The 2017 NBA Offseason has been very interesting, with many star players changing teams through trades and free agency signings. Multiple All-Stars have changed conferences, from east to west, making the Western Conference stronger than what it already was. Lastly, we have seen more creations of “super teams,” or multiple top players joining forces on the same team.
These moves are ranked based on how much each player will impact their new team in the next few seasons, based on their performances from last season.
5. Denver Nuggets land Paul Milsap
As everyone else in the starting lineup of the 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks found new teams, Milsap has left the Hawks in free agency for the Nuggets on a 3 yr/$90 million deal. Last season, he averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while leading the Hawks to the 5th seed in the playoffs.
What makes this signing pretty deadly is how much of a good fit Nikola Jokic and Milsap will be together. With Milsap’s 6’8” height, he is a versatile defender with the ability to switch on guards during pick-and-rolls, can disrupt passing lanes, and protect the rim.
Not only can he be a great presence for defense, but he can also contribute on the offensive end. His ability to make threes can stretch the floor as a power forward, which will be a big help with Jokic inside the paint. He can also be productive without the ball, by cutting to the paint, and set screens.
With adding Milsap to the young, talented team of the Nuggets, expect them to make the playoffs as a 6th-8th seed and not go farther than the first round, but if they keep this squad together for the next few years, they will definitely be able to make it farther in the postseason.
4. Houston Rockets trade for Chris Paul
There is no question that anyone will benefit having Chris Paul playing for their team. Despite failing to take the Clippers to the Conference Finals, Chris Paul led them to six straight playoff appearances, and helped them win 50 games in the regular season for the first time in franchise history. Last year, he averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists, and 5.0 rebounds.
According to Johnathan Feign of the Houston Chronicle, Houston’s head coach, Mike D’Antoni said, “Pairing them would not be a problem. It would be a “joy.”” He also said, “There will never be a time one of those two won’t be on the floor. There’s endless possibilities.” D’Antoni is very enthusiastic about having two of the best ball handlers in the league on his team. He has always been a fan of driving his offense around point guards that are brilliant passers, and can create the offense.
With James Harden handling the ball, it did not quite make sense to add a star point guard to the team. However, Chris Paul might be the solution to some of the Rockets’ struggles. Last season, with Harden on the bench, the team’s net rating decreased by three points per 100 possessions. Now, with Paul or Harden on the court at all times, they should not experience problems with the bench on the floor.
In previous seasons, Harden has struggled to produce his average stats when teams mainly emphasized their defense on guarding him. They pressure Harden with the ball, forcing him to pass to other teammates, and heavily contest Rockets’ 3 point shooters. With having 2 players that have the very similar abilities, the defense will not be able to load up on one of them, as the other star will be left open.
With a brilliant offensive-minded coach, Mike D’Antoni, the Rockets’ offense seems to be in good hands (as we saw in the past season), and they should definitely be able to win quite a few more games with Chris Paul’s addition to the team.
3. Boston Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward
After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 5 games, the Celtics have signed one of the best free agents, Gordon Hayward to a 4 yr/$128 million deal. Hayward can be considered a top 20 player in the league, and there is no doubt that he will only improve as a player. He has a very versatile play style, which helps him contribute in every area of the game. Last season, he increased his scoring by more than two points, from 19.7 to 21.9, and averaged 2 3-point makes per game while shooting 39.8% beyond the arc.
There is no doubt Gordon Hayward will help the Celtics, especially since he can also play the shooting guard and power forward position. He also gives them another threat on offense, and lead the offense with Isaiah Thomas. Like Harden and Paul, Hayward and Thomas have very similar play styles. They are both hard to guard when driving to the basket, can shoot coming off screens, and can create their own offense in isolations. With two amazing offensive minded players on the court at the same time, the defense will definitely have a hard time guarding Boston’s star players.
The signing of Gordon Hayward might finally be the piece that might help the Celtics past the Cavs in the playoffs, but there might not be another chance for the C’s as Isaiah Thomas is a free agent in 2018.
2. Minnesota Timberwolves Acquire Jimmy Butler
With bringing Jimmy Butler on the roster, the Timberwolves automatically turn into a playoff team. Playing alongside Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and newly signed players, Jamal Crawford Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson, the Timberwolves definitely have a bright future ahead of themselves. We are only evaluating the Jimmy Butler move, but click here for my blog post about the Timberwolves where I go into more detail and analyze whether they can be championship contenders.
Although Butler is very talented, and considered a top 15 player in the league today, the Wolves have lost a bit of talent in this trade. They lost two players that were still growing as a players, Kris Dunn, and Zach Lavine. Dunn experienced difficulty as a rookie, but he did encounter some success on the defensive end. But Lavine was just starting to develop into a great NBA player before tearing his ACL. However, Butler has already proven himself to the league, and turned into one of the best wing players in the league.
The Timberwolves will definitely do much better than last season, and they have a very bright future ahead of themselves with Butler and their young star players.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder Trade for Paul George
After all Oklahoma City Thunder fans’ hearts were broken last year when Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors, they have somewhat found his replacement, Paul George.
As Russell Westbrook led the team to the sixth seed in the playoffs last year while winning the MVP, Paul George should definitely help carry most of the burden off Westbrook’s shoulder. Westbrook contributed tons of energy leading their offense, averaging 24 field goals per game, which caused him to be less of participant on the defensive end. Even though Andre Roberson was a key defender for guarding other wings in the league, and made up for Westbrook’s lack of defense, he was not a great fit alongside Westbrook. His lack of shooting caused problems for spacing the floor, shooting 24.5% from beyond the arc.
However, while surprisingly only losing Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, now they can add Paul George into the mix. This means that not only do they have a lock down defender alongside Westbrook, they have a star player that can produce on both ends of the floor. Last season, Paul George averaged 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. He even shot an impressive 39.3% from beyond the line, making 2.6 of them per game. Since Paul George is only 27 years old, he has plenty of years left in his prime, and if he decides to stay in Oklahoma City next year during free agency, it will be interesting to see how far he and Westbrook can take the Thunder.