Like every year, the NBA offseason is business as usual. Teams are either signing free agents, adding new players through sign-and-trade or hoping to attract superstars.
Yet this offseason is different than previous ones in that it was unusually busy. It's not necessarily the amount of trades per se, but the notoriety of the players involved who have magnified the trades.
These new additions are sure to be an improvement for their new teams. In just a few short months, many teams have emerged as top contenders for the 2013 NBA title.
Here are the four biggest additions from this dramatic offseason.
After a tumultuous last stint with the Orlando Magic last season, including the awkward press conference that captured the essence of the season, Dwight Howard’s indecisiveness about where he wanted to play finally came to an end.
The All-Star center was shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade. This move was arguably the biggest blockbuster deal of the summer.
Howard is still rehabbing from a back injury, and according to Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell, the Lakers are uncertain of when he will return. Nevertheless, his addition is central to the team’s success.
Joining Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, Howard’s addition to the Lake Show has given them the competitive edge they need. His athleticism, strength and energy set him above other players. His defensive mindset and reputation as a menacing deterrent in the paint will be a great advantage for the Lakers. And with Bryant, Gasol and World Peace drawing heavy coverage, Howard will be left open to make shots.
In the short term, Howard's return to the court means the Lakers will be a dominant force to contend with. More importantly is the possible long-term meaning; should Howard sign a multi-year deal next summer, once Kobe retires, he will be the Lakers' next franchise player.
The two-time MVP made headlines this past July—not only because he left his former team of 10 years—but because he went to a division rival. Nash joined his former foe in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Time and time again, the Lakers have relied heavily on their best player to run the team’s offense, and Bryant’s minutes per game have reflected this. Nash’s addition to the Lakers takes that pressure off Kobe, essentially allowing him and the Lakers to be more of an offensive threat.
Nash is also able to spread the floor and make shots to contribute to the team’s offensive game plan. His playmaking skills are highlighted by the fact that he was second in assists last season, right behind fellow point guard Rajon Rondo. In addition to creating shots for his teammates, Nash is also a highly efficient free-throw shooter, standing atop of the all-time list at 90.4 percent.
Nash is presumably on his last contract, and the pressure to win the ever elusive ring is at an all-time high. He may not be the best point guard to propel the team to the Finals. But for a team that has suffered back-to-back first-round exits, Nash’s addition to the Lakers gives the team a chance to advance further.
In a highly publicized move, 37-year-old veteran shooting guard Ray Allen left the Celtics to join rival Miami Heat in July.
Though surely not one of the greatest defenders in the league, Allen is most definitely one of the greatest shooters of all time in the NBA. Over his 16-year career, Allen has shot 45.2 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 89.4 percent from the foul line.
While on the Celtics, Allen’s shooting allowed the team to not only stretch the floor, but make it difficult for opposing players to guard him. Allen is extremely effective in running off screens and making other players chase him around the court. If he can replicate this success in Miami, defenders will have a hard time guarding his shot.
His quick shooting also came in handy in late-game situations. Who wouldn’t want the all-time leader in three-point field goals made to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game? In addition to being a nuisance on the court, Allen will be helpful in freeing up LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. While the two are busy drawing defenders, they’ll be able to defer to an open Allen to make difficult shots.
Coming off their greatest season yet, the Miami Heat were already contenders for next season's title. Allen joining the team did not change that, but what it will do is relieve the pressure off of James and Wade, making the team more versatile.
There is no doubt that Joe Johnson is a high-caliber NBA athlete. But his athletic abilities are often overshadowed by the bigger name players around the league. Though certainly not as flashy, Johnson’s addition to the Brooklyn Nets is huge.
Failing to make the playoffs for the past five years and posting dismal records to reflect this, the Nets desperately needed to rejuvenate their team. In addition to the re-signing of point guard Deron Williams, center Brook Lopez and forward Kris Humphries, the Nets also acquired two new power forwards, Reggie Evans and Mirza Teletovic. Adding Johnson was just the icing on the cake.
As evident in his time with the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson was the team’s leading scorer and best player. A quiet threat at 6’7 and 240 pounds, Johnson’s above-average scoring and size cause difficulties for opposing guards.
The six-time All-Star’s offensive game will come in handy. More importantly, Johnson’s play will complement his teammates. Johnson and Williams have the potential to work well together on the court. Williams is no stranger to passing the ball and creating shots for his teammates, and he is capable of getting Johnson open looks.
In addition to Williams, Evans and Humphries’ rebounding and screen-setting will also free up Johnson to score.
The Nets already have a pretty solid starting lineup filled with players who can produce well both offensively and defensively. With Johnson’s addition, the team is primed for a postseason run.