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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

7 most improved NBA teams of the offseason

The NBA offseason was one for the ages. A crazy amount of top-end talent changed teams, either by trades or free agency decisions. Six of the 15 players to make All-NBA teams last season are now part of new franchises. The draft has passed, so have many trades, and teams are finally starting to get settled as they prepare for the upcoming season. That means we can assess which teams have improved the most entering the 2019-20 seasons.

Here are seven teams who have done the most to improve themselves over the course of the NBA offseason.

7. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers weathered Victor Oladipo’s absence fairly well last season, winning 48 games and finishing fifth in the conference. Oladipo should be back this season, and the Pacers have made moves to improve the supporting cast around him. The big move was adding restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon from the Milwaukee Bucks. Other additions like Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren will provide forward depth. With Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner already holding down the frontcourt and Oladipo expected back sometime around the start of 2020, they’ll be a formidable bunch, despite the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic.

6. New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans did lose their best player in Anthony Davis, but they added so many pieces as a result of both that trade and other moves that they’ll likely be better off in the long run. Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick is the headliner of their offseason additions. And while he won’t be Davis immediately, the potential to become one of the league’s best bigs is there and he should make an impact from day one. Brandon Ingram, acquired from the Lakers in the Davis deal, should start immediately. So will free agent addition JJ Redick, who clearly thinks highly of what the Pelicans are building to make the move there. Add in returning guard Jrue Holiday and, while the Pelicans may not be an immediate contender, they’re going to be way better immediately.

5. Philadelphia 76ers

It’s a bit strange to say that the Sixers are actually better off now despite losing one of their best players in Jimmy Butler. They kept hold of Tobias Harris; Josh Richardson is a rapidly improving Butler replacement; and the addition of Al Horford should give Philadelphia one of the best frontcourts in the East. They’ll be very good defensively as well. As long as Joel Embiid can stay healthy and Ben Simmons continues to improve (he’s working hard on his shooting), they have every chance of being one of the best teams in the East.

4. Brooklyn Nets

The Nets would probably be higher on this list if Kevin Durant were not out for the season, but they’re hoping that signing pays off in two years. Kyrie Irving alone makes them better, even if signing him squeezed out D’Angelo Russell. DeAndre Jordan may not be what he used to be, but he can still grab rebounds, while Spencer Dinwiddie gives them another solid option. Caris LeVert looks like a star in the making, and bench additions like Garrett Temple will provide valuable depth. The star power has arrived in Brooklyn. Even without Durant this season, they’ll be fun to watch.

3. Los Angeles Lakers

Losing out on Kawhi Leonard will lead many Lakers fans to feel like the offseason is not what it could have been. That may be true, but the purple and gold still added Anthony Davis, and that gives LeBron James a star to work with in a move they simply had to make. Danny Green is a nice addition too; he can defend and shoot and take some pressure off James and company. James, Green, Davis, and Kyle Kuzma are a very good core for a starting lineup. They’re strapped for depth, especially with DeMarcus Cousins suffering a torn ACL, and have turned to risky options.

2. Utah Jazz

While the Clippers and Lakers grabbed most of the headlines, the Jazz may ultimately be the biggest dark horse contender in the West thanks to the savvy moves they made this offseason. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are a great core, and Utah has aggressively built around them. Mike Conley came first via trade and will assume the point guard position, taking some of the load off Mitchell. Bojan Bogdanovic is a gifted scorer, and they have retained most of their depth as well. Look out for the Jazz, who have added all the ingredients to make a lot of noise in the Western Conference.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers have definitely won the offseason on paper. Kawhi Leonard was going to be a brilliant addition for whichever team grabbed him, but nobody expected him to bring Paul George with him. They’ll provide the scoring, but add in the likes of Patrick Beverley, and teams will be faced with the reality that the Clippers will be one of the very best defensive teams in the NBA. Defense may seem like a lost art, but it still matters, and when you combine that with the scoring punch provided by Leonard and George, it’s easy to see why so many have tipped them to win the West, and perhaps even an NBA title.



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