warriors:
What to say about the Warriors other than they are one of the greatest teams of all time, and they somehow managed to keep all of their key players. As long as everyone stays healthy for them Golden State will have another championship banner.
With one of the biggest moves of the summer the Rockets traded to get Chris Paul from the Clippers, but in doing so gave up key contributors to last seasons team in Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams and Sam Dekker. While on the face of this trade most people would argue that this trade instantly makes Houston better, but in reality it probably leaves them right where they were before the trade, as the third or fourth best team in the Western Conference. Even though they now have two superstars on their team, the trade to get Paul severely depleted their depth, something that is needed in order to compete at the highest level. This lack of depth is what will be the downfall of the Rockets as they will likely lose to either the Warriors or the Spurs in the the second round of the playoffs once again.
Much like other teams that lose a superstar in the offseason the Pacers will be much worse than they were last year, but they might not fall as far as some might think. Obviously the loss of Paul George his huge, but the return they got for him was Victor Oladipo, who is a decent NBA player, and Domantas Sabonis who is an unknown commodity with just one NBA season under his belt. This move will not cover up all that left along with George, but it will cushion the fall. What will also keep Indiana from falling to far is that many of the other Eastern Conference teams got worse or stayed the same. All that being said, the Pacers will not return to the playoffs in 2017-18, but will likely finish 11th in the East.
Los Angeles Clippers:
After trading away Chris Paul the Clippers will obviously be worse off than they were last season. Along with Paul the Clippers also no longer have Jamal Crawford on the team, but they still have Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin to anchor the team. While they will be worse off without Paul and Crawford the players they got back in the Paul trade to Houston, should keep them in the playoffs. They will not longer hope of competing for a championship, but they still have the ability to be a seven or eight seed in the West, as long as Griffin can stay healthy for a season.
Los Angeles Lakers:
The Lakers are a team that has a lot of hope for the future, after drafting Lonzo Ball, and Paul George telling everyone he wants to be a Laker next season. While there is hope for the future there isn’t that much they will be a team that will compete for the playoffs this season. Even though Ball has looked good in the summer league, that is mostly against guys who aren’t going to make it in the NBA. Brandon Ingram is still a unknown, and it seems like he has trouble staying healthy. The Lakers lost one of their best players from last year in Nick Young, but they did get Brook Lopez in a trade where they got rid of D’Angelo Russell. No matter what Lavar Ball says the Lakers will not even be close to making the playoffs this season, and will likely be one of the ten worst teams in 2017-18.
The Grizzlies lost one of their cornerstone players in Zach Randolph to Sacramento this offseason, and have yet to resign Tony Allen. These moves greatly diminish the strength of Memphis, which was their defense and gritty play style. Even though they still have Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Memphis, would at best finish as the eight seed in the West, but it is much more likely that they miss the playoffs entirely.
Despite missing out on Gordon Hayward this offseason the Heat are in a better situation than they were last season in the East. They managed to resign Dion Waiters, a key player on last years team, and they still have Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. This is a team that missed out on the playoffs last season because of a tie-breaker, and with many other teams in the East getting much worse. With Miami keeping their team together and adding some depth, such as Kelly Olynyk, will will be in the playoffs next season where they will get knocked off in the first round.
Milwaukee has been nearly inactive this season other than having a couple meetings with Derrick Rose, and resigning Tony Snell, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t be better next season. Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved every season since joining the league, and it is possible he gets even better after winning the leagues Most Improved Player award for 2016-17. They are a team that finished the season strong despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, without one of their best players in Jabari Parker. If Parker can come back and still have some of the explosiveness he displayed before tearing his ACL for the second time, the Bucks could emerge as an unexpected challenge in the East. Despite all of their promise for the future Milwaukee will likely be at best the four seed in the East, as they have yet to gain the consistency required to truly compete for a top seed.
With the acquisition of Jimmy Butler the Timberwolves are the team that improved the most this offseason. It isn’t just that they got Butler, but also picked up Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson in free agency. All of these moves combined with the likely hood that their young stars Andrew Wiggins and Carl-Anthony Towns improved their games this offseason, make Minnesota a likely playoff team in the West. Even with all these moves to improve their roster, Minnesota is likely at best the five seed in the West.
New Orleans Pelicans:
It is difficult to say what will happen with the Pelicans this coming season, because the only move they have made this offseason is resigning Jrue Holiday. The reason it is diffcult to predict what they will be in 2017-18 is that they have two of the best players in the NBA, Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, but since Cousins was traded to New Orleans in February the team went 11-14. Any reasonable person would expect these two players to figure out how to player with each other in the offseason, but it is also possible that this is a team that just does not fit together and the best they can hope for is a .500 season. While they should have been improving as they played with each other longer, the Pelican actually got worse winning just one of six games in April. This leads me to believe that this is a team that won’t figure out how to play together and will once again fall short of the playoffs.
New York Knicks:
The dumpster Fire that is the Knicks was exemplified this offseason with talks of trading the only player actually worth something on their team in Kristaps Porzingis. This move sparked the firing of President Phil Jackson, a move which probably should have been done earlier. The Knicks will be battling with their New York brothers in Brooklyn for the worst team in the NBA this season, and the Knicks might not come out on top in that fight. This is due to the fact that it seems more and more likely that Carmelo Anthony will be traded at some point in the season if not before it begins. Despite his lack of any defensive effort Anthony is a scorer, which in this NBA is something that can keep you from be the worst team. If I were a Knicks fan I would be somewhat happy to be possibly getting rid of Anthony, and tanking for the first overall pick in next years draft. This would allow the new front office to build around the true star of the team in Porzingis, and could lead to another talented young player in the draft. The Knicks with or without Anthony will be one of the worst teams in the league.
Oklahoma City Thunder:
Oklahoma City has been one of the big winners this offseason acquiring Paul George in a trade with the Pacers. After last season, where the team relied on the MVP performance of Russell Westbrook, having another superstar on the team could make them a contender. The Thunder will now have a chance to compete to be one of the top teams in the West. They have just one year to try and get a championship as George and Westbrook will likely leave the team after this season. Even with both of those superstars there will need to be an injury to Golden State for there to be a chance of Oklahoma City winning a championship.
There isn’t much to say when it comes to the Magic for this offseason, since they have made no moves. One of the worst teams in the NBA last season have probably gotten worse losing Jeff Green and Jodie Meeks to free agency. The lack of good players left on the roster will make the once again one of the worst teams in the NBA if not the worst.
With two first overall picks playing their first games this season, after Ben Simmons didn’t play a single game last season. If Simmons and Embiid can stay healthy the 76ers will likely make the playoffs. With Fultz coming in as a legitimate scoring option, and JJ Redick joining the team, Philadelphia will have many more scoring options than last season. If all of these players can play up to the potential they have, the 76ers could finally take a step in the right direction and make the playoffs. Even if they are going to make the playoffs the best they will likely achieve is a five seed.
Despite the emergence of Devin Booker the Suns finished last season with the second worst record in the league. While they picked Josh Jackson, a promising shooting guard/small forward, in the draft, the only other move Phoenix as made this offseason is acquiring Jared Sullinger. These moves won’t make them much better this season as they will likely once again be one of the worst five teams. Despite this if the Suns can keep their young talent on the team they should have a bright future.
Portland Trail Blazers:
Portland finished the season as the eight seed in the West, but the will likely climb in the seeding slightly for 2017-18. Even though they didn’t acquire any players in the offseason, they should move up in the standings simply due to other teams getting worse. It also doesn’t hurt to have Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, on the best backcourt combinations in the NBA. There is zero chance they can compete for a top seed in the West, but they can likely claim the six seed.
Surprisingly the Kings had an offseason in which they likely improved their future aspirations, compared to what they normally do in signing overrated players to bad contracts. I wouldn’t disagree with anyone if they said Sacramento had the best draft, getting De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. All three are players that could contribute right away. Along with the draft they brought in George Hill as a free agent. The only problem is that they lost at least eight players to free agency. With the youth of the team it will be difficult for them to improve from what they did last year, which means they will likely be one of the five worst teams in the NBA. But unlike what they have been in the past there is actual hope for the future with this young crop of players in Sacramento.
San Antonio Spurs:
The Spurs had yet another typical Spurs offseason, by quietly improving their team. They managed to resign Patty Mills, and signed Rudy Gay in free agency. They had the chance to beat the Warriors last season in the playoffs, but once Kawhi Leonard got hurt they stood no chance. With Leonard returning to health and Gay providing another scoring option the Spurs might challenge the Warriors once again. The difficulty they will have is they waived Jonathan Simmons who had emerged for them. San Antonio could once again challenge Golden State, but it is unlikely they will beat them in a seven game series.
While the Raptors resigned Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, they also lost PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson. These losses will hinder how well the team plays this coming season. Their performance will not decrease that much, but will drop them from being the three seed to the five seed. They will be passed up by the Wizards and Bucks in the standings, but this year they will not make it out of the first round of playoffs. The combination of Lowry, Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan won’t be enough to overcome the lack of depth created by the departures in the offseason.
The Jazz are one of the biggest losers of the summer as their star player, Gordon Hayward, someone they were building the team around, left to play in Boston. A team that showed a lot of promise last year, making it to the second round of the playoffs, will not not be in the playoff picture. Even with Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio it is hard to see a team that lacks a top level scorer making the playoffs in the Western Conference. Despite the loss The Jazz will not fall to being one of the worst teams in the NBA it is more likely they just miss the playoffs.
Washington has hopes of making it to the Eastern Conference finals and having the chance to beat the Cavaliers, but their offseason moves aren’t going to help them achieve that. The only major move they made is to resign Otto Porter, which doesn’t improve them, just maintains what they were last year. They will likely still move up in the standings to the three seed in the playoffs, but the Cavs and Celtics are still better teams. This will leave the Wizards in the exact same position they were in last year of losing in the second round, despite having one of the best back courts in the league.
Even though this offseason has been exciting and had many blockbuster moves, the sad fact of the matter is that none of it will matter. In the end of the season it will once again be the Cavaliers and Warriors in the Finals, and once again the Warriors will be NBA champions.