NBA Pacific Division: Offseason Report Cardsby Garrett Brooks December 11, 2020 0 comments
As the 2020-21 NBA season approaches, NBA rosters are filling out as teams look to start the new season out on the right foot. The Pacific Division is home to the defending champions, as well as multiple teams that will look to take a step forward during the upcoming NBA season. We’re giving out report cards for every team in the NBA’s offseason.
Here are the NBA Pacific Division: Offseason Report Cards
Los Angeles Lakers
2019-20 Regular Season Record: 52-19
Instead of being content coming off a championship run, the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the most aggressive teams during the NBA’s offseason. While aggressive isn’t always a good thing, the Lakers made all the right moves and came away a better team. In doing so, they were one of the league’s biggest winners during the offseason.
Not only did they make moves to lessen the load on superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but they also added players that will fit perfectly alongside their two superstars. Schroder, Matthews, Harrell, and Gasol will be assets when the stars are on the bench or on the court. Add is the re-signings of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jared Dudley, and Markieff Morris, and it’s hard to find a bad move the Lakers made.
The teams’ final moves to close out the offseason came as a result of how successful their earlier moves were. Both James and Davis signed long term deals with the franchise, showing they trust what Rob Pelinka and Co. are doing. As we enter the 2020-21 NBA season, the Lakers are the favorites to stand tall once the season ends.
The only thing that kept the Lakers from a perfect grade is the lack of true center depth.
Los Angeles Clippers
2019-20 Regular Season Record: 49-23
The Clippers are another team that had an incredibly busy offseason. From the coaching staff down to the roster, they looked to make the changes that would help them avoid falling short again during the 2020 season. One of their biggest moves, if not the biggest, was the decision to part ways with longtime coach Doc Rivers. His replacement, Tyronn Lue, will look to reshape the locker room in the early going.
The Clippers lost the Sixth Man of the Year runner up in Harrell, and the next big off the bench in Green. Things looked concerning at that time, but they quickly bounced back with the signing of Ibaka in free agency. Not only does he bring championship experience, but he’s also familiar with Kawhi Leonard. Further, his style of play actually fits the Clippers better than either of the big men they lost.
During the draft, the team jumped in on a multiteam trade that saw them send out Shamet and bring back Kennard. This was a great value move for the Clips. Kennard was having a breakout season before going down with an injury last year. He’ll help the teams’ floor spacing and be a great scoring option behind the usual suspects. Batum is a plus defender that is a valuable depth piece on a contending team.
Where the Clippers not so great moves start is with their lack of addressing the point guard position. They’re rolling with the group of Patrick Beverley, Reggie Jackson, and at times, Lou Williams. One of their biggest focuses this offseason should have been a more traditional point guard to take that responsibility away from Leonard and Paul George.
The next restrictive move was signing Marcus Morris to big money. This won’t hurt their grade too much, as they had little choice, but it’s still going to be a regrettable contract in a few years. Hurting their grade most is the lack of shakeup at the guard spot. They need a natural playmaker to maximize Kawhi and PG13’s scoring abilities. Additionally, they remain similar to last season’s team that failed to meet expectations.
2019-20 Regular Season Record: 34-39
The Suns added future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul in one of the biggest trades of the offseason. Paul will join the Suns and look to help Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton maximize their potential as franchise cornerstones. There’s no doubt he will be an asset to both players, as well as the rest of the roster, in teaching what it takes to become great in the league.
After the Paul trade, the Suns made an underrated free-agent signing in agreeing to a deal with Crowder. Another veteran that will help the culture of the organization, Crowder was a key piece in the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals run last season. Like Paul, he’ll help both on and off the court.
The Suns are going to be a much better team than they were last season. Not only did they make the moves to catapult themselves into the western conference playoff picture, but they also began moving in a direction that is promising to their fans.
Knocking down their grade is concerns regarding the coming seasons as Paul continues to add to his career mileage. He’ll be earning a hefty salary, and it’s not easy to find ways for the Suns to get stronger when he starts regressing. Still, the significant improvements made immediately limit how much the coming year’s question marks hurt their grade. They still will have their building blocks in Booker and Ayton.
2019-20 Regular Season Record: 31-41
Notable Losses: Bogdan Bogdanovic
The King’s biggest question entering the offseason was what would happen with the restricted free agency of Bogdanovic. After the failed sign and trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, he wound up accepting an offer with the Atlanta Hawks. The Kings declined to match, letting him walk for no return. That would have been a big loss, had the Kings not had some draft night luck before free agency.
At pick number twelve, the Kings took Haliburton. He was projected by many to be a top-five pick, and will eventually go down as one of the biggest steals from the 2020 NBA Draft. At 6’5”, the Iowa State product is a versatile guard that will be able to spell De’Aron Fox as well as play alongside him. Fox, who the Kings extended this offseason, combines with Haliburton to form a promising future in Sacramento’s backcourt.
Whiteside will be a nice rim protector for Luke Walton off the bench. While he isn’t the prototypical center in today’s NBA, he offers value as a rim protector who will steer opponents away from the basket. He’s a nice piece to help the Kings win games this upcoming season.
The health of former lottery pick Marvin Bagley III, along with Buddy Hield‘s mindset after remaining with the Kings, will determine how well this team does this season. The Kings didn’t force any moves, but they did lock up their face of the franchise in Fox and capitalized on the draft day fall of Haliburton. Preventing a better grade is their failure to secure assets in return for Bogdanovic leaving.
Golden State Warriors
2019-20 Regular Season Record: 15-50
Notable Losses: Ky Bowman
Not included in the Warrior’s losses in the devastating loss of Klay Thompson. The Warriors and Thompson had no say in his injury, and for that reason, that won’t be part of their offseason grade. How they responded to the news will be.
The Warriors made the easy pick at second overall in the NBA Draft. Wiseman is a big, athletic center that should solidify the position for the foreseeable future in Golden State. He’ll help immediately, and could eventually become a franchise player as Steph Curry enters the later stages of his career. The draft selection at second overall is a win in both the short and long term.
Oubre Jr., acquired in a trade, will help the team fill the hole opened by Thompson’s injury. While Thompson is irreplaceable, Oubre Jr. will at least help the team win games in the upcoming season without him. Following the heartbreaking Klay news, this was a very strong way to bounce back for the Warriors.
Additionally, Wanamaker will be a valuable backup to Steph and will do good in keeping things on track for the second unit. He’s not going to light up the box scores but will keep the second unit running well all season. He was a very solid addition for the Warriors.
Preventing a higher grade is the team’s inability to get another scorer off the dribble that can be relied on. Steph will do what’s needed to keep the Warriors relevant, but he’s going to have a high usage rate given the current roster. Beyond that, the Warriors’ lack of depth is a concern for the upcoming season. At least they capitalized on last year’s down season by securing a franchise piece in Wiseman.
As currently constructed, the Warriors lack the overall roster to truly compete for a championship.