Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are coming off the most-winning regular season in NBA history. It is rare that an NBA title contending team makes it on the list of “Most Improved NBA Teams,” but this offseason has been a story of unprecedented action. The Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant, the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player, and arguably the best scorer in the NBA not named Steph Curry. In order to sign Kevin Durant, the Warriors had to let go of a few quality role players in Harrison Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Andrew Bogut, and Festus Ezeli, but it was a small price to pay for a top five player in the world. In addition to Durant, the Warriors brought in David West and Zaza Pachulia on MAJOR pay cuts to help fill the void at the big man position. So in essence, they replaced Kevin Durant for Harrison Barnes, and Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli for David West and Zaza Pachulia. The Warriors now have debatably the first Big-4 in NBA history, while maintaining quality depth. It is safe to say they are the overwhelming favorite to win the 2017 NBA Championship.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks might become the most improved Eastern Conference team this offseason in terms of increasing their win total from the 2015-16 season to the 2016-17 season. They only won 32 games last season in disappointing fashion. With that being said, the Knicks signed a plethora of talent from around the league this summer. They added a legitimate back-court in Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee, as well as Joakim Noah in the front-court. While the health of Rose and Noah is always in question, if healthy, this team could become a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. Now, a starting five of Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joakim Noah could be intriguing to watch. Not only that, but the Knicks have decent depth with role players like Brandon Jennings and Lance Thomas coming off the bench. Phil Jackson has finally given Carmelo Anthony something to work with. Let’s see what he can do with it.
All the talk this offseason surrounds the Golden State Warriors and the addition of Kevin Durant, but the Indiana Pacers should have some heads turning with the successful offseason they just produced. First off, Paul George has continued to improve every single year, and I have every reason to think he will be in the MVP conversation for the 2016-17 season. The Pacers had a lack of play-makers on their roster to help out Paul George last season, and addressed that need BIG-TIME this offseason. The three major acquisitions this summer were Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, and Al Jefferson. Thaddeus Young is an underrated NBA veteran, who can get you a double-double on any given night. Also, with Thaddeus on the court, this allows Paul George to play his more natural position at small forward. While George Hill was dependable at the point guard position, and a great hometown hero in Indianapolis, Indiana, there is no question Jeff Teague is an upgrade.
The Indiana Pacers once again have the makings of a team with serious potential to contend at the top of the Eastern Conference. A starting five of Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young, and Myles Turner have the ability to compete against any team in the NBA.
While they took a swing and a miss in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes this offseason, the Celtics were lucky enough to land Al Horford – the second best free agent on the market this summer. The loss of Jared Sullinger will not hurt, since he is being replaced in the front-court by Horford. In addition, letting Evan Turner go was a smart decision, as the Trailblazers over-paid for him anyway. The Boston Celtics now have two legitimate NBA stars in Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas, one of the leagues best lock-down defenders in Avery Bradley, and a plethora of young talent. They seem confident they will jump up to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference – what do you think?
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs won at a franchise record pace last season, but still managed to improve in the offseason. While Tim Duncan retiring is the end of an era in San Antonio, it is not the end of the winning era. Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are all back together for another year. The addition of Pau Gasol is almost picture-perfect. Pau and LaMarcus play a similar style of basketball, and should compliment each other well. In addition to offseason acquisitions, the Spurs received what has been called one of the best value picks of the 2016 NBA Draft in Dejounte Murray. The Big-3 of Kawhi, Aldridge, and Gasol alone will put this team right back in title contention. Even with Duncan gone, the future looks bright in San Antonio.