This NBA offseason was full of major moves and big trades. The most notable headlines were the Los Angeles Lakers signing LeBron James and the DeMar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade. Denver also made some headlines with the signing of Isaiah Thomas. Considering all these changes there are obvious winners and losers.
The biggest move this offseason was obviously the Denver Nuggets signing Isaiah Thomas and drafting Michael Porter Jr. These two players signing might not seem like major shifts in the rankings, but if they can stay healthy, they can make the Nuggets a real threat. First, Denver got an absolute steal with Isaiah Thomas and his one year, $2 million contract. People tend to forget before last season and getting injured IT was averaging 28.9 points per game and was in the MVP conversation. In the 2017-18 season he played only 32 games for the Cavs and Lakers and had a very mediocre season. However, with a bench role on the Nuggets, Thomas will hopefully be able to ease back into his game without the pressure of being a superstar again. He will be a scorer and a play maker, getting decent bench minutes while being a veteran to the younger guards. Michael Porter Jr. was a top prospect coming out of high school and ended up going to Missouri. During his game opener he injured his lower back and was expected to miss the rest of the season. He was drafted 14th overall by the Nuggets and is still expected to sit out due to his injury. Adding Thomas and Porter to a roster that already carries one of the best, young backcourts, a top-3 center, and an All-Star power forward, along with Will Barton coming off the bench will easily propel them from 9th in the West last year to 4th or 5th place. The Nuggets caught a huge win to help them push forward in the soft middle of the West.
The biggest trade the NBA has seen in a while was the surprising DeRozan-Leonard Trade. The Raptors received former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 1st round protected pick. While neither got a bad deal, the obvious loser was the Spurs. DeRozan is a great player, averaging 23 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds last season, but he is not in the top ten in the NBA. The Spurs are known for their lack of use of the three. They had some of the lowest numbers in threes pointers made and attempted as well as percentage. Adding DeRozan did not help at all, as he is arguably one of the best mid-range shooters in the league. They also gave away Danny Green who was their only real shooter on the team. They also obtained a 2019 first round pick, which is not a good enough pick to possibly rebuild after the departure of Kawhi. Finally, Jakob Poeltl is a decent young big man, but he still isn’t at the level of OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam, who would have fit into the Spurs’ game plan better.
The Raptors definitely won the trade by getting better players while not having to give up much in return. They obtained Kawhi Leonard, who, when healthy, is a top five player in the league and the best two-way player. Sadly though Leonard is still out with his quadriceps injury, so it’s unknown how he will play when he returns. They also picked up Danny Green who is a proven “Three and D” wing who can shoot and cover multiple positions. Both Leonard and Green are playoff veterans and champions who can help this team that tends to struggle in the playoffs. Looking at what was given and what was given up, the Raptors landed a big victory here, especially if Leonard can stay long term. Nonetheless, the Spurs didn’t get a bad deal either.
The Lakers finally signed Michael Beasley who will provide a scoring punch from the bench. Last year he averaged the 11th most points per minute at 0.25 while shooting above 50 percent from the field. Beasley can post up, cut to the rim, pull up, and bully people in the paint while shooting 45% from non-corner threes. The Lakers also added Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson. These vets can help guide this young team. Rondo can be the perfect mentor to Lonzo Ball who has a similar game to his own. They both are pass-first point guards and triple double machines but aren’t the greatest shooters. Stephenson, who has played in 57 playoff games, will provide experience and veteran knowledge to the rest of the team. Finally, the Lakers signed LeBron James to a 4 yea, $153.3 million contract. The arrival of James is expected to increase the offensive rating by 3.6 points per 100 possessions as well as boosting the team’s chemistry. Finally, LeBron is expected to attract other future stars such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard or Chris Paul. Overall, the Lakers had an incredible offseason by adding not only LeBron but other role players as well.
This summer was extremely exciting with a franchise changing trade and the King heading west. All throughout the league teams have been making moves to try to compete with the top tier teams. LeBron’s move will make the West more competitive while opening up the East so the Celtics, 76ers, and Raptors can finally see who’s on top. It is safe to say all NBA fans are excited to see how the season will turn out.