NBA Power Rankings: With free agency coming to a halt, here's where the teams stand
The Warriors were on a run in free agency comparable to how they performed in the playoffs
The 2018 NBA free agency period wasn't filled with as much drama and movement as the previous year, but it still saw a handful of big moves such as LeBron James heading to the Lakers, DeMarcus Cousins turning the Warriors into an actual All-Star team, and Kawhi Leonard being traded to the Raptors.
Of course, there's a big NBA world out there and some teams did manage to improve themselves and create a little positivity going into August slow time. Others didn't take advantage of the offseason and look a little worse off and then a there were the teams that just stood pat due to cap reasons, or building on continuity. There's no correct way to build an NBA team, except for signing every single good player in the NBA like Golden State does, but it's always nice to at least get an idea of what's being built.
The teams that appear to be going somewhere, have a clear goal in mind, and are building towards that goal always look way better than the ones that are just winging it. Fans want an idea that a plan is being followed. Not a front office that is just throwing ideas at a a wall and hoping it sticks.Those teams are the ones that cause the biggest concern.
|1||Warriors||The Warriors not only re-signed Kevin Durant, but they shocked everybody by adding DeMarcus Cousins with an inexpensive one-year deal. The rich get richer in Golden State and the Warriors are set up to win the title once again.||--||58-24|
|2||Celtics||With LeBron James out of the East, the conference is really the Celtics to lose. Their big move of the offseason was bringing back Marcus Smart and that's all they needed to do with Gordon Hayward coming back from injury next season.||--||55-27|
|3||76ers||The 76ers missed on LeBron James and inquired about Kawhi Leonard, but their decision to stand pat was a good one. They added Wilson Chandler and bringing back J.J. Redick was crucial. They did lose some shooting in Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, but those two are replaceable.||1||52-30|
|4||Raptors||The Raptors made huge changes over the offseason. Out is Dwane Casey, in is Nick Nurse. DeMar DeRozan has been traded to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. Masai Ujiri is taking risks and the Raptors ceiling is higher because of it, but there's no guarantee those risks are going to work.||2||59-23|
|5||Rockets||Houston got worse over the offseason. The Rockets let their two best perimeter defenders, Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute walk to different teams, they're expected to add Carmelo Anthony and there are legitimate questions how much he helps them. At least they brought Chris Paul and Clint Capela back.||2||65-17|
|6||Spurs||I understand the concern with the Spurs adding even more mid-range shooting in DeMar DeRozan, losing Tony Parker, and appearing to move even farther away from modern basketball. It's just hard to see how adding a good player in DeRozan is going to make them worse than last season when Kawhi Leonard only played nine games.||2||47-35|
|7||Jazz||The Jazz are aiming for consistency and development this offseason. They re-signed Derrick Favors, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto. They drafted Grayson Allen. The Jazz can once again be really good next season, but they're likely hoping the improvements of Donovan Mitchell will raise their ceiling.||2||48-34|
|8||Pelicans||The Pelicans had an interesting offseason. They let DeMarcus Cousins walk, likely due to fears with his Achilles injury, but some might argue that makes them more lethal. If the Anthony Davis everyone saw from the latter half of last season can be sustained over an entire year, the Pelicans are going to be a force offensively.||1||48-34|
|9||Thunder||The Thunder didn't just convince Paul George to come back for a season, but managed to sign him to a four-year contract. They now have a real base to build off of with George and Russell Westbrook. They traded away Carmelo Anthony because of fit reasons and used that money to re-sign role guys like Raymond Felton. Even if the Thunder don't win a title next year, they have actual time to build something now.||1||48-34|
|10||Lakers||They added LeBron James. That is enough to call their offseason an overwhelming success. If only the moves they made afterwards weren't so questionable. There's nothing wrong with adding Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley, and Rajon Rondo individually. Putting them together as the compliments to James, on a team that already struggled to shoot, is a problem. They're putting a lot of pressure on the young guys to improve quickly.||6||35-47|
|11||Bucks||The Bucks biggest win of the offseason was hiring Mike Budenholzer. A modern offense and defense should do wonders for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bringing on Brook Lopez is a sneaky excellent move to shore up their starting lineup and they were better off letting Jabari Parker walk. Is next season finally the year the Bucks break out?||--||44-38|
|12||Timberwolves||The Wolves offseason was plagued with rumors of discontent between Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. They managed to start extension talks with Towns, but Butler rejected the one he was offered. As the rest of the West got better the Wolves just kind of treaded water and that's concerning.||3||47-35|
|13||Pacers||The Pacers were smart this offseason and didn't do anything too drastic. They're doubling down on their current roster with Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner as the core. Replacing Lance Stephenson with Tyreke Evans is a phenomenal move up, and there are worse decisions than taking a flyer on Kyle O'Quinn. The one concern is that they may have overpaid for Doug McDermott||--||48-34|
|14||Trail Blazers||Speaking of treading water. The Trail Blazers re-signed Jusuf Nurkic and that's really the only major move they were able to make. Seth Curry could turn out to be a nice depth move, but nothing Portland did moved the needle. That's fine, but it's not encouraging after last season's disappointing playoff exit.||2||49-33|
|15||Nuggets||The Nuggets made the obvious decision to max out Nikola Jokic, but now the clock is ticking on putting a playoff team around him. They added Isaiah Thomas and traded away Wilson Chandler which doesn't do much to help their defense, but maybe that's a lost cause at this point. The Nuggets will need to hope another year of consistency helps them in the improved west.||1||46-36|
|16||Wizards||You know a team is in trouble when it adds Dwight Howard. There are worse risks for the Wizards to take, and maybe he'll pair well with John Wall, but it's just hard to see how Washington will be any better next season.||1||43-39|
|17||Clippers||The Clippers are weird. They allowed DeAndre Jordan to walk to Dallas, but didn't do anything that would be considered steps towards a rebuild. It feels like Los Angeles is just biding its time until it can sign or trade for another star. Expect mediocrity next season.||--||42-40|
|18||Heat||The Heat didn't do anything over the offseason and that's because they couldn't. Miami had no cap room to work with and nobody wanted to trade for Hassan Whiteside. It's time for the Heat to run it back once again and hope it works this time. It likely won't, but Erick Spoelstra has made magic happen before.||1||44-38|
|19||Pistons||The Pistons are in a state of transition. They're obviously trying to win by hiring Dwane Casey to replace Stan Van Gundy, but their capped out roster isn't flexible enough to make franchise changing moves yet. For now, they'll have to hope Casey can make the Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin pairing work.||1||39-43|
|20||Cavaliers||With Kevin Love signing an extension, the Cavaliers decision for the future is clearly in the direction of staying competitive. This isn't to say they can't rebuild eventually, but their currently capped out roster was going to make bottoming out difficult. They could have made worse decisions.||2||50-32|
|21||Grizzlies||Memphis is either going to look like geniuses or fools next season. The Grizzlies are running it back with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley while adding some win now players in Omri Casspi and Kyle Anderson. If Conley gets hurt again next season, or if Gasol is just too old to be impactful, then this could go sideways in a hurry.||1||22-60|
|22||Knicks||The Knicks punted this offseason in favor of spending money in the 2019 offseason. Even so, they were smart to take flyers on Mario Hezonja and Noah Vonleh. If they pan out then the deals are a steal. If they flop then there's no long term risk. Even for a punt, the Knicks played smart.||1||29-53|
|23||Nets||Brooklyn is in this weird place where it can't make many wrong decisions. The Nets have spent so long just trying to escape the mistakes of previous management and as a result it's hard for them to exactly fail at this stage of the team building process. With a young roster, and their own draft pick, it's finally time for the Nets to take some steps forward.||--||28-54|
|24||Hornets||The Hornets were in a horrible position at the start of the offseason. They probably should have chosen to blow it up, but they're riding it out with Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum. At least for another year. It's hilarious that they turned Dwight Howard into the return of Bismack Biyombo.||3||36-46|
|25||Mavericks||DeAndre Jordan is finally in Dallas. Unfortunately, there isn't much of a team for him to work with. It's nice that Mark Cuban wants to continue trying to win with Dirk Nowitzki, but this roster just doesn't have the talent to do it.||1||24-58|
|26||Bulls||Chicago will probably still not be good next season which is fine, but the Bulls put a lot of money into a core of Zach Lavine, Jabari Parker, and Lauri Markkanen. It's nice to believe in their young players, but that's a lot of faith in an unproven group.||1||27-55|
|27||Magic||The Magic have managed to put some hope into a roster that, at the beginning of the offseason, felt beyond help. Aaron Gordon's contract is frontloaded, Bismack Biyombo is back in Charlotte, and Mohamed Bamba looked great next to Jonathan Isaac in summer league. Good moves aside, the Magic still have a long way to go.||3||25-57|
|28||Suns||The Suns have some momentum going into the future with Devin Booker on a new contract, No. 1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, and new head coach Igor Kokoskov at the helm. This momentum does not mean they're going to start winning games. Teams don't just bounce back from last place in offense, defense, and net rating after one offseason.||1||21-61|
|29||Kings||Sacramento entered the offseason with tons of cap space and had absolutely nothing to use it on. The Kings will need to hope the young players they have on the roster eventually become appealing, because they're struggling to sign anybody.||3||27-55|
|30||Hawks||The Hawks are entering a long term rebuild and every move they made over the offseason was for that purpose. They have a head start with young guys like John Collins and Trae Young on the roster, but it's going to take awhile.||2||24-58|
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