This year’s NBA off-season has been one of the most exciting we have had in years. We have seen a plethora of star players come to the Western Conference and make it as stacked as ever. It is clear teams are not going to wait around for the reign of the Golden State Warriors to end. But while playoff teams have made blockbuster moves this off-season, re-building teams have made moves to brighten their future. Let us take a look at re-building teams that have had strong off-seasons:
Re-Building NBA Teams With the Strongest Off-Seasons
The Nets were able to acquire legitimate NBA players this off-season, such as D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll. All of these players have proven they are capable players and can help the Nets immediately going forward, especially Russell. He was the main acquisition for this team and will play in the backcourt alongside Jeremy Lin.
Russell and the Lakers were never really on the same page. He was always under the radar and every move he made would be criticized or critiqued by the media. Now in Brooklyn, Russell is out of the spotlight and can focus on basketball only. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has been known for player development and getting the most out of players, which should help form a nice relationship with Russell.
While Mozgov and Carroll both dealt with injuries last season, they have shown the ability to produce when healthy. Both have playoff experience and can show the young players what it takes to win in this league. The coaching staff will know what they are going to get out of these two every night.
The Nets can only go up from last season. With the additions of capable and proven players, they should see a jump in wins. Lin has gone as far to say the Nets will make the playoffs next season. While that may be a stretch for now, the Eastern Conference has become a lot weaker this off-season.
Surprising to most, the Kings have made all of the right moves this off-season. First, they found their point guard of the future in De’Aaron Fox with the 5th pick in the draft. They then drafted Harry Giles, Justin Jackson and Frank Mason III, who were all top players at the collegiate level. With this and other young players from last season, the Kings are set on their young core for the future.
With that young core, the Kings were able to find veteran players to help mentor the core. They signed George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter in free agency. All of these players have been in the league for a while and know what it takes to succeed and stick around. Not only will they mentor, but all three of them are still capable of producing at a high level and will help the Kings.
Randolph, Carter and Hill are players teams should want in their locker room. The Kings have struggled with having leadership on the team and have mainly been dysfunctional the past few years. This could help the organization find stability and be a better team overall. With the Western Conference being stacked, it will be hard for the Kings to make the playoffs. But if they are able to develop the young core and see a boost in wins, it should be considered a successful season for them.
Out of all the teams re-building, the Timberwolves made the biggest jump. They were able to acquire Jimmy Butler via trade a few days before the draft, who is arguably a top-15 player in the league. Putting him alongside the young duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins gives them the chance to win now and for the foreseeable future.
After the trade for Butler, Minnesota started to become a free agent destination. Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson also signed with the team. This roster is going to be completely different from last season, but in a good way. The Timberwolves are now a lock to make the playoffs next season and could fight for home-court advantage in the first round. Gibson and Butler are reunited with head coach Tom Thibideaou, who got the best out of them every night.
With all of these new pieces, it will take time for the Timberwolves to reach their potential. There is some spacing issues and the defense from Towns and Wiggins will need to make improvements. Outside of that, this organization has put themselves in a position to win for years and possibly contend for a championship down the road.
Sixers fans have been trusting the process, and it may all be finally starting to take shape. The Sixers traded up for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and took Markelle Fultz, who they had coveted. A trio of Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid is one of the most exciting young cores we have seen in a while. All of these players have dealt with injuries, though. Embiid has only appeared in 31 games and Simmons has yet to play in an NBA game. Fultz went down with an ankle injury in Summer League, leaving Sixers fans preparing for the worst. But, all three will be ready for training camp and are prepared to get the Sixers to the playoffs.
The Sixers were able to make some moves in free agency as well. They signed J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, who both fill needs of the Sixers. In an interview with CSN Philly, Redick raved about the future of the team.
“I really believe this is a team that over the next three or four years will become the best team in the East.”
If the young core can stay healthy, the playoffs are a legitimate possibility for the Sixers. The Eastern Conference has become weaker, opening up playoff spots. Health is going to be the biggest factor for this team going forward. If everyone can stay healthy, we just might see the Sixers in the playoffs last season. Trusting the Process could finally be paying off for Sixers fans.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have been one of the talks of the summer in the NBA. Lavar Ball was able to speak Lonzo Ball becoming a Laker into existence. It may have just been Summer League, but some of the young players for the Lakers should have fans excited.
Ball showed us his gift of passing the ball and put up a few triple-doubles. While his jump shot still leaves some in doubt, it should develop more over time. Kyle Kuzma had a fantastic Summer League as well and looked to be one of the steals of the draft with the No. 27 pick. Brandon Ingram was shut down after the first game due to cramps, but he showed improvements in that game. He looked more confident and did a better job of driving to the basket and using strength.
The Summer of 2018
After trading Mozgov to the Nets, the Lakers opened up cap space for next summer. The free agent class next summer is filled with star players such as LeBron James, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. If the Lakers can have a successful season, it could help them recruit stars to Los Angeles and get the team back towards the top, where they are used to being. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are doing a great job of leading the front office for the Lakers.
There is reason to have optimism for the Lakers going forward. The young core only seems to be improving and the front office is stable now. These are some of the steps the Lakers needed to take to get back to being the Lakers everyone knows. Look at next season to be an audition for the 2018 free agency class. If they are unable to land top free agents, Lakers fans should still be excited about this young core going forward.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 21: Jimmy Butler of the United states looks on during the final match of the Men’s basketball between Serbia and United States on day 16 at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)