By Hocine LOUKKAF on 12/14/2020
As everyone around the NBA is waiting for the biggest move, which would be James Harden trade, we will focus on the moves which have already happened and rank which team did the best job during this weird offseason.
#1 LA Lakers
Resigning Davis on a long term deal would have been enough to judge that the Lakers had the best summmer. As if it was not enough, they added Harrell and Schroeder, two potential starters in any playoff teams, despite the losses of McGee, Howard and Rondo while Wesley Matthews should take some Danny Green’s minutes.
#2 Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had already started their ambitious plan by trading for Capela to protect the rim.They did better this time by adding several experimented players which make the Hawks roster one of the deepest in the East. First of all, they signed two defensive minded PGs with Rondo and Dunn, who should make up for Young’s weakness. Then, they added two sharpshooters with Gallinari and Bogdanovic, a necessity for a team ranked last in 3pt percentage. Finally, they drafted Okongwu, who should be able to help on both inside spots and bring his defense and intensity from the bench.
#3 OKC Thunder
Building by destroying, that’s what the Thunder did (pretty well) this offseason. By stockpiling 15 first round draft picks over the next six years and giving up on Paul, Schroder, Gallinari or Adams, GM Sam Presti gambled on the future hoping to make the best out of these picks. Yet, as weird as the roster may seem, it is not so uncompetitive despite the hell the Western Conference is. Adding vets like George Hill, Al Horford and Ariza around SGA while signing European prospects Pokusevski (high ceiling prospect) and stealing French sensation PG Maledon in the early second round could lead to some surprises, maybe even a playoff spot.
#4 New Orleans Pelicans
By trading Holiday, the Pels were able to land Bledsoe, who will help lottery pick Kira Lewis develop, and a solid center in Steven Adams. Moreover, New Orleans will have two future first round picks from Milwaukee and the opportunity to swap twice with the Bucks. Not sure that it will be enough to reach the playoffs this year but a good offseason to build around Zion.
#5 Phoenix Suns
After going unbeaten in the bubble, the Suns needed a real upgrade at PG. They got it at an expensive price but they got one of the best with Chris Paul. With one 41m year left in his contract (and a 44m player option for 21-22), Paul had another stellar season with OKC last year, averaging 17pts and 6.7as on 49/36/90. His window to win a title is short but this Phoenix team could be a troublemaker. The Suns also recruited Crowder, Damian Jones and drafted Maryland stretch PF Jalen Smith to make up for the departures of Oubre and Baynes.
#6 Portland Trailblazers
Willing to surf on their good end of last season, the Blazers improved their roster with the additions of Giles, Derrick Jones Jr, Enes Kanter but above all one of the best and most versatile defensive forwards, Robert Covington Jr. Portland also maintained Carmelo and Hood at a good price to solidIfy their wing play, one of their main weaknesses recently.
#7 Golden State Warriors
Do the Warriors still have room to win another title in the loaded Western Conference ? After experiencing a setback due to the injuries of both Curry and Thompson, Golden state was hoping the worst was behind. Unfortunately, Thompson suffered another season ending injury which forced the front office to make a move, trading for Oubre. The Warriors were luck enough to be awarded the number 2 pick that they used to draft James Wiseman, a generational talent who will bring much needed size and athleticism in the paint.
#8 Sacramento Kings
Nothing spectacular after losing Bazemore, Len, Giles and above all Bogdanovic but the Kings filled a void with two complementary big men at a cheap price, Whiteside and the better shooting Kaminsky. Most spectacular was the draft as Sacramento picked one of the most talented and efficient guards, Tyrese Haliburton, who slipped at 12 and could be an elite sixth man from the bench at both guard spots.
#9 LA Clippers
Replacing Harrell and Shamet by the more solid Ibaka and Kennard was a good beginning for the underachieving Clippers. Yet, they did another cheap bet by signing Nicolas Batum on a minimum-salary deal.
#10 Philadelphia Sixers
By getting rid of Horford and his 27m/year contract and signing Howard as back-up center, the Sixers spared money that they could use in the years to come. At the same time, bringing Green and Curry will improve the shooting of the team while first round pick Maxey will have vets to teach him the game. Will Harden be the cherry on the cake of this offseason ? It would mean that a starter, probably Simmons or Harris (or both) would have to leave.
Honorable mention : the Westbrook/Wall trade
No one can say right now who will benefit the most from this swap between two highly-paid disappointing PG. Westbrook has performed but he has never really adapted to being the second guy in Houston. Wall has had other problems, being injured for two years. The losing Wizards know what they get and Russ can do nothing but help them win more games and maybe reach the playoffs. If healthy, Wall could lead his team by example and involve as much as possible his teammates. It probably won’t be enough to convince Harden, but if Harden is traded, the Rockets will have other pieces to make up for their loss.
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