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Top 5 Most Changed NBA Teams
Posted By Joel Brigham On July 30, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Without any real basketball to watch in the summertime (at least for the months when there’s no Summer Olympics to watch), transactions, trades and player movement are what keep us interested in the sport.
This summer in particular has been an incredible whirlwind of movement, with several teams getting complete overhauls in preparation for the 2012-13 season. Today, we’ll take a look at the teams that have undergone the most and/or most dramatic changes.
Before we do, however, a few thoughts on the list. First, it’s not the number of moves I’m necessarily concerned with, but the quality of the moves and how much better or worse the team came out of things as result. Secondly, while a team like Chicago has been spoken about quite a bit because of players they’ve lost, their starting lineup would still be in tact were everyone healthy. Omer Asik was a huge loss, for example, but not big enough to get the Bulls on this list. Thirdly, all of the major additions and subtractions are listed below. Some minor names may have been left off, but fret not—what you see here are just the moves that matter. In the case of the Houston Rockets, for example, reading through them all could be considered a slight waste of your time.
All that said, here are the most changed teams for ’12-‘13:
Who Left: Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro
Who’s New: Joe Johnson, C.J. Watson, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans, Tyshawn Taylor, Jerry Stackhouse
Analysis: There will be only one major change in what has become the most expensive starting lineup in basketball, but the acquisition of Joe Johnson is huge enough to have a massive impact on the quality of this team. JJ has always been a better second fiddle than leading man, and if we aren’t looking at how much he makes, the positive impact of him on the new Brooklyn Nets should be immediately noticeable. The addition of solid role players like C.J. Watson and Mirza Teletovic should improve the Nets’ bench as well.
Who Left: D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette, Jamario Moon
Who’s New: Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brendan Haywood, Jeffrey Taylor
Analysis: While they didn’t lose a whole lot (what was there to lose, really?), the historically-bad Bobcats actually made some significant upgrades over the summer to help get themselves out of the league basement. Ben Gordon should fare well with more consistent minutes in Charlotte, Ramon Sessions is probably a more promising point guard prospect than D.J. Augustin, Brendan Haywood bolsters a formerly very raw frontcourt and nobody dislikes what second overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist brings to the table. This isn’t a playoff team next season, but they also shouldn’t be quite the joke they were a year ago.
Los Angeles Clippers
Who Left: Nick Young, Mo Williams, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes
Who’s New: Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Ryan Hollins
Analysis: We’re not looking at a whole lot of names coming in or going out, but Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and potentially even Lamar Odom could all prove to be huge pick-ups for the Clippers next season. It’s hard to look at those additions versus what they let go and not see improvement. Whatever keeps Chris Paul happy, right?
Los Angeles Lakers
Who Left: Ramon Sessions
Who’s New: Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison
Analysis: Yes, that’s really it, but for better or worse, adding Steve Nash is a huge change for the Lakers. Lakers fans would love to see this work out, but there are concerns about taking the ball out of the hands of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum. Nash should shut those doubters right up pretty quickly, but it’s worth noting that the doubts are, in fact, there. Still, even pushing 40 years old, Nash is one of the better point guards in the league and should be a huge help. At the very least, he’s a huge change. Oh, and this Antawn Jamison kid is supposed to be pretty good, too.
New York Knicks
Who Left: Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Toney Douglas, Jared Jeffries, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, Dan Gadzuric
Who’s New: Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Pablo Prigioni, James White, Chris Copeland
Analysis: Was any fan base more disappointed to see a player leave this offseason than Knicks fans were about Jeremy Lin? Even Phoenix dealt with the end of the Steve Nash era with a respectful understanding, but losing Lin was a pretty painful thing for fans of the Knickerbockers. What made the failure to match his offer sheet even more painful was the addition of three of the league’s six oldest players in Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas. Raymond Felton isn’t old, but he’s also a pretty lateral move from Lin, at best. This team doesn’t look markedly better or worse than a year ago, but they do look a lot different, and that’s what gets them the attention here.
Who Left: Jerryd Bayless, James Johnson, Gary Forbes
Who’s New: Jonas Valanciunas, Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy
Analysis: Kyle Lowry played like an All-Star last season, and any time a team can add a player that good right when he’s hitting the prime of his career, there’s no question significant changes are in store for the new team. Add to that Jonas Valanciunas, 2011’s fifth overall selection who many thought would’ve trailed only Anthony Davis in terms of talent in this most recent draft, and you’ve got the rumblings of something promising in Toronto. Landry Fields was a nice, albeit pricy, pickup as well, giving the Raps a terrific shot at showing big-time improvement in 2012-13.
Who Left: Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche
Who’s New: Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price
Analysis: Small, reasonably efficient deals have put Washington in a situation to be a much better team next season, if only for the fact that Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza are polished veterans that are sure to beef up the starting frontcourt with the also newly-acquired Nene. Toss in the third overall pick Bradley Beal, who seems like he’ll complement John Wall nicely, and the Wizards start to look like a playoff team. Considering how bad they were a year ago, that would be a huge change for the better.
Top 5 Most Changed Teams:
#5 – Dallas Mavericks
Who Left: Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi, Lamar Odom, Kelenna Azubuike
Who’s New: O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Bernard James
Analysis: When free agency started we found ourselves feeling sorry for the Mavericks for missing out on Deron Williams, but they rebounded well and brought in a lot of talented veterans on really affordable deals. O.J. Mayo, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Darren Collison all should end up playing significant minutes for the NBA-champs-two-years-removed, so despite losing some guys they liked (and one they detested), the immediate future still looks pretty reasonable for Dallas.
#4 – Atlanta Hawks
Who Left: Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich, Jerry Stackhouse, Vlad Radmanovic
Who’s New: Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, John Jenkins, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro
Analysis: While it’s inevitable that the Hawks will lose more games without Joe Johnson than they did with him, the future of the franchise is looking much better now that Danny Ferry has unsaddled Atlanta of that monster albatross deal. Shedding Marvin Williams was brilliant as well, and they’ve certainly brought in enough scorers in those two guys’ stead to at least stave off complete mediocrity. Lou Williams was a good get, and guys like Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver and John Jenkins should have no problem filling it up, too.
#3 – New Orleans Hornets
Who Left: Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Trevor Ariza, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Gustavo Ayon
Who’s New: Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Austin Rivers, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick
Analysis: Out with the old, and in with the unibrow. Anthony Davis is a franchise-altering player, and he should prove to have a bigger impact on his new franchise than any other rookie in the league. Trades for Ryan Anderson and Robin Lopez were crafty, as well, particularly because they didn’t really have to give up much to snag either player, and there’s always Austin Rivers to keep an eye on, too. All they need now is a point guard.
#2 – Phoenix Suns
Who Left: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Robin Lopez, Hakim Warrick, Ronnie Price
Who’s New: Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Kendall Marshall
Analysis: No team just shrugs off the loss of a player like Steve Nash, but the Suns have been very active in turning the page now that he’s gone. They got Goran Dragic at a reasonable price, and really Luis Scola, Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson don’t come in on expensive deals either. Kendall Marshall doesn’t look destined to be a great pro, but he’ll be a serviceable back-up to Dragic. The rest of the team looks promising, if not much improved, but that’s good enough after losing perhaps the best player in the franchise’s history.
#1 – Houston Rockets
Who Left: Kyle Lowry, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Marcus Camby, Samuel Dalembert
Who’s New: Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Donatas Motiejunas, Toney Douglas, Jeremy Lamb, Royce White, Terrence Jones, Jon Brockman, Gary Forbes, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams, Shaun Livingston
Analysis: You were warned about reading through all those new additions. For all the names, there’s not a bona fide All-Star in the batch, and when compared to the respected talents they gave up to acquire all that mediocrity the haul looks even rougher. If any of this can be parlayed into Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum, then it will have been worth it. As it stands, however, Lin and Asik are both solid players who got overpaid. Motiejunas, Lamb, White and Jones could each be solid rookies, but based on Summer League all of them need some polish. Everybody else is just middle-of-the-road, at best. Huge, huge changes in Houston this year, but definitely not for the better.
It’s not too late for more teams to see big changes between now and the beginning of the season, but for now, these are the organizations that have undergone the most dramatic makeovers. We’ll need to actually watch the games to see how everything actually plays out, but these are teams that have gone all-out on big change. But that’s sort of the whole point of free agency, isn’t it?
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