LA Lakers and the 5 Most Improved Teams After the Trade Deadline

Matt HinesCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2012

LA Lakers and the 5 Most Improved Teams After the Trade Deadline

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    The Lakers were certainly victors at the deadline. Los Angeles reunited point guard Ramon Sessions with with his former coach, Mike Brown, to run Brown's pick-and-roll-heavy offense, and also acquired center Jordan Hill from the Houston Rockets in exchange for fan favorite Derek Fisher.

    Both Sessions and Hill will play huge roles for the Lakers in the season's final stretch. While the Lakers might have made some pivotal maneuvers as they look to gear up for another title run, who were the other five most improved teams at the deadline?

Indiana Pacers

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    It was a relatively under-the-radar move, but the Pacers got a steal in acquiring guard Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors for a measly second-round pick in this year’s draft.

    Barbosa adds depth at the 1 and the 2 to an already incessantly deep Indiana backcourt, and he gives the Pacers a lethal three-point threat for almost no cost.

    While Barbosa might not be the same player that he was in his days with Steve Nash and the Suns, he must certainly be looking forward to playing with a contender and tasting the postseason for the first time since 2010.

Washington Wizards

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    With how awful the Wizards have been this season, it’s hard to think any move they make wouldn’t make them a better team.

    The Wiz opted to ship out the expiring contract of soon-to-be restricted free agent JaVale McGee and troubled shooting guard Nick Young in exchange for longtime Nuggets forward-center Nene Hilario, Clippers reserve forward Brian Cook and the Clips' 2012 first-round draft pick.

    This is a win for the Wizards, as they moved two problematic young players in exchange for two veterans. They’ll get young talent from the draft in the summer.

Houston Rockets

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    The Rockets are quietly climbing up the ranks in the Western Conference, and the team only improved its playoff odds by trading for Marcus Camby of the Blazers and Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Both players are renowned NBA veterans and give Houston veteran leadership and playoff experience entering the second half of the season. Camby will give the Rockets a much-needed boost in their post defense, and Fisher will serve as a viable backup point guard behind Goran Dragic while Kyle Lowry sits with a bacterial infection.

    While Camby and Fisher aren’t long-term options, they certainly help the team gear up for a playoff run.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Milwaukee becomes an immediate front-runner for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff seed, acquiring a much-needed scorer in Monta Ellis and post defender in Ekpe Udoh from Golden State.

    Perhaps what is most notable about this deal, however, is what the bucks gave in exchange for the duo.

    Former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Bogut was sent packing, but the center likely won’t be able to play for the rest of the season. Stephen Jackson, Milwaukee’s offseason ploy at providing much-needed offense to the team, had fallen out of favor and was benched by head coach Scott Skiles earlier in the season.

    For the Bucks to get a star in Ellis and the young talent of Udoh in this deal is truly outstanding.

    Ellis will assume the role that Jackson was supposed to in Milwaukee, and Udoh will likely serve as the replacement to Bogut. This is a win-win for the Bucks.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The Clippers are hands-down the most improved team at the deadline, even if they got one player. Nick Young fills a dire need for the Clips at shooting guard, which began with Chauncey Billups tearing his ACL a month ago.

    Young is a brilliant scoring 2-guard that will fit beautifully with Chris Paul and the Clippers. He can drive and finish at the rack and has a deadly outside jumper that he can get off over anyone. The 6’7’’ Young has soft hands and excels in catch-and-shoot opportunities, which is perfect for the drive-and-dump tendencies of Paul.

    Lob City has struggled since Billups went down, posting a mediocre 9-10 record in his absence, but they will certainly look to turn things around with Young on the roster. Look for the Clips to emerge amongst the Western Conference elite again.