Most and Least Improved Teams from the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2013

Most and Least Improved Teams from the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline

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    This year's NBA trade deadline was about as eventful and meaningful as a water aerobics class at your local senior center. Still, buried beneath each minor move, there were actual implications. 

    Some teams actually benefited from the accords struck. Of course, the improvements of some came at the expense of others, leaving certain squads worse for wear. 

    Which of the teams came out on top, and which have been left to regress? 

    It was an uneventful trade season, but there are still plenty of consequences, both good and bad. 

     

    Note: All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.

Most Improved: Houston Rockets

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    Daryl Morey continues to make things happen for the Rockets.

    Though losing Patrick Patterson and even Marcus Morris is a short-term loss, acquiring Thomas Robinson was a stroke of genius.

    Robinson is a potential stud who the Kings were prepared to turn into a dud, except Morey and company wouldn't have it. He gives Houston an athletic power forward for the future—one who will thrive in transition, help correct the team's defense and hoard some rebounds.

    The rookie's 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game may not seem like much, but he's averaging a double-double per 36 minutes. It also doesn't hurt that he will now be playing alongside a playmaking savant in James Harden and receiving more than 15 minutes of burn per game.

    For now, the Rockets could struggle with the move as they battle for a playoff berth in the West. But this deal was about building a championship contender. 

    Which is exactly what Houston did. Landing a draft pick from the Phoenix Suns in the process was merely a bonus.

Least Improved: Sacramento Kings

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    If you're surprised that the Kings came out on the losing end of their trade with the Rockets, you must be new to the NBA.

    Less than 12 hours before the deadline, Sacramento sent Thomas Robinson (the fifth overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft), Tyler Honeycutt and Francisco Garcia to the Rockets in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and $1 million in cash.

    It's not that Patterson and Douglas aren't difference makers, because they can be. Douglas is shooting 37.7 percent from behind the arc, and Patterson averaged 11.6 points on 51.9 percent shooting with the Rockets this season.

    And yet, neither them nor Aldrich can replace the star potential of Robinson, who was misused by the NBA's most destructive franchise.

    In him, the Kings had a star-caliber prospect, someone who could have formed a formidable post duo next to DeMarcus Cousins.

    Instead, they have some pocket change to show for their efforts.

    Leave it to the Maloofs—in what we hope is a final act of incompetency—to put the not-so-mighty dollar ahead of both winning and common sense.

Most Improved: Milwaukee Bucks

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    Normally, I would hang the Milwaukee Bucks for adding a trigger-happy J.J. Redick to a rotation that already houses Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. But considering who they gave up (Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris and Doron Lamb), I approve.

    Milwaukee essentially swapped three seldom-used players in exchange for an offensive goldmine who is averaging 15-plus points per game and converting on 39 percent of his three-point attempts.

    Defensively, Redick presents some matchup problems for the Bucks, but if Jim Boylan limits his minutes alongside both Ellis and Jennings, it won't be too much of a problem.

    With both Ellis and Jennings toiling with the prospect of shooting under 40 percent from the field, Redick is a source of efficiency the team needed. After seeing him dish out seven assists in his debut, one could even make the case he's the versatile playmaker that neither Jennings nor Ellis is as well.

    Redick's impending free agency does present some problems. He could very well leave the Bucks for a contending team in a warmer climate or flashier market.

    Even so, Milwaukee didn't decimate its roster in pursuit of him (though it was a nice return for the Orlando Magic), and, at least for now, they have one of the most potent bench scorers in the league.

    That's a job well done.

Least Improved: Orlando Magic

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    The Magic got worse, because they had no other choice.

    I'm actually pleased with the return Orlando received for J.J. Redick, but there's no doubt trading a second-leading scorer in Redick is going to hurt.

    Beno Udrih should receive some adequate burn moving forward, and he did post 10 points and seven assists in his team debut, but he's nowhere near as lethal as Redick.

    As for Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris, they're just two more projects for a team that is a work in progress itself. 

    What is most disappointing about the deal is the Magic failed to get the first-round pick they so desperately coveted. They avoided adding any long-term payroll, but with Udrih set to explore free agency, you would have liked to have seen them snag a draft pick.

    Even still, it's difficult to refute Orlando's logic here.

    On the Hakim Warrick front, I'm not so sure. The Magic waived him after acquiring him from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Josh McRoberts.

    I wouldn't say Orlando is necessarily worse off, mostly because McRoberts was just taking up space, but I would have liked for the team to have found a team for the athletic Warrick.

    Rebuilding is an arduous process, and the Magic's deadline activity proved exactly that.

Most Improved: Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The great have become even greater.

    Dealing Eric Maynor to the Portland Trail Blazers for a $2.2 million trade exception and the rights to Georgios Printezis may have been the most understated deal of the year.

    Relegated to third-string point guard duties behind Reggie Jackson, Maynor appeared in just 37 games while averaging roughly 10 minutes per contest. His departure helped pave the way for Derek Fisher to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which could be a valuable addition come playoff time.

    In a separate and more noteworthy deal, the Thunder brought in Ronnie Brewer from the New York Knicks to help shore up their perimeter defense. 

    Though Brewer is shooting just 36.6 percent from the field this season, he's a Thabo Sefolosha-esque defender who is spry enough to hassle the most potent of wings.

    He'll be of use come playoff time when Oklahoma City could face some prolific backcourts. He'll be of even more use should the Thunder (dare I say it?) find themselves in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat once again. Brewer can help the Thunder weather the storm that comes with defending Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

    Oklahoma City hardly had a blockbuster-worthy trade deadline, but in Brewer, the team brought in a situational defender who actually makes them better.

    Knowing how good the Thunder already were, it's hard not to recognize Sam Presti's ability to improve an already great team.

Least Improved: Dallas Mavericks

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    The Dallas Mavericks are really starting to confuse me.

    Though I like Anthony Morrow, he wasn't what the Mavericks needed, especially considering they gave up Dahntay Jones.

    As someone who is shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the arc for his career and proved previously he can average 13-plus points per game, Morrow really wasn't receiving due burn with the Atlanta Hawks. Dallas may be able to find more minutes for him.

    That said, the Mavericks rank 27th in points allowed (102.6) and really could have used Jones' defense. He was holding opposing shooting guards and small forwards to an average PER of under 10 and is one of the best offensive rebounding wings in the league.

    Jones was never one for scoring, but the Mavericks already rank seventh in points scored (101.5). What they needed was hounding defense, something that Morrow cannot provide. Again, he's a deadly shooter, but Dallas ranks in the top third of the league in three-point percentage already.

    On the surface, it doesn't seem like a big loss. Jones was an offensive liability and played fewer than 13 minutes a night. But as the Mavericks attempt to accomplish the implausible and clinch a playoff berth, his defense is something they will miss.

Most Improved: Portland Trail Blazers

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    Eric Maynor means more to the Blazers than he ever could have to the Thunder.

    Damian Lillard was in need of a competent backup, and while Maynor has seen limited playing time over the last three years, he's someone who can run the offense without Portland fans looking on in disgust.

    Prior to being traded, Maynor was averaging just 2.8 points and two assists in a little over 10 minutes per game. Those numbers don't scream "game changer," nor does his 31.3 percent shooting, but he's great at running the pick-and-roll and is faster than anyone the Blazers currently had on their bench.

    Speaking of which, per HoopsStats.com, Portland's bench ranks dead last in points scored per game (16.5). As an extremely shallow team that tends to overwork starters, the Blazers needed any and all depth they could get their hands on.

    Maynor fills such a requirement, and given more than 10 minutes of action a night, he should be able to provide some much-needed playmaking to Portland's otherwise docile second unit.