NBA

Suns Shining, Raptors Reeling: Offseason Grades For Every NBA Team

August 22, 2023

We’re at one of the quietest points of the NBA calendar, as the only on-floor action is in the Summer League and offseason transactions have slowed. That makes it a good time to check in with each team to grade their offseasons to this point.

Atlanta Hawks – B/Incomplete

The Hawks primary offseason move has been trading away John Collins, seemingly been in the cards for the last couple seasons. The team also recently extended Dejounte Murray, making it clear that he and Trae Young are the center pieces of the team moving forward. But the grade is incomplete because the team is heavily rumored to be looking for a third big piece to add to the roster, with current Toronto Raptor Pascal Siakam one hot name in the market.

Boston Celtics – B

The Celtics didn’t wait for free agency to make their big splash, trading for Kristaps Porzingis on June 21 before agreeing to an extension with him nine days later. Health will be the key for him – he hasn’t played more than 65 games in any season since 2015 – but he represents an upgrade over the departed Grant Williams. But in gaining Porzingis, the Celtics lost their stalwart guard and one of the league’s best defenders in Marcus Smart.

Brooklyn Nets – C+

The Nets accomplished their primary goal by retaining Cam Johnson on a four-year, $108 million deal. The team also added dynamic scorers in Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Smith Jr. On the other hand, they lost a ton of perimeter shooting by trading away Joe Harris and Patty Mills while also allowing Seth Curry to depart for the Mavericks. That’s a lot of player movement without it necessarily being clear that the roster is better. The Nets are another team rumored to be poking around for a star, so this grade could be on the rise by the time the regular season begins.

Charlotte Hornets – D

The Hornets locked up LaMelo Bell with a $260 million extension and took Brandon Miller second overall in the draft. Otherwise, the direction of the team remains unclear. After finishing 27-55 last season, that’s not a great place to be.

Chicago Bulls – C

Chicago’s roster hasn’t turned over at all in terms of the starting five after they retained Nikola Vucevic. However, they’ve made some relatively low-budget moves to add solid bench depth with the signings of Jevon Carter as insurance for Lonzo Ball (knee). Torrey Craig also represents improved depth in the front court.

Cleveland Cavaliers — C

We can pretty much cut and paste the same analysis from the Bulls and move it to the Cavs. The core of the team remains the same, and that’s a good thing for a team on the rise. Max Strus and Georges Niang provide the team with some improved shooting, an important addition after Cleveland finished 19th in the league in three-pointers made per game in 2023.

Dallas Mavericks – B

The Mavs haven’t been shy about retooling their roster in recent offseasons and that remained the case this year. Kyrie Irving is back on a three-year deal after an underwhelming opening sample while pairing up with Luka Doncic. The team also added Grant Williams and Seth Curry, the former of whom should immediately slot into the starting lineup. That’s solid work, but the roster still remains underwhelming in comparison to the teams at the top of the Western Conference.

Denver Nuggets – D

It’s regularly the case that the best teams in the league are forced to let go of some talent, and that’s been the case for the Nuggets coming off their championship season. They lost key contributors such as Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. The core remains intact so there’s no need to panic, but there’s also no case to be made that the team has gotten better.

Detroit Pistons – B

After four consecutive seasons of 23 wins or fewer, the Pistons may be ready to turn the corner back toward respectability. They added veterans Joe Harris and Monte Morris, both of whom should help the team’s production off the bench. Most importantly, the team added considerable talent in the draft with elite athlete and defensive stopper Ausar Thompson with the fifth overall pick. Marcus Sasser flies a bit more under-the-radar, but he should be a reliable rotation piece for the team after going later in the first round.

Golden State Warriors – A

Every season that Stephen Curry remains on the roster, the Warriors’ goal should be to maximize their chances of a championship. They accomplished that by adding Chris Paul via trade — losing Jordan Poole in that same trade — while retaining Draymond Green on a short-term extension. They also added depth with Dario Saric. The fit between Paul and Curry will be interesting to watch, but for now, the duo are all smiles.

Houston Rockets – A+

The Rockets took an aggressive approach in free agency and are set to make the biggest leap in the NBA in terms of raw win total. Critics will say the team overpaid to land Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks – the team’s two biggest additions – but it should be praised for trying to win for the first time since James Harden departed. That’s all without mentioning the selection of Amen Thompson with the fourth overall pick and Cam Whitmore 16 selections later. There’s a lot of talent here, and if the veterans and youngsters find a way to coalesce, there will be a massive jump in competitiveness in Houston.

Indiana Pacers – B

The Pacers are building around Tyrese Haliburton and the pieces are slowly coming together. The biggest addition came in the draft with the selection of Jarace Walker. He’ll compete for the starting job with another newcomer in Obi Toppin. Haliburton expressed excitement about the addition of Toppin, who could have a post-hype breakout season after leaving the Knicks. Finally, the team added Bruce Brown, who will bring stability to the wing rotation.

Los Angeles Clippers – C

There was a bit of player shuffling, but this roster will look almost identical to last season. The Clippers will be hoping for better health from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to compete in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers — B+

The big names are the same, but the Lakers have an almost entirely new bench unit. This was another team that needed perimeter shooting, and they accomplished that with the additions of Gabe Vincent, and to a lesser extent, Cam Reddish. The team also kept Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell in the mix with new deals.

Memphis Grizzlies – D+

Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension was unfortunately the headline in Memphis. Outside of that, this has been a fine offseason. The Grizzlies gave up multiple first-round picks to get Marcus Smart, though his versatile and hard-nosed defense makes him a great fit with the team. Memphis added Derrick Rose as additional insurance for Morant. Ultimately though, Morant defines this team, and his suspension is reflected in this grade.

Miami Heat- F/Incomplete

The Heat made a shocking run to the NBA finals but lost both Strus and Vincent. There weren’t any meaningful additions, so this is an F for now. If they land Damian Lillard from Portland, this grade would change drastically.

Milwaukee Bucks – C

The Bucks are the same team as they were a year ago, though that’s a good thing because they retained both Khris Midddleton and Brook Lopez.

Minnesota Timberwolves- B-

Minnesota added guard and wing depth in Shake Milton and Troy Brown. That’s helpful, but at the end of the day the team’s success will come down to Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns – the former of whom just landed a massive extension.

New Orleans Pelicans – C+

There were only two notable moves by the Pelicans, re-signing Herb Jones and drafting Jordan Hawkins. Jones is an excellent defender and will be a key to the team for the foreseeable future.

New York Knicks – C+

The Knicks are another team that has remained largely intact, with Donte DiVincenzo being the team’s addition. He’ll join his former Villanova teammates, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

Oklahoma City Thunder – B

The Thunder took a step forward in 2023 and have used the offseason to add to the team’s solid core. Vasilije Micic was drafted in 2014 and has played primarily in Turkey since, but he signed with the Thunder this summer. It’s not exactly clear how he’ll contribute, but at worst he gives the team another option in the backcourt. Otherwise, the team used its plentiful cap space to take on the bloated contracts of Victor Oladipo, Davis Bertans and Patty Mills. The Thunder got more picks for their troubles and now have serviceable – albeit expensive – depth.

Orlando Magic – D

Most of the rebuilding teams found a way to take steps forward, but the Magic largely stood pat. They have decent young talent on the roster so that’s not necessarily a bad decision, but the offseason hasn’t changed the trajectory of the team in the short or long term. Orlando did add more young talent in Anthony Black during the draft.

Philadelphia 76ers – Incomplete

The 76ers lost the aforementioned Niang and Milton and brought in Patrick Beverly and Mo Bamba. Those moves pale in comparison to the future of James Harden, which still hangs in the balance. The resolution to that saga will dictate the final grade.

Phoenix Suns – A

The Suns roster is unrecognizable from a year ago, with the most recent addition being Bradley Beal, who will join Devin Booker and Kevin Durant to form the most talented trio in the league. While not nearly as flashy, the team made several signings that will serve as glue for the team such as Eric Gordon, Drew Eubanks and Josh Okogie – among others. The Suns will emerge from the offseason as one of the favorites for the NBA title.

Portland Trail Blazers – D

Damian Lillard requested a trade, so the fairest grade may be to wait and see what the team gets in return for its franchise player. The Blazers are almost certain to enter a rebuild, however, and second overall pick Scoot Henderson may immediately become the face of the franchise.

Sacramento Kings – B-

The majority of the Kings’ moves were made to retain their pending free agents. That’s not the most exciting, but the team finally experienced success again in 2023 so maintaining consistency makes plenty of sense. Sasha Vezenkov is also an intriguing name to monitor during training camp, as he was named the Euro League MVP in 2023.

San Antonio Spurs – A+

The Spurs lucked into the top pick and franchise-altering talent Victor Wembanyama. He could single-handedly push the team back toward relevance, though the Spurs also added serviceable rotation-members Reggie Bullock, Lamar Stevens and Cedi Osman.

Toronto Raptors – F

The Raptors struggled last season and lost Fred VanVleet this offseason. Now, there are rumors that Pascal Siakam will also be gone. The additions of Dennis Schroeder and Jalen McDaniels don’t make up for that loss in talent.

Utah Jazz- A

The Jazz had a brutal 2022 offseason, but their foresight paid off this summer. They injected the talent of three first-round picks in selections acquired in the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades, highlighted by Taylor Hendricks. Then, they pounced on the cash-strapped Hawks, who dumped John Collins in Salt Lake City for essentially no return.

Washington Wizards – C-

It’s hard to make the case that the Wizards got better after the departures of Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. However, the team managed to extract decent value from those trades, highlighted by Jordan Poole and Tyus Jones. Add in the draft selection of Bilal Coulibaly and some of the other young talent on the roster and this could be an up-and-coming team in the East in the next few seasons.

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