Grading Every NBA Team's Biggest Move of the 2012 Offseason

Bryant Knox@@BryantKnoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

Grading Every NBA Team's Biggest Move of the 2012 Offseason

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    If one thing’s for sure, it’s that the NBA has seen a major shakeup throughout the 2012 offseason.

    Whether it be through the draft, free agency or finding an agreeable trade partner, every squad has done whatever it takes to get better, and while each move is important, some will prove to be more valuable than others when it’s all said and done.

    Each team has begun planning for the foreseeable future, and every organization can claim one move as its biggest of the summer.

    With most of the offseason now behind us, the anticipation is starting to rise, and the 2012-13 season can’t get here quickly enough.

Atlanta Hawks: Signing Lou Williams

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    The moves to trade Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams this summer have set the Atlanta Hawks up to be a player in free agency down the road, but as for right now, Lou Williams will have the biggest impact of any incoming players.

    When given the chance, Williams can be a threat to score from virtually anywhere on the floor. At 6’1”, 175 pounds, he has the body of a point guard, but he can play both backcourt positions as a starter or a spark off the bench.

    The 25-year-old guard isn’t going to completely replace Johnson, who was the former face of the franchise, but he’s going to help keep the team relevant, especially if Devin Harris struggles throughout next season.

    In all fairness, this is the biggest move for the Hawks after trading Johnson to begin the summer, but if Williams can give them what they got in the past from Jamal Crawford, he's going to be a big part of their success beyond 2013.

    Grade: B+

Boston Celtics: Re-Signing Kevin Garnett

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    The Boston Celtics have had one of the better summers of the entire NBA, making it difficult to choose just one transaction as their best offseason move.

    The acquisitions of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry are going to help replace Ray Allen, retaining Jeff Green and Brandon Bass will help bolster the inside and the rookies will be looked at as steals if they can stay healthy and produce.

    That being said, bringing back Kevin Garnett is the move that simply had to be made.

    Re-signing Garnett isn’t going to make them a potential powerhouse moving forward, but it’s exactly the move that allows them to draft Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in the 2012 NBA draft.

    Despite his age, Garnett produced in the playoffs last year, and while he’s certainly on the decline, he showed us all that he has some serious game left in the tank.

    The Celtics have a nice blend of youthful prospects and veteran leadership, and bringing back the clear-cut vocal leader of the team will help them transition nicely into the future.

    Grade: A

Brooklyn Nets: Re-Signing Deron Williams

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    The Brooklyn Nets have been busy as they prepare for the 2012-13 season.

    The re-signing of Deron Williams is going to keep this team competitive out East, and with Joe Johnson and a healthy Brook Lopez by his side—not to mention Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries—the Nets rotation has finally begun to take form.

    The Nets were hoping to add Dwight Howard to the already talented roster, but priority No. 1 was Williams, and they made it happen early in the offseason.

    If the Nets had lost the superstar, 2013 would have looked beyond bleak during the first year in their new arena.

    Williams is a top-tier point guard, and he will be the face of the franchise as the Nets make their transition to Brooklyn next season.

    Grade: A+

Charlotte Bobcats: Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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    Whether or not Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will ever stuff a stat sheet is highly questionable at this point in his basketball career. That being said, he’s a natural-born leader who will be a strong presence on the court and in the locker room during his rookie season.

    His shot needs some serious help, but his ability to finish at the rim and chase down loose balls is a testament to how hard of a worker he is.

    Having passed on players who could make an immediate impact, such as Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and Florida’s Bradley Beal, it’s tough to give the Bobcats an A for selecting the Kentucky freshman.

    He’s not going to turn the team around tomorrow, but he will help bring a focused mentality and gritty toughness to the Bobcats sooner rather than later.

    Grade: B

Chicago Bulls: Signing Kirk Hinrich

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    With Derrick Rose out for what could be the entire 2012-13 season, the Chicago Bulls did what they could to stay afloat heading into next year.

    The signing of Kirk Hinrich will give the team depth at the guard positions, as he can play the 1 or the 2 depending on the situation. The team also picked up Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli.

    Hinrich will return to Chicago next year, and with him, he’ll bring solid shooting, decent leadership and a whole lot of toughness on both ends of the floor.

    Down the road, Marquis Teague could prove to be the most valuable acquisition of the summer, but he’s not ready for a big-time role, and his development will continue beyond the 2012-13 season.

    Grade: C-

Cleveland Cavaliers: Drafting Dion Waiters

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    Realistically, the Cleveland Cavaliers' biggest move this summer was not making a move at all.

    The team has money to spend, but by remaining frugal and planning for the future, the organization has put itself in prime position to make noise at next year’s trade deadline and in the 2013 free-agent market.

    Of the few moves made by the team this offseason, none was more significant than taking Dion Waiters fourth overall in the NBA draft.

    He is a talented scorer who overpowers his competition at the rim, but he lacks a consistent shot and may or may not show his versatility at the next level.

    Despite having a solid build and deceptive athleticism, he is a bit undersized for an NBA 2-guard. Players such as Dwayne Wade have made it possible to succeed despite their height, but an extreme level of production and leadership is what separates a player like Wade from the rest of the bunch.

    Waiters is going to be good, but choosing him with the No. 4 pick could prove to be a reach if he never lives up to the expectations of such a high lottery pick.

    Luckily for Waiters, he has Kyrie Irving in the same backcourt to help alleviate the pressure.

    Grade: C+

Dallas Mavericks: Signing O.J. Mayo

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    The Dallas Mavericks took one of the worst offseasons in the league and turned it around with a few quick moves this summer.

    Despite his age, Elton Brand can still produce. Darren Collison is a good young point guard, and Chris Kaman will be a steal if he remains healthy throughout his one-year deal.

    However, the move with the most potential has to be the signing of O.J. Mayo.

    It’s no secret that Mayo never fully lived up to expectations with the Memphis Grizzlies. Following a great rookie season, his numbers dropped, and his role on the team was never quite what some had envisioned.

    That being said, Mayo has All-Star talent and could grow into a dominant scorer if given the opportunity.

    If he becomes a full-time starter, he’ll be given the chance to grow and mature alongside Dirk Nowitzki as he begins to make a name for himself while the Mavs build toward the future.

    Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets: Trading for Andre Iguodala

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    The Denver Nuggets are about as deep as it gets with role players, but the acquisition of Andre Iguodala will give them yet another weapon to score in the starting lineup.

    The 28-year-old small forward is the perfect example of someone who can turn defense into offense. He is a very good perimeter defender, and he can create open-court opportunities with his incredible length, strength and athleticism.

    Iguodala should fit in with the up-tempo style in Denver, and while he won’t likely leap into elite status next season, he could very well become a bit of a go-to option among the squad’s growing role players.

    Retaining Andre Miller and JaVale McGee helped shape what next year’s team will look like, but the addition of Iguodala could be what elevates the Nuggets to another level in 2013.

    Grade: A-

Detroit Pistons: Drafting Andre Drummond

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    Whichever team selected Andre Drummond in the 2012 NBA draft knew it was taking a chance, but with the ninth overall pick, the Detroit Pistons seemingly didn’t have a choice.

    Drummond has top-three talent and could prove to be one of the league’s best centers if he can hone his low-post skills and utilize his athleticism on a regular basis at the professional level.

    Everybody knew that the Pistons needed a man in the middle, but nobody knew whether or not Drummond would be available.

    As the big guy continued to fall, the risk became lower and lower, and with the No. 9 pick, he should prove to be a decent player, even if he never lives up to superstar expectations.

    Grade: B

Golden State Warriors: Drafting Harrison Barnes

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    The Golden State Warriors made a big-time move last season when they traded Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut, and while the swap wasn’t received well by many of the team’s fans, it surely helped balance out a roster that lacked a true inside presence.

    Klay Thompson stepped up in Ellis' absence, but adding Harrison Barnes through the draft is going to further bolster the perimeter in the Warriors' up-tempo system.

    Whether or not Barnes will be able to create his own shot could be an issue at the next level, but if put in the right situations, he could prove to be one of the best scorers of the 2012 class.

    Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry were both acquired at good values this summer, but Barnes could be the piece that helps his team push for a playoff spot in 2013.

    Grade: B+

Houston Rockets: Signing Jeremy Lin

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    What seemed so promising at one point turned into a highly disappointing offseason for the Houston Rockets.

    The team spent the beginning of the summer acquiring as many trade assets as it could in a bold attempt to bring in Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.

    The plan backfired, and now the Rockets are left with a whole lot of confusion as to which direction they’re headed in 2013.

    As for Jeremy Lin, the team clearly overpaid. However, he is a young point guard with lots of promise, and he should at the very least get fans excited about a new era of basketball in Houston.

    If you want to claim that the selection of Jeremy Lamb, Royce White or Terrence Jones will have more of an impact, you have an argument. They’re all talented prospects who have promise.

    None of Houston’s acquisitions are a sure thing, but all of them have the potential to be very good.

    Grade: B-

Indiana Pacers: Re-Signing Roy Hibbert

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    The Indiana Pacers made the right decision when they re-signed All-Star center Roy Hibbert, but the unfortunate truth is that they paid a whole bunch of money to make it happen.

    The Portland Trail Blazers offered Hibbert a max deal as soon as free agency opened, and while it’s questionable as to whether or not he’s earned it thus far, the Pacers know they need him to compete with the best that the East has to offer.

    Money aside, Hibbert is one of the league’s best big men. If he can stay consistent and dominate the middle the way his talent—and height—suggests he can, he’s going to be a true cornerstone piece to the Pacers franchise.

    Grade: B

Los Angeles Clippers: Extending Blake Griffin

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    The act of extending Blake Griffin’s contract is a big deal for the Los Angeles Clippers roster, but the symbolism behind it is far more important to a franchise that struggled for decades before his arrival.

    For years, this team has watched talented young players come its way through the draft and either leave for better teams or fizzle out of the league altogether.

    With the move to sign Griffin to an extension this summer, the Clippers have assured themselves that the 23-year-old won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

    Did they overpay him? At five years, $95 million (according to the L.A. Times), that’s for each individual to decide.

    What’s certain, though, is that the Clippers have finally convinced a top-notch prospect to stick out his rookie contract, sign a long-term deal and commit to a future with the organization.

    Grade: B+

Los Angeles Lakers: Trading for Dwight Howard

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    If there were anything higher than an A+, the Los Angeles Lakers would get it this summer.

    While the Steve Nash trade moved them closer to the top of their conference, the move to bring in Dwight Howard was the biggest acquisition any team pulled off the entire offseason.

    The Lakers had to give up one of the league’s best up-and-coming centers in Andrew Bynum, but by bringing in a far more consistent center in Howard, they know what they’re going to get from their new man in the middle.

    The biggest risk here, of course, is what if Howard leaves after one season?

    It’s certainly a possibility, and it would put a serious damper on plans for the future for L.A., but with more money—and the ultimate spotlight—to give Howard, it’s a risk worth taking.

    The Lakers got a player who will run the pick-and-roll game well with Nash, they didn’t have to give up Pau Gasol and they’ve set themselves up for a championship run in 2013.

    Grade: A+

Memphis Grizzlies: Drafting Tony Wroten Jr.

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    The Memphis Grizzlies re-signed Darrell Arthur, signed Jerryd Bayless and re-signed Marreese Speights, but their biggest move likely came before free agency even began.

    With the 25th overall pick, the team selected Tony Wroten Jr. out of the University of Washington.

    Wroten is a big, athletic point guard who showed throughout his collegiate career that he can be a very good passer. His biggest problem is his horrible jump shot, but he’ll have time to develop that on an already strong Memphis squad.

    Even with losing O.J. Mayo, the Grizzlies managed to keep relatively quiet this summer, which is just fine for a team continuing to develop into one of the better teams in a tough Western Conference.

    Grade: B-

Miami Heat: Signing Ray Allen

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    The rich get richer.

    To the victor go the spoils.

    However you say it, the Miami Heat got even better this offseason.

    Coming off an NBA Finals victory, Pat Riley showed that he’s ready to keep the title in Miami as he persuaded Ray Allen to take his talents to South Beach next season.

    Allen is 37 years old and far beyond his prime, but when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade face double-teams, they’re going to have one of the most reliable shooters of all time to bail them out.

    Allen will likely come off the bench for the first time in his career, but a threat in the second unit is beyond valuable in the NBA, and the 16-year veteran will prove he can still score when needed next season.

    Grade: A

Milwaukee Bucks: Re-Signing Ersan Ilyasova

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    Ersan Ilyasova had somewhat of a breakout season in 2012, and as a result, he earned a decent new paycheck from the Milwaukee Bucks this summer.

    According to HoopsHype, Ilyasova’s contract is worth $40 million over five years, but the brilliant part about it is that the Bucks were able to include a team option in the final season.

    This move doesn’t make the Bucks contenders against the top teams in the East, but it does give them another weapon to play alongside one of the most dynamic backcourts in the game.

    The choice to draft John Henson out of North Carolina is another big step in the right direction, but if Ilyasova can recreate his 2012 season next year, he could be a cornerstone piece behind Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis as the team continues to develop.

    Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves: Signing Brandon Roy

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    Brandon Roy has come out of retirement, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are the ones willing to give him a chance.

    On paper, this move is huge. Roy is a former Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star and was the undisputed face of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise before injuries forced him to leave the game just last December.

    The problem is that no one truly knows how his degenerative knees will hold up and how his slow-it-down, iso-heavy style of play will mesh with an up-tempo offense.

    Roy is a great player, but the best part of the signing has to be the contract that Minnesota offered the 2-guard coming out of retirement.

    According to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN, Roy will receive a two-year deal worth $10.4 million, but only the first year will be guaranteed.

    If Roy’s knees fail him once again, or if he can’t adjust to the fast-paced system led by Ricky Rubio, the Wolves can send him on his way with very little lost on their end next season.

    Grade: B

New Orleans Hornets: Drafting Anthony Davis

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    Selecting Anthony Davis with the first overall pick this summer was a clear-cut no-brainer.

    Davis is a great rebounder and amazing shot-blocker and was the easy choice for the team that won the NBA lottery last June.

    His back-to-the-basket game needs to improve, but his ball-handling and face-up skills are solid for a player of his size and position.

    Simply put, this guy can be a franchise player.

    Retaining Eric Gordon was another big move for their future, but a max deal for a player who reportedly wanted to leave the team (according to Chris Broussard of ESPN) is a bit of a gamble.

    With Davis, even if he never establishes a great offensive game, his defense will be enough to justify the No. 1 pick, as his impact should be felt immediately next season.

    Grade: A+

New York Knicks: Letting Jeremy Lin Walk

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    Saying goodbye is never easy, which is exactly what the New York Knicks did to Jeremy Lin this summer.

    The 24-year-old point guard broke out in a big way last year, as he led the team to a string of victories amidst numerous fantastic individual performances.

    His name was everywhere. The fans loved him, and we all knew he was going to get a big payday.

    What we didn’t realize is that it would be enough money to rip him away from the team that finally gave him his shot as a starter last season.

    Lin came to a three-year deal worth in excess of $25 million (according to Ian Begley of ESPN), and the Knicks ultimately decided to bring in Raymond Felton as a much cheaper replacement.

    It can be argued that letting Lin walk was both the best and worst thing to happen to the Knicks this season.

    Just because it was their best move, though, doesn’t make it a great move. The move was necessary, and they found a replacement who has excelled in their offense before, but the Knicks are missing out on a true fan favorite who still has room to grow as an NBA point guard.

    Grade: C+

Oklahoma City Thunder: Extending Serge Ibaka

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder had a relatively quiet summer, which is why the extension of Serge Ibaka has gone somewhat under the radar.

    According to ESPN, Ibaka agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal.

    Considering what today’s NBA bigs have gone for—Omer Asik, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez come to mind—Ibaka should be considered a steal with his defensive presence and improving mid-range game.

    The move to lock up Ibaka makes it difficult to anticipate contract negotiations with James Harden, but if they’re able to retain the 2-guard by the end of next season, the Thunder core will be set for years to come.

    Grade: A

Orlando Magic: Trading Dwight Howard

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    The entire 2012 offseason ultimately came down to answering one question for the Orlando Magic.

    What would the team get in return for Dwight Howard?

    The Magic weren’t able to snag Brook Lopez from the Brooklyn Nets, and Andrew Bynum left Los Angeles for Philadelphia, leaving Orlando with draft picks, cap space and an ugly rotation.

    Say what you want about this team preparing for the future, but next year’s free-agent and rookie classes could prove to be disappointing. The team held on to Howard for far too long, and now the Magic have set themselves up for failure in the 2012-13 season.

    Truthfully, drafting Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn may be the best moves of the summer, but after being held hostage by Howard for so long, ridding themselves of the drama was what needed to happen.

    Grade: F

Philadelphia 76ers: Trading for Andrew Bynum

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    Andre Iguodala had been on and off the trade block for what seemed like years, but the Philadelphia 76ers held on to their assets and waited for the right time to make their move.

    Andrew Bynum is arguably the league’s second-best center, and at just 24 years old, he’s presumably still getting better.

    The true seven-footer proved last year that he can be dominant, and while he’s an impact player on both ends of the floor, there are two big question marks that keep this deal from being an instant home run.

    First, Bynum has been plagued with injuries and immaturity his whole career. Trading away your best player for someone you’re not quite sure you can rely on is a dicey move.

    The other danger comes in the form of his looming free agency. Bynum can choose not to re-sign with the Sixers, which would put them miles behind the top powers in the East.

    Acquiring Bynum was a risk, but ultimately it was a risk worth taking, as Doug Collins could potentially turn the big man into a No. 1 option as early as next season.

    Grade: A

Phoenix Suns: Signing Goran Dragic

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    The Phoenix Suns have officially entered rebuilding mode, and they’ve chosen Goran Dragic to be their guy at the point guard position.

    The Steve Nash era in Phoenix is over, and nobody is going to come in and make the fans forget about the sure-fire Hall of Famer who led them to so many playoff runs throughout the 2000s.

    That being said, Dragic is coming off the best year of his career and should fit in nicely with the up-tempo system that Alvin Gentry runs in the desert.

    It’s possible that Michael Beasley ends up being the biggest move of the summer if he keeps his head on straight and excels with the Suns offense, but when it comes to Dragic, you know what you’re getting, and you know he’s going to produce.

    Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers: Drafting Damian Lillard

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    The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory, and following the fire sale that left them bare at last season’s trade deadline, they looked to the draft for their coveted point guard of the future.

    Damian Lillard will step into Portland and immediately garner starter minutes following the departure of Raymond Felton.

    The 6’3” point guard has an NBA body, freakish athleticism and a lethal jump shot from well beyond three-point range.

    Questions about his transition to the NBA are fair, but his potential is off the charts, and he is a risk worth taking for a team starting over.

    LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the league’s best power forwards, but having seen last season that he can’t carry a team on his own, the Blazers' ceiling appears to be only as high as Lillard takes them.

    Grade: A

Sacramento Kings: Drafting Thomas Robinson

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    Thomas Robinson had a legitimate chance of being taken second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, so when he fell to the Sacramento Kings with the No. 5 pick, it became a no-brainer to bring him on board.

    His game is physical, his skill set is diverse, and despite a somewhat underwhelming Summer League performance, he appears to be as NBA-ready as any prospect from the 2012 class.

    With Robinson playing alongside DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings are going to be a big threat to pull down boards and score on the inside. His size is what you look for from an NBA big, but he's not perfect, as his defensive presence is far from elite.

    Although the signing of Aaron Brooks could prove to be a surprisingly nice move next year, the Kings stayed relatively quiet after making Robinson their choice in the NBA draft.

    Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs: Re-Signing Tim Duncan

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    Tim Duncan could have signed for $1 billion this summer, and fans in San Antonio and around the league would have probably been just fine with it.

    That being said, Spurs fans would surely prefer one-year deals the rest of the way to ensure flexibility when it finally comes time to break up the old crew.

    Duncan is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest of all time, but there’s no denying that his skills are declining and that his production has shrunk over the past few seasons.

    A three-year deal seems long for a 36-year-old who is down to about 28 minutes a game, but the fact is that he still contributes (15.4 PTS, 9.0 REB, 1.5 BLK in 2012), and the chemistry between he, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is as good as it gets.

    Grade: B

Toronto Raptors: Trading for Kyle Lowry

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    The Houston Rockets were looking to acquire trade assets this summer, and the Toronto Raptors took full advantage.

    The Raptors were able to acquire Kyle Lowry for just a future first-round pick and Gary Forbes (according to ESPN), giving them a tough, physical point guard who can play up-tempo on both ends of the floor.

    Trading a pick is tough for a team that hasn’t made the postseason since 2008, but the truth is this team improved drastically this offseason and should start to show signs of improvement immediately in 2013.

    Another big move for this team was officially acquiring Jonas Valanciunas. Bringing him to the NBA could prove to be the biggest move of the summer, but for now, Lowry takes the top spot.

    Grade: A-

Utah Jazz: Trading for Marvin Williams

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    The move to bring in Marvin Williams has helped the Utah Jazz continue to rebuild, but the bigger story might just be that they finally rid themselves of Devin Harris.

    Harris always had potential and has been a competent point guard for segments of his career, but his struggles and inconsistencies have made it difficult for Utah to truly climb the rankings in the West since his arrival.

    Mo Williams should prove to be a better point guard, and the Jazz should be able to use him more efficiently on the perimeter and in pick-and-roll situations than they could with Harris controlling the ball.

    That being said, don’t think Marvin Williams was just a pawn to get rid of their starting point guard.

    Williams had never fit in well with the Hawks system, and while he’s never met the lofty expectations set on a No. 2 pick, a change of scenery could be just what he needs.

    Grade: B

Washington Wizards: Drafting Bradley Beal

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    The Washington Wizards have had a surprisingly productive summer with the acquisitions of Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza—not to mention shedding the contracts of Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis.

    However, the real move that was made to start building for the future was the selection of Bradley Beal in the 2012 NBA draft.

    Beal is a player who has the ability to score from all over the floor and take over in clutch situations, and he should finally give John Wall the relief he’s needed in his first two seasons in Washington.

    The shooting guard could prove to be one of the best backcourt players from the draft, and with such a high ceiling, he gives promise to a rebuilding Wizards team next season.

    Grade: B+