Top 5 NBA 2017 Offseason Moves
#5 Los Angeles Lakers - Brook Lopez, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
• Remember, the Lakers also drafted a point guard who appears destined for greatness. Lonzo Ball proved worthy of the lottery selection, earning MVP honors in the NBA Summer League.
Despite the fact that D'Angelo Russell was the best player in a purple and gold uniform the past two seasons, shipping him off to Brooklyn will significantly improve the Lakers chances for reaching the playoffs. Russell was a locker room nightmare and failed to make other players on the roster better. However, Russell will be missed if Ball requires an entire season to morph into the superstar Lakers fans are expecting.
#4 Boston Celtics - Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving
• General manager Danny Ainge had his best offseason as an executive. Ainge managed to lure a top 5 small forward away from a franchise and city that adored him. Then weeks later, finagled a deal to bring the NBA's third best point guard to the Garden. The Celtics improved, but not enough to adjust their power rankings.
In order to seal the Kyrie Irving deal, Ainge was compelled to part ways with a Nets pick (sure to be high considering their unending ineptitude) in addition to the Celtics best on ball defender (Jae Crowder). What's worse, Crowder wasn't just disposed of, but traded to the only Eastern Conference foe capable of ending the Celtics postseason ambitions.
#3 Oklahoma City Thunder - Paul George, Carmelo Anthony
• If Carmelo was still a top 20 player in the NBA, his acquisition would have easily vaulted the Thunder into the top position on this list. Sure, the Thunder 'fleeced' the Knicks out of a former bona fide super star. But emphasis on former, Melo's not a superstar anymore. In fact, he hasn't been the past five years. Melo over dribbles, he's slow, prone to injury, and a consistently below average defender. Sorry Melo fans, facts are facts. He has lacked the productivity or fight he once had as a member of the Denver Nuggets.
On the other hand, acquiring Paul George for Oladipo was brilliant!
#2 Minnesota Timberwolves - Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague
• Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson are also new pieces that will make noise for the Wolves. Adding the leagues second best perimeter defender (Jimmy Butler) to a team that was already home to the best center and rising star in Wiggins means the Wolves are ready to make a deep playoff run. Move over Spurs, the TWolves now have the best chance of dethroning the Warriors. A starting five of Towns, Butler, Wiggins, Teague, and Gibson is as scary as any starting five in the league.
If Danny Ainge doesn't win executive of the year, the only other worthy candidate resides in Minneapolis for cobbling this scrappy crew together. No egos, no stat stuffers, the Wolves have amassed a talent rich roster of tough defenders who fight till the final whistle has blown.
Prediction: the Minnesota Timberwolves will earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers - Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder
• This move includes the all important Nets 2018 first round pick. If the Cavaliers played in the Western Conference, this move would lag behind the Wolves and Thunder. But playing in the weaker East means this move solidified Cavaliers standing as the cream of the conference. How many teams can replace one All-NBA point guard with another All-NBA point guard? The Cavs did and added an elite defender in the process. Anyone who watched the 2017 NBA Finals recognizes the Cavaliers were just one piece away from threatening the Warriors. Thomas and Crowder may prove to represent the final pieces to the championship puzzle.
Golden State Warriors - Andre Iguodala (re-sign), Nick Young
• Re-signing Andre Iguodala would be a big deal if he Iguodala was a relevant player. He's important to one franchise only because of his performance guarding LeBron in the Finals three years ago. But he's far past his prime, can only play limited minutes, and he's spectacularly limited on the offensive end. He remains a formidable defender, but only in stretches. He could never be expected to guard an opposing team's best offensive threat in isolation for 40 minutes. Sorry, not going to happen. The Nick Young signing will add to the intrigue of this franchise. But Young is an undisciplined role player, not a difference maker.
Houston Rockets - Chris Paul
• Chris Paul is no longer in the NBA's point guard elite. He's on the periphery and that's okay. But it's time he receive the proper scrutiny. After 12 seasons in the NBA, Paul has only played in all 82 games ONCE, and only played in 80 games three times. He has been a leader of the Clippers, but also overrated and physically fragile. Thus, it is unlikely the Paul acquisition will mean the Rockets are all of a sudden capable of rivaling the Spurs, let alone the NBA best Golden State Warriors.