Monday, December 26, 2011

NBA Offseason Biggest Winners and Losers


1) Los Angeles Clippers- Obviously, when you add one of the top 3 players in the league, your offseason was successful. Chris Paul immediately vaults the Clippers into title contenders. His ability to distribute the basketball and score efficiently while limiting turnovers elevates everyone else on the floor. In addition, they added several other interesting veteran pieces to surround CP3. With Caron Butler, the Clips add some necessary help at the wing with Eric Gordon departing in the Paul trade. Although the Mavs title run came without Butler, prior to his injury, he was averaging 15 ppg and a career high 43% from 3 pt range. The Chauncey Billups signing is more of a luxury then a necessity as the Clips already have Mo Williams, but adding a veteran of his quality known for his ability to make big shots in crunch time can’t hurt. Their most underrated offseason signing was Reggie Evans, an aggressive, elite rebounder with the ability to defend any center in the NBA. Overall, the Clippers offseason was superb.

2) New York Knicks- Both the Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks offseason success hinged on the movement of one player: Tyson Chandler. His presence immediately upgrades the Knicks previously pathetic defense. There is no questioning that Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are two of the most prolific scorers in the league; however, ignored about these two all-stars is their pathetic defense (111 points per 100 possessions while on the floor together). If Chandler can simply get them as a unit to play adequately (not bottom 10 in the league), they have a strong chance to win the Atlantic Division. The rest of their offseason was a wash, losing Billups and some other pieces while gaining Mike Bibby and Baron Davis. Baron Davis might become a meaningful pick up if he can regain his 2009 form as a much-needed back up to Toney Douglas at the point.

3) Miami Heat- Much like the Knicks, the Miami offseason success derives from the acquisition of a defensive stalwart, Shane Battier. He can defend three positions at an elite level and add some much-needed 3-pt shooting acumen to this Heat roster, giving an already elite defensive stop unit more capability to shut down opponents. Simply getting healthier this offseason improves the Heat as well. Although Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller managed to return for the playoffs last year, they were limited and performed below their potential level of play. Getting Haslem (and soon Miller) healthy gives this team extra depth and more pieces to compliment their elite stars.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves- Quietly, the T-Wolves enjoyed a terrific offseason. Not only did they add future stud, Derrick Williams, through the draft, they also (finally) have Ricky Rubio joining the squad from Spain. Rubio brings a flair for distributing the basketball and a much needed pass-first mentality to a team riddled in recent years with selfish individual players (see Sebastian Telfair). They also managed to add to veteran pieces with postseason success in Jose Juan Barea and Brad Miller to round out the roster. Barea, in particular, will provide a terrific spark off the bench in the same role he played with the Mavs.


1) Dallas Mavericks- The defending champs did not help their chances to repeat this offseason, losing several key pieces to free agency. As mentioned earlier, the loss of Tyson Chandler is huge. He solidified their center position for the first time in over a decade and his departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle to be filled by Brendan Haywood (?). The loss of Caron Butler looms large as well despite their ability to win the title with him on the sideline. His departure paved the way for Vince Carter to sign with the Mavs. By adding Carter, the Mavs get a much less efficient and consistent scorer and a below-average defensive player. The Barea loss is significant, but getting a healthy Roddy Beaubois in the mix will soften the blow. The one redeeming quality of this offseason was getting Lamar Odom gift-wrapped by the Lakers after their vetoed Paul trade failed. His ability to back up both forward positions will add a new dimension to the Mavs roster. Overall, though, this team became significantly worse at two positions (SG and C) and continues to try and survive with an aging nucleus of over-the-hill former stars.

2) Detroit Pistons- The Pistons had no choice but to jettison their long-time star in Richard Hamilton, but his absence still makes the current team worse. His ability to move without the basketball and play scrappy defense against both guard spots makes him a valuable player. They also lost Chris Wilcox, who played well last year, providing defense and rebounding to a Pistons team that lacked post talent. Joe Dumars also continues to make the wrong decisions in free agent signings. After the disgraceful signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva a few off-seasons ago, he decided this year to resign Rodney Stuckey to a lucrative contract. Stuckey has shown zero capability to run an offense from the PG position and his career 42% fg pct and lack of range make him inadequate to play shooting guard. His resigning is just another in a long line of horrible decisions by this franchise, which is years away from a future playoff appearance.

3) Portland Trailblazers- This franchise has made some terrific acquisitions over the past few years, but they continually lose players to injuries. The most disappointing news this NBA offseason by far was the retirement of Brandon Roy. This Blazers franchise and fan base will sorely miss his unlimited potential and leadership ability. To add to the bad news, Greg Oden suffered yet another setback in his injury recovery and might not play this year. While the Blazers did add sharpshooter Jamal Crawford to the mix, the offseason remains a failure because of circumstances out of their control. While the product on the court remains playoff caliber with several strong defensive players on the roster, Roy made them a title contender. Now, they will certainly be watching the finals from home.

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