It’s been a another long and arduous NBA offseason in this Summer of 2012, and with the NBA Draft, Trade deadline, and NBA Summer Leagues already concluded, it’s time to take a look at which teams fared the best since the Miami Heat took home the Bill Russell Trophy to South Beach.
While virtually any and every NBA team has been rumored this Summer to have at least attempted to put together a trade package for Dwight Howard, the game’s best big man remains in Orlando….for now. But as we’ve learned, things can change at a moments notice, with Howard potentially changing area codes like a pair of gym socks.
Many felt there was one clear superstar in the 2012 Draft consisting of reigning NCAA POY Anthony Davis and a number of high “B” level role type players to follow like Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, and Brad Beal. Which teams made the most of their selections to improve this Summer?
When it comes to player trades and signings, we saw a number of high level talent change teams like Steve Nash, Ray Allen, and Joe Johnson. But will lesser role players like Andrei Kirilenko, Nick Young, and Jason Kidd make the bigger impact?
Taking into consideration a team’s entire offseason, from Draft to Trades, these 10 teams had the best Summer of 2012 offseason…….
NBA Draft: SG Jeremy Lamb, PF Royce White, PF Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas(2011)
Trades and Free Agency: PG Jeremy Lin, PF Jon Brockman, PG Toney Douglas, SG Gary Forbes, C Josh Harrellson, PF JaJuan Johnson, PG Shaun Livingston, SF Sean Williams
While we all were a bit perplexed by when Rockets’ management made trades with 5 different NBA teams, essentially swapping out veterans(Dalembert, Scola, Camby, and Lowry) for valuable trade chips and future draft picks in a potential Dwight Howard trade, the Rockets actually have a good young core to build around for the future. Let’s face it, the 2012 roster wasn’t going any further as constructed, so I at least give them credit for blowing it up and starting over with a new star point guard(Lin), proven scorer at shooting guard(Martin), a bevy of talented, albeit young former collegiate stars, as well as still having a slight chance at convincing D12 to relocate to Houston. Losing the bruising Scola will hurt but at least one of the incoming rookies up front along with the returning Marcus Morris from Kansas should take a step forward in his spot. While many say that Linsanity was a product of catching lightning in a bottle, Lin should flourish in Coach McHale’s uptempo, pick-and-roll heavy offense, giving the team a potential All Star from the point, who will not bristle with the coach(unlike Lowery).
NBA Draft: SG Jared Cunningham, C Bernard James, SF Jae Crowder
Trades and Free Agency: SG OJ Mayo, C Chris Kaman, PF Elton Brand, SG Delonte West, PG Darren Collison, SG Dahntay Jones
Wow. In just 2 seasons, owner Mark Cuban has virtually retooled his entire roster around star forward Dirk Nowitzki, after winning the 2011 NBA Title. Long gone are mainstays like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood, and JJ Barea and in there place are an aging Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, Delonte West, and the oft injured Brandan Wright……not exactly an even trade-off. That’s why Cuban, even after whiffing on signing Texas native Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, found a way to once again keep the roster in flux by drafting and trading for quantity over quality this Summer. The Mavs will be a mixture of youth and experience after bringing in former All Stars Chris Kaman and Elton Brand up front, along with rookie big man Bernard James from Florida State. They also went younger in the backcourt, signing a still only 24 year old OJ Mayo, who was buried on the bench in Memphis, drafted ultra athletic Jared Cunningham from Oregon St, traded for former starters Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones from the Pacers, and resigned Delonte West to solidify the backcourt. SF Jae Crowder has potential as a the reigning Big East POY, providing scoring, rebounding, and hustle.
NBA Draft: PF Jared Sullinger, C Fab Melo, SF Kris Joseph
Trades and Free Agency: SG Jason Terry, PF Kevin Garnett, SF Brandon Bass, SF Jeff Green, PF Chris Wilcox, PG Keyon Dooling, C Jason Collins, SG Courtney Lee, SG Dionte Christmas
Seemingly every year we keep writing the Celtics off as too old and they continue to prove us wrong by making a deep Eastern Conference postseason run. Instead of breaking up the “Big 4″, GM Danny Ainge has once again retooled in an attempt to get the most out of future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who re-signed with Boston for another 3 years at $34 million. Although they lost Ray Allen to the rival Miami Heat, they quickly signed former NBA 6th Man of the Year Jason Terry away from the Mavs as his replacement. Terry arguably has a little bit more to offer as a backup point when Rondo needs rest and with the 2nd unit. Ainge also resigned the injured Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox to shore up the frontcourt, as well as signing instant offense off the bench in the form of promising shooting guards Courtney Lee and former Temple star Dionte Christmas, who was last playing in Europe. In the Draft, the Celtics got potentially 3 studs who could slide right in the rotation as role players next season. Despite back concerns, Sullinger proved critics wrong in the NBA Summer leagues and fits right into the former roll of Glen Davis, now in Orlando. The 7 foot plus Fab Melo has a lot to learn but will be asked to do just one thing……..block shots, his specialty at Syracuse. Fellow Orangeman Kris Joseph was a 4 year contributor who has potential to be a better pro than collegian and a future replacement at the 3 for Paul Pierce. There are also rumors that Rasheed Wallace is making a comeback….
NBA Draft: N/A
Trades and Free Agency: SF Grant Hill, SF Lamar Odom, SG Willie Green, PG Chauncey Billups, PF Ryan Hollins, C Ronny Turiaf
After making the Playoffs for only the 2nd time in the past decade, I don’t think anyone would doubt that the LA Clippers finally have emerged from being the league doormat to potential NBA Title contenders. A big part of the resurgence has been the development of Blake Griffin and the acquisition of All Star point guard Chris Paul, now management just needs to fill in the proper pieces around them. Without the help of any Draft picks, the Clippers have definitely gotten better by adding a number of veterans like the ageless Grant Hill from the Suns and Lamar Odom, who could prove invaluable not only on the court but in helping Griffin be all that he can be. While Hollins and Turiaf provide bulk up front, the resigning of former NBA Champ Chauncey Billups along with Willie Green, provide scoring and stability behind Paul from the perimeter. While the Clippers didn’t make the big splash of their crosstown rivals in free agency, they definitely added some much needed depth for another postseason run.
NBA Draft: PF Anthony Davis, SG Austin Rivers, SF Darius Miller
Trades and Free Agency: SG Eric Gordon, PF Ryan Anderson, C Robin Lopez, SF Hakim Warrick
We all knew it was just a matter of time before the Hornets would lose out on All World point guard and franchise player Chris Paul but in short time, and possibly with a little help, Nawlins has secured the services of their next franchise player in the form of #1 overall Draft pick Anthony Davis. Davis could be a future superstar, as he has been described by some as a combination of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. While time will tell, they also drafted former Duke star Austin Rivers, in addition to resigning star 2 guard Eric Gordon. Even though Gordon wanted to leave town for Phoenix, he’s a true pro, and will give the Hornets a potent trio to build around going forward. Snagging stretch PF Ryan Anderson along with former Suns center Robin Lopez in free agency should allow Davis to show off his still untapped potential as a skilled offensive player shown in HS(former 37 ppg). Fellow Kentucky alum Darius Miller could be a stud in a 6th man role as Warrick always provides scoring, board work, and highlight reel dunking from the frontcourt.
NBA Draft: C Justin Hamilton
Trades and Free Agency: SG Ray Allen and SF Rashard Lewis
By proving to the NBA universe that they were the best team in the Association last season, the Miami Heat didn’t really need to do much in the form of adding pieces for next season. But Pat Riley is never one to rest on his laurels as he got help from both the Draft and in free agency by adding yet anther two sharpshooting 3 point shooters as well as a big bodied center to add to the Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, and Eddy Curry rotation at center. All joking aside, Justin Hamilton could turn out to be a diamond in the rough as a legit 7 foot and 260 lb+ big man from LSU that clogs the paint and doesn’t make much money going forward. I mean, Juwan Howard will forever be a Fab Fiver but Hamilton is literally half of his age. The real coup this offseason was to secure the services of the NBA’s all time 3 point king Ray Allen, who signed for less money in Miami than he could have gotten in Boston. Allen is a true pro and will undoubtedly return to form after being only a shell of himself, nursing an injured foot last season in the Playoffs. At 6’9, Rashard Lewis has always been a match-up nightmare, but was never worthy of the max contract he was given a few years ago. Dare I say it…on paper, the Heat are better this season then the last?
NBA Draft: SF Robbie Hummel
Trades and Free Agency: SG Brandon Roy, SF Andrei Kirilenko, SG Chase Budinger, C Greg Stiemsma, PF Dante Cunningham, SG Alexey Schved
Along with the Clippers, Minnesota has long been mired at the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference, except for a brief stint when a young Kevin Garnett willed his team into the postseason. Slowly but surely management has added key pieces in a rebuilding effort led by All Star big man Kevin Love, SF/PF Derrick Williams, and now PG Ricky Rubio. After fading late last season, the Wolves are now hoping to make the postseason by bringing in some former NBA stars, albeit with a change in area code, in an attempt to keep Team USA member Kevin Love in Minny for the foreseeable future. After hooping it up this Summer in Pro-Am action, former Trailblazer Brandon Roy is back to prove his retirement due to injury was premature while former Jazz swingman AK-47 is returning to the states after playing and starring for Russia in the Olympics. Minny has also signed Russian guard and FIBA star Alexey Schved, Rockets swingman Chase Budinger, and drafted former Purdue star Robbie Hummel, as potent targets for Rubio in the backcourt. Foul-a-minute, yet strong defensive rim protector Greg Steimsma and NBA vet Dante Cunningham will do all of the dirty work down low with the Darko Milicic experiment now over.
NBA Draft: PG Kendall Marshall
Trades and Free Agency: SF Michael Beasley, PF Luis Scola, SG Shannon Brown, PG Goran Dragic, SF Wes Johnson, SG Jerome Dyson, C Brad Miller
We all knew that it was just a matter of time before the illustrious Steve Nash led era in Phoenix came to an end. Luckily for Suns fans, the Phoenix roster wasn’t left completely bare and may be back better than ever in short order, because of some shrewd offseason moves through both the Draft and free agency. While no one player can replace 2 time league MVP at point guard, management did well in drafting the pass first former UNC star Kendall Marshall and signing starting caliber floor general Goran Dragic away from Houston. Marshall projects as the future while many have felt that Dragic hasn’t been given a chance to shine as a starter in his time in both Houston and Phoenix. Replacing the aging Grant Hill will be the much younger Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson, who although enigmatic, still have potential as stars with proper seasoning. Although he costs a pretty penny, claiming Scola after being amnestied by the Rockets gives Phoenix a low post presence to bang with the Tim Duncans and Blake Griffins of the Western Conference. Also, the ever improving human pogo stick Shannon Brown was resigned after the Hornets matched the offer sheet for star free agent SG Eric Gordon.
NBA Draft: SG Darius Johnson-Odom and C Robert Sacre
Trades and Free Agency: PG Steve Nash, PF Antawn Jamison, PF Jordan Hill, PG Darius Morris
After bowing out a bit early for everyone’s tastes in the 2012 Playoffs, many felt it was time to blow up the core that has helped lead the Lakers on numerous Championship runs over the past 5 years. While 4 time All Star Pau Gasol and promising big man Andrew Bynum were the odds-on early favorites to be shipped out of town, management initially threw there hats into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes before pulling off a coup by acquiring 8 time All Star Steve Nash from the Suns. While Nash is nearing 40, he remains a Top 3 point guard and lights out perimeter shooter, two traits desperately needed to aid Kobe Bryant as father time slowly catches up to the future Hall of Famer. The signing of Nash will take the ball out of Kobe’s hands, allowing Bryant to do more of what he does best, light up the scoreboard from virtually anywhere on the floor. Although fellow senior citizen Antawn Jamison has seen better days, the 2 time All Star still knows how to score, and was a key pick-up helping to provide the scoring and rebounds lost by Lamar Odom after 2011. Former Lottery pick Jordan Hill, who showed promise after coming over from Houston and still improving PG Darius Morris were resigned providing depth. In the Draft, Mitch Kupcheck got two potential studs in All Big East performer Johnson-Odom and bruising 7 foot tattood center Robert Sacre from Gonzaga, both of whom bring toughness and skill to “Showtime.”
NBA Draft: PG Tyshawn Taylor, PF Tornike Shengalia, PF Ilkan Karaman
Trades and Free Agency: PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson, C Brook Lopez, SF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries, SG Jerry Stackhouse, SG Keith Bogans, PG CJ Watson, PF Mirza Teletovic
For nearly two seasons, everything was leading up to forming an All World duo in Brooklyn this Summer, teaming up Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, as the Nets descended into their initial season at the Barclays Center in New York. But then D12 got cold feet and Orlando management balked at the numerous trade packages, forcing Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov into Plan B. And what a plan it was as the Nets will instantly become relevant again by boasting one of the league’s best backcourts consisting of 6 time All Star Joe Johnson, acquired from Atlanta, and the newly resigned Deron Williams. The Dwight Howard saga forced management to resign several other strong role players like Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez to form a potent core going forward. Fringe starter CJ Watson gives outstanding depth at the point, as well as former Bulls starter Keith Bogans, who will be the designated defensive stopper on opposing perimeter players. The Nets also got two star players on the international stage in Shengalia and Teletovic, who project towards the future, as well of NJ native Tyshawn Taylor, a star PG and 4 year contributor at Kansas. Does Jerry Stackhouse even deserve a mention….?
August 6, 2012 – Check out 10 NBA teams that had the best off-seasons this summer………