In just a couple weeks, the landscape of the NBA changed.
Had you been busy at work or at school, and are just checking in on your favorite team, the chances are that they are someone you won’t recognize. Rosters were overhauled, the NBA draft occurred, trades were flying and there was a seemingly never ending amount of free agent signings.
The Lakers added depth to their championship roster, the Thunder have become almost unrecognizable to last years playoff squad. The Blazers managed to provide Dame Dolla with the supporting cast he has long desired.
The grades in this report card will measure the overall success of each team regarding their current situation and future outlook while taking into account the cap space, draft picks and bargaining chips they had to offer.
Some teams took the March to July COVID break to make plans while the Detroit Pistons managed to continue their descent into mediocrity.
Let’s take a look at how each team performed so far.
Atlanta Hawks: B+
Additions: Bogdan Bogdanović, Danilo Gallinari, Kris Dunn, Rajon Rondo, Tony Snell, Onyeka Okongwu
Subtractions: Dewayne Dedmon, DeAndre Bembry, Jeff Teague, Vince Carter
Atlanta came off a dismal season which saw Trae Young rise as one of the NBA’s elite points guards and proved to me a formidable duo along with John Collins.
This fall, they offered a lot of their cap space towards the likings of Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanović. For Gallo’s contract there is a partial guarantee which will lower the cost to cut him given a decline in play, which is not far fetched for the injury prone vet.
Acquring Rondo and Kriss Dunn offset Trae Young’s defensive liabilities if they decide to run a 2 point guard lineup similar to the Raptors, and it will give Young a solid backup.
It is clear the Hawks are eyeing down a playoff spot and it is well within reach but they did so at the cost of the future by dumping so much cap space into Bogdan and Gallo. It may prove costly when trying to recruit another superstar to pair with Young.
Boston Celtics: C-
Additions: Tristan Thompson, Jeff Teague, Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith
Subtractions: Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker
Despite Gordon Hayward’s injury riddled time with the Celtics, the 2017 all-star was a solid spark plug off the bench and as a 4th tier scorer in the Celtics small ball lineup. Getting rid of his contract was huge for the Celtics and it was smart not to match the Hornets offer but they did not improve their roster in any way.
Jeff Teague provides solid playmaking off the bench but his lost jumper is ever so important given Wanamaker’s shooting stroke is gone.
The 5 spot, which in today’s NBA is the easiest to replace barring you’re not Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic, saw them lose Enes Kanter and gain Tristan Thompson. Losing Kanter takes away the scoring punch that Daniel Theis lacks. Thompson is arguably worse than Theis at this point in his career providing above average defense with better rebounding.
They had the chance to secure Myles Turner which would’ve given them a proven all-defense calbire center but Danny Ainge botched it.
Progression from Tatum and Brown will be enough to recreate their ECF run but without a proven center, the Heat with Bam are sitting pretty.
Brooklyn Nets: C+
Additions: Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown, Jeff Green
Subtractions: Garrett Temple, Dzanan Musa
The Nets are praying for a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving duo to carry them as they made little improvements over their current roster.
The loss of Musa and Temple are minimalized by acquiring wing depth in Green, Brown and Shamet. The biggest shock is Joe Harris’s $75 million contract. Brooklyn is banking on the sniper to be a key bench plug, assuming Caris LeVert is traded.
A James Harden deal would be wildly unpredictable and whether or not it would be good for the Nets in terms of “fit” is something head coach Steve Nash would have to figure out.
Charlotte Hornets: C+
Additions: LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Vernon Carey Jr., Nick Richards
Subtractions: Dwayne Bacon, Nicolas Batum, Willy Hernangomez
This past season, Charlotte was barely edged out for 9th seed to be able to play in the seeding games down in Florida.
The team needed alot of help to reach a place where they would be a consistent playoff threat. Drafting LaMelo Ball is one of the biggest risks in NBA draft history given the relationship between himself, his dad and the media.
They drafted Vernon Carey Jr. who was solid at Duke and snagged Nick Richards for some depth at the 5.
The biggest success was finally waiving that awful Nic Batum contract. Doing so freed up cap space which they wisely used to grab a superstar. Wait. That last part didn’t happen.
Instead the Hornets we all know and love decided to use their god gifted cap space on Gordon Hayward for a $120 million 4 year deal. Hayward was good enough to become a 1 time all-star in Utah and was solid in Boston but his age and injury history is too much if a risk for such money.
The Hornets now have replaced Batum’s contract with Hayward and still have to pay Batum $9 million for or the next 3 years as a result of waiving him.
If the Hornets are looking for an 8th seed in the playoffs they might do just that, but as for the years after? They must hope that LaMelo Ball is the generational talent some claim him to be.
Chicago Bulls: D-
Additions: Patrick Williams, Devon Dotson, Garrett Temple
Subtractions: Kris Dunn
It was a big surprise to see Patrick Williams fly to the 4th spot in the NBA draft. He was pegged as a lottery pick but most analysts could not have predicted such a move prior to the draft.
Unlike LaMelo where the reward is just is worth the risk, Williams upside is nowhere near the same as the 3rd Ball brother. Patrick Williams provides much needed defense to the Bulls front court but he is not likely to give them immediate help.
For a franchise that seemed inclined to build around Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen just a couple years ago, the lack of effort to surround them with veteran help is a mind boggle.
Do not be surprised to see the Bulls step back once again.
Cleveland Cavaliers: C
Additions: Isaac Okoro, JaVale McGee, Damyean Dotson
Subtractions: Tristan Thompson
After Andre Drummond decided to opt-in to his $28.7 million contract, almost all of the Cavaliers cap space vanished.
Drafting Okoro fills the need for a wing defender and it is a great comiement alongside Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
The loss of Thompson is somewhat offset by signing McGee as the former Laker provides the same above average rim protection while lacking the rebounding.
Their offseason doesn’t sound so bad, so why did they get a C? Andre Drummond.
Although it wasn’t their choice, having Andre Drummond is a huge liability. While he is a 2 time all-star and 4 time rebounding leader, he is a negative value player in all aspects.
If the saying “stats don’t tell the whole story” were a person, it would be Andre. His nonexistent jumper, poor rim protection, lethargic play on the court and lack of hustle or desire make him the most overvalued player in the NBA.
If the Cavs can get rid of Drummond, they just may get themselves a B- for a otherwise solid offseason.
Detroit Pistons: F
Additions: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumless, Jahlil Okafor, Josh Jackson, Delon Wright, Rodney McGruder, Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey
Subtractions: Christian Wood, Langston Galloway, Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Khyri Thomas
Where to begin in the motor city. If the Pistons goal is to ship off Blake Griffin for assets, then these move make sense. It isn’t far fetched given his age and knee problems.
If they keep him, it makes no sense to have clogged the front court with big men who play a position which is becoming ever so obsolete.
Wasting $25 million on Mason Plumlee is a head scratcher. He can’t shoot, isn’t mobile and has poor IQ given his blunder in the Nuggets game 2 loss against the Lakers, where he let A.D get to his spot whole standing like a tree
Jerami Grant showed promise in the Nuggets run but without a solid playmaker such as Jokić or Murray, it will leave him struggling to find points as Killian Hayes will need time to develop before becoming a feel for the game.
While grabbing all these front court players they let go the one who showed they can be an all-star in Christian Wood. Wood was seemed poised to have a breakout year but instead of resigning him they go for Plumlee, Okafor and Grant? Words can’t describe the frustration Pistons fans share with the front office.
Indiana Pacers: B+
Additions: Cassius Stanley
Subtractions: T.J Leaf
Indiana’s only major move this year was to resign Justin Holiday on a 3 gear, $18.1 million contract.
The eldest Holiday brother is a Swiss knife given his ability to shoot and defend and being able to snag him at a low cost of only $6 million per year benefits the Pacers greatly.
They avoided the sign-and-trade exchanging Myles Turner for Hayward and they should be ecstatic. Is this the gear Myles Turner breaks out? We’ve been waiting for almost 4 years now but keeping him is still a solid move.
Miami Heat: A-
Additions: Maurice Harkless, Avery Bradley, Precious Achiuwa
Subtractions: Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr., Solomon Hill
Bam Adebayo max extension will take away from the Heat’s cap space used to sign Giannis but Pat Riley has been prepared for such an event.
Goran Dragić and Meyers Leonard, who was generously overpaid for being a hype man, have team options which will give the Heat enough space to make a pitch to the Greek Freak.
The loss of Jae Crowder hurts their defensive versatility which is what made them a finals contender, having their philosphy built on a switch all defensive scheme with Crowder at the 4. Gaining Harkless should help this a bit despite being undersized, along with Bradley off the bench.
Miami is poised to repeat their magical run again with the growth of Herro and Bam being enough to balance out any potential Jimmy Butler age related decline.
Milwaukee Bucks: B-
Additions: Jrue Holiday, D.J Augustin, Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig
Subtractions: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Sterling Brown, Ersan Ilyasova, Marvin Williams
Milwaukee entered this offseason with guns blazing. They were in desperate search of a supporting cast to help retain Giannis. What the Bucks did is what the Cleveland Cavaliers should’ve done during LeBron’s first tenure with the organization but alas.
Despite these high hopes they walked out with a worse roster than last years. The addition of Jrue Holiday provides the tertiary star that most championship teams need, but the lack of other help an bench depth stings the Bucks.
Losing out on a botched sign-and-trade for Bogdanović definitely hurts. The loss of George Hill is countered by D.J Augustin, but the latter point guard is not as playable in the playoffs due to his poor defense and frame. Eric Bledsoe’s defense is replaced with Holiday’s on the permiter but it comes at the cost of Holiday’s energy to play offense, as he now has to cover 2 priorities.
Unlike the Cavs, the Bucks have gone out swinging. Will it be enough to hit the home run to promise land and keep Giannis? Only time will tell.
New York Knicks: B+
Additions: Obi Toppin, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Austin Rivers, Immanuel Quickley
Subtractions: Bobby Portis, Maurice Harkless, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson
Unlike the Knicks or prior years who blew away their cap space on players such as Taj Gibson and Marcus Morris, they showed patience in not signing anyone this year, holding off for next year’s big pool.
Alec Burks and Austin Rivers provide the veteran playmaking and leadership while Noel acts as a serviceable backup to Mitchell Robinson, if they finally give him the PT he deserves.
As for the major pieces such as Kevin Knox II and R.J Barrett, the Knicks adding Obi Toppin will add to the plethora of scoring options. The defense is a no show. Playing all 3 of these guys in the clutch is certainly a no go unless they make all their shots.
For the first time in a long time, the Knicks were not the Knicks.
Orlando Magic: D-
Additions: Cole Anthony, Dwayne Bacon
Subtractions: D.J Augustin, Wes Iwundu
The Orlando Magic are sitting in no man’s land right now. They’re 7th/8th seed playoff grasp is sinking and they are not bad enough to land a lottery pick.
Losing D.J Augustin will hurt Nikola Vučević with the lack of a solid playmaker to run the pick and roll. Drafting Cole Anthony may be enough to supplement that loss but his season at UNC was a rollercoaster to say the least.
Unless Markelle Fultz becomes the #1 pick he was pegged to be, the Magic will be all but forgotten this year.
Philadelphia 76ers: A
Additions: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Terrance Ferguson, Dwight Howard, Tyrese Maxey
Subtractions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith, Alec Burks
Daryl Morey is a king in Philadelphia. Getting rid of that Al Horford contract makes him hall of fame worthy in the eyes of Philly fans. Not only did he clear up that mess, he managed to surround Ben Simmons and Embiid with complimentary shooters.
Danny Green slander aside, he can still for the most part shoot the basketball at a respectable clip putting up a mark of 36.7% from beyond the arc last year with the Lakers. Combine this with Seth Curry who has a career average of 44.3%, the 76ers are looking dangerous.
With Dwight Howard at the 5 spot it gives Joel Embiid a quality backup for the first time in his career and he can now rest more during games, which helps alot given his conditioning issues in the past.
Despite losing what seemed to be a better roster on paper, the 76ers have a better composed team with Simmons and Embiid now having a legit shot at becoming perennial Eastern Conference Finals contenders.
Toronto Raptors: B–
Additions: Aron Baynes, Alex Len, DeAndre’ Bembry, Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris
Subtractions: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Malcolm Miller, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
The Raptors have a whole lot to prepare in the coming season. After losing to the Celtics in 7 in last years Eastern Conference Semifinals, it is looking to be a bridge year for the team.
Similar to before the DeMar DeRozan trade. the Raps have to decide the path they want to take for the years to come. Unlike the DeRozan situation, they do not have the assets to trade for a superstar. With Lowry aging and their big men gone, they need to revamp this roster for the future. After Siakam’s horrendous showing in the playoffs, it hurts their ability to hunt a trade for the 2019 all-star given his huge contract.
Drafting Malachi Flynn gives the squad a chance at minimizing the loss of VanVleet if he has to fill in for Lowry’s shoes come retirement. The potential in O.G is tantalizing and a leap year from him could swing them back as a legit threat. The young forward has shown elite all-defense potential and a growing arsenal of moves on offesne.
Aron Baynes is a poor mans Ibaka but definitely slows the bleeding there. Along with Boucher who showed promise as an undersized rim protector the Raptors most certainly are still looking for a playoff spot.
This year is not one for a championship run for the Raptors but one to forge a new identity for the decade to come.
Washington Wizards: C-
Additions: Robin Lopez, Raul Neto, Deni Avdija, Anthony Gill
The Wizards started off this offseason in a confusing way by signing Davis Bertans to a 5 year, $80 million contract. He showed promise as solid sharpshooting stretch 4 but outside of that his defense is poor and his playmaking is non-existent.
Rui Hachimura’s growth could be stunted by the selection of Deni Avdija but having versatility on the wing is huge in today’s NBA.
Assuming a healthy John Wall comes back, the load on Bradley Beal will certainly be less and it will allow him to preserve some energy for his lackluster defense.
The Wizards were a team that was good, but not good enough and despite Wall coming back, they should look to rebuild if Bradley Beal is inevitably traded as the rumors circulate.