2012 Offseason Grades- West

 

Team: Dallas Mavericks

Key Additions: Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Dahntay Jones, Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Bernard James

Key Subtractions: Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi, Brendan Haywood

Projected Starting Lineup: Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The entire offseason plans for the Mavs revolved around free agency. The whole plan failed after they lost out on the Deron Williams sweepstakes. After that, the dominoes continued to fall by losing both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to the Knicks and Celtics. The Mavs were able to somewhat salvage at least one more year of competing, as they still look like a low seeded playoff team to me. I see O.J. Mayo with a bounce back year, similar to his rookie season. But, it could also end up hurting the team, as he has a player option for next year. If he does have a breakout season, it’s likely he opts for free agency for a bigger pay day. This also looks like it may be the last year for Dirk in Big D (as Dirk himself has even said he’s too old to go through a rebuild), unless things change dramatically for the franchise with the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Hey, it’s unlikely, but anything can happen at this point. Now, they do have the cap space to do so, but it’s looking like a rebuild in Dallas is all but inevitable a year from now. The Mavericks do look like a better team than last year, but that’s not really saying much as they won’t be a contender anyways. Oh yeah, interesting fact here. After only one season after winning, only four players remain from the 2010-2011 championship team. Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones. Now you know.

Grade: C+

Projected Record: 44-38

 

Team: Denver Nuggets

Key Additions: Andre Iguodala, Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller, Anthony Randolph

Key Subtractions: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington

Projected Starting Lineup: Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Nuggets had a great offseason by unloading Afflalo and Harrington to get Iguodala as part of the Howard trade. They ended up getting a nice return, and Iguodala should immediately improve the Nuggets’ offense, as well as the defense. They aren’t the most talented team out west, but they have a very good team and are definitely set to make some noise come playoff time. They could easily challenge the Lakers or Thunder to 6 or 7 games in a playoff series. They also got two very under rated players in the draft, Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller. However, it will probably be hard for Miller to find time on the floor with the amount of SF’s that the Nuggets have.

Grade: A

Projected Record: 54-28

 

Team: Golden State Warriors

Key Additions: Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Carl Landry, Festus Ezeli

Key Subtractions: Nate Robinson, Dorell Wright, Dominic McGuire

Projected Starting Lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Andrew Bogut

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Warriors are another team that has made some really nice improvements this off season. Most notably the addition of Harrison Barnes, who I think is still the real deal. They look like a playoff team right now, and a healthy Andrew Bogut will give the Warriors some much needed size. If he stays healthy (which seems almost impossible), the Warriors have a legit chance at sneaking into the playoffs.The Warriors also have one of the deeper teams in the league, which should help them out if someone does get injured.

Grade: B+

Projected Record: 39-43

 

Team: Houston Rockets

Key Additions: Jeremy Lin, Toney Douglas, Shaun Livingston, Jeremy Lamb, Carlos Delfino, Terrence Jones, Royce White, JaJuan Johnson, Omer Asik

Key Subtractions: Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Samuel Dalembert, Marcus Camby

Projected Starting Lineup: Jeremy Lin, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Omer Asik

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: Whether you’re a fan of Jeremy Lin or not, the team has made some very bad decisions this off season. The biggest eye opener was that the Rockets were willing to give up the future of the team to land Howard. But, thankfully for the Rockets, that didn’t happen. Another negative for the Rockets was that they also lost two very good point guards in Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic, and saw very little return for them. Lastly, the worst offseason move for the Rockets in my opinion came mostly because of the Lin and Asik contracts, which were not matched for a good reason. Have you seen them? If Lin does not live up to his past hype, or “Linsanity”, he may become the most hated man in Texas, very quickly. The draft however, is a different story as the Rockets had made some nice picks in the middle of the first round. Jeremy Lamb was a good pick at 12th (though, taking Marshall here probably would have been much better, and cheaper than Lin) and Terrence Jones being another good pick at 18th. The problem though, is that neither may see big minutes due to the amount of depth on the team. No, I didn’t forget about Royce White. He is probably one of the most unique players in this year’s draft for his ability to do it all, and should see some regular minutes behind Patterson. He may even take the starting job later on in the season. He is definitely a player to watch for.

Grade: D

Projected Record: 28-54

 

Team: Los Angeles Clippers

Key Additions: Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins

Key Subtractions: Mo Williams, Nick Young, Randy Foye, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans

Projected Starting Lineup: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: All eyes will be on Chris Paul this season as he enters the last year on his contract. He’s already in L.A., a big city, a big market, which is exactly what he wanted. But it’ll probably come down to whether or not he thinks he can win with the Clippers. If you’ve read my past blog about Dwight Howard trade scenarios, I had Dwight Howard going to the Clippers for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as my favourite one. As that would have given the Clippers two legitimate franchise players, and both would have been likely to resign long term. Lamar Odom is a good addition to the team if he gets back to his old Laker form, and Grant Hill is another good addition if his body holds up. The Clippers are a much improved team, a lock for the playoffs, but are in no way in a position to win right now. That’s the problem with the Clippers.

Grade: B+

Projected Record: 55-27

 

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Key Additions: Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Chris Duhon, Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark

Key Subtractions: Andrew Bynum, Ramon Sessions, Matt Barnes, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts

Projected Starting Lineup: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Lakers added Steve Nash for late first rounders, and added Dwight Howard by only giving up Bynum for him. I’d say they had the best offseason out of everyone. The only questions now are, how will Steve’s body adjust to life outside of the Phoenix training staff, and more importantly, will Dwight even resign with the Lakers. If Dwight resigns, which I fully expect him to, this trade sets the Lakers up perfectly for life after Kobe. The Lakers do lack scoring off the bench, as well as depth at certain positions, but the Lakers should easily find themselves making a playoff run this season. It’s safe to assume they’ll probably be in the NBA finals, because no one can stop that lineup. Of course, all the pressure lies on Mike Brown to make it all work. He will be on a short leash this season, and we could potentially see a return of Phil Jackson if things don’t go as expected.

Grade: A+

Projected Record: 61-21

 

Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Key Additions: Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington, Tony Wroten

Key Subtractions: O.J. Mayo, Dante Cunningham

Projected Starting Lineup: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Grizzlies had a pretty quiet offseason, with their only moves were acquiring Jerryd Bayless as a free agent, and swapping Dante Cunningham for Jerryd Bayless. Bayless should thrive on the second unit in Memphis, where he will probably have the green light to score at will, which is something that he was not really given the chance to do in Toronto. Unless of course, Josh Selby is anything like he was during the summer league. Although the Grizzlies didn’t really need to change much, the one spot in need of an upgrade, a center to backup Gasol, still remains with just Haddidi. If they want any shot of competing in the West this year come playoff time, a serious upgrade of the front line will be needed. The Grizzlies still look like a dark horse, but they failed to upgrade where it was most needed.

Grade: C+

Projected Record: 50-32

 

Team: Minnesota Timberwolves

Key Additions: Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Buddinger, Dante Cunningham, Greg Steimsma

Key Subtractions: Wayne Ellington, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Wesley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver

Projected Starting Lineup: Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Wolves look like a dark horse in the West right now. I have them as an 8th seed and sneaking into the playoffs. Looking at the job Rick Adelman did last season until Rubio went down, leads me to believe that this much improved team is ready to get to the playoffs. If Brandon Roy’s knees hold up, and if Kirilenko carries his Olympic success back to Minnesota, the Wolves will certainly be a team to watch for. The Kirilenko move, at first glance looks bad for Derrick Williams. However, it may also push him to bounce back after a less than stellar rookie season.

Grade: B-

Projected Record: 42-40

 

Team: New Orleans Hornets

Key Additions: Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers, Darius Miller, Ryan Anderson, Hakim Warrick, Robin Lopez

Key Subtractions: Jarrett Jack, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry, Marco Belinelli, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Gustavo Ayon

Projected Starting Lineup: Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Hornets obviously had a good summer by landing the number one pick Anthony Davis. They have completely overhauled their roster with some good moves, and look forward to their future with Davis. After a great draft lottery, the Hornets then unloaded Okafor and Ariza for a 2nd rounder and will buy out Rashard Lewis’ expiring contract, giving Aminu, a young and talented wing player an opportunity to shine. Ryan Anderson, the league’s Most Improved player this past season, was also a nice addition for Ayon. Although I like how he will spread the floor when Davis plays center, it is a lot of money to pay a backup, seeing as how he plays the same position as Davis.  But I also don’t like the other direction they’re currently taking with two players who play the same position in Gordon and Rivers. On one hand, you have a guy who doesn’t really want to be there in Gordon, and on the other hand, a SG being turned into a PG that will likely take away from Davis’ game. I’ve also made it clear in my past mock drafts that Kendall Marshall was THE guy that would compliment Anthony Davis perfectly. Instead, they ended up using the 10th pick on Austin Rivers, and then matched the offer sheet to Eric Gordon, a guy who doesn’t really seem to want to be there. Unless the Hornets realize this and act fast, things could take a turn for the worst down in New Orleans.

Grade: B-

Projected Record: 31-51

 

Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

Key Additions: Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton

Key Subtractions: Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammad

Projected Starting Lineup: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins

 

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Thunder didn’t make much noise this offseason other than extending Ibaka, signing Thabeet and Orton, and drafting Perry Jones. But let’s be honest, they don’t need to make any drastic changes to the roster – at least not yet. Size probably could have been looked at a little bit, but Perkins/Ibaka should be able to manage Howard/Gasol for the most part. We’ll see how the next season or two pans out before we get into a discussion of what they need to do with Westbrook. As of right now, I think he’s a good fit. Furthermore, the Thunder made out with what could be one of this year’s biggest draft steals at 28th. Jones, once considered a top NBA prospect saw his stock plummet as a result of mediocre play at Baylor as well as from being red flagged for knee issues. Jones, at his very worst is a solid rotation player in the NBA. Imagine what he could turn out to be if he lives up to his potential, or even close to it. It’s a very low risk, high reward move for Oklahoma City. I like the pick a lot.

Grade: A

Projected Record: 64-18

 

Team: Phoenix Suns

Key Additions: Goran Dragic, Kendall Marshall, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Luis Scola, Jermaine O’Neal

Key Subtractions: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Michael Redd, Hakim Warrick, Robin Lopez, Josh Childress

Projected Starting Lineup: Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: It seemed pretty obvious last season that Steve Nash’s days in Phoenix were numbered, and that they were. They two time MVP was eventually signed and traded to the Lakers for picks. Now, drafting Kendall Marshall to be Steve Nash’s replacement was a good start for the club. But things went downhill fast for them once they signed Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley and Luis Scola. They should be in full rebuild mode now that Nash is gone for good. That’s not to say Phoenix isn’t still a playoff calibre team though. They still have a talented roster, and I think Beasley, and especially Dragic are poised to have huge seasons in the up tempo game that the Suns play. But at the same time, if Nash couldn’t do it, it’s tough to see anyone else making it work with the current roster. As I said, I think a total rebuild in Phoenix makes a whole lot more sense than simply fighting to stay in the hunt for a bottom seed.

Grade: C

Projected Record: 33-49

 

Team: Portland Trailblazers

Key Additions: Damian Lillard, Will Barton, Victor Claver, Jared Jeffries, Myers Leonard

Key Subtractions: Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, Kurt Thomas, Joel Przybilla

Projected Starting Lineup: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: New head coach Terry Stotts will have his hands full with this young Blazers lineup. The Blazers did also make some nice picks on draft night, by taking Myers Leonard 11th and Will Barton at 40th. Not to take anything away from Lillard, but I’m not sold on him just yet (but that’s not all at saying he won’t be a good player). Scouts have said great things about him, and he did have impressive pre-draft workouts. But the thing that worries me about him is having played in the Big Sky Conference, and very little experience versus bigger schools. If you look at the numbers, he was also not very impressive when playing the bigger schools. At 6th overall, the pick is a stretch and I think there were better options available. All in all, the Blazers will probably be in the lottery next season. Trading away Aldridge this season looks like a possibility, and by all means, should be done for the Blazers to properly rebuild and reload for the future.

Grade: B

Projected Record: 30-52

 

Team: San Antonio Spurs

Key Additions: N/A

Key Subtractions: James Anderson

Projected Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Spurs didn’t do much, if anything this offseason, which is probably a good thing. They made their moves last season near the trade deadline by adding Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson. Needless to say, there isn’t much you can do to improve your team when you went 50-16 and first in the conference the previous year. It seems that almost  every year, the Spurs get written off as a potential contender and then surprise everyone which a great regular season. Well, not this time San Antonio. It seems that this year everyone is giving you high expectations. So, there will be no surprises when you perform well, once again.

Grade: B

Projected Record: 58-24

 

Team: Sacramento Kings

Key Additions: Aaron Brooks, James Johnson, Thomas Robinson

Key Subtractions: Donte Green

Projected Starting Lineup: Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Thomas Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: After several years of rebuilding, the Kings still look like just that – a rebuilding team. The picks they have made either don’t perform as good as expected, or the players simply don’t mesh well together. That’s the problem right now in Sacramento. There are a lot of young and talented players on the Kings, but it’s clear that they just don’t work well together. I think they have something in a future front-court of Robinson and Cousins and they should add pieces to compliment those two. The Kings are lucky to have Robinson at 5th overall, since the Bobcats strongly considered taking him in the draft at 2nd overall. They need to do what it takes to develop him to become a great PF at the next level.

Grade: B

Projected Record: 31-51

 

Team: Utah Jazz

Key Additions: Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Kevin Murphy, Marvin Williams

Key Subtractions: Devin Harris, Josh Howard, C.J. Miles

Projected Starting Lineup: Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson

Summary of moves and/or thoughts: The Jazz did the Clippers a favor by bringing back Mo Williams for his final season under contract so that they could sign Lamar Odom. Now, with Williams going into the final year of his contract, will likely be out to prove he deserves another one. This trade not only gives the Jazz an upgrade at PG over Harris, but also gives them trade flexibility at the next trade deadline. They could possibly package the expiring deals of Williams and Jefferson/Millsap for someone else to push into the playoffs. Even if they don’t get a deal done, the Jazz will have a ton of cap room to make any necessary changes in the offseason even if it means taking on bad contracts for better picks. The only question that remains, is can Tyrone Corbin bring this team back to the playoffs for a second year? My answer is no, only because I think there are 8 other teams that are currently better than the Jazz. But, they still have Derrick Favors to look forward to. He’s starting to look real good.

Grade: B+

Projected Record: 38-44

 

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