Has Every NBA Team Addressed Its Biggest Weakness This Offseason?

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2020

Has Every NBA Team Addressed Its Biggest Weakness This Offseason?

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    In an unusual NBA offseason that has packed the draft, free agency and training camp into a period of just over a month, teams have wasted little time remaking their rosters over the past week.

    Some clearly had a direction in mind prior to this transactional period. They addressed obvious weaknesses and look to be in better shape for 2020-21 because of it. Others, well, not so much.

    Between the Finals and the draft, we identified those weaknesses for each of the league's 30 teams. Now, it's time to assess whether they've been addressed since then.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Playing Basketball without Trae Young

    The Atlanta Hawks loaded up this offseason, particularly on offense. Their two biggest acquisitions were Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari, both of whom can help maintain good offense when Trae Young goes to the bench.

    Bogdanovic may well be the team's second-most important playmaker already, and Gallinari's moneyball approach to offense will surely drive the offensive rating up a bit.

    Atlanta didn't stop there, though. Kris Dunn is one of the league's best perimeter defenders and should be able to spare Young from more difficult assignments. Rajon Rondo can provide some veteran leadership. And Onyeka Okongwu adds a little defensive versatility to a frontcourt that includes John Collins and Clint Capela.

    All these moves, of course, will limit the developmental minutes of Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter and De'Andre Hunter. Atlanta clearly wanted to push for the playoffs, though, and those minutes are a necessary casualty toward that end. Ultimately, coming along a bit more slowly as reserves who can learn from this infusion of veteran talent may help the youngsters down the road.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes. And then some.

Boston Celtics

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Defensive Rebounding

    Losing Gordon Hayward for nothing was far from ideal. Last season, the Boston Celtics were plus-9.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor and plus-4.4 with him off. They didn't swing into the negatives without him, but that's still a meaningful shift.

    They rebounded nicely after that loss, though. 

    Jeff Teague won't drastically change their fortunes, but he's an experienced playmaker who should be able to produce against second units. Tristan Thompson is the addition who directly addresses a need.

    Daniel Theis is underrated, and he does things that allow Boston to play a modern style on both ends of the floor—switching onto smaller assignments and shooting threes, for example. He's 6'8", though. As hard as he works, that natural disadvantage is tough to overcome against plenty of centers.

    Thompson isn't much bigger, but he's more athletic. And when engaged, he's one of the game's most ferocious rebounders. Just ask the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors.

    Assuming Robert Williams III wasn't ready to take on this role, Thompson now gives the Celtics a better option against some of the league's bigger front lines.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Health

    This one is sort of out of the team's hands. The only true way to address injuries is simply to give them some time.

    With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both set to be ready for the 2020-21 season, the Brooklyn Nets will obviously look like a drastically different team.

    It remains to be seen whether they can add James Harden to the mix, but for now, simply being whole should put this team in the mix for home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Defensive Rebounding

    The Charlotte Hornets made perhaps the most surprising move of the offseason when they crashed the Boston Celtics', Indiana Pacers' and New York Knicks' party by signing Gordon Hayward to a massive four-year, $120 million deal.

    There's little question the move makes the team a bit better, and this may well have been what the Hornets had to pay to scare off those other three teams. But that's a massive commitment for a 30-year old who was 95th in wins over replacement player over the course of his time in Boston.

    Charlotte also drafted LaMelo Ball, whose presumed strengths (size and playmaking) overlap quite a bit with Hayward's.

    Other than that, the roster is largely the same as last season's.

    Ball has a chance to be a better rebounder than most guards, and Hayward isn't bad for his position, either. But fixing this weakness will largely depend on the health of Cody Zeller.

    What the Hornets might want to do is really lean into that lack of size by playing P.J. Washington at the 5 and Hayward at the 4. Those lineups would likely get annihilated on the glass, but maybe they could make up for it by playing fast and launching plenty of threes.

    Weakness Addressed: No.

Chicago Bulls

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Inefficiency

    The Chicago Bulls return a team that's largely the same as last season's, with the exception of the recently drafted Patrick Williams.

    He isn't likely to improve the team's shooting numbers, though. His 83.8 free-throw percentage at Florida State is a good sign, but a 32.0 three-point percentage is worrisome.

    Simply having a healthy Otto Porter Jr. should help. His presence on the floor last season boosted the Bulls' effective field-goal percentage by 1.5 points.

    What'll be more important long-term, though, is the continued development of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. 

    Markkanen is just below average from three for his career, a mark that feels low when you watch him shoot. Finding more consistency might just be a matter of experience and repetition. As for WCJ, shooting more is the key. His 41.3 three-point percentage in college suggests that's an area he can develop in the NBA.

    Weakness Addressed: Not really unless internal development comes through.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Paint Protection

    The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't do a whole lot this offseason.

    Drafting Isaac Okoro could help on defense, but he's likely years away from consistent positive contributions. Giving the Los Angeles Lakers somewhere to dump JaVale McGee probably doesn't move the needle much, either, though he'll instantly be the team's best shot-blocker.

    It feels like this team will be firmly in the hunt for ping-pong balls in the lottery and a chance to draft Cade Cunningham next offseason, especially if it can find a taker for Kevin Love (or even Andre Drummond).

    Weakness Addressed: Kind of.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Defensive Aggressiveness

    Losing one of the best three-point shooters of all time in Seth Curry hurts a bit. The Dallas Mavericks were slightly better when Luka Doncic played with him than they were when Luka was on the floor and Curry wasn't.

    The trade-off should be worth it, though. Josh Richardson provides significantly better defense, and if his early-career three-point percentages return in a more limited offensive role, he would be a major two-way addition for Dallas.

    James Johnson will help on defense, too. He's aging past his athletic prime, but he still brings a combination of size, versatility and switchability the Mavericks haven't really had during the Luka era.

    Lineups with Richardson, Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Kristaps Porzingis should be able to piece together plenty of stops, and Luka's wizardry as a point man makes just about any unit dangerous on the other end.

    Weakness Addressed: Absolutely.

Denver Nuggets

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Lack of a Consistent Third Option

    Much was made of the Denver Nuggets' loss of Jerami Grant, but if more than three years and $60 million was what it took to keep him, this development probably isn't a bad thing.

    In theory, Grant is a multipositional defender who can hit threes. The Nuggets were dramatically worse when he was on the floor, though. And last season, he was 178th in box plus/minus.

    Calling this addition by subtraction might be taking it too far. But if Grant's departure means more minutes for Michael Porter Jr., that's great news.

    In the postseason, there were far too many stretches during which it felt like Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic had to do everything. MPJ can take some of that offensive responsibility off their shoulders.

    His ability to score from all three levels on offense and dominate the boards on the other end makes him one of the game's most intriguing young players. It's time to see him in extended minutes with Denver's top two players.

    Weakness Addressed: We'll see.

Detroit Pistons

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    Aaron Gash/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Turnovers

    For a team that struggled as much as the Detroit Pistons did last season, it was somewhat difficult to single out one weakness.

    Not only did they not address the one that was identified, but it's also difficult to see any path to relevance laid out by their free-agency moves.

    After an interesting draft that landed them Killian Hayes, who has the potential to be a top-tier playmaker with size, Detroit threw nearly $100 million at Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee. Both are solid players who probably make more sense as backups (the roles they had with the Denver Nuggets).

    Delon Wright was a good addition, especially if the front office can find a taker for Derrick Rose. Josh Jackson and Dzanan Musa are worthwhile upside plays.

    But on balance, the best description for this offseason might be "confusing."

    Maybe a trade for Blake Griffin down the line would clear things up a bit.

    Weakness Addressed: No.

Golden State Warriors

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Health

    Like the Brooklyn Nets, the Golden State Warriors couldn't really do anything to address this weakness. Unlike the Nets, they were snakebitten again this offseason.

    After missing all of 2019-20 recovering from a torn ACL, Klay Thompson suffered a ruptured Achilles earlier this month. In the prime of his career, he's now been robbed of two full seasons.

    The loss almost certainly takes the Warriors out of title contention, even with two-time MVP Stephen Curry coming back, but their offseason wasn't a total loss.

    Adding James Wiseman with the No. 2 pick gives Golden State a chance to play a little differently. Perhaps a pick-and-roll-heavy offense with him and Curry could look something like the Houston Rockets' old attack with James Harden and Clint Capela.

    Trading for Kelly Oubre Jr. will help, too. He's obviously not Klay from three, but he averaged 18.7 points last season and shot well enough from the outside to force defenses to pay attention.

    Unleashing him and Andrew Wiggins in transition could be another adjustment the Warriors lean into.

    There's no way to put a positive spin on the Thompson news, but it's hard to imagine the Warriors being close to as bad as they were last season.

    Weakness Addressed: Out of their hands.

Houston Rockets

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Rebounding

    We still have to see how things shake out with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, both of whom may want to leave the Rockets, but Houston signed one of the best bigs available during free agency.

    Christian Wood was tied for 27th in box plus/minus last season and averaged 10.9 rebounds per 75 possessions. He's not Dennis Rodman, but he's certainly an upgrade over P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington when it comes to rebounding.

    On offense, he can play on the perimeter, as evidenced by his 1.5 threes per 75 possessions and 38.6 three-point percentage. That will keep the paint open for Westbrook, whose numbers skyrocketed after Houston abandoned traditional centers last season.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Indiana Pacers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Shot Selection

    After coming up short in pursuit of Gordon Hayward, the Indiana Pacers return largely the same roster they had in 2019-20.

    So, barring a trade, addressing this weakness will fall to the players and new head coach Nate Bjorkgren. And that might be enough.

    During Bjorkgren's two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Raptors, his team was seventh in three-point attempt rate. Indiana was 29th.

    And it's not like the Pacers are devoid of shooters. Last season, they had four players with at least 1,000 minutes and an above-average three-point percentage: Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday, T.J. Warren and Aaron Holiday. It's reasonable to believe one or two of Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb, Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo could join that group.

    Simply taking a few more deep looks per contest would help balance the in-game math for this team.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Defensive Aggression

    The Los Angeles Clippers' two biggest moves this offseason were the swaps of Landry Shamet for Luke Kennard (through a three-team trade) and Montrezl Harrell for Serge Ibaka (through free agency).

    The former probably doesn't do anything on the defensive end, but Kennard has shown more than Shamet in terms of on-ball creation in their brief careers. Recent NBA trends have taught us it's hard to have too much shooting or playmaking.

    The more influential move may be the addition of Ibaka. Advanced numbers lean toward Harrell, who won the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award, but Ibaka's ability to space the floor makes him a better fit alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

    And while he's not the rim-protector and defensive anchor he was during his early years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ibaka is a bigger and savvier defender than Harrell.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Shooting

    The Los Angeles Lakers had arguably the best offseason of any team.

    Dennis Schroder, who was acquired in a trade involving Danny Green, is coming off a stellar 2019-20 in which he averaged 18.9 points and posted a career-high (by far) effective field-goal percentage of 53.4.

    His 38.5 three-point percentage may be an aberration, but Schroder's ability to get to the rim and collapse a defense is not.

    Elsewhere, L.A. signed Wesley Matthews, a lesser (and slightly older) version of Green, to help curb that loss. It also replaced the center duo of JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard with a more versatile pair in Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell.

    Gasol isn't a Defensive Player of the Year-level stopper anymore, but he has basketball IQ to spare and takes up plenty of space in the paint. He can also hit threes, which will open up space in the middle for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. His passing will allow L.A. to get more creative on offense, too. Sets engineered by the big man will give LeBron and AD more opportunities to attack off the catch.

    Harrell, meanwhile, gives the Lakers the dive threat Dwight and JaVale provided last season.

    The Lakers following up a championship with an offseason like this has to have the rest of the league feeling like another mini-dynasty may be on the way.

    Weakness Addressed: Absolutely. And then some. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Shot Selection

    This section might read an awful lot like that of the Indiana Pacers. The Memphis Grizzlies could benefit by replacing some of their mid-range looks with threes, but they didn't really add anyone who's guaranteed to tilt shot charts in that direction.

    And, unlike Indiana, they don't have a new head coach taking over. That means a few players, including Ja Morant, may just have to realize that discretion is often the better part of valor. Morant can preserve his body and potentially boost his effective field-goal percentage if he replaces a few crashes into a barricade of bigger players inside with some threes.

    Beyond the discussion on shot selection, Memphis made plenty of smart, unheralded moves on the edges of the roster. Affordable, long-term deals for John Konchar and Jontay Porter could pay dividends down the line. Both are young and versatile. If either one hits, the Grizzlies will have a steal. If not, the salary is nowhere near burdensome.

    Weakness Addressed: No, but this is a fine offseason for an up-and-coming roster.

Miami Heat

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Offensive Rebounding

    Other than the addition of Precious Achiuwa, the Miami Heat more or less stood pat this offseason. And that's probably a fine approach.

    Miami is clearly looking to preserve flexibility ahead of the 2021 free-agency class, and it already has a Finals appearance under its belt with this roster.

    More development from Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson could very well make the team better even without a splashy veteran addition.

    Achiuwa can help with the weakness identified before the draft, though. Among the 557 NCAA players who logged at least as many minutes last season, the Memphis forward was 20th in offensive rebounding percentage. If you limit that search to freshmen, he jumps up to second (out of 49).

    Offensive rebounding has plenty to do with size and athleticism, but raw energy is arguably more important than both. Achiuwa will bring that. Plus, he and Adebayo are versatile enough to play together and give the Heat a little more muscle against bigger lineups.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes, with the caveat that it's borderline impossible to predict what you'll get from a rookie.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Lack of Playmaking

    In terms of regular-season numbers, it wouldn't be hard to argue that the move from Eric Bledsoe to Jrue Holiday was a lateral one. In fact, respondents to a blind comparison poll between the two overwhelmingly voted for Bledsoe.

    Raw numbers don't settle debates, but they certainly make the haul a little tougher to justify.

    Still, the stats may not capture Holiday's size advantage (6'3" to 6'1") and the potential efficiency boost he might get playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.

    The Milwaukee Bucks wanting a more switchable guard who's also been more reliable in the postseason is understandable, but the price remains a little shocking.

    If the Bucks had been able to pull off a sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic, which they originally thought they had, things would feel different. They bounced back with D.J. Augustin and Bryn Forbes, which probably isn't as good as George Hill (who also wound up on a different team this offseason).

    Another addition, Torrey Craig, could help on defense, but that was far from Milwaukee's problem.

    Internal development from Donte DiVincenzo and Pat Connaughton might help, but it's not a guarantee the Bucks got better this season.

    Weakness Addressed: Maybe.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Shooting

    This weakness was identified based on season-long numbers, which, of course, struggled to capture the impact of Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and D'Angelo Russell.

    With those three in the lineup for an entire season, the Minnesota Timberwolves' three-point percentage and effective field-goal percentage are likely to increase.

    Both Beasley and Hernangomez were re-signed in restricted free agency. The former shot 42.6 percent from three on 8.2 attempts per game after the T'Wolves acquired him. The latter was at 42.0 percent on 4.9 attempts per game in the same stretch.

    Flanking pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops that feature D-Lo and Karl-Anthony Towns with that kind of shooting should help with this problem. And if No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, who shot 29.4 percent from three in college, is even average as a shooter this season, it's gravy.

    The other big offseason addition for the Timberwolves was Ricky Rubio. You might think his historically bad effective field-goal percentage might be a drag on the team's shooting numbers, but his vision and passing typically have the opposite effect.

    His teams have had better shooting percentages with him on the floor in six of his nine campaigns.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Taking Care of the Ball

    The per-possession turnover averages of Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday are nearly identical. Steven Adams coughed the ball up a bit more than Derrick Favors, but not by the kind of margin that will drastically change anything.

    So, resolution of this weakness ultimately depends on Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson all getting a little better at taking care of the ball.

    That's certainly in play. Ball and Ingram are both 23. Zion is only 20. All three have plenty of untapped potential, and experience goes a long way toward eliminating mistakes.

    Weakness Addressed: Not really, but improvement is still possible.

New York Knicks

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Everything but Rebounding

    What this offseason signaled for the New York Knicks, perhaps more than anything else, is that they are eying a 2021 draft class that includes Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green.

    They created loads of cap space by unloading Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Bobby Portis, among others. They then used that room to re-sign Elfrid Payton and add Alec Burks, Austin Rivers and Nerlens Noel.

    Burks is a career backup who just had his first season with an above-average box plus/minus. Rivers only has one season where he was even above replacement level. Noel is a solid rim runner and rim protector, but he's largely redundant with up-and-comer Mitchell Robinson already on the roster.

    These moves clearly show that New York wants more developmental minutes for the likes of Robinson and RJ Barrett, as well as a shot at a top pick next offseason.

    Weakness Addressed: No. And that's fine.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Shot Selection

    The Oklahoma City Thunder clearly weren't looking to address short-term needs this offseason. The last several weeks have been all about the future and their staggeringly deep treasure trove of future draft picks.

    At the moment, OKC has a ridiculous 12 incoming first-round picks or first-round pick swaps between now and 2026. Those can be used in packages aimed at moving up in a draft. They can help acquire a veteran. Or they might just give the Thunder plenty of shots to draft their own game-changer.

    In the meantime, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a potential centerpiece who can hone his game while the organization builds around him.

    One area where he could help his overall efficiency is three-point volume. He shouldn't surrender his mid-range game entirely, but a few more three-point attempts per game could drive up his effective field-goal percentage and open up the middle of the floor a bit for teammates.

    Weakness Addressed: No. And that's fine.

Orlando Magic

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Scoring

    Outside of the draft, the Orlando Magic didn't do much this offseason. Unless incoming rookie Cole Anthony is much better than expected or Markelle Fultz takes a leap, points are going to be difficult to come by again.

    Last season, Evan Fournier was the only player in Orlando's rotation who scored more points on his shots than a league-average shooter would. He and Nikola Vucevic were the only players on the team above average in offensive box plus/minus.

    At some point this season, the Magic front office may have to find a way to trade defense for offense. Of course, we've been saying that about the Magic for a while.

    It's easier said than done.

    Weakness Addressed: No. 

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Ray Carlin/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Fit

    New Philadelphia 76ers team president Daryl Morey knocked this offseason out of the park.

    He had to ship a lightly protected 2025 first-rounder and the No. 34 overall pick to unload Al Horford's contract, but it should be worth it. His fit there was a borderline disaster. Finding a taker for that deal without having to give up the No. 21 overall pick or Matisse Thybulle was huge.

    The fact that the Sixers picked up Danny Green in that deal, and then backed it up with the acquisition of Seth Curry should make them a much more dangerous offensive team.

    The 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns proved Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid should be surrounded by the kind of shooting that Curry and Green will now hopefully provide.

    During those seasons, Philly was plus-14.4 points per 100 possessions when JJ Redick shared the floor with Simmons and Embiid. The duo was plus-3.4 points per 100 possessions when it played without Redick.

    Without a shooter of that caliber, the offense surrounding the Sixers' stars stagnated. With Curry and Green (and possibly an in-the-right-position Tobias Harris) pulling defenders outside, Simmons and Embiid should be able to dominate the middle of the floor.

    Weakness Addressed: Absolutely.

Phoenix Suns

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Paint Protection

    The Phoenix Suns didn't address this need directly, but they're one of the offseason's biggest winners anyway.

    Even if Chris Paul provides only a fraction of the positive impact he had on the Thunder this past season, Phoenix will push for a playoff berth for the first time in a decade.

    Devin Booker has ascended to full-fledged stardom. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson look like the kind of switchy, sweet-shooting wings so many NBA teams are after now. Jae Crowder and Jevon Carter will provide some grit. And Deandre Ayton could be one of the game's best centers as early as next season.

    Being the No. 1 pick in a draft class that includes Luka Doncic and Trae Young might make perception of Ayton unfair for a long time. On his own merits, he's off to a heck of an NBA start.

    Nikola Jokic, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only players in league history to match or exceed Ayton's 2019-20 per-possession averages for points, rebounds and assists in an age-21 (or younger) season.

    The physical profile that helps him be so productive also gives him the potential to be a dominant paint protector. His development into that, in combination with this offseason's moves, will dramatically alter the Suns' outlook.

    Weakness Addressed: Depends on Ayton.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Paint Protection

    The Portland Trail Blazers are moving on from Hassan Whiteside, who puts up gaudy numbers and had perhaps the best season of his career in 2019-20.

    Settling on a center rotation led by Jusuf Nurkic (an underrated defender) and Enes Kanter might suggest the Blazers weren't locked in on this particular weakness, but their overall defense should be better next season.

    Nurkic probably doesn't get enough credit for what he does defensively. He isn't the most explosive shot blocker, but he knows where to be and when to be there, and his sheer size takes up plenty of space inside.

    His teams have held opponents below their typical effective field-goal percentage in all but one of his seasons (the lone exception being 2019-20, when he only appeared in eight games). Having him back for a full season and healthy will make a difference.

    The addition of Robert Covington will help, too. Carmelo Anthony is a legend, but he's also one of the NBA's worst defenders at this point in his career. Slotting Covington in as the primary small-ball 4 is a massive upgrade.

    Last season, he averaged 2.2 blocks in his 22 games with the Rockets. His ability to surprise offensive players from the weak side will help him complement Nurkic and Kanter.

    There may still be some untapped potential for Harry Giles as well. If he and Zach Collins stay healthy, they could boost the front line even more.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes.

Sacramento Kings

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Limit Fouls

    This is another weakness that is tough to directly address through player acquisitions. A more focused approach from the holdovers is likely what it'll take to commit fewer fouls.

    More of a macro analysis of the offseason shows that the Sacramento Kings could be roughly the same next season, unless younger players like De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III make developmental leaps.

    Losing Bogdan Bogdanovic hurts, but it isn't devastating. He's already 28 years old, and he had only one positive net rating swing in his three seasons with the Kings.

    Replacing him with Tyrese Halliburton, whose draft-day slide turned into a blessing for Sacramento, is big.

    Weakness Addressed: We'll see.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Forcing Turnovers

    Limiting fouls has been a hallmark of the San Antonio Spurs' defensive philosophy for years. And it's tough to quibble with the results.

    Over the course of Tim Duncan's career (1997-98 to 2015-16), San Antonio didn't just allow the fewest points per 100 possessions. The distance between it and second place was the same as the distance between second and 19th.

    Since Duncan's retirement, though, the Spurs have slipped to eighth in defensive rating. And last season, they were 23rd.

    Without an all-time great anchor like Duncan, the system has collapsed. It may be time for a new one that leans into the strengths of the roster's younger players.

    Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV are long, athletic wings who may need to be unleashed toward more aggressive perimeter defense. That may mean more fouls, but last season's struggles suggest it's worth the gamble.

    San Antonio's front office didn't add anyone this offseason who'll help on that end. Improvement rests squarely on the shoulders of the players who were there in 2019-20.

    Weakness Addressed: No.

Toronto Raptors

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Rebounding

    After finishing in the bottom 10 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage last season, the Toronto Raptors lost Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol to the Clippers and Lakers, respectively.

    On the rebounding front, losing Gasol may not hurt too much. His 8.5 boards per 75 possessions can be replaced. But when you combine that with Ibaka's 10.9, you start to wonder.

    A bigger role for Chris Boucher should help. He topped both in rebounding percentage (17.9) last season. And Aron Baynes' rebounding rate (9.0) with the Phoenix Suns in 2019-20 topped Gasol's.

    In a reductionist sense, Toronto's new-look frontcourt should secure more boards than last season's. Technically, that means the Raptors addressed that particular weakness. But the overall skill level of Baynes and Boucher might not measure up to that of Ibaka and Gasol.

    Weakness Addressed: Yes, but at the expense of other areas.

Utah Jazz

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Turnovers

    The Utah Jazz didn't add any ball-handling this offseason, but they did retain some of their best playmakers from last season.

    The Jazz re-signed Jordan Clarkson and gave Donovan Mitchell a five-year max extension. If Mike Conley can stay healthy this season, perhaps he can stabilize the offense a bit (although lineups with Conley at the point had a slightly higher turnover percentage than those with Mitchell at the 1).

    Where Utah should be better is inside.

    Ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, the Jazz traded Derrick Favors to the Pelicans to make room for Bojan Bogdanovic. That made their backup center situation drastically worse than it was when they had Favors.

    Last season, Utah was plus-6.4 points per 100 possessions with Rudy Gobert on the floor and minus-6.2 with him off.

    Having Favors back for those minutes without Gobert will do wonders for the second unit.

    Weakness Addressed: No, but the team should still be better.

Washington Wizards

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Predraft Weakness: Defense. Everywhere.

    In short, the Washington Wizards didn't do much to address their defensive issues.

    Defensive rating swings and defensive box plus/minus both suggest that recently acquired center Robin Lopez is a below-average defender.

    Davis Bertans, who the Wizards re-signed on a five-year, $80 million contract, doesn't help on that end, either (though he's still a net plus due to his enormously positive offensive impact).

    Is the return of a post-Achilles rupture John Wall enough to improve Washington's defense? He has typically helped the Wizards on that end, but there's no way to know exactly how he'll look upon returning from that devastating injury.

    Barring trades, short-term improvements on defense will probably depend on stronger commitment from Bradley Beal and internal development for Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr.

    Weakness Addressed: No.


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