NBA Power Rankings: Warriors, Celtics knock it out of the park in free agency
How the league stacks up post Durant-to-Golden State
The NBA is ready to slide into its long summer's nap as free agency winds down, and boy, did it earn it.
In the past month we've seen LeBron James and the Cavaliers storm back from being down 3-1 for the first time in Finals history to win the first Cleveland title in 52 years and ruin theWarriors' legendary 73-win season. We've seen several teams take significant reaches in the first round of the draft. We've seen a spending spree like never before as Mike Conley got the largest contract in NBA history, Timofey Mozgov received $64 million, and Evan Turner $70 million.
||This is like when you ask "What do you get the person who has everything?" For the Warriors, the only answer is "Kevin Durant, without having to give up Draymond Green, Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson." That is what you get them.||--||0-0|
||They won the title, they have the best player on the planet, everything is roses for Cleveland, finally. The only thing that could take them off of cloud nine is ... oh, that's right, Kevin Durant going to the Warriors.||1||0-0|
||The Spurs will win a lot of games next year and they'll be efficient, disciplined, and smart. But it won't be the same with Tim Duncan leaving, no matter what his role has been the past two seasons. Pau Gasol is not going to keep them in the same tier.||1||0-0|
||They ran back the same team but you're still left with concerns about chemistry. This squad still has two top-tier players and two top-tier role players and might have given the Warriors some real trouble if, you know, a cacophony of terrible fate hadn't landed on their heads.||3||0-0|
||Toronto failed to make substantial upgrades and lost Bismack Biyombo this offseason, but they kept the core components. Jonas Valanciunas looks ready to take a big step forward. Getting back to the Eastern Conference finals will be a trick but they've earned that respect.||1||0-0|
||The Grizzlies stared franchise-relevance death in the face and came back much better. Their biggest weaknesses (dynamic on-ball forward play, shooting) were addressed, their biggest free agent (Mike Conley) re-signed. If their health goes badly, the Grizzlies will be a bottom-feeder. If everything goes right, they could be the third-best team in the West.||11||0-0|
||Al Horford is a home run over the monster and into somewhere deep in the middle of the Atlantic. Jaylen Brown is a large unknown that could be "Jeff Green if he lives up to his potential" or "Jeff Green." But overall, the Celtics had a winner of a summer and are right there with Toronto in the East.||1||0-0|
||Larry Bird's decision to let Frank Vogel go seemed like hubris, but the moves he made to reconfigure the roster were both inventive and ingenious. Shooting might be a concern, but they reloaded and will have a veteran roster ready to win right away.||7||0-0|
||At some point, teams are going to stop Stan Van Gundy, a remarkably smart basketball mind, from acquiring the perfect components for the team he wants to build, right? Somewhere, sometime? Anybody? No?||4||0-0|
||The Jazz get Dante Exum back, added George Hill and Joe Johnson, plus have Trey Lyles and Rudy Gobert still developing. This is the leap year for them. If it doesn't happen this year, it's not going to with this core.||4||0-0|
||Does Evan Turner for $70 million really make them better? No, but then we said the same thing about Al-Farouq Aminu last year. That was the prevailing sentiment at Summer League about Portland: Hey, they did seemingly bizarre things last year and made the second round, so who are we to judge? I have my suspicions about this year but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until we see how this team looks in the fall.||--||0-0|
||I hope you like offense, because that's what they've got. Yup. Lots of offense. Offensive coach. Offensive free agents in Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. Offense everywhere. Sorry, what's that? Defense? No, I'm afraid we're not familiar with that around here.||4||0-0|
||The departures of Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson hurt, but they retained a core that clicked last season. They'll need things to be sharp to avoid regression. Charlotte can't keep hopping in and out of the playoffs.||3||0-0|
||I like Tyler Johnson's game a lot. Hassan Whiteside's really good and brings a lot to the table at a younger age. But if Goran Dragic or Hassan Whiteside miss more than ten games this season, they could miss the playoffs. That is not an encouraging sign.||5||0-0|
||I keep waiting for the Hawks to wake up on their hotel room floor with a splitting headache and wonder why Dwight Howard is hanging out in the corner playing Pokemon Go and where Al Horford is. But hey, at least they gave the keys to their entire offense to Dennis Schr?der while involving Paul Millsap in trade rumors. Things are peachy in Georgia.||10||0-0|
||I've taken to calling the Deron Williams/Seth Curry/Harrison Barnes/Andrew Bogut/Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks "The Leftovers."||4||0-0|
||If this were poker, what the Thunder went through between Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals through Durant?s decision would be one of the worst beats ever.||13||0-0|
||To say there is skepticism about how Chicago will deal with Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler on the same team with Fred Hoiberg coaching is a bit of an understatement. This is like a car made up of random car parts, except most of those cars were also barely running. There's some concern there.||2||0-0|
||So many things went wrong for the Wizards last year that despite an underwhelming offseason, even if things just don't go as poorly, they could get back on track. How is John Wall going to deal with Bradley Beal making $48 million more on his deal than Wall did, though?||2||0-0|
||Milwaukee has a lot of moment going into next season and added some good pieces like Matthew Dellavedova. Their biggest asset is internal development, but if it hits right they could be back in the playoffs next season. Much of this rests with Giannis Antetokounmpo.||1||0-0|
||Their value signings like E'Twaun Moore and Solomon Hill should help, but they still need to figure out what do with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik. One thing's for sure, though. Everyone's sleeping too deep on a player as talented as Anthony Davis at this point.||4||0-0|
||Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Courtney Lee are all actual NBA players, and those additions should help them be better. There are a lot of ways this could go sideways, but given their long-standing ineptitude, sideways would still be an improvement. 1-2-3! Low expectations!||4||0-0|
||Here is where I tell you how this team could make a huge leap and reach the playoffs next season while still keeping them beneath the Knicks. They're an incredibly young bunch, and inexperienced teams typically don't win this early. So I can either say I didn't buy the hype and kept them 23rd or that even though I had them 23rd, I clearly said they were still on the rise. The ultimate bet-hedge team.||5||0-0|
||Jeff Green, Bismack Biyombo, Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka. I just listed four players making eight-figures per season who play power forward or center and guess what? Aaron Gordon who might be their best long-term big is not one of them. The Magic have never heard of "three's a crowd" because they apparently feel that threshold is more like 12.||2||0-0|
||Denver didn't get older. They didn't make a splash. They're still brutally young. But the Nuggets made the right move by avoiding an impetuous, impulsive signing just to do something. Their austerity is much more in line with a long-term plan.||1||0-0|
||They did some smart things in free agency under the radar. The draft is going to have to look radically different than it does now to be a success. They look like a better version of the Kings, but still the Kings.||3||0-0|
||This team has a crazy amount of talent and hardly any idea of what to do with it. Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Dragan Bender all have real star potential. Can they get through a season without dramatic personnel issues?||--||0-0|
||I've been hard on the Nets for four years due to their inability to make a plan more than 45 millimeters in front of their face. But this team is actually going to be fun, and they keep making smart signings and value moves. This team won't be good ... but they're going to fun, in a weird sort of way, and that's promising.||1||0-0|
||They splurged on veterans who don't fit the timeline and their best player is probably the kid who ruined his teammate's engagement on Snapchat. Oh, and the only way they can get a meeting with a marquee free agent at this point is by posing as a taco truck outside their homes. Other than that, though, things are swell.||1||0-0|
||Ben Simmons may set records for the lowest field goal percentage by a plus-30-minute rookie in NBA history, but he may also set the record for most assists by rookie. His vision and skill is very real, as is his broken jumper. But the Sixers have real NBA players and that's going to help them. They'll be better this year. I think. I hope. Right?||--||0-0|
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