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Ell’s NBA Offseason Grades 2019 Part I

Atlanta Hawks – C+

The Hawks made the first move in the trade market with a trade for SF/SG Allen Crabbe, the #17 pick, and a 2020 1st round pick for SF/SG Taurean Prince and a 2nd round pick. Crabbe is more of a shooter only with a nice 3pt shot and Prince can contribute in a number of ways offensively with slightly more defensive effort, but the Hawks no longer saw him as a fit. The Hawks made a smart move to take on the contract of SF Solomon Hill in exchange for the #4 in the draft, which lead to later draft moves, and moving Hill and Miles Plumlee later for SF Chandler Parsons, who can be productive when healthy.

The key to this move was moving up to the #4 pick and selecting a solid 2-way prospect in SG/SF De’Andre Hunter out of Virginia, while still being able to grab SF Cam Reddish out of Duke who should be able to continue as an offensive threat and 3pt shooter. #34 pick Bruno Fernando, out of Maryland, should provide depth at the Center position with the loss of Plumlee and C Dewayne Dedmon. The Hawks also moved out SG Kent Bazemore for veteran SF/SG Evan Turner who should provide good leadership to the young draft picks while still being able to contribute in a number of ways; if the rookies struggle. The Hawks are making a nice push towards the playoffs while growing with young talent and draft picks; while their moves weren’t flashy they appear to making smart moves so far.

Boston Celtics – B

The Celtics were looking like a lost team with PG Kyrie Irving leaving for the Nets, veteran C Al Horford deciding to opt out with no desire to return, restricted free agent PG Terry Rozier wanted out, and veteran F Marcus Morris had no real desire to return. However, the Celtics became front runners and landed PG Kemba Walker who has been a consistent offensive franchise player for the Hornets and fits the Celtics system of allowing the PG offensive freedom. Kemba might be a downgrade from Kyrie, but his health and willingness to play with the younger players should make a difference in chemistry. To open up cap space the Celtics were smart to send Rozier as a sign and trade in the deal for Kemba, which allowed them to sign much needed C Enes Kanter to take over for Horford.

The Celtics were active during the draft acquiring a pick and moving veteran C Aron Baynes’ contract. The Celtics focused on players who get to the line adding nice depth in rookies, SG/SF Romeo Langford out of Indiana, F Grant Williams out of Tennessee, PG Carson Edwards out of Purdue, and PG Tremont Waters out of LSU. Langford and Williams should be on the floor early off the bench, while Edwards and Waters could work their way into the rotation eventually. The Celtics resigned F/C Daniel Theis and PG Brad Wanamaker for depth which should keep some young players from being rushed into the fire. The Celtics also took a chance on young French prospect C Vincent Poirier, who is known for his defensive ability, good size, and movement. The Celtics have restocked for another playoff run with a younger team and what should be better chemistry and a change of play style, but they did strike out on the big fish; however, nice free agency rebound by Danny Ainge.

Brooklyn Nets – A

The Nets have turned into the stars of free agency, after outdoing the Knicks as the team in NY by landing the top free agents after a quiet start. The Nets started with the trade for Taurean Prince from the Hawks mentioned above for Allen Crabbe and picks. Prince should be a lot more consistent than Crabbe offensively and contribute in other areas besides scoring; on or off the bench. The Nets started a domino effect with the signing of PG Kyrie Irving which allowed them to bring in star F Kevin Durant, despite the injury, and C DeAndre Jordan giving the Nets a big 3 of their own to contend in the East; at least for a playoff spot until Durant is healthy. However, by signing Irving this led to the Nets moving on from last season’s star PG D’Angelo Russell who seemed to be building something special, but a sign and trade for Russell allowed a smooth transition for bringing in Durant financially.

The Nets also added veteran SG/SF Garrett Temple, who is a consistent 3 and D player to help space the floor, and veteran F Wilson Chandler who can contribute in a number of ways, despite not being as effective as earlier in his career, but he can provide veteran presence with the loss of F Jared Dudley. With the new additions, the Nets loss free agents: C/F Ed Davis to the Jazz, F DeMarre Carroll to the Spurs, and Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham via sign and trade to the Timberwolves. In the draft, the Nets added PF Nicholas Claxton, out of Georgia, and acquired a future 1st round pick from the 76ers for moving back. Claxton shouldn’t have much of an impact, as he is a raw prospect who could use more weight on his frame, but he is known for his athleticism and defense. The Nets have put themselves in a position to stay in contention for the years to come and Kyrie Irving will have another chance to show that he can be a leader; making a big 3 of their own while keeping some young contributors makes them a team to follow in the East.

Charlotte Hornets – F

The Hornets did nothing to improve the team, while not being able to keep their franchise player in Kemba Walker, but luckily due to the Celtics financial needs they were able to get PG Terry Rozier in a sign and trade. Rozier should have full roam to reach his potential as a starting PG for a team that will be in need of a playmaker and scoring to replace Kemba, so it will be interesting to see what Rozier can do. The Hornets loss another PG with the loss of veteran Tony Parker via retirement, although he wasn’t a big contributor, but his presence and legacy is well known. Via free agency the Hornets also loss F/C Frank Kaminsky who did a good job spacing the floor mostly off the bench and SF/SG Jeremy Lamb who did a good job evolving into their secondary offensive option last season, which is another huge loss.

In the draft, the Hornets added F/C P.J. Washington out of Kentucky, SF/SG Cody Martin out of Nevada, and Jalen McDaniels out of San Diego State. Washington is a versatile two way player athletic enough to defend multiple positions, and fill up the stat sheet with his scoring, rebounding and passing ability; he needs to increase his motor and decrease his turnovers, but all signs point to him being a consistent defensive starting PF, eventually. Cody Martin is considered a late bloomer, who finally showed a spark as a shooter, but he is known for his passing, driving ability, and defense; he has 2-way potential, but needs to improve his jumper and rebounding ability, while also cutting down on turnovers. McDaniels is considered to be a project or a few years away, as an undersized PF with good handles and a nice mid-range jumper who needs to improve defensively and add a lot more weight to his frame. The Hornets are in a clear rebuild and luckily some of the bad contracts they have signed come off the books next year, but this year should be all about the growth of their younger players.

Chicago Bulls – C

The Bulls started with a shocking move of adding veteran PF Thaddeus Young from the Pacers, although I don’t understand how he fits besides as a veteran leader coming off the bench or playing into their star PF Lauri Markkanen’s minutes which wouldn’t be good for his growth. However, Young can still contribute consistently and has shown an ability to stick around in the league, so his experience can’t hurt too much on a young team. The Bulls also added C/PF Luke Kornet from the Knicks, who should replace veteran C Robin Lopez, although offering a different skill set. Kornet has shown an ability to rebound, stretch the floor, and score in bunches when given the opportunity. PG Tomas Satoransky from the Wizards should give them a solid veteran backup after going deep into the depth chart last season; he should provide solid all around play and a consistent offensive spark off the bench, also proving to be a solid spot starter. PG Ryan Arcidiacono resigned with the team, after receiving experience as both a starter and off the bench last season.

In the draft, the Bulls selected their potential PG of the future in Coby White out of North Carolina. White is a solid offensive PG who can get to the basket with ease, knock down the 3, or make a play with the ball, but he needs to become a more consistent passer and improve on the defensive end, while adding more muscle to his frame. C/F Daniel Gafford out of Arkansas was added in the 2nd round, he is an athletic big man with high defensive potential and a high motor, but he is extremely limited offensively and needs to add more weigh to his frame. The Bulls added some veteran pieces to their team, although the Thad Young fit is somewhat questionable, but as a non-playoff team the growth of the young players, especially Coby White and SG Zach LaVine will be the key to the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers – C-

The Cavaliers have been quiet in free agency, as a place in clear rebuilding mode not attracting top free agents; however, a lot of their contracts are on the last year. The only losses so far aren’t major with F/C Marquese Chriss and veteran F/C Channing Frye out the door, with a possible buyout for SG/SF J.R. Smith coming. In the draft, the Cavs added PG Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt, SF/SG Dylan Windler out of Belmont, and SG Kevin Porter Jr. out of USC. Garland has talent and can bring offense, as an energetic scorer, but his season was cut short due to injury which will come into question in his NBA career about being injury prone; however, the potential is there as a starter. The main problem with this pick is that they already have the same thing in PG Collin Sexton picked last year, but this may provide a two guard set or one may surpass or push the other. Windler is a solid 3pt shooter with good rebounding ability and passing skills, who should find his way into the rotation due to offensive ability, but he may be lacking defensively. Porter Jr., who the Cavs acquired via trade on draft night, is another explosive/flashy scorer with good ball handling skills, but he can also contribute on the defensive end where he is a little more consistent; he was a high school star, but didn’t always dominate in college so the potential is there. The Cavs added some talent via the draft, while Garland may not have been the best fit, the team needed some playmakers that can put the ball in the hoop and possibly keep fans interested.  

Dallas Mavericks – C+

The Mavericks struck and missed on the big names they wanted to add just like recent years, but started off maxing out PF Kristaps Porzingis for a long term deal to officially form a duo with 2nd year franchise G Luka Doncic for the long term. The team added former PG Seth Curry back to the roster via free agency in hopes that his continued growth from last season with the Blazers can continue with the Mavs. After lacking depth at the Center spot for years the team added big Boban Marjanovic, after proving last season that he can play bully ball in limited minutes, as teams can’t stop the heaviest Center in the league off the bench. The team kept solid depth resigning F/C Maxi Kleber, veteran PG J.J. Barea, and SF/SG Dorian Finney-Smith. Kleber caused matchup problems last season in the post and the growth of Finney-Smith has given them a solid two-way wing player.

In the draft, the Mavericks added F Isaiah Roby, out of Nebraska, and two future 2nd round draft picks. Roby is a defensive minded player with good length and the ability to space the floor as a high energy guy who can defend multiple positions, due to his size he may fit best as a SF, but he needs to get better offensively starting with the consistency of his outside shot. The Mavericks are not finished making moves to improve their team, but they did a good job of keeping their core roster in place while adding Curry for help up top and Marjanovic for depth in the paint; the hope is the Porzingis is healthy and ready to contribute at a high level again.

Denver Nuggets – C+

The Nuggets had a fairly quiet offseason, but made the right moves as they opted in on PF Paul Millsap’s contract, extended a qualifying offer to PF Trey Lyles, and signed PG Jamal Murray to an extension, after his improvement deep into the playoffs last season. The Nuggets came into the draft without a pick, but similar to last year they found another lanky prospect coming off on injury in C/F Bol Bol out of Oregon, son of former NBA player C Manute Bol. Bol Bol spent most of the year recovering from his injury in anticipation of the draft, but he was still overlooked due to his skinny frame for his height and the injury concerns. Bol Bol has a solid offensive game with a shot that extends to the 3pt line and the ability to use his length to block shots on the defensive end, while running the floor well with good passing ability; his potential is very high as most considered him a top 5 talent, injuries pending. The Nuggets bring back the same team that almost made it to the Western Conference Finals, with the addition of a healthy (hopefully) F Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol to add extra depth to an already deep lineup.

Detroit Pistons – C-

The Pistons surprisingly added PG Derrick Rose to the mix via free agency, as a replacement for free agent PG Ish Smith who left for the Wizards. Rose showed last season that he still has something left in the tank and can be productive in a 6th man role which should help as the Pistons got more out of starting PG Reggie Jackson in a time share. They also added PG Tim Frazier to the mix who has shown that he can contribute in a number of ways offensively off the bench, after injuries led them to go deep into their rotation last season; so Frazier provides solid depth. The addition of F/C Markieff Morris should provide nice depth behind both PF Blake Griffin and C Andre Drummond and even serves as a good insurance whenever the injury bug strikes. The Pistons traded PF Jon Leuer for Tony Snell and the 30th pick from the Bucks, which was a nice pickup for a player they rarely used in exchange for a pick and a perimeter defender in Snell. Via free agency the team also loss wing players, such as SG Wayne Ellington and SF Glenn Robinson III; Ellington was more of a floor spacer and all the free agents they brought in bring the same quality, while Robinson was more of an energy/hustle player.

In the draft, the Pistons added SF Sekou Doumbouya, out of France, SF Deividas Sirvydis, out of Lithuania, and PG Jordan Bone, out of Tennessee. Doumbouya is an athletic prospect with two-way potential due to his long wingspan, but he is coming off an injury and has only shown flashes of his scoring potential; however, as the youngest player in the draft he still has time to continue to develop. Sirvydis is a lanky left-handed shooter who has been efficient offensively, especially with catching and shooting; however, he will need another 2years (at least) to add weight to his frame and work on his defense. Bone is a tough prospect with the ability to contribute on both ends on the floor, while growing as a passer and scorer, he has a nice 3pt shot and despite his frame is considered a good defender; he could be groomed into the long term starter or a decent backup, if he continues to get better. Despite not being an attractive destination the Pistons made small moves to add depth for another playoff run, adding help at a decent price, but they didn’t help themselves in the short term in the draft.

Golden State Warriors – B+

The Warriors were a team under watch to being free agency, as they held Kevin Durant, but there was still a decision to be made on his future. Kevin Durant chose to leave the Warriors for the Nets, leading to a surprising sign and trade for G D’Angelo Russell, coming off his best season. While the team didn’t want to lose Durant, this moved insured they wouldn’t lose Durant without any compensation and allowed them to add another solid shooter to take pressure off Steph Curry, until Klay is healthy. The team resigned Klay Thompson to a max deal, which made sense for the growth he has had over the years and the work he has put in for the team as an underrated two-way player, despite the ACL injury. Also, bringing back F/C Kevon Looney was another big move, as he has grown into from role player to decent starter over his years with the team, bringing solid defense and energy on both ends of the floor; still only 23 years old. After a fallout, with SF/SG Andre Iguodala, based on his inside info leaked to media sources, he was shipped off with a future 1st round pick to the Grizzlies; his defense and ability to provide leadership and production as a jack of all trades will be missed. Shockingly, the team also was able to get C Willie Cauley-Stein via free agency on a very small deal which should give them a versatile big man who has grown offensively, with even more room to grow as a player, especially on this team. Glen Robinson III also joined the team and could be looked at as a partial replacement for Iggy, as a high energy/hustle guy off the bench who can space the floor. The Warriors loss PG Quinn Cook, PF Jordan Bell, C DeMarcus Cousins and have a decision to make on G Shaun Livingston, unless he decides to retire, opening a hole at the backup PG spot. The Cousins experiment only lasted one season and didn’t bring the proper results, as he seemed to hurt the chemistry in the NBA Finals with his return; although his presence was needed due to injuries. Bell is a high energy big man who can score in spurts off the bench, but Cauley-Stein helps replace the presence of Bell and Cousins.

In the draft, the Warriors selected SG Jordan Poole out of Michigan, F/C Alen Smailagic out of Serbia, and PF Eric Paschall out of Villanova. Poole is considered a clutch shooter who can do a lot of things offensively, with a solid skill, as a spot shooter which could help him play well in this offense, however he needs to be more consistent and continue to grow defensively. Smailagic is viewed as a growing prospect after spending last season on the Warrior’s G- League affiliate team showing flashes of his all-around game, good mobility, and potential as a floor spacer. However, the team would like to see him add more weight and continue to get better with free throw and 3pt shooting, but they are impressed with his potential for his age. Paschall is an undersized big man, by height standards, but he has a solid defensive game and the ability to space the floor consistently on the offensive end, after bring a 4yr starter in college; they are hoping he could learn a lot from Draymond Green, as far as how to mold his game similarly. The Warriors were a team that most fans were hoping would collapse, but with the addition of D’Angelo Russell, the excitement and scoring can stay intact, and the addition of Willie Cauley-Stein makes this team a lot more versatile in their lineups.

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