By Hocine LOUKKAF on 8/26/2021
Barring other moves before the start of the season (Ben, Dame, we’re waiting for you…), let’s check which team had the best summer, as much through the draft as through the free agent and trade market.
Draft night was a homerun for the Rockets as, once they drafted potential superstar Jalen Green with their second pick, they somehow managed to get two very complementary pieces and the highest rated international prospects Sengun and Garuba lower than projected. Signing free agent Theis was the last move to solidify the paint and maybe add a starter to pair with Christian Wood.
A bit like Houston, Atlanta had a great draft night as they picked one of the top 10 talent Jalen Johnson with the 20th pick before picking local HS superstar Sharife Cooper incredibly low at 48. Then, they resigned Young, Collins and Lou Will and added another solid vet with Gorgui Dieng.
The Bulls needed more talent and experience. Signing DeRozan, Ball, Caruso and even former Utah Jazz back up center Tony Bradley should help the team get more wins and hopefully a playoff spot. Chicago was also lucky enough to watch Illinois standout slip to the 38th spot during draft night.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have improved drastically since Thibodeaux became the coach. They needed some more talent after resigning Gibson, Rose and Noel and got it by signing two potential starters in the backcourt, Fournier and Walker. They will bring experience and shooting, which New York still lacked last year (top 3 in 3pt percentage but bottom 10 in 3pts made. Before that, they had a pretty intriguing draft as they picked three guards with their four picks (Grimes, Jokubaitis and McBride), the most interesting being the last picked among these guards .
After replacing Dragic by Lowry, the Heat added toughness by signing PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris. They also resigned Butler and Robinson while keeping Oladipo, Dedmon, Vincent and Strus in the roster.
The Hornets had a very interesting draft night as they drafted Bouknight with the 11th pick before gambling on rawer prospects, albeit with high ceiling, with Kai Jones, JT Thor and Scottie Lewis. They added two solid vets with Mason Plumlee to replace Zeller and Kelly Oubre. Finally, they decided to offer a big contract to Terry Rozier who averaged more than 20pts a game for the first time in his career while averaginhis besr percentages with 45% FG and 39% 3pt.
Golden State Warriors
After drafting two of their main targets lower than expected with Kumina at 7 and Moody at 14, the Warriors did even better by signing Otto Porter Jr, one of the most underrated shooters and defenders of the league, to a veteran’s minimum deal. If he can stay healthy, he will be a key performer from the bench. The Warriors added more depth and experience with Bjelica and Iguodala.
Despite losing Fournier, Walker and Thompson, Boston found good replacements with the longer Schröder at a cheap price and Josh Richardson. They also brought back Horford and Kanter at C before resigning uber-athletic Robert Williams and Marcus Smart for four years. Enough to help Brown and Tatum fight for a conference title.
The Westbrook experience is over and the Wizards did their best to get as many interesting pieces possible. Through the trade with the Lakers, Washington received Kuzma, KCP, Montrezl Harell and the 22nd pick of the 2021 draft, that they traded for Aaron Holiday and the 31st pick (Isaiah Todd). They also received Dinwiddie through a sign an trade with the Nets, the perfect PG to pair with Beal, if the former Net has recovered from the ACL injury he suffered last year.
The Lakers have the luxury to attract players even without offering them a lot of money. That’s how they managed to sign Ariza, Howard, Nunn, Monk, Bazemore, Anthony while resigning Horton-Tucker on a decent 3y/$32m contract considering his potential. Of course, the other big fish in the pond is the local Westbrook, who gives another superstar to help Lebron and Davis. Now, will they be able to share the ball and put their ego aside to win a title, we’ll know it pretty soon.
Click below for our latest mock draft.