Speak to any given NBA fan and he will most likely tell you that his team has gotten better since last year; either through trades, the draft, free agency or simply getting healthy. But every team can not be getting better can they? Is the leagues talent exponentially evolving thus making it possible that every team improves season after season? This can't be, but every time I turn around another team is inking a player who should help their team. And younger teams who are standing pat have to be getting better just by a natural progression, right? Join me in taking brief a team by team evaluation and feel free to add your
disagreements comments about who got better, who stayed the same, and who got worse.
Who got better?
Atlanta Hawks: They have their core of, Joe Johnson, Al Hortford, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby returning and add Jamal Crawford. Hortford and Smith should continue to develop and getting Crawford for players who barely contributed last season will be a big addition. If Marvin Williams leaves it could have a big impact but lets just say he stays for now which means the ATL improves.
Boston Celtics: Their stars are getting older but not too old. Adding Rasheed gives them perhaps the best bigs rotation in the league. LA fans will dispute this though....Griffin, Camby, Kaman. ;) See what I did there?
Chicago Bulls: Yeah they lost Ben Gordon but they will be getting Luol Deng back, who missed about half the season including all of their epic playoff series against the Celtics, and they have another season to gel with their midseason additions of Brad Miller and John Salmons. But the main reason I think they will be better this year is because of the development of Derrick Rose. He is the real deal and we've only just seen the tip of the iceberg with him.
Dallas Mavericks: Their off season moves are so Mavericks like: no consideration for defense, rebounding, or basketball IQ but in their own Cubanesque way they did manage to improve.
Golden State Warriors: In summer league play we got to see what common Warriors fans have been raving about for a while now in Anthony Randolph. I'll reserve the comparisons but he's a smooth criminal that can score from anywhere inside the three point line with a variety of moves. They also drafted Steph Curry (stud) and should have a suspension free Monta Ellis all season long. Go Dubs.
Indiana Pacers: Their offseason moves and draft didn't turn any heads but I still like what they've done. Dahntay Jones should fit in well along side Danny Granger and while drafting Tyler Hansbrough at 13 over all might be a reach, I still think he's an NBA ready big who will contribute off the bench immediately. Also let's not forget Dunleavy only played in 18 games last season and will be ready to go.
Los Angeles Clippers: They drafted a stud. I think they're genius for getting Zack Randolph as far away from Blake Griffin as possible. The last thing their savior needs is to be bumping around with Z-bo and his posse.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Durrant, Green, Westbrook, Harden; they're steddily improving. Nothing jaw dropping or reckless, just one right move after another. Presti doing his thang.
Portland Trail Blazers: Like the Spurs they went out and addressed their needs. In Portland's case it was the point guard position. But even with out the new signing of Andre Miller I would have said they're getting better. They're just so young and improving each season since Brandon Roy's arrival.
San Antonio Spurs: They're the big winners this offseason. No need to go into great detail. Lets just say that any possible way they could have gotten better they did. Trades, check. Draft, check. Free agency, check. Oh, and did I mention Manu Ginobili will be back?
Toronto Raptors: Turkoglu will have a greater impact on his team than any other player who moved this offseason. Will there be better teams than the Raptors? Sure. But no team will have improved more because of one new player.
Who stayed the same?
Charlotte Bobcats: I like the moves they made in the middle of last season and I like Okafor more than most people--I think he unjustifiably gets left out of the conversation when discussing stud C/PF's--but they are what they are to me. Larry Brown might be able to work some magic over the course of a few more years but for now I see no movement.
Los Angeles Lakers: Despite recent reports I'm assuming they will resign Odom because I don't want to jinx anything. There is a give and take with the Artest-Ariza swap so lets just call it a push. The crappy thing about them coming back as the same is that they're the champs--they didn't need to improve.
Memphis Grizzlies: I love their draft: Thabeet, Carroll, Young. I am a huge DeMarre Carroll fan and it pains me to see him land on a team with Zack Randolph. I don't want to pile on Randolph but he has a unique Iverson like quality to him. That is, he manages efficient stats and still makes everyone around him worse. So, their draft plus development of Gasol, Mayo, Conley only equalizes the Randolph trade.
Miami Heat: Unless they land Odom they are who they thought they were. One man show - same as they ever were :)
New Orleans Hornets: They had a disappointing season last year by some experts accounts but I think last year was just about what we should have guessed from them. Two seasons ago when they took the Spurs to 7 games in the playoffs I think, much like the Nuggets of this year, it was a perfect storm for them. Expect them to be a mid to bottom seeded playoff team.
New York Knicks: They make too many moves to ever develop any kind of chemistry. They ship players out with talent and get players back with talent and there's never a difference from one year to the next because they don't develop continuity and most of their guys play for themselves. Maybe Gallinari shows us why he was drafted 6th overall 2 seasons ago and maybe coach D'Antoni gets his run and gun going to perfection but probably they will make 9 midseason trades/pickups and end up just the same as before.
Orlando Magic: Even though they got Vince Carter and Brandon Bass I was tempted to say they got worse. Thats how much I like Turkoglu as a player. But all things considered (A fully healthy Jameer, resigning Gortat, loss of Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Tony Battie) they will be right back in the thick of things out East, not worse for the wear but definitely not better.
Philadelphia 76ers: They'll be getting Elton Brand who missed fifty plus games last season but they are going to be in a world of hurt by losing Andre Miller. Do I think Andre Miller is as valuable of a player as Elton Brand? Typically I'd say no but they have no one close to Andre Miller to replace him and they are the type of team that really needs a good point guard.
Utah Jazz: It looks like they might be in for a roster shake up but as things stand now they will be the same as they were. A perpetually good but not great team.
Who got worse?
Denver Nuggets: They'll still make the playoffs but they won't be the same edgy, scrappy, defensive team we saw in the second half of last season. Guys like J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin will rest on their laurels and take a small slide backwards and they also lost Dahntay Jones who played some mean defense for them. Last year was a perfect storm for them that they won't be able to replicate.
Detroit Pistons: This one comes with an asterisk because I really like their two big signings of Gordon and Villanueva, but from one year to the next loosing McDyess and 'Sheed is more of a hit than the newbies will be able to replace; especially in the defense and rebounding department. I like the way they're rebuilding though.
Houston Rockets: My heart goes out to Yao and all the Houston Rockets faithful.
Milwaukee Bucks: Redd and Bogut will be back after each missing close to 50 games last season and I like their drafting of Jodie Meeks, but the loss of Jefferson and Villanueva will be too much. Take a step back, young bucks.
Minnesota Timberwolves: They're playing for the the future that goes beyond next season. Trading away Miller and Foye wasn't necessarily a bad move but it won't help them in the short term.
New Jersey Nets: They're another team playing for the future. I feel like they should have gotten a little more for Vince Carter but certainly could have done worse than Courtney Lee. Still though, they will be taking a step back next season even if Harris improves yet again.
Phoenix Suns: Even though Steve Nash might still be the best in the game at setting up his teammates with easy shots (look for Jason Richardson to have a big statistical year) the Suns didn't get enough in return for Shaq to even duplicate their mediocre season last year. They'll play little or no defense and miss out on the playoffs for the second straight season. Kerr not doing his thang.
Sacramento Kings: The loss of Salmons and Miller is too much for them to improve next season. The bad thing about the Kings though is their future doesn't look incredibly promising either. Martin is good but not great, Casspi, Evans, Thompson, and Hawes don't strike me as franchise players either. So right now they suck, and in their future compared to young teams like OKC, Minnesota, Golden State, Portland etc. they will still suck.