Summer 2016 has shifted the balance of the western conference. The draft and free agency has recarved the face of teams. Some have taken the next step, others a step back. Here are my grades for the 2016 offseason for the west.
Dallas Mavericks: C-
If it weren’t for the signing of Harrison Barnes and the trade for Andrew Bogut, I’d have given the Mavericks a big fat F. As it is, they pulled off sort of replacing Parsons with Barnes, who is less of an upgrade, and more of a saving grace. The Mavericks also added role players (if you can call them that) Seth Curry and Quincy Acy as well as rookie AJ Hammons among others. Not the best of company for Nowitzki, Williams, Matthews, Anderson and crew, after losing out on Durant and Whiteside, but the Mavericks managed to piece together something resembling a workable roster.
Projected Starting Lineup: Deron Williams (PG) Wesley Matthews (SG) Harrison Barnes (SF) Dirk Nowitski (PF) Andrew Bogut (C)
Denver Nuggets: D+
The Nuggets added rookies Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez, and Malik Beasley. These additions, plus an under achieving group led by Kenneth Faried, Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, minus Joffrey Lauverg who was traded for magic beans to the Thunder, equals a disappointing offseason.
Projected Starting Lineup: Emmanuel Mudiay (PG) Gary Harris (SG) Danilo Gallinari (SF) Jusuf Nurkic (PF) Nikola Jokic (C)
Golden State Warriors: B-
The Warriors sacrificed most of their bench, letting Barbosa, Rush, Speights, and Ezeli walk away to sign Kevin Durant. To fill the gap, the Warriors signed David West, Zaza Pachulia, Elliot Williams, and drafted Patrick McCaw. Some say the addition of Durant makes the Warriors the best team in the west, and a shoo in to break the 73 wins record they set last year, but with a weak bench the starters have a lot of work to do. I wish I could give them an incomplete.
Projected Starting Lineup: Stephen Curry (PG) Klay Thompson (SG) Andre Iguodola (SF) Kevin Durant (PF) Draymond Green (C)
Houston Rockets: C
They let Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, and Jason Terry walk away. Then signed Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Nene, and GP II. Not a great offseason, but not the worst it could have been either. These newbies can join Harden and company under new coach Mike D’Antoni, crap in one hand, wish for wins in the other and see what comes first.
Projected Starting Lineup: Patrick Beverly (PG) Eric Gordon (SG) James Harden (SF) Ryan Anderson (PF) Clint Capela (C)
Los Angeles Clippers: B-
The Clippers lost Aldrich, Green, and Pringoni( though Pablo is not much of loss) and signed Speights, Bass, Anderson, and drafted Diamond Stone. Maybe this year along with Paul, Griffin, Reddick, Baby Rivers, and company, they can solve their playoff woes. Or not.
Projected Starting Lineup: Chris Paul (PG) JJ Reddick (SG) Paul Pierce ( SF) Blake Griffin (PF) DeAndre Jordan (C)
Los Angeles Lakers: C
Kobe Bryant finally retired. The Lakers drafted Brandon Ingram and Ivica Zubac, signed Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, and fading Chinese star Yi Jianlian. They also traded for Jose Calderon. Losing out on Derozan hurt. Can these new additions, along with Russell, Young, Randle, and company under new coach Luke Walton, eek out a winning season. I don’t see it in the cards, but they will get a couple more wins anyway.
Projected Starting Lineup: D’Angelo Russell (PG) Nick Young (SG) Luol Deng (SF) Julius Randle (PF) Timofey Mozgov (C)
Memphis Grizzlies: C+
The Grizzlies added Chandler Parsons and Tony Wroten, as well as drafted Wade Baldwin IV, and Deyonta Davis. While improving their starting lineup, the Grizzlies bench is still a giant question mark. How much gas does Vince Carter have left?
Projected Starting Lineup: Mike Conley Jr(PG) Tony Allen (SG) Chandler Parsons (SF) Zach Randolph (PF) Marc Gasol (C)
Minnesota Timberwolves: B
The Timberwolves drafted Chris Dunn and signed role players, Jordan Hill, Cole Aldrich, and Brandon Rush, to round out a young up and coming roster with Karl Anthony Towns, Zach Lavine, and Andrew Wiggins. With new GM and Coach Tom Thibedou at the helm, the Timberwolves have a bright future.
Projected Starting Lineup: Ricky Rubio (PG) Zach Lavine (SG) Andrew Wiggins (SF) Kevin Garnett (PF) Karl Anthony Towns (C)
New Orleans Pelicans: B
The Pelicans who have been trying in vain to put together a winning team, added a slew of players this summer. The untimely death of Bryce Dejean Jones was a sober note in the offseason. But, the Pelicans moved on drafting Buddy Hield and Check Diallo and signing Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, E’twaun Moore, Terrence Jones, and Tim Fraizer. Maybe just maybe Anthony Davis and company can make for a .500 ball club this year.
Projected Starting Lineup: Drue Holiday (PG) Buddy Hield (SG) Tyreke Evans (SF) Anthony Davis (PF) Omer Ask (C)
Oklahoma City Thunder: D+/C-
The Thunder are on a D+/C- border after losing Kevin Durant, the third best player in the NBA for nothing. They also had previously traded Ibaka the Magic for Oladipo and Illyasova, in the hopes of getting Durant to stay. Drafting Domantas Sabonis and trading for Joffrey Lauvergne ease the loss of Ibaka slightly, but this offseason has to hurt like hell for the Thunder. OKC also added Price and Telfair. Westbrook and company have a lot of work to do. Going from contender to playoff hopeful makes the Thunder one of the losers this offseason.
Projected Starting Lineup: Russell Westbrook (PG) Victor Oladipo (SG) Kyle Singler (SF) Ersan Ilyasova (PF) Steve Adams (C)
Phoenix Suns: B+/A-
The Suns had one of the best drafts nights of the west, taking Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Tyler Ulis. They also signed Barbosa and Dudley two fan favorites from the past. This young team is on the way up.
Projected Starting Lineup: Eric Bledsoe (PG) Brandon Knight (SG) Jared Dudley (SF) PJ Tucker (PF) Tyson Chandler (C)
Portland TrailBlazers: B/B+
The bad part is that the Blazers lost out on a third star in Whiteside or Parsons. They let Gerald Henderson and Brian Roberts walk away in free agency. They also parted ways with Chris Kaman. The Good News? They turned those three players into Evan Turner, Fetus Ezeli, and Shabazz Napier, a neat magic trick. Though Napier is a downgrade from Roberts. The Blazers resigned Crabbe, Leonard, and Harkless, and extended McCollum. Though they have gone quickly from the least expensive team, to one of the most expensive, they are deep, and undisputedly one of the top 4 -5 in the west.
Projected Starting Lineup: Damian Lillard (PG) CJ McCullom (SG) Evan Turner (SF) Al Foroug Aminu (PF) Mason Plumlee (C)
Sacramento Kings: D+
The Kings traded Bellineli and let Quincy Acy walk. They signed Aaron Afflalo, Garrett Temple, Matt Barnes, and drafted Georgios Papangiannis, Malachi Richardson, and Skal Labissiere. While getting a little better, there is confusion about possible trade bait in McLemore, Gay, and Koufos. Heck even Cousins name has been mentioned. I’m not sure having Vlade Divac in the GM chair is a good thing.
Projected Starting Lineup: Darren Collision (PG) Ben McLemore (SG) Rudy Gay (SF) Willy Cauley Stine (PF) DeMarcus Cousins (C)
San Antonio Spurs: C-
Tim Duncan retired handing over the keys to LaMarcus Aldridge. The question is can Aldridge, an absent minded and often underacheiving big man, who seems at time more interested in tacos then basketball, help the Spurs to a title. David West and Ray McCallum didn’t think so and jumped ship. The Spurs then traded Boris Diaw to the Jazz for nothing, and barely talked Ginobli into resigning, so we will see the bald spot for another year. They also wooed Pau Gasol, whose age is catching up with him. Can Parker, Leonard, Aldridge, and company take the NBA to task? We shall see.
Projected Starting Lineup: Tony Parker (PG) Danny Green (SG) Kwai Leonard (SF) LaMarcus Aldridge (PF) Pau Gasol (C)
Utah Jazz: B/B+
The Jazz has been trying to busy the playoff bubble for years, the 16-17 year may be there time to do so. The 20016 offseason has sure helped their chances. They drafted Joel Bolomboy, signed George Hill and Joe Johnson, and traded for Boris Diaw. These guys will fit in with Hayward, Favors, Gobert, and company, and challenge the Blazers for the Northwest Division crown.
Projected Starting Lineup: Dante Exum (PG) Alec Burked (SG) Gordon Hayward (SF) Derrick Favors (PF) Rudy Gobert (C)