Oklahoma City Thunder: B
KEY ADDITIONS: Perry Jones III
KEY LOSSES: Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed
The Thunder have gone with the “if it ‘aint broken, don’t fix it approach,” and have put together a solid, if not spectacular offseason. OKC had to let two important veterans walk, but losing these two will not make a huge difference on the court. Probably the biggest reason Oklahoma City snatched up Fisher was for his experience. After going to the Finals last year, this Thunder team has all the experience it needs going into the season. Where OKC really scored was in the draft. Perry Jones III endured one of the biggest draft day drops in NBA history. First he dropped by the lottery. Then he was passed up in the teens. Early twenties? Nothing doing. Finally he fell to Oklahoma City who gladly picked him with the second to last pick in the draft. Jones dropped because of consistency issues and the lack of ability to take over a game. He falls into a perfect situation with the Thunder. He can adjust to the NBA slowly and learn from a player with many similarities to him, Kevin Durant. This is also a perfect situation for the Thunder. He will not be under any pressure this year and he can replace step into the lineup when he is ready. Also, if the Thunder so choose, they can use him as trade bait, bait that many other GM’s will be enticed by. The Thunder made a big move this past week when the re-signed Serge Ibaka for four years, $48 million. Ibaka is a great defensive player and is part of the Thunder’s young core but he did not deserve this kind of money.
Denver Nuggets: A
KEY ADDITIONS: Evan Fournier, Andre Iguodala, Quincy Miller
KEY LOSSES: Aaron Afflalo, Al Harington, Chris Andersen, Rudy Fernandez
The Nuggets only made on big move this offseason, and it was a good one. They upgraded from one defensive swingman to another when they traded Aaron Afflalo and received Andre Iguodala. Iguodala will bring a lot of things to this young Denver team. He is a completely unselfish player that is willing to sacrifice stats for the good of the team. He can be a leader in the locker-room, as well. He fits perfectly into the Nuggets fast style of play. It will be a dream come true for Ty Lawson when he is on the break and looks over and sees the uber-athletic Iguodala running the wing. Iggy is also a much-needed defensive stopper. In the draft, Denver’s first round pick was Evan Fournier, the best prospect from overseas this year. Denver’s second pick might turn out to be a real steal. Quincy Miller was projected to be a lottery pick next year and may have been one this year if not for an ACL injury.
Minnesota Timberwolves: A-
KEY ADDITIONS: Chase Buddinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham, Alexey Shved, Greg Stiemsma
KEY LOSSES: Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Darko Millicic, Anthony Tolliver, Martell Webster
Despite not signing any high profile players, Minnesota put together a really good offseason of solidifying Kevin Love’s supporting cast. For a couple of years, Love has been great and everybody else has been dreadful. This might be the year the T’Wolves finally have the right mix of complementary players to propel this team into the playoffs. Minnesota snatched up Euroleague MVP and former defensive player of the year, Andrei Kirilenko. Kirilenko can provide more frontcourt depth and can occasionally play the three. Minnesota also made two underrated moves when they acquired Dante Cunningham and Greg Stiemsma. Both can be adequate big men off the bench. Stiemsma is a defensive presence down low and Cunningham can pound the offensive boards. The Timberwolves essentially drafted Chase Buddinger with their 16th pick when they acquired him from Houston. He can help spread the floor and give Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love room to operate. Alexey Shved is a combo guard who can shoot but is better of letting somebody else handle the ball.
Portland Trailblazers: B+
KEY ADDITIONS: Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, Jared Jeffries
KEY LOSSES: Marcus Camby, Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, Kurt Thomas
Last season, a mediocre team lost its cool and started blatantly tanking. What Portland did this offseason will hopefully stop next season from being a repeat of the last. The Blazers’ biggest moves came in the draft. Their first pick was acquired from the Nets in the Gerald Wallace deal last season. With this pick that was the sixth overall, Portland grabbed point guard Damian Lillard. Lillard is a dynamic and explosive player who will help Portland in all facets of the game. Lillard’s rookie partner will be the big man Myers Leonard. Leonard is raw on offense, but has shown glimpses of a mid range jumper and post up game. Leonard’s main impact will be rolling to the basket on the screen and roll, defending, and rebounding. The Trailblazers said goodbye to their top two point guards from last year after disastrous seasons from them.
Utah Jazz: B
KEY ADDITIONS: Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, Mo Williams
KEY LOSSES: Devin Harris, C. J. Miles, Josh Howard
Do not let their low-key offseason fool you, the Jazz are a team on the rise. Utah’s main weakness last season was their backcourt. Smartly, the Jazz signed two guards this offseason. Randy Foye started on a good Clippers team last year and can provide three-point shooting and defense from the two guard spot. Mo Williams was Foye’s teammate on the Clippers last season. He is a streak shooter that can provide much needed scoring off the pine. Another signing for the Jazz that I like is Marvin Williams. Williams is an 11,5,1 guy that will provide depth at the small forward position behind Gordon Hayward. Devin Harris is not back with the Jazz after a disappointing 2011-12 campaign.