The NBA boasts one of the most exciting offseasons in all of professional sports. Top prospects can make an immediate impact, and the chance a superstar decides to move cities seems to increase every year. This past offseason was no exception. While there were not huge names like Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James swapping teams like in previous years, there was still plenty of movement across the league that is sure to mix up how next season unfolds. In today’s roundtable, the DC Sports Section will be making our picks for who had the best offseason, draft and free agency included, as the 2020-21 NBA season nears.
Karthik Iyer, CC
When evaluating the success of an NBA offseason, it is important to consider that it is a measurement of improvement and not an assessment of team firepower. Under that framework, the Portland Trailblazers have had the best offseason in the NBA. While a seemingly unorthodox pick at first glance, one must acknowledge that Portland addressed everything on their agenda of team concerns. First, they acquired a defensive presence on the perimeter by trading for two-way forward Robert Covington and re-signing a healthy Rodney Hood. Both add floor spacing as well to allow for budding star center Jusuf Nurkic, newly signed Enes Kanter and a now-healthy Zach Collins, to do damage on the interior. Portland also re-signed veteran Carmelo Anthony, who has accepted and flourished in his role. He averaged 16.5 points on 43.5% shooting from the field (41.1% from beyond the arc), 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals in 31.9 minutes per outing. His size, ability to compete for rebounds and capacity to still create his own shot to take the onus off the star backcourt is invaluable to the Blazers. Last year, people like Charles Barkley called for the Blazers to beat the now reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers. Now, take a moment to think about what they can do after retaining key pieces, getting healthy and making acquisitions to address their most glaring team flaw. The league just witnessed a team go from being a fringe playoff squad to a team that could legitimately challenge the titans of the Western Conference.
Cole Stefan, CC
The Hornets are buzzing again, and they needed to improve after losing UConn alum Kemba Walker to the Celtics last offseason. Their biggest offseason move was acquiring Gordon Hayward in a sign-and-trade deal from the Boston Celtics. Just that addition alone gives the Hornets some incredible talent that was missed after Kemba left for the Celtics in exchange for Terry Rozier (yes, that was a sign and trade as well). The draft was decent for the Hornets, and if LaMelo Ball can mature into the pace of the NBA and the NBA’s gameplay, look out, he could be dangerous in the backcourt. The Hornets might not have much other significant talent outside of those two, but young stars such as Vernon Carey Jr. and Miles Bridges give the Hornets a young team — with Hayward being the true veteran that has the potential to contend for the Southeast division crown alongside the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.
Evan Rodriguez, CC
Los Angeles Lakers
While there are many great teams that improved this offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers are the winners by far. With a team that will re-sign star Anthony Davis, the Lakers were already a great team and simply re-signing everyone on the team would be a success. But when you’re able to sign the reigning sixth man of the year in Montrezl Harrell and the runner up to the award in Dennis Schroder, that is scary for the league. While they may have lost Dwight Howard and Javale McGee, they upgraded with Harrell and veteran big man Marc Gasol. Pairing those acquisitions with a solid guard in Wesley Matthews will again prove to the rest of the league what they already knew. The Lakers are back and better than ever as they battle for another ring.
Dylan Haviland, CC
Now don’t get me wrong here, it’s obvious the Lakers improved more than any team in basketball this offseason. However, they already had the best chance of winning again, so all of these moves really just solidified that. In my opinion, the Suns were real winners in the offseason. They added Chris Paul, who was among the league’s best crunch-time performers, and just last season took a team projected to be amongst the worst in the league and lifted them all the way to a five seed in the West. On top of this, they added Jalen Smith in the draft, who will be a solid interior force in the league with the potential for an outside shot. In free agency, they added Jae Crowder and re-signed Dario Saric, ensuring their forward depth will be maintained by solid players who have proven to be winners. The bright-future Suns have ascended into the bright-now Suns.