Ranking Every Top NBA Offseason Acquisition So Far
The 2013-14 NBA schedule has officially been released, but the offseason still has a ways to go before we’re sitting on our couches, yelling at our television sets and watching the game we love.
Until then, let’s take a moment to reflect on what has taken place between the time the playoffs came to a close and the moment we’re living in right now—the calm before the NBA storm.
Defining the top 10 acquisitions will naturally become a subjective debate, but it’s clear at this point which teams deserve mentioning. We’ve seen the shape of both conferences shift near the top, and while the Miami Heat have to be considered the favorites, a handful of squads will be optimistic based on the moves they made during the offseason.
10. Greg Oden to the Miami Heat
Consider the Greg Oden signing an honorable mention at this point in the process, as we have no earthly idea how much he’ll actually play for the Miami Heat.
That said, it has to go on the list, as it’s a virtual no-lose situation for the defending champs.
The reality is this: If Oden never truly produces, what have the Heat lost? They’ve lost enough money to sign a different minimum contract, and they’ve lost a third-string center who is slated to play behind Chris Andersen.
However, if Oden comes back and is half the player he was supposed to be, Miami has a big man who can impact the floor on both sides, while defending the rim and swallowing any rebound that comes his way.
9. Nerlens Noel to the Philadelphia 76ers
On draft night, Nerlens Noel, a one-time consensus first pick, saw his stock drop further than most anticipated. The fall from grace was disappointing for the prospect, but the Philadelphia 76ers saw a golden opportunity to start building toward the future.
On the surface, the move to trade Jrue Holiday for Noel is one of the most befuddling transactions of the summer. Holiday is a 23-year-old All-Star, and Noel is a big man with no offensive game and a busted ACL.
It goes without saying that the Sixers won’t contend in 2013-14, but it should also be noted that immediate contention was never the goal.
With Holiday gone and Noel on the bench to start the year, Philly will be aiming for the 2014 NBA draft. Andrew Wiggins is the prize that everyone wants, but the truth is that there are other franchises pieces available that will round out the top five.
The return here won’t appear right away, but down the road we’ll praise this move as the catalyst of the Sixers' rebuild.
8. Josh Smith to the Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons made a number of moves this offseason, but it all began with the max-contract signing of Josh Smith.
When you look at talent alone, Smith and the Pistons deserve to be higher on this list. However, you can’t ignore the fact that Smith is going to clog an already talented frontcourt, and his inability to play from the outside only complicates matters.
To negate Smith’s poor shot, the Pistons chose to bring in Brandon Jennings. The guard is dangerous from the outside, but like Smith, his questionable shot selection sometimes makes him more of a concern for his own team.
By signing Smith and Jennings, the Pistons have made themselves immensely entertaining, but not necessarily contenders. What they’ve done is take a step in the right direction and add talent to a roster that has needed it over the past few seasons.
The Chauncey Billups signing also can’t be overlooked, as he’ll provide leadership and late-game scoring when Jennings and Smith simply aren’t cutting it.
7. Paul Millsap to the Atlanta Hawks
Paul Millsap may not be the biggest name that was on the market, but the Atlanta Hawks got one heck of a deal when they convinced him to sign for two years and $19 million, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Millsap is going to give the Hawks a few things that they would have otherwise lacked without Josh Smith. He’s going to provide a toughness inside—or, more calculable, rebounding—and he’s going to give the team a mid-range jumper to help spread the floor.
That jump shot will not only be good against vulnerable zone defenses, but it will clear out the paint, setting up Al Horford for open looks right at the basket.
The truth is that the Hawks are disappointed after failing to woo Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to the organization, but they have a very good player coming in to help rebuild. Not only is Millsap a solid power forward at 28 years old, but he came at a cheap price, which is all you can ask for while replacing your team’s franchise player.
6. Andrew Bynum to the Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Bynum was a monumental disappointment for the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Cleveland Cavaliers found it worth the risk to bring on one of the most promising young centers in today’s game.
If Bynum proves he can stay healthy, returning to the form he was in during his final year with the Los Angeles Lakers, he’ll once again be near the top of the league at the center position. His two-way game makes him a force on both ends of the floor, and with the Cavs he’ll have a chance to re-shape his entire image.
While adding Bynum to the roster makes a serious splash in its own right, it wouldn’t have the same impact if the Cavaliers hadn’t added quality pieces around the big man. Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark will earn their roles within the rotation, and No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett will add talent to a roster that has needed it since the departure of LeBron James.
Kyrie Irving will undoubtedly lead the show in Cleveland, but Bynum and crew have made this team dangerous, giving the city hopes of a return to the postseason.
5. Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have been a completely new team following the 2011 acquisition of Chris Paul. The move brought them near the top of the Western Conference, and expectations have been higher than they’ve ever been.
But while expectations have been high for two years, early postseason exits will no longer be tolerated, as the hiring of Doc Rivers makes this team a legitimate threat come playoff time.
Rivers may be confined to the sidelines, but the Clippers have taken a step in the right direction with him at the helm. Coach signings often go under the radar, but Rivers has earned plenty of attention—attention that is well-deserved at this point in his career.
Don’t forget that the Clippers also acquired J.J. Redick, Darren Collison, Jared Dudley and Byron Mullens while also keeping Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins to negate the losses of Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe.
This team is primed to win a whole slew of games, and the truth is Rivers just might be the one to take them to the next level.
4. Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans
The Philadelphia 76ers weren’t the only ones to benefit from the trade that sent Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans.
While Philly’s goal is clearly to tank and get better long term, the Pelicans will look to make significant improvement almost right away. Holiday is going to bring his All-Star-caliber qualities to New Orleans, and, as a result, the team will add balance to its roster during the current rebuild.
Alongside Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans, Holiday is going to be just one of a number of dangerous weapons. The young point guard may think that the team’s new name is funny (per SI’s Ben Golliver), but the Pelicans have a chance to knock the smiles off their opponents’ faces sooner rather than later.
How soon this team can contend is up for debate. Talent is one thing, but before they hit the court and jell as a unit, you have to assume they’re a fringe playoff team at best.
Struggles may be ahead, as the bulk of this core is extremely youthful, but prospects get better with time, and so will this promising young unit.
3. Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have commonly been referred to as “the darlings” of the 2013 postseason. Following the move to bring in Andre Iguodala, they’ve become downright deadly when competing out West.
With Iguodala on board, the Warriors have a legitimate perimeter defender, which will become most noticeable during the playoffs. The 29-year-old has never proven he can be a No. 1 option, but with Stephen Curry now on his side, he’ll never have to take on that role again.
Iguodala is going to play well out in transition, and as meaningless as this next fact may be for wins and losses, the Warriors are once again going to be one of the most entertaining teams in the Association.
The part of this move that can’t be ignored is the fact that Golden State managed to dump salary on the Utah Jazz in the process. It dropped Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins on Utah’s payroll in the form of three players who combined for 56 minutes in the entire postseason.
The Warriors were an improved team entering 2012-13. Now they’re going to be legitimate contenders.
2. Brooklyn Nets’ Blockbuster Draft Night
The Nets were already a solid group following their first season in Brooklyn, but the move during the draft put them into a whole new class. They’re still not going to be the favorites until they take down the Miami Heat, but they’re officially on their way to making that fantasy a reality.
To top it off, the Nets signed Andrei Kirilenko on the cheap—a shrewd move that will give the team depth behind its star power. Don’t forget about Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson and Shaun Livingston, either.
Brooklyn’s roster has depth at this point in the process, but it all starts with the stars. This is as star-studded a group as it comes, and it has the playoff experience to make you believe it can challenge any team out East during the 2014 postseason.
1. Dwight Howard to the Houston Rockets
The Los Angeles Lakers recently taught us that star power won’t always equate to a championship roster. That said, the Houston Rockets pulled enough strings to finally land their man, and they have to be considered the big winners of the 2013 offseason.
When it came down to it, Dwight Howard had the final say in where he would play. The Lakers, Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks were all suitors, but at the end of the day, Houston won the sweepstakes, leaving the rest to search for Plan B.
Unlike the Lakers, Houston has a head coach who can relate to Howard on a basketball level. The players can also relate to the big man, but on a more personal level. They’re close to his age and itching for their first run at a championship.
Howard chose the situation that he felt was best for him, and the Rockets had to give up virtually nothing to get him to commit.
The 27-year-old has work to do to repair both his game and his image, but those are risks worth taking if you’re the Rockets. A legitimate superstar chose Clutch City as his next destination, and for that, Houston enters 2013-14 as hopeful as anybody in its quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.