July 11 marked the date where NBA free agency officially began. Although rumors have been circulating for weeks, teams have officially announced their prized acquisitions.
In an offseason where the rich got richer, contending teams made big moves to stay in championship contention. As most of the big name players of this year's class have been signed or traded (excluding the diva of the offseason.... Dwight Howard), there are more teams that are set to make some minor moves.
Whether you hate free agency because of all the "super teams" that seem to be coming together, or you love free agency because your team improves significantly, here is a list of the top five teams with the best offseason so far.
Finally trading away Monta Ellis to get a solidified center in Andrew Bogut made sense to many people but brought confusion to others. No doubt, the backcourt of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis looks good on paper but clearly did not work out in the court. It seemed the Golden State Warriors would not make progress with both players on the roster.
Trading Ellis for Bogut near the end of last season began the improvement on the Warriors roster already. During the offseason, they drafted a promising player with a lot of upside in Harrison Barnes.
Barnes brings a wing player who can score by shooting the ball (17 points in his sophomore year at UNC), although his skills finishing at the rim could improve. The Warriors have also traded Dorell Wright for point guard Jarrett Jack. Jack showed that he can produce and contribute at the NBA level, averaging 16 points, six assists, and four rebounds per game.Most likely to come off the bench, Jack adds depth to the point guard position behind Stephen Curry.
By no means does this put the Warriors in the top tier of the Western Conference, but a solid young roster consisting of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Andrew Bogut (if healthy), and Jarrett Jack shows the team is moving in the right direction and should keep their passionate fans in the bay excited for the future.
Although the Los Angeles Clippers lost G/F Nick Young, they may have added a more consistent and better scorer in Jamal Crawford, who has averaged 15 points per game in his career. Crawford can contribute almost immediately by having instant offense coming off the bench.
The Clippers have also traded for versatile F Lamar Odom. Odom, who had a forgetful year last year in Dallas, looks to have a much better campaign this upcoming season with the Clippers, a team he played for back in 1999-2003. His versatility is his greatest strength and will give the Clippers depth on their roster.
However, nobody seems to know if Odom can contribute to a team after last season. If Odom gives the Clippers anything he gave the Lakers in their championship runs, the Clippers will be a much improved team.
The Clippers have also re-signed veteran guard Chauncey Billups to a one-year deal. Billups was heavily missed last season after going down with a torn Achilles tendon, which cut his season short.
His veteran leadership and experience in the NBA will surely contribute to this team if he can come back from his Achilles injury 100 percent. With the new acquisitions, it should definitely help Chris Paul and the Clippers to make some noise in the Western Conference.
No, they did not acquire Dwight Howard (which would have put them at number one on this list), however, they did acquire Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. More importantly, they retained their franchise player, Deron Williams.
Not talked about often this offseason, the Nets retained Gerald Wallace, who gives them an athletic scorer and a solid defensive player as well. They have also traded for former Clippers F Reggie Evans, a physical rebounding machine who hustles on every play.
With the addition of Joe Johnson, the Nets have one of the most talented backcourts in the league. The Nets have surrounded Williams with solid role players with Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks. The Brooklyn Nets should have a significantly improved season from last year.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has done it again. The Lakers only gave up draft picks to acquire two-time MVP Steve Nash and pair him with Kobe Bryant. Easily the best point guard Kobe has played with in his career in Los Angeles, Nash instantly makes the Lakers a better team because he makes players around him better (example: Marcin Gortat).
A point guard who can finally orchestrate an offense, play pick and roll and lift some of the offensive burden off Kobe instantly improves the chances of the Lakers winning a title next year. However, the Lakers do need improvements in other aspects of their roster, but signing Steve Nash to a three-year deal is a great start. Although the Lakers have not traded for Dwight Howard (yet), their current squad consisting of Bryant, Nash, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is impressive to say the least.
There is only one reason why the Miami Heat have had the best offseason so far. The current NBA champions only got better this offseason. They haven't lost anybody significant in their current roster but have added sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
Although having career lows in Washington, Lewis is still a 39 percent shooter from beyond the arc in his career. Although the Heat lack a solid center in their roster, they still have the big three (James, Wade, Bosh in case you forgot), and an array of role players from Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis.
With so much attention focused on the big three, one of the role players, whether it be Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis, will have open looks. If teams thought the Heat were frustrating last year, this next season is sure to give coaches headaches.