After over a month of not writing, it’s time for me to get back into it. The NBA season is coming up soon and this will be the first full season that I plan on covering and creating content on. I’ve had many people reach out and tell me that they enjoy it, and I thank you for that. Hopefully this season can create multiple storylines for me to give my opinion on, and I hope it can be just as exciting as last year.
As the summer comes to a close, so does the NBA offseason. The Olympics have ended, almost every free agent has found a team, and with the release of the schedule the hype for this upcoming season is growing. Now that the majority of moves have been completed, (barring a blockbuster trade before the season begins, think James Harden to Houston back in 2012), it’s time for me to give my thoughts on what every team did during this offseason; this includes all free agency moves, draft picks, and personnel hires. I will be posting one Division’s grades per day for the next six days, and after that I will move on to some season predictions and other content.
Eastern Conference Offseason Grades: Atlantic Division
Key Additions: Al Horford, Amir Johnson (re-signed), Jaylen Brown (Rookie)
Key Losses: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner
The narrative that the Celtics need a superstar player may still be alive in some minds, there are those that don’t view Al Horford as a star player. However I think this is one of the best moves of the summer, Horford coming from a Spurs-ian organization in Atlanta will fit perfectly into Brad Stevens system. Jaylen Brown should develop into a solid two-way player under Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson is much more solid than Sullinger, Turner will be missed but there are plenty of other ball-handlers on this roster.
Key Additions: Jeremy Lin, Trevor Booker, Anthony Bennett, Randy Foye, Caris Levert (Rookie), Kenny Atkinson (Coach)
Key Losses: Wayne Ellington, Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack
Congratulations to the Brooklyn Nets for finally realizing they need to get younger and re-gain some future draft picks. Also, they were smart enough to bring Jeremy Lin back to the Big Apple in an effort to renew “Linsanity”. Not only that, but they hired Kenny Atkinson, the coach that grew Lin under his tutelage in New York. Caris Levert was groomed as a lottery pick before some tough injuries, but he can grow into a solid shooter on the wing. Booker is solid, Foye is a vet, Bennett looked decent for Team Canada in Olympic Qualifiers, but I don’t hold out much hope. I added a plus to their grade simply for figuring it out, (cough, cough, SACRAMENTO).
New York Knicks
Key Additions: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, Brandon Jennings, Willy Hernangomez (Rookie), Jeff Hornacek (Coach)
Key Losses: Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez
If these moves happened at any point between 2011 and 2013 I would probably pick the Knicks to be the best team in the league. Unfortunately it’s 2016, and after Rose’s multiple injuries, Noah’s maladies, Brandon Jennings becoming a bench player, I don’t have much hope for the Knicks. Even at age 30, Courtney Lee is a good starting 2-guard, but I liked Langston Galloway’s effort, and Jerian Grant really didn’t get a chance. New York is a major market, therefore Phil Jackson had to go out and secure some big names eventually, so I guess these moves fit that idea. Derrick Rose has come out and said there are two “super-teams” in the league; the Warriors and the Knicks. Except when I look at those two teams I see one dominant, title-contender, and a team that will fight for a playoff seed. I’ll let you determine which is which.
Key Additions: Ben Simmons (Rookie), Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Dario Saric (Rookie), Joel Embiid (Rookie)
Key Losses: Ish Smith
This is the season where we finally get a look at what the 76’ers future will look like. They will have three lottery picks starting their NBA careers with Ben Simmons, Dario Saric finally coming over, and Joel Embiid’s injury woes apparently behind him. With these three joining other big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, Philly’s front office will need to make some decisions. Even if Ben Simmons ends up running the point, with Saric, Embiid, Noel, and Okafor, there will not be enough minutes to go around. I expect a midseason move involving either Noel or Okafor, as Embiid when healthy can be a monster in the post., and Saric has the outside shooting to break into the rotation. Bayless and Henderson are decent veterans to bring in to fill up some minutes at the guard positions, losing Ish Smith is tough because of how much he meant last season, but he clearly wasn’t going to be a long-term solution. Expect Colangelo and Co. to deal one of their big men for a young guard to help complete their rebuild. I added a plus to this rating for finally getting the first overall pick in the draft, and for the long awaited debut of Joel Embiid, (***SPOILER ALERT***, I might be picking a player who wasn’t drafted this year as my Rookie of the Year pick…).
Key Additions: DeMar DeRozan (re-signed), Jared Sullinger, Jakob Poeltl (Rookie)
Key Losses: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola
Bringing DeMar DeRozan back was a major key to the Raptors offseason, have to keep the All-Star friends duo of Lowry and DeRozan together. Losing Biyombo hurts the big man rotation a bit, but it was clear that they wouldn’t be able to afford him. Getting Sullinger instead of Scola I do like, even though they’re both liabilities on the defensive end, I would take Sullinger’s mid-range jumpers over Scola’s 3-point bricks every day. Poeltl will take some time to adjust to the speed of the game, but he could develop into a capable backup center to Valanciunas. And James Johnson became fat, so losing him makes no difference.
*All off-season moves procured from CBS Sports