The 2020 NBA offseason has been one of the most exciting in recent memory. It’s been full of blockbuster trades, surprising signings in free agency and a draft that added an influx of talent. Below are a couple of my takeaways from the past few days but make sure you check out our NBA transactions page to catch up on what you may have missed.
The Los Angeles Lakers are running away with the 2020 NBA offseason title. It’s not particularly close either. They lost Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Dwight Howard and Javale McGee. They replaced them with Dennis Schröder, Wes Mathews, Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol. Each player is an upgrade at his position. The Lakers did all this while simultaneously offering a gut punch to the Los Angeles Clippers in taking their reigning 6th man of the year. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown” but sometimes it’s good to be the King (James).
However, the narrative that Lebron does all the recruiting needs to be put to rest. The credit for this offseason coup de grâce belongs with Rob Pelinka. In back to back offseasons, Pelinka has done whatever is necessary. He’s surrounded Lebron James with the talent needed to deliver a Championship. The Lakers are locked and loaded for defense of their title.
2. Have the Bucks done enough?
Milwaukee was in a precarious situation heading into this 2020 NBA offseason. Last season, the Bucks were the favorites to win the title. They led the NBA with 56 wins and had back-to-back MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo. Then they ran into the red hot Miami Heat. With Giannis’ impending free agency looming, the Bucks needed to do something drastic. They shipped out Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and a bevy of consecutive 1st round draft picks to snag Jrue Holiday from the Pelicans. They signed D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, Torrey Craig and Brynn Forbes and resigned Pat Connaughton. However, they bungled the Bogdan Bogdanovic sign and trade (see Hawks below).
All in all, Milwaukee took a big swing at keeping Giannis. They may have sacrificed their future in order to do so. So the question remains…did they do enough? Holiday is an upgrade over Bledsoe and Hill while also sliding nicely into the number 2 slot in the Bucks pecking order. Middleton as the third option makes more sense for this team as well. Craig provides a defensive toughness that fits in nicely. While Forbes and Augustin give the Bucks versatility they didn’t have a year ago. They seem to be better but the cloud of the botched Bogdanovic signing looms large. Ultimately this team could win 60 games, flame out in the playoffs (again) and lose Giannis for nothing. Hell, they could win the whole thing and still lose Giannis for nothing. Time will tell.
3. The Brinks truck(s) class of 2017
The 2017 NBA draft class is one of the more successful in recent memory. Even though top 5 picks like Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz haven’t turned out as planned, several players have carved nice roles for themselves in the NBA. However, there’s a certain group that’s separated themselves into the “Brinks truck” category. Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo and Fred VanVleet all got P-A-I-D this offseason. It’s not hard to see why. Tatum and Adebayo battled in the Eastern Conference Finals this past postseason, Mitchell had an electric 7 game 1st round series and De’Aaron Fox has proven that he can at least be the focal point of Sacramento’s slow rebuild. Those 4 players were drafted 3rd, 5th, 13th and 14th respectively. However, the most impressive member of this draft class has been the undrafted Fred VanVleet.
VanVleet has career averages of 17.6ppg (.3 more than Tatum), 6.6apg (.5 more than Fox) on 39% shooting from 3(4% better than Mitchell). He’s got an NBA championship, he plays for one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and he’s been compared to Drake. In terms of accolades, Steady Freddy takes the cake. Now he’s got a 4 year 85 million contract to add to his list of accomplishments.
4. Where does Atlanta stand?
Atlanta has been the most active team this offseason and as a result they’re also the most interesting. The Hawks are clearly looking to get back into the postseason and as such, they made moves that reflect that. Signing Danilo Gallinari, Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo were moves that suggest the Hawks are ready to make a push to not only make the playoffs, but make a deep run. The successful signing of Bogdan Bogdanovic was huge. He’s yet another weapon for what’s looking like one of the league’s deadliest offenses. Along with their free agency additions, the Hawks also drafted Onyeka Okongwu to add to their bevy of burgeoning young stars.
The Hawks have so much young talent that it’s going to be interesting to see how they all fit. With Okongwu and Gallo in the mix, where does that leave John Collins? Will Kris Dunn see the floor behind Young and Rondo? Which of the Huerter/Reddish/Hunter trifecta will see time on the wing alongside Gallo and Bogdanovic? Regardless of how the playing time shakes out, this is going to be an exciting year for Atlanta fans (looking at you Jman) and one in which the Hawks are primed to make some noise.
5. Phoenix Rising
The Suns are looking to finally secure a playoff berth for burgeoning superstar Devin Booker and perhaps make some noise in the West. In order to do that, Phoenix swung for the fences this 2020 NBA offseason. They traded for Chris Paul to give Booker a suitable running mate and signed Jae Crowder away from Miami to add toughness. Losing Aron Baynes, Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre to make these moves is a blow but the Suns have constructed a roster full of shooters that figures to be among the best in the league.
The Suns also have a cadre of young guys who will be expected to produce this season as well. Cameron Johnson and Mikal Bridges figure to continue improving and Jalen Smith (while a reach at #10 in the draft) may prove to be exactly what the Suns need in a backup for Ayton. Add in the resigning of Dario Šarić and the Suns look like they are ready to make their push to relevance.
Obligatory Celtics Related Content
My guy Danny Ainge has been dragged through the mud this 2020 NBA offseason but I wanna set the record straight. Other teams made bigger splashes this offseason but the Celtics quietly upgraded every area of need to a team that made the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The C’s finally got a big man who can rebound and provide a defensive presence in Tristan Thompson. They drafted a shooter in Aaron Nesmith to space the floor. DA also upgraded the backup point guard spot by signing Jeff Teague. Losing Gordon Hayward was a blow but extending Jayson Tatum and betting on the fire and ice tandem of JT and Jaylen Brown was the best route to continuing success. This NBA season figures to be exciting and competitive and I can’t tell you how happy I am that the Celtics are going to be in the thick of that.
- Written by Sean Curley
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