By M. Goncalves
All NBA teams have now been through the draft and free agency, and they have assembled their teams for the upcoming season. Some teams were unable to fulfill what they set out to do after the season ended, whilst others had major improvements throughout their entire roster. The following paragraphs highlight the teams with the biggest improvements heading into next season.
For years the Bulls have been the laughingstock of the NBA; they last made the playoffs in 2017, where they were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics. Now the team has been rebuilt almost entirely and has failed to reach any further from what they accomplished in the 2016-17 season. The team has since been built around Zach Lavine, who was acquired in a trade after the Bulls were eliminated in 2017. Lavine has since flourished in Chicago as one of the premier scorers in the league, averaging a career-high 27.4 points per game this past season. However, the Bulls had repeatedly failed to build a quality team around him that complements his play style. This offseason, that narrative changed, after trading for all-star Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline last season, the Bulls showed they were looking to win right away, rather than waiting for prospects to develop. They signed Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to a 4-year 85-million-dollar deal and a 4-year 37-million-dollar deal, respectively. These two guards are defensive specialists that will greatly improve the Bull’s lackluster defense. They also brought in former all-star DeMar DeRozan on a 3 year 85-million-dollar deal, this addition adds a scoring punch to the Bulls roster, as they look to contend in the eastern conference.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers started off in the offseason following a disappointing end to their season, after losing to the Phoenix Suns in the first round. On draft night they made a huge trade with the Washington Wizards, sending Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and a first-round pick for Russell Westbrook and two future second round picks. Their first move had some Laker fans ecstatic as they couldn’t wait to see the new Laker big three in action, others had their doubts about how a team with below average shooting would be able to succeed. The Lakers front office quickly silenced these doubters by signing sharpshooters Malik Monk, Wayne Ellington, and Carmelo Anthony to minimum deals, which many believed was a big win comparing their production and salary. They also brought back former Lakers, Dwight Howard, and Trevor Ariza, to minimum deals, adding grit, defense, and veteran presences in the locker room. Lastly, they brought in Kendrick Nunn on a two year 10-million-dollar deal, another move many believed was a steal. Ultimately, they made excellent additions with a limited budget and improved their winning chances greatly for next season.
The Heat are another team that were eliminated in disappointed fashion last season, being swept by the eventual NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, in the first round. They started off free agency with a big move, prying away all-star guard Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors on a 3-year 90-million-dollar deal, the deal was made possible through a sign and trade that sent Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors. They then proceeded by re-signing sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and bringing in veteran forwards, P.J. Tucker, and Markieff Morris, both of whom add shooting, defense, and experience to the squad. They also re-signed former all-star Victor Oladipo to a minimum deal, who is currently dealing with a hip injury, and won’t be available for most of the season, however, Oladipo is a high risk, high reward situation for the Heat as he could return to his former self and shine in “The 305”. Overall, the Heat brought in plenty of talented players to surround their core of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
The Boston Celtics brought in Dennis Schroder on a very team-friendly deal of 1-year 5.9-million-dollars, traded for defensive specialist Josh Richardson, and killed two birds with one stone by addressing their weak frontcourt, when trading for former all-star center Al Horford and getting rid of Kemba Walker’s terrible contract.
The Houston Rockets drafted Jalen Green who is seeming like the next great scorer to come to H-Town after James Harden’s tenure with the Rockets ended last season, while also drafting Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun, and Usman Garuba, all of which could become quality pieces in the Rockets rebuild.