New NBA Rosters We Can't Wait to See on Court Next Year
The 2013 NBA offseason has been a pretty crazy one. More than a few teams have completely shaken up their rosters through either risky trades, big free-agency signings or one of the most compelling drafts in recent memory.
The NBA isn't often a league that rewards standing still, and whether those teams were contenders, first-round fodder or at the absolute bottom of the barrel, they're all entering this season with a few new faces on their squad.
So which new rosters should we all keep our eyes on next season? Let's take a look.
All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless specified otherwise.
Honorable Mention: Golden State Warriors
Biggest Additions: Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights, Jermaine O'Neal
The Golden State Warriors are a team on the rise and had some nice offseason additions, including one of the summer's best in Andre Iguodala.
But none of these new additions are really going to change much about the way the Warriors play. Marreese Speights, Jermaine O'Neal and Toney Douglas are more or less cheaper versions of the players they're replacing, and even Iguodala won't cause a big stylistic change.
The Warriors are going to be a better team, but calling them “new” seemed a stretch, so they can only make it as an honorable mention. That Stephen Curry guy is pretty good though, so they're probably worth checking out.
The ever-spending Brooklyn Nets should be one of the most exciting teams in the league next season and, barring injury, a legitimate title contender.
The Nets have four All-Star-caliber talents in the starting lineup and a deep bench anchored by Andrei Kirilenko, Andray Blatche, Jason Terry and Reggie Evans. They'll likely still play the same plodding, half-court style they did last season (they were 28th in the league in pace), but their already-efficient offense could shoot up to the top five if all goes well.
Even playing at a slower pace, Brooklyn should be entertaining to watch. With Garnett and Kirilenko in tow, the Nets have the ability to throw out potent small and big lineups, and that's a luxury few other teams have.
The real question facing Brooklyn is whether Garnett and Kirilenko can carry a below average-defense—the Nets finished 17th last season, and that's simply not good enough for true title contention. Last year, the Boston Celtics finished out of the top five defensively for the first time since they traded for Garnett, and it's hard to say if he has the ability to put a defense on his shoulders the way he did in years past.
Either way, the Nets will be a blast to follow as they try to put all the pieces together. They only have a one- or two-year title window, so they're going to have to figure everything out soon.
Biggest Additions: Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, Jarrett Jack
The Cleveland Cavaliers would have been a fun team to watch on the basis of seeing how all their young talent—Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, etc.—improved. But now that they've added Andrew Bynum to the mix...wow.
Obviously the biggest question around the Cavs is whether or not Bynum can stay healthy. But assuming he does, Cleveland has a ton of talented players and could even struggle a bit figuring out where to put them all.
The Bennett-Thompson battle is particularly strange. Bennett's clearly a big part of the Cavs' plans moving forward, but he plays the same position as Thompson, who made huge strides in his second year. They could try to push Bennett into the 3, but history has shown that move rarely works. Even playing Thompson at the 5 in small lineups seems silly considering how many centers are on the roster.
The one player whose role is easy to figure out is Jarrett Jack. The Cavs will likely use Jack the same way the Golden State Warriors did, bringing him off the bench and often letting him be the primary ball-handler.
Mike Brown has a real juggling act on his hands this season, and how he manages all of the young talent will be fun to watch.
The Cavaliers will make noise this season one way or another and could even compete for one of the last playoff spots in the East.
Biggest Additions: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert
Once again, the Dallas Mavericks missed out on the summer's biggest free agents. Four-year deals for both Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon make it seem like they were grasping at straws.
With that being said, this year's Mavericks squad will definitely be entertaining, and that's good enough for everyone but Dallas fans (sorry, guys).
Ellis has a long history of chucking up bad shots and not playing defense, both of which have given him a negative reputation in NBA circles—a reputation that sometimes goes too far. For all of his flaws, Ellis is a very creative passer and should be able to run a great pick-and-roll with Dirk Nowitzki.
Calderon is also a defenseless guard whose passing and shooting should bolster an offense that finished 13th in the league last season. He and Ellis will also benefit from playing with Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert is a limited offensive player, but he's a solid rebounder and rim protector who can provide some of what Tyson Chandler did during the Mavs' title run.
Dallas proved last season that a Nowitzki-led team is good for at least 40 wins, and it'll be fighting for a playoff spot once again this season. The Mavs have some big holes, but between Nowitzki, Ellis and Calderon, they'll be fun to watch.
A lot of people have panned the Detroit Pistons' offseason, which seems unfair.
Don't get me wrong—the Pistons will deal with serious spacing issues this season. But they upped their overall talent level by a lot. And as Joe Dumars told Grantland's Zach Lowe, that's exactly what they were aiming for.
Josh Smith is the rare big who's very good on both ends of the floor. He's never been a good shooter outside of the paint, but he's a smart passer, a solid pick-and-roll player, and he'll cover for a lot of the mistakes Greg Monroe makes on the defensive end.
Brandon Jennings has his flaws as well. He isn't a very good shooter, and he's an inattentive (read: awful) defender. However, he's also a crafty pick-and-roll guard who's growing as a shot-creator and a passer. Watching him run the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond will be a blast no matter who's surrounding them.
Detroit's going to have to come up with some creative sets to prevent defenses from taking advantage of its lack of spacing, and even then it might not be able to avoid getting smothered by elite teams. But the Pistons are now fun, athletic and maybe even very competitive if they can figure things out.
Considering what Detroit fans have been dealing with over the past few years, that seems well worth some offensive kinks.
Biggest Addition: Dwight Howard
With all due respect to guys like Aaron Brooks and Omri Casspi, Dwight Howard is the only reason the Houston Rockets are on this list.
When healthy, Howard is one of the three or four best players in the league and instantly solidifies the Rockets as a legitimate title contender. Howard will act as the anchor for a defense that hovered around league-average last year (and did so only because of Omer Asik's excellence) and should improve upon the Rockets' already-stellar offense.
Last season, Houston's half-court offense essentially consisted of running an endless string of pick-and-rolls for James Harden. Howard will make those pick-and-rolls even more deadly (he's consistently the best roll man in the league, per Synergy Sports Technology), and his post game will give the Rockets another efficient option in the half court.
Howard may not look fluid in the post, but when healthy, he generally makes about 50 percent of his shots on the low block (per Synergy Sports Technology). That's some pretty efficient offense, and it's something the Rockets lacked when trying to generate a decent shot late in the clock last season.
Houston also has the option of throwing out a very intriguing lineup featuring both Howard and Asik. An Asik-Howard frontcourt would jam up some of the Rockets' spacing, but it could be a devastating defensive lineup if used properly.
Los Angeles Clippers
Biggest Additions: J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Doc Rivers
The trade for Doc Rivers has been a bit overstated, but it was still very smart. Rivers alone won't fix the Los Angeles Clippers' biggest problem—DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin's non-improvement—but he should be able to cook up some defensive schemes that leave the two less vulnerable to pick-and-rolls.
The Clippers' two really big additions were J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, and they give Los Angeles the potential to jump to the top of the league offensively.
Chris Paul was a potent pick-and-roll scorer last season, ranking sixth in efficiency (per Synergy Sports Technology). But you have to wonder how much deadlier that pick-and-roll—the bread and butter of the Clippers' offense—will be now that Paul has knockdown shooters surrounding him.
The only real wing shooter on the Los Angeles roster last season was Caron Butler, and having Redick and Dudley on the perimeter should help both Paul on pick-and-rolls and Griffin in post-up situations.
Dudley and Redick will also give the Clippers a defensive boost. Neither can be considered a lockdown wing, but they're smart positional defenders who are always in the right place.
On paper, the Clippers are now one of the four or five best teams in the league. If they pick it up defensively, they'll be positioned for a deep playoff run.
Biggest Additions: Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer
A healthy Kevin Love is the real biggest addition to this Minnesota Timberwolves squad, but Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer aren't bad either.
Martin will give the Timberwolves exactly what they were missing last season—a knockdown wing shooter who can carry the offensive load for short periods of time. Brewer is basically the opposite of Martin—a perimeter stopper who doesn't do all that much offensively—but he's no less important now that Minnesota is without Andrei Kirilenko.
With Ricky Rubio surrounded with shooters and a bruising big man in Nikola Pekovic, the Timberwolves have the potential to be awesome offensively.
The problem in Minnesota will be its defense now that Kirilenko is gone.
The Timberwolves ranked 13th with Kirilenko and added one of the worst defenders in the league in Martin. In fact, Rubio is probably the best defender among the starters.
Still though, Minnesota figures to be incredibly entertaining even if it can't squeeze a top defense out of the roster. Rubio is a passing wizard, and for the first time, he's surrounded by guys who can actually make good of those passes. It's going to be a fun season in Minnesota.
New Orleans Pelicans
Biggest Additions: Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans
The New Orleans Pelicans have rolled the dice on their current five-man core: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson.
Even in the best-case scenario, they won't really be contenders until Davis grows into a top-tier player, but this season will be the first that the Pelicans' future core plays together.
The two big additions to the Pelicans are Holiday and Evans, and even relying on those two was a bit of a risk. Holiday was named an All-Star last year, but he really only played like one for half of the season—after the All-Star break he was little more than a replacement-level starter.
The Pelicans are hoping that Holiday will regain his first-half form outside of Doug Collins' mid-range-loving offensive system and form a solid pick-and-roll connection with Davis. They're in a similar boat with Evans, who flashed a lot of talent with the Sacramento Kings but never could get it all together thanks to a dysfunctional organization and his own penchant for taking (and missing) long twos.
Even outside of those two, there are a ton of questions that need to be answered about this team. Can Gordon stay healthy? Can the Anderson-Davis pairing avoid getting eaten alive defensively (as they did last year, per NBA.com)? How quickly can Davis reach elite status?
With a new name has come a completely new team in New Orleans, and this season we'll get our first look at how good that team is.