The best performances based on acquisitions and their future impact
June 30, the first day of free agency for the National Basketball Association (NBA), marked the beginning of what has been the most tumultuous and groundbreaking offseason in NBA history. We saw a lot of teams make huge advances in their hopes of winning the Finals, and a lot of teams fall short of expectations. Teams like the New York Knicks had dreams of signing players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, but failed to even offer those players contracts. However, teams like the Los Angeles Clippers acquired two superstar players just a year after earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Here are the top 10 NBA teams based on their 2019 offseason performance, and how their moves this offseason will affect the franchise's future as a whole.
10. Utah Jazz
2018-19 season: 50-32, 5-seed in West, lost in first round vs. Rockets
Although Utah lost Raul Neto, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, they brought in Mike Conley in a trade with Memphis, and signed Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeff Green, two players with some veteran scoring ability. Utah selected forward Jarrell Brantley, who averaged 15.5 points per game (ppg) and 5.0 rebounds per game (rpg) in summer league, in the second round and could help the team cope with the loss of Favors in the future.
9. Houston Rockets
2018-19 season: 53-29, 4-seed in West, lost in conference semifinals vs. Warriors
The Rockets gave Oklahoma City two first-rounders and two pick swaps as well as Chris Paul to reunite Russell Westbrook and James Harden. This combination is seemingly deadly on paper, but their play styles are much different than when they played on the Thunder, so we'll see how they complement each other. Other than that, not much has happened for the front office in Houston.
8. Atlanta Hawks
2018-19 season: 29-53, 12-seed in East, missed playoffs
Atlanta has continued to build their solid young core, adding three rookies—Cam Reddish, De'Andre Hunter and Bruno Fernando. The Hawks also added veteran support with acquisitions of forwards Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons and Jabari Parker. While they did lose Dewayne Dedmon and Kent Bazemore, key returners such as John Collins, Trae Young and Kevin Huerter give the Hawks a beautiful young core to build around for years to come.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
2018-19 season: 37-45, 10-seed in West, missed playoffs
Los Angeles finally followed through on the rumors from the trade deadline and acquired Anthony Davis, sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and De'Andre Hunter to New Orleans. They also sent Jemerrio Jones, Isaac Bonga and Moritz Wagner to the Wizards. The Lakers then signed DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley and Quinn Cook. They re-signed JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, keeping two solid, veteran players on board to support LeBron and AD.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
2018-19 season: 51-31, 3-seed in East, Lost in Conference Semifinals vs. Raptors
The Sixers were able to sign the only center in the league that could stop Joel Embiid: Al Horford. They brought in Josh Richardson to replace Jimmy Butler, signed Kyle O'Quinn and Raul Neto and acquired Matisse Thybulle from the Celtics on draft night. Philly was also able to re-sign Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, James Ennis and Mike Scott.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
2018-19 season: 49-33, 6-seed in West, Lost in First Round vs. Trail Blazers
The big news is that Russell Westbrook and Paul George were both traded away in blockbuster deals, and since draft night, Oklahoma City (OKC) has acquired an astounding eight first-round draft picks for future NBA drafts. They now have 15 first-round picks through 2026. In these trades, OKC also acquired Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. These changes will be great for the future of the Thunder, as the Paul George-Russell Westbrook combination didn't fare too well in the two years they played together, losing in the first round both years.
4. Golden State Warriors
2018-19 season: 57-25, 1-seed in West, Lost in NBA Finals vs. Raptors
The big move that everyone is excited over is the sign-and-trade deal to bring all-star guard D'Angelo Russell to Oakland. Of course, losing Kevin Durant is a huge loss, but bringing in another younger scorer like Russell can help in the long run. While they did lose DeMarcus Cousins, they replaced him with Willie Cauley-Stein, who put up great numbers last season, and signed Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson as a short-term relief for Klay Thompson's torn ACL. The Dubs gave Draymond Green a big extension contract to keep Green's superb support all around the court. Golden State re-signed Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney, and selected guard Jordan Poole with their first-round pick, who did an astounding job in summer league with 17.8 ppg.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
2018-19 season: 33-49, 13-seed in West, missed playoffs
Although New Orleans traded away their superstar player in Anthony Davis, they gained plenty of young talent to cope with that loss. They drafted Zion Williamson with the first pick, then acquired Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart through the Anthony Davis trade. The Pelicans also acquired two other first-rounders, Jaxson Hayes (16.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg in summer league) and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (24.3 ppg and 6.0 assists per game (apg) in summer league). In addition, NOLA grabbed some great veterans in J.J. Redick and Derrick Favors.
2. Brooklyn Nets
2018-19 season: 42-40, 6-seed in East, Lost in First Round vs. 76ers
Rumors that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joining forces started when a video of the two talking surfaced on social media during the 2019 All-Star weekend. Lo and behold, the Nets acquired Irving, Durant as well as DeAndre Jordan. They did sign-and-trade D'Angelo Russell to the Warriors to acquire Kevin Durant, but in the long run, this made the Nets a contender to win the NBA Finals in the coming years. In addition, Brooklyn signed stable role players in Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple and Wilson Chandler.
1. Los Angeles Clippers
2018-19 season: 48-34, 8-seed in West, Lost in First Round vs. Warriors
The Clippers made two huge moves, acquiring NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. In the trade for Paul George, Los Angeles gave up Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and an array of picks. The Clippers re-signed Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac. With Beverley, George and Leonard, LA will have one of the best defensive teams in the league. LA also acquired Mfiondu Kabengele from Brooklyn on draft night, and he has been putting up 17.0 ppg and 7.8 rpg in summer league.
This offseason, we saw seven of last year's all-stars switch teams, whether it was through a trade or signing. We are seeing a lot of young talent being moved, as well as a lot of veteran players joining new teams. We are also seeing one of the best draft classes this season with players that will make immediate impacts on their teams. We saw the defending NBA champions lose their Finals MVP just a month after winning the Finals. Overall, this has been and will be the craziest and most impactful offseason the NBA has seen.
Billy Scott. What's up! My name is Billy Scott (he/him), and I am a sports editor for SCO! I am a member of the Dual Enrollment Program, meaning I am in the graduating class of 2021 at both Montgomery College and at Blair. I love rap, my … More »