The official start of the NBA offseason was just two weeks ago, but there has already been a whirlwind of player movement via free agency and several major trades. There are rumors are swirling that there could be a few more headline deals – featuring Kevin Durant, Deandre Ayton (FA) and Kyrie Irving, etc. – on the horizon.
Several teams have significantly upgraded their roster and a few teams that have decided to go into a different direction, like the Spurs and Jazz. Which teams have had the best NBA offseason thus far?
Bucks and Clippers top the list of NBA offseason winners
The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers are the top winners of the first couple of weeks of the offseason and it has more to do with that both teams are expected to healthy than their acquisitions. Don’t me wrong, each squad have done a nice job at adding or keeping supporting pieces.
Milwaukee fell to Eastern Conference champions Boston in seven games in the conference semifinals, mainly due to the Bucks lack of offensive firepower without Khris Middleton. Middleton is expected to be ready to go by training camp after suffering a sprained MCL that he suffered in Game 2 of the opening round against the Bulls. The Bucks, of course won the 2021 NBA Finals, after they acquired Jrue Holiday to go along with Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks’ best offseason move was re-signing Bobby Portis, who really stepped up when the team needed him the most and is coming off a career year overall. Also, I really like the signing of free agent of Joe Ingles as he gives them a playmaker off the bench and instantly becomes the team’s best shooter as a reserve.
They also kept the bench pretty much intact by agreeing to deals with Serge Ibaka, Jevon Carter, Wesley Matthews while also essentially replacing Donte DiVincenzo with the athletically and defensive gifted rookie MarJon Beauchamp.
The Clippers were one of the biggest surprises last season as they went 42-40 and reached the play-in game, despite Paul George missing over 50 games and not having Kawhi Leonard at all, thanks to a fantastic defense.
Both George and Leonard are expected to be healthy at the start of the season, which makes the Clips one of the favorites to win the West. Like the Bucks, the Clippers did a nice job keeping their own key free agents like Ivica Zubac and Robert Covington by agreeing to extensions while also re-signing Nic Batum and Amir Coffey.
Los Angeles also made a huge splash by inking John Wall to a free-agent deal. Granted, Wall is not the player he once was, but the 31-year-old is definitely an upgrade over Reggie Jackson as a distributor and on the defensive end. For the Clippers sake, hopefully Wall worked on his jumper while sitting out last year with the Rockets.
Hawks and Celtics Improved Roster Through Trades
Atlanta and Boston are next on my winners list because of the trades they made. The Hawks nabbed Dejounte Murray from the Spurs and Celtics got Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers. Both teams also added a couple other nice pieces.
Getting Murray has the potential to have a huge impact on the Hawks as he gives them a dynamic two-way playmaker, particularly on the defensive end. Atlanta’s backcourt was one of the worst in the league last year, ranking 25th in scoring defense, 25th in field goal defense,and 21st in 3-point defense.
However, there are two questions regarding Murray’s acquisition which are did the Hawks give up too much and how will he mesh with Trae Young?
I also really like Atlanta’s selection of A.J. Grffin (No. 15 pick) as he was considered the best shooter in this year’s draft and should be able to fill that role off the bench while also increasing the Hawks’ athleticsm overall and giving them another quality wing defender. Getting Justin Holiday, Moe Harkless, and a future first-round draft pick for Kevin Huerter was decent value.
Boston shored up its biggest weakness by acquiring Brogdon for Aaron Nesmith and a 2023 first-rounder along with three minor pieces. While Brogdon could start, the plan reportedly is that the C’s will continue using Marcus Smart in the starting lineup as well as the double-bigs – Al Horford and Robert Williams – they used last season. Meaning that Brogdon will come off the bench, which is not necessarily bad as the Celtics had no one who could score consistently as a reserve last season.
The Celtics also added solid veteran Danilo Gallinari to give them a shooter off the bench who can also help on the boards. The C’s have 12 players under contract and could use a scoring wing off the bench.
Two other teams that have had a nice NBA offseason
Denver and Philadelphia also have had strong NBA offseason. The Nuggets bolstered their depth with the additions of Bruce Brown, DeAndre Jordan, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Ish Smith. More importantly, Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray are expected to be healthy from the get go.
Meanwhile, the 76ers made a nice deal for De’Anthony Melton, who will provide the Sixers with a “3-and-D guy”. Melton registered his most productive campaign this past season and Philadelphia was able to bring him over from Memphis for Danny Green and David Roddy, the No. 23 draft pick in this year’s draft. They were also able to bring P.J. Tucker and Daniel House Jr. thanks to James Harden declining his $47 million option – Harden is expected to re-sign for around $3- to- $35 million.
Read more about NBA trades.