This NBA season, we have seen a flurry of blockbuster trades by the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Utah Jazz.
It has been two weeks since the NBA trade deadline ended, so let’s take a look at our early winners and losers...
Dirk Nowitzki has played more like last year’s MVP since the trade that brought Jason Kidd to Dallas. In the eight games that Kidd has been with the Mavericks, Nowitzki has averaged 29 ppg on 52 percent shooting. He has also hit 1.6 threes on 52 percent shooting, a major improvement compared to season averages of .9 threes on 33 percent shooting.
Despite the 4-4 record since the trade, the Mavericks have an improved offense and still have a good defense. Kidd has been averaging a double-double and shooting the ball much more efficiently.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks are a better team with Jason Kidd, but they will need the rest of the team to step up to make a run for a championship.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers looked like championship contenders with Andrew Bynum in the lineup, and then looked mediocre after he suffered a knee injury.
Pau Gasol has immediately given Kobe Bryant and the Lakers another chance to win a championship. Since the trade, the Lakers are boasting a 13-2 record while dominating most opponents.
Gasol has been the perfect complement in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, and has given Kobe more options on offense other than scoring. The Lakers also have the deepest bench in the NBA, and are still awaiting the return of Bynum.
The Lakers have become sentimental favorites to win the championship, but they will still need to find a way dethrone the very hot San Antonio Spurs.
This is a no-brainer—the Celtics went from last place last season to having the NBA’s best record this season. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce are playing extremely well together, and they have a solid supporting cast.
Rajon Rondo is one of the Celtics key surprises, and the bench features exceptional energy players that can score and defend.
The “Big Three” is the heart of this Celtics team, and will look to make a deep run at a championship.
The Utah Jazz were only 17-16 before they acquired Kyle Korver. It’s not considered a blockbuster trade, but it has proven to be a very valuable move. Since the trade, the Jazz are 22-6, which is the best record in that span.
Korver gives the Jazz a legitimate three-point threat which spreads the floor and opens easy plays for Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
The Jazz are an improved team, but they will need to prove that they can win on the road. They are an NBA best 26-3 at home, but only 13-19 on the road. In the playoffs, losing just one home game could end a playoff series.
Amare Stoudemire (Phoenix Suns)
In the six games that Shaq has played, Stoudemire has averaged 30 ppg on 55 percent shooting, while still grabbing over nine rebounds.
Clearly, Stoudemire has benefited most playing as power forward rather than center. The Suns figured out how to bring the beast out of Stoudemire, but they will have to figure out how to bring wins and a championship soon.
Other Winners: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets, Larry Hughes
The Suns expected to figure out their interior problems by acquiring Shaquille O’Neal. The Suns do have an improved half-court offense, but their defense has been a problem. The team is 2-4 while giving up over 116 ppg to opponents.
The Suns will need to incorporate Shaq into the team’s philosophy fast if they are to even contend in the playoffs.
Editor’s Note: The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers in Portland 97-92. The Suns shot only 41 percent, but made 34-42 free-throws and held the Blazers to 41 percent shooting.
The Grizzlies were trying to rebuild their team through trades and draft picks. But they traded their franchise player in Pau Gasol for mediocre players and two draft picks.
Worst of all for Memphis, they traded Gasol to a Western Conference powerhouse. The west will be extremely competitive over the next few years, so it will be a very long time before the Grizzlies can become a playoff team.
The Miami Heat didn’t make a bad trade. The Heat traded for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to provide more energy and athleticism for Dwyane Wade, but they are still losing, going only 2-7 with Marion and Banks.
It may be best for the Heat to shut down Wade so he can be healthy for next season, and the Heat will also get a high draft pick. The management for the Heat will be crucial if they want to re-sign Wade.
Other Losers: Denver Nuggets
Lebron James needed a better supporting cast in order to help the Cavaliers contend against the elite teams. Dan Ferry pulled off an 11-player trade, acquiring Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and Joe Smith.
The new players have improved the Cavaliers’ interior defense and perimeter shooting. But they are still only 3-2 since the trade and they still rely heavily on Lebron James’ scoring. It’ll remain to be seen if the trade will truly make the Cavaliers playoff contenders.
The Hawks acquired veteran point guard Mike Bibby to provide leadership and help run the offense. Since the trade, however, the Hawks are 3-6 and are ninth in the east standings.
The Hawks still have a chance to make the playoffs in the weak conference, but it is uncertain whether Bibby alone is enough to help push the team into the playoffs.
Other Evens: Chicago Bulls