Final Regular-Season Grades for All 30 NBA Teams

Sean Highkin@highkinFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2020

Final Regular-Season Grades for All 30 NBA Teams

0 of 30

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The strangest regular season in NBA history officially ended Friday, four months after it was supposed to. The season began with the league on the outs with China following a tweet by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong protesters, and that was only the beginning. Former commissioner David Stern, a giant in the history of the league, died Jan. 1; less than a month later, Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. Forget sports—it was the most culturally significant celebrity death since Princess Diana or Michael Jackson. His loss will be felt throughout the sport for years to come.

    And then, of course, just like the rest of society would do, the NBA shut down March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first major sports league to halt play following a positive test and is among the first in America (along with the NWSL, MLS and WNBA) to restart successfully in a bubble.

    With all of that as a backdrop, it's easy to forget that a lot of actual basketball was played and continues to be played. Now that the regular season is done, here are final grades for all 30 teams. These grades are based largely on teams' preseason expectations, with some consideration given also to how they're set up going forward as a result of things that happened during the 2019-20 season.

Atlanta Hawks

1 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    With Trae Young a rising star leading a young core, the Hawks were supposed to be the Eastern Conference's next up-and-comers. But their season went sideways when talented third-year forward John Collins served a 25-game suspension for a positive PED test. Rookies De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish showed flashes, but they didn't set themselves apart. Other than Young, who was an All-Star in his second season, there was no reason to tune in to watch this team.

    Young teams deserve time to develop, but the Hawks wanted to win a lot more games than they did this year. They were supposed to take a step closer to the playoffs and instead finished with the second-worst record in the East at 20-47.

    Grade: F

Boston Celtics

2 of 30

    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Celtics lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency, replacing Irving with Kemba Walker. Walker was excellent in his first season in Boston, being named an All-Star starter and providing the kind of stable leadership Irving never did at that position in his two seasons with the team.

    But it was Jayson Tatum's emergence as a star that defined the Celtics' season. Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart form one of the league's toughest defensive perimeter units in the league, and Tatum established himself as a consistent first option on offense. He's going to be the face of the franchise for years to come.

    The loss of Horford and, to a lesser extent, Aron Baynes loomed large in the frontcourt. Free-agent signee Enes Kanter does not provide what they did defensively. But despite some stops and starts, the Celtics ended up right around where they were expected to be, third in the Eastern Conference with a real shot at making a run.

    Grade: B

Brooklyn Nets

3 of 30

    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    The Nets signed Kevin Durant knowing full well he'd miss the entire season rehabbing his torn Achilles. Their other major free-agent signing, Kyrie Irving, played just 20 games as he battled a shoulder injury that ultimately required him to undergo surgery.

    With their two superstars all but out of the picture, the Nets were disjointed. They were caught between two identities: the scrappy underdogs that unexpectedly made the playoffs last season led by Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie, and the newly arrived star trio of Durant, Irving and DeAndre Jordan. This tension eventually led to head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team parting ways shortly before the hiatus.

    In the bubble, the Nets were one of the more fun lower-seeded teams. With Durant and Irving still rehabbing and Jordan and Dinwiddie having tested positive for COVID-19, the Nets team that showed up in the bubble was basically a G League team. They went 5-3, including surprising wins over the Bucks and Clippers and a close loss to the Blazers in the regular-season finale. They don't have much of a chance against the Raptors in the playoffs, but interim head coach Jacque Vaughn has earned a shot at the permanent job.

    Grade: C+

Charlotte Hornets

4 of 30

    John Amis/Associated Press

    Charlotte has made the playoffs only three times since 2004-05 (its first season as the Bobcats), and it didn't get any closer to returning there this year. The Hornets lost All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, who left for the Celtics as a free agent, and replaced him with Terry Rozier, who had a solid year but was a clear downgrade.

    If Charlotte has one thing to hang its hat on this season, it's the emergence of second-year guard Devonte' Graham. A 2018 second-round pick who was barely an NBA rotation player in his rookie season, Graham came out of nowhere to lead the team in scoring at 18.2 points per game while shooting 37.3 percent from three-point range and averaging a team-high 7.5 assists per game.

    The Hornets weren't the worst team in the league. In fact, they finished with a better winning percentage than the Washington Wizards, one of the teams invited to the bubble. But they still don't feel any closer to building anything real.

    Grade: D

Chicago Bulls

5 of 30

    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    By any measure, the 2019-20 Bulls were a disaster. After signing veteran forward Thaddeus Young and guard Tomas Satoransky in free agency, Chicago seemed poised to return to, if not contention, at least competence and respectability. The Bulls signed head coach Jim Boylen to an extension despite a rocky first season taking over for Fred Hoiberg, and he said all the right things about learning from that early run in his first head coaching job. They opened training camp setting the goal of returning to the playoffs for the first time since they traded Jimmy Butler in 2017.

    Things went off the rails quickly. They started 6-14 and later had two separate losing streaks of six and eight games. Zach LaVine openly feuded with Boylen over his role, and once-promising young big men Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen regressed. The lone bright spot was No. 7 overall pick Coby White, who eventually moved into the starting lineup and proved to be a prolific scorer. The Bulls finished 22-43.

    On the bright side, yet another disappointing season brought about a long-overdue organizational shake-up. Shortly after the season was shut down, the Bulls fired longtime GM Gar Forman and reassigned Vice President John Paxson to an advisory role. In their places, they hired well-respected Nuggets executive Arturas Karnisovas as VP of basketball operations and former Sixers executive Marc Eversley as general manager. They also fired Boylen on Friday and are expected to name a new head coach in the coming months. The future looks better, but they had to hit rock bottom to get there.

    Grade: F

Cleveland Cavaliers

6 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    For the second year following LeBron James' departure, the Cavs were stuck between rebuilding and trying to compete, without a lot of success in either direction. Championship holdovers Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson are still on the roster, but the focus has been on developing young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, neither of whom looks like a sure thing to be a future star.

    Cleveland finished with the second-worst record in the NBA at 19-46 and also had plenty of dysfunction off the court. At one point, Love's outburst at management and desire to be traded became public. Their surprising offseason hire of former Michigan coach John Beilein quickly backfired—he lost the locker room after using the word "thugs" when he intended to say "slugs" during a film-room speech, and he resigned at the All-Star break after completely failing to adjust from the college game, where he was one of the country's most successful coaches.

    The front office made Beilein's replacement, J.B. Bickerstaff, the permanent head coach, but the Cavs still don't have a strong direction. Sexton and Garland are nice young players, but neither is a franchise cornerstone. They still have to trade Love at some point, too. There's just a lot to work through and a long way to go before the Cavs will be relevant again.

    Grade: F

Dallas Mavericks

7 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    The first year of the Dirk Nowitzki-less era of Mavericks basketball was largely successful. Luka Doncic's superstar potential was obvious in his rookie season, but in his second year, he was even better, becoming a legitimate MVP candidate. And Kristaps Porzingis, in his first games since February 2018, initially struggled to work back from a torn ACL but has since settled into his role as Doncic's second star.

    As he usually does, Rick Carlisle got a lot out of underwhelming-on-paper role players like Maxi Kleiber, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith. Dallas had the league's best offense but just the 18th-ranked defense and blew a lot of close games they should have won. They ended up with the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, their first playoff appearance since 2016.

    Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets

8 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Coming off their disappointing second-round loss in last year's playoffs, the Nuggets came back stronger, with the league's fifth-best offense and an MVP candidate in Nikola Jokic. They finished with the third-best record in the West despite going 3-5 in the bubble and needing overtime to pick up two of their wins.

    Offseason pickup Jerami Grant provided energy in the frontcourt while core players Jokic, Jamal Murray, Will Barton and Paul Millsap all had good years. The revelation was Michael Porter Jr., who missed his entire rookie season with a back injury and was hit-or-miss this season before the shutdown but exploded in the bubble and established himself as a legitimate starter on a contending team. The Nuggets will be dangerous in the playoffs.

    Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

9 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Like the Hornets, the Pistons are a team in limbo, not the absolute worst team in the league but not on an obvious path to relevance, either. Aside from the resurgence of Derrick Rose as a sixth man and the emergence of forward Christian Wood, there just isn't anything to write home about with this team. Blake Griffin underwent knee surgery in January and the team salary-dumped Andre Drummond to Cleveland at the deadline.

    The Pistons don't have any obvious blue-chip young talent to build around with Griffin clearly past his peak. They're still in the beginning stages of a rebuild that saw them finish 20-46 on the season. During the shutdown, they hired longtime Thunder executive Troy Weaver to lead basketball operations. He has a long road in front of him to make Detroit basketball a national concern again.

    Grade: D

Golden State Warriors

10 of 30

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Even though Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn, Klay Thompson sat out the whole year with a torn ACL suffered in the 2019 Finals and Andre Iguodala was traded to Memphis, the Warriors still hoped to be a playoff team in their first season at the brand-new Chase Center. Stephen Curry broke his hand and missed most of the season, returning for just one game before the shutdown. Without the cornerstones of their dynasty, they finished with the worst record in the NBA at 15-50.

    Even though Draymond Green still played, the Warriors were functionally a G League team. Most of the year was spent developing youngsters like Ky Bowman and Eric Paschall. The most significant move the Warriors made last offseason was signing-and-trading for guard D'Angelo Russell. Russell was an awkward fit on the Warriors and was traded at the deadline to Minnesota for 2014 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and a 2021 top-three-protected first-round pick. Wiggins played relatively well after his arrival in Golden State, but he didn't play in enough games to give any indication of whether he'll be able to deliver on the promise in his new home that he never lived up to with the Timberwolves.

    Given that the Warriors were missing so many stars and essentially punted on being competitive for a season, it's impossible to evaluate their year. It was a letdown compared to their years of title contention, but they have the best odds at the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft lottery and are expected to contend again next year with Curry and Thompson healthy. This was just a gap year.

    Grade: Incomplete

Houston Rockets

11 of 30

    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Rockets GM Daryl Morey made one of the most shocking trades of the 2019 offseason in dealing Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook. The fit between Westbrook and James Harden at first proved to be awkward, but they won enough games in the early part of the season to stay in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and Harden put up yet another MVP-caliber season.

    This Rockets team came into its own after the trade deadline when Morey traded center Clint Capela to Atlanta, added forward Robert Covington from Minnesota and moved P.J. Tucker to the full-time starting center. This midseason shake-up unlocked Westbrook, who immediately began to look much more like his former self. They are one of the most intriguing teams in the league going into the playoffs.

    Grade: B

Indiana Pacers

12 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Another solid year for a perennially solid franchise. The Pacers were without All-Star guard Victor Oladipo for most of the season as he continued to recover from a quad injury suffered last year, but they didn't fall off. As Nate McMillan teams do every year, they overachieved, weathering Oladipo's injury to finish with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Domantas Sabonis was a first-time All-Star, and frontcourt partner Myles Turner also had a solid year. The breakout star, of course, was T.J. Warren, who opened the eight seeding games with a 53-point performance against the Philadelphia 76ers and continued to light it up during the restart.

    The Pacers are deep, talented and well-coached. They can be counted on for a playoff appearance and a win total in the mid-40s every year, regardless of injuries. This year was no exception.

    Grade: B

Los Angeles Clippers

13 of 30

    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    After their blockbuster offseason, the Clippers season began in fits and starts. Paul George missed the beginning of the year rehabbing two shoulder surgeries, and the team continued to hold Kawhi Leonard out on back-to-backs. Despite all of that, the Clippers were as good as everyone thought they'd be, with the league's second-best offense and fifth-best defense and a deep supporting cast of quality role players like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley around George and Leonard.

    The Clippers made some moves during the year, trading Maurice Harkless to the Knicks for Marcus Morris Sr. at the deadline and signing Reggie Jackson on the buyout market. Because of all this shake-up, they don't have the continuity that other contenders do. But they're arguably the most talented team in the league and will be one of the favorites to win the championship.

    Grade: A-

Los Angeles Lakers

14 of 30

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    How does LeBron James bounce back from missing his first playoffs since 2005? By helping engineer a trade for Anthony Davis. Despite an inconsistent supporting cast, those two formed the most deadly duo in the league. James took full advantage of a rare extended offseason and came back more locked-in than he's been in years. He'll probably be the MVP runner-up, which is wild in year 17. Davis has a decent shot at winning Defensive Player of the Year.

    Frank Vogel was the Lakers' third choice for a head coach after they struck out on Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue, but he's proved to be the right hire, as the Lakers have put together the third-best defense in the NBA and secured the top seed in the Western Conference handily. It's tough to look at this year for the Lakers as anything but a resounding success as they enter the playoffs as one of the title favorites.

    Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies

15 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Outside of Phoenix, no team outperformed its expectations more than Memphis. No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant already looks like a future perennial All-Star and is a lock to win Rookie of the Year, and fellow rookie Brandon Clarke was immediately productive. First-year head coach Taylor Jenkins proved to be a strong tactician. When the season shut down, the Grizzlies had a 3.5-game lead for the final playoff spot in the West, something nobody saw coming at the beginning of the year.

    In the bubble, the Grizzlies lost Jaren Jackson Jr. to a knee injury and went 2-6 in the seeding games before losing to the Trail Blazers in the play-in game. It was a disappointing ending to what was an otherwise fantastic year. Grizzlies fans have a lot to be excited about.

    Grade: B+

Miami Heat

16 of 30

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    After missing the playoffs last season, Pat Riley retooled, working out a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. Butler proved a perfect fit for the so-called "Heat culture," leading the team at both ends of the floor as he has done throughout his career. The emergence of third-year center Bam Adebayo also contributed greatly to Miami's resurgence, as did a midseason trade for Andre Iguodala.

    Further down the roster, the Heat also had some victories. Second-year guard Duncan Robinson emerged as one of the most dangerous shooters in the league, and rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn impressed. Miami finished fifth in the Eastern Conference and is an intriguing dark-horse pick to make a deep playoff run.

    Grade: B+

Milwaukee Bucks

17 of 30

    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Bucks bounced back from their disappointing Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Raptors last season and were even better this year. Even after going 3-5 in the bubble, they finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA, the league's best defense and highest net rating (plus-9.4).

    Giannis Antetokounmpo is a near-lock to repeat as league MVP after having a better year than his 2018-19 MVP campaign. He might win Defensive Player of the Year, too. Khris Middleton had a second consecutive All-Star season, and Brook Lopez is an improbable All-Defensive candidate. The supporting cast is deep, even after losing Malcolm Brogdon in free agency last summer.

    Because they fell short in the playoffs last year, and because Antetokounmpo's summer 2021 free agency looms over the entire league, they aren't a trendy pick anymore to win the title. But it's hard to argue with what they've done so far this season.

    Grade: A

Minnesota Timberwolves

18 of 30

    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Except for their playoff appearance in 2017-18, the Timberwolves have been mostly anonymous for the better part of two decades. There was reason to be hopeful this year—new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas brought with him a great reputation from his time in the Rockets front office, and they still had one of the most talented bigs in the game in Karl-Anthony Towns. But Towns missed 29 games with injuries, and Minnesota was one of just two Western Conference teams (the other being the Warriors) not invited to the restart.

    At the trade deadline, Rosas dealt 2014 No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors for Towns' close friend, D'Angelo Russell, but they played together only once before COVID-19 ended their season prematurely. It still remains to be seen how that pairing will look going forward, but this was another lost year in Minnesota.

    Grade: D+

New Orleans Pelicans

19 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Pelicans had one of the higher-profile offseasons in the league in 2019. They lost superstar Anthony Davis, who had wanted a trade for the better part of a year, but got back promising youngsters Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart in the trade from the Lakers. The arrival of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, the most hyped rookie since LeBron James, made them one of the league's buzziest teams.

    That all came to a halt when Williamson underwent preseason knee surgery that kept him out until January. New Orleans started the season 7-23, including a 13-game losing streak in November and December, despite Ingram's breakout season and first career All-Star selection. The team got a lot better once Williamson made his debut—he was as good as advertised before the season was shut down, and the Pelicans made an unexpected challenge for the final playoff seed in the Western Conference. If he'd been healthy all year, they may well have made it.

    The Pelicans fell flat in the bubble with Williamson on a minutes limit. They became the first Western Conference team eliminated from playoff contention in the restart. Head coach Alvin Gentry was fired shortly thereafter. It was a disappointing ending to a disappointing year, interrupted briefly by Williamson's electric play in February and March.

    Grade: D+

New York Knicks

20 of 30

    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Another year of losing and dysfunction in New York without much positive to take away from it. After striking out on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in free agency, the Knicks signed a staggering number of power forwards (Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris Sr.). Recent lottery picks Kevin Knox II and Frank Ntilikina didn't develop as hoped, although second-year center Mitchell Robinson showed promise.

    The Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale after starting the season 4-18, promoting Mike Miller for the rest of the season. The team played slightly better under Miller but still didn't show the kind of long-term improvement you'd hope to see from a team with this many lottery picks. In February, team president Steve Mills was fired and replaced with powerful CAA agent Leon Rose, who in July hired Tom Thibodeau as head coach.

    The new regime will hopefully bring stability, but how much of that can you count on while James Dolan owns the team? The Knicks, in addition to being a disappointment on the court, had a few public-relations embarrassments, most notably a feud between Dolan and Spike Lee, the one Knicks fan it seemed impossible to alienate. That takes a special amount of incompetence.

    Grade: F

Oklahoma City Thunder

21 of 30

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    It was too easy last summer to get caught up in the size of Chris Paul's contract and forget that he's still one of the NBA's elite point guards. Paul came over to Oklahoma City from Houston in the shocking blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook, just days after the team traded Paul George to the Clippers for veteran forward Danilo Gallinari, promising young guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a slew of future draft picks.

    Maybe general manager Sam Presti wanted to blow it up and rebuild from the ground up, but between Paul, Gallinari and Steven Adams, the Thunder simply had too many high-level starters to be as bad as they wanted to be. They tried to trade Paul, but that massive contract made it impossible, so they had to settle for him having an All-NBA-caliber season and proving a perfect mentor for Gilgeous-Alexander. It's not a bad fallback plan.

    The Thunder finished fifth in the Western Conference and will face the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. It doesn't matter much that they don't have a first-round pick this year because they have so many future picks from the George and Westbrook trades. Presti got the best of both worlds—they're set up well for the future with young talent and picks while still being competitive in the present.

    Grade: B+

Orlando Magic

22 of 30

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The Magic made the playoffs for a second consecutive year but lost a valuable season of development from their most prized young player, Jonathan Isaac. Isaac missed a large chunk of the season with a knee injury and then returned and looked impressive in the bubble before suffering a torn ACL that will likely keep him out all of next season.

    One good thing that came out of this Magic season was the rebirth of Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 pick who dealt with a bizarre shoulder injury in Philadelphia before being traded to Orlando. He looked at the very least like a functional NBA player in stretches. Another bright spot was Nikola Vucevic. The season wasn't a total loss, but Isaac's injury sets the franchise back massively.

    Grade: C

Philadelphia 76ers

23 of 30

    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Sixers general manager Elton Brand might have outsmarted himself with the offseason signing of Al Horford. Horford had given Joel Embiid trouble when the Sixers and Celtics played in the playoffs in 2018, and signing him would weaken their biggest division rival. But Horford and Embiid are an awkward fit on the court, as Embiid and Ben Simmons continue to be.

    The Sixers have a lot of talent, but between injuries (Embiid and Simmons both missed time) and the imperfect fit between their two stars, they still haven't become the true contender they have the potential to be. Now, Simmons will miss the playoffs with a knee injury, and assuming they lose to the Celtics in the first round, it's a strong possibility head coach Brett Brown will be fired. Embiid and Simmons don't necessarily need to be broken up, but this season has proved that something has to change in Philly.

    Grade: C+

Phoenix Suns

24 of 30

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The single biggest surprise of the season. Years of dysfunction and losing have made the Suns a leaguewide punchline despite having some talented players—namely, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Last summer, they traded for center Aron Baynes from Boston and signed veteran point guard Ricky Rubio. They also hired Monty Williams as head coach, and he quickly got the Suns playing harder than they had in years.

    After a strong start, their momentum was halted when Ayton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft, failed a PED test and served a 25-game suspension. Various injuries throughout the year also put them behind the curve in the lower end of the competitive Western Conference playoff race.

    Nobody benefitted from the fresh start in the bubble more than the Suns. Booker was sensational, and Phoenix was the only team to go undefeated in the eight seeding games. The Suns fell just short of the play-in round for the eighth seed. But for the first time in a long time, it feels like they're starting to build something compelling.

    Grade: B+

Portland Trail Blazers

25 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    An impressive run to the playoffs in the bubble with a newly healthy frontcourt and an out-of-this-world Damian Lillard papers over what was an underwhelming pre-shutdown regular-season showing for the Blazers, fresh off a 2019 run to the Western Conference Finals.

    In the first two months of the season, Portland lost starting power forward Zach Collins to a shoulder injury and starting small forward Rodney Hood to an Achilles tear. Those injuries, along with the continued absence of starting center Jusuf Nurkic, certainly played a role in their disappointing record, but their biggest problem was they couldn't defend anybody.

    Offseason trade acquisition Hassan Whiteside led the league in blocks but often proved to be a liability on that end of the floor, and bargain-bin free agents Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja proved mostly unplayable. Trade-deadline pickup Trevor Ariza helped a little bit on that end, but the Blazers of most of the season still were just not that good.

    The positive: Lillard was spectacular all year, further establishing his place as one of the best players in the league. What he did in the bubble wasn't a fluke: He was that good all year. The resurrection of Carmelo Anthony's career after he appeared to have washed out was a feel-good story as well. And Nurkic has been terrific since returning to the court in the bubble.

    In the end, the Blazers made the playoffs, so the season is ultimately a success. But the road there wasn't pretty.

    Grade: C+

Sacramento Kings

26 of 30

    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    For the second year in a row, Sacramento was at least competitive, which is more than can be said for most seasons in the past decade. The Kings were playing their best basketball of the season in March when the league went on hiatus, powered by De'Aaron Fox, who continues to look like a future All-Star.

    But Fox's brilliance wasn't enough. Buddy Hield was unhappy with his role all year, Marvin Bagley III missed time with injuries and the team finished with the 13th-worst offense and 12th-worst defense in the NBA. They made the cut to be invited to the restart but quickly fell out of contention, and team president Vlade Divac and assistant GM Peja Stojakovic stepped down shortly thereafter, continuing a longstanding tradition of dysfunction in Sacramento.

    Grade: D

San Antonio Spurs

27 of 30

    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    Twenty-two years after Tim Duncan's NBA debut season, the Spurs finally missed the playoffs, ending one of the great runs in the history of sports. With DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge at the tail ends of their primes, San Antonio just didn't have the top-end talent to compete.

    With that said, young guards Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV had good years and look to be a strong foundation for the future. The Spurs will be back.

    Grade: C-

Toronto Raptors

28 of 30

    Kim Klement/Associated Press

    Most teams losing the reigning Finals MVP in free agency would take a huge step back. But the Raptors, fresh off winning the first championship in franchise history, regrouped following Kawhi Leonard's departure and came back just as strong.

    Toronto's depth and versatility were key in weathering the loss of Leonard. Because of his load-management plan, the rest of this group had plenty of experience and success playing without him last year. So when he left, they knew what to do and how to adjust, because they'd done it before. Pascal Siakam took yet another huge leap after winning Most Improved Player last season, easily sliding into Leonard's role as the primary wing scorer and making his first career All-Star team. OG Anunoby, who missed most of last year's playoff run, re-established himself this year as a lockdown defender.

    Add to that strong years from Siakam's fellow All-Star, Kyle Lowry, and veteran bigs Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, along with role players Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell and the emergence of unheralded rookies Matt Thomas and Terence Davis, and it's a near certainty that Nick Nurse will take home Coach of the Year. It wouldn't be a surprise to anyone if Toronto won the East or even repeated as champions.

    Grade: A

Utah Jazz

29 of 30

    Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

    Put aside the fact that it was Rudy Gobert's positive COVID-19 test that triggered the NBA suspending its season on March 11. The optics of the microphone-touching incident were bad, but Gobert has taken some unfair criticism when it could have been anybody who tested positive. If he hadn't, someone else would have, and the end result would have been the same.

    With that out of the way, the Jazz still underperformed expectations this season. Their offseason trade for Mike Conley seemed like a clear upgrade at point guard, but he struggled for much of the year. Their other major free-agent signee, Bojan Bogdanovic, is out for the season with a wrist injury. Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both had All-Star seasons, but the Jazz were inconsistent all year and now appear headed for an early playoff exit.

    Grade: B-

Washington Wizards

30 of 30

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    A career year from Bradley Beal and a breakout season from forward Davis Bertans weren't enough to salvage a Wizards team that was badly outmatched in talent most nights. With John Wall missing the entire season rehabbing a torn Achilles, Beal was left to carry the load by himself night after night. He insists he doesn't want a trade, but given how bleak Washington's future looks, the rumors have never quite gone away.

    Beal and Bertans, who is up for a big raise this offseason, both opted out of the bubble, where the Wizards went 1-7, quickly ending whatever slim hopes they had at a playoff berth without their two best players. Hopefully, Wall is healthy next year and he and Beal can give it one more go together.

    Grade: D


    Stats via unless otherwise noted.