Judging by the offseason moves thus far, the upcoming season looks like it will the Brooklyn Nets will be fighting for a playoff spot just like last season. The Nets have made moves forward this offseason, getting younger and doing well on draft night acquiring both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, but also lost Mason Plumlee to a trade and more recently, Alan Anderson to free agency.
The other teams competing for the eighth seed, namely the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics have also made offseason moves, so it is important to look at their moves in addition to Brooklyn’s.
Last Season’s Record: 37-45
Additions: Gerald Green (1-yr, Unknown), Justise Winslow (10th Overall Pick), Josh Richardson (40th Overall Pick)
Re-Signed: Dwyane Wade (1-yr, $20mil), Goran Dragic (5-yr, $90mil)
Lost: Michael Beasley (Declined Option)
The Miami Heat have not been too active during free agency this season only bringing in Gerald Green to provide a scoring punch off the bench. With Chris Bosh coming back after missing a large part of last season, along with the rookie Justise Winslow, who somehow slipped down to tenth in the draft the Heat should be considered the closest to being a playoff “lock” among the teams featured in this article.
Along with all of this, the Heat have managed to lock up Goran Dragic to a long-term deal and retains the services of Dwyane Wade for another season. The Heat’s starting five of Dragic – Wade – Luol Deng – Bosh – Hassan Whiteside is a strong one and should be enough in the Eastern Conference, however the depth behind the wings is questionable.
The Heat currently have a logjam of young talent behind Green of second round pick Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Zoran Dragic. Henry Walker can also slide over to shooting guard if needed. The Heat’s roster will need to be trimmed down, and expect the trimmings to come at the wing positions.
As a whole, the Heat’s depth looks solid. Mario Chalmers will continue to man the backup point guard position, while Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen will provide depth in the paint. That leave two faces, former UConn standout Shabazz Napier and Josh McRoberts who missed extended time last season with a torn meniscus. Both of these players have been the subject of trade talks, and don’t be surprised if one is gone before the season opener.
Projected Rotation (as of now)
Point Guard – Goran Dragic, Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier
Shooting Guard – Dwyane Wade, Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Zoran Dragic
Small Forward – Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, James Ennis, Henry Walker
Power Forward – Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Josh McRoberts
Center – Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen
Current rotation above is at 17 players, Heat will need to trade/release at least two players
Last Season’s Record: 32-50
Acquisitions: Ersan Ilyasova (Trade) Aron Baynes (3-yr, $20mil), Stanley Johnson (Eighth overall pick), Darrun Hilliard (38th overall pick)
Re-Signed: Reggie Jackson (5-yr, $80mil), Joel Anthony (2-yr, $5mil)
Lost: Greg Monroe (3-yr, $50mil w/ Milwaukee)
Unsigned Free Agents: Tayshaun Prince, John Lucas III,
The Pistons suffered a major blow when Greg Monroe packed his bags for Milwaukee, but all is not lost in Motor City. Stanley Johnson is currently tearing it up in Orlando for the Pistons’ summer league team and if this streak continues, he could very well nab a starting role. However, it will not be at shooting guard where he is used to playing, rather small forward.
Currently the Pistons have two uber-talented point guards on the roster in Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings. While it is very possible Jennings is dealt, if he isn’t Jackson could start off the ball, which he is more than capable of doing. With Ersan Ilyasova at the four, and Andre Drummond at the five, the Pistons would be able to run and play a fast-paced style of play.
Tayshaun Prince is attracting interest from the San Antonio Spurs so it is unclear whether he will return to Detroit.
As of now, the Pistons do not have a full roster, and a few low-profile free agents, namely big men will likely sign with Detroit. A backup power forward/center (depending on where Aron Baynes plays) is a necessity. Joel Anthony was serviceable for the Pistons in limited minutes, but should not be the primary backup for Andre Drummond.
With a few more additions along with the improvement of Andre Drummond, the Pistons are a dark horse contender to slip into the playoffs this season.
Projected Rotation (as of now)
Point Guard – Brandon Jennings, Spencer Dinwiddie, John Lucas III (?)
Shooting Guard – Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jodie Meeks,
Small Forward – Stanley Johnson, Quincy Miller
Power Forward – Ersan Ilyasova, Aron Baynes, Anthony Tolliver
Center – Andre Drummond, Joel Anthony
Last Season’s Record: 38-44
Acquisitions: Monta Ellis (4-yr, $44mil), Jordan Hill (Unknown), Myles Turner (11th overall pick), Joseph Young (43rd overall pick)
Re-Signed: Rodney Stuckey (3-yr, $21mil), Lavoy Allen (3-yr, $12mil)
Lost: C.J. Watson (3-yr, $15mil w/ Orlando), Luis Scola (1-yr, $3mil w/ Toronto), David West (1-yr, 1.5mil w/ San Antonio), Roy Hibbert (Trade)
Unsigned Free Agents: Shayne Whittington, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan
The Indiana Pacers still have a lot to work to do to call this offseason a success, but thus far this season is looking promising for Larry Bird and co. Monta Ellis and Paul George on the wings could become a deadly combination. George Hill is a serviceable starting point guard who can hit some threes and play good defense.
However, the big man situation in Indiana leaves a lot to be desired. With Roy Hibbert, David West and Luis Scola all departing, the Pacers lost a lot of frontcourt depth. To help restore some of this depth, the Pacers picked up Jordan Hill in free agency. Hill can rebound the basketball and step out to hit a midrange jumper if needed.
Aside from Hill, the Pacers also drafted Myles Turner the 6’11 big man out of Texas who averaged 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Turner is extremely raw and quite honestly is not ready for a starting role in the NBA, but the Pacers do not have a better option. Ian Mahinmi isn’t a starting caliber center either, so Indiana might as well opt for youth.
Another issue with the Pacers is their power forward depth. Lavoy Allen is not enough behind Jordan Hill, and none of the other forwards on the roster can play significant minutes at power forward.
If the Pacers cannot improve their big men situation, the playoffs will be much tougher, but with Paul George back, Indiana will be in the mix.
Projected Rotation (as of now)
Point Guard – George Hill, Donald Sloan, Joseph Young
Shooting Guard – Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles
Small Forward – Paul George, Solomon Hill, Damjan Rudez
Power Forward – Jordan Hill, Lavoy Allen
Center -Myles Turner, Ian Mahinmi
Last Season’s Record: 40-42
Acquisitions: Amir Johnson (2-yr/$24 mil), David Lee (trade), Terry Rozier (16th overall pick), R.J. Hunter (28th overall pick), Jordan Mackey (33rd overall pick), Marcus Thornton (45th overall pick)
Re-Signed: Jae Crowder (5-yr/$35 mil), Jonas Jerebko (2-yr/$10 mil)
Lost: Brandon Bass (Signed with LAL), Gerald Wallace (trade)
The Boston Celtics had one strong offseason. Trading for David Lee, a former All-Star was a smart move along with the acquisition of Amir Johnson. The Celtics, contrary to the Pacers now have one of the deepest frontcourts in the NBA, and it may just be too deep. In reality, the Celtics have quality depth almost all around.
At point guard, the Celtics have Marcus Smart manning the starting position, with Isaiah Thomas coming off the bench to light up scoreboards. Along with Terry Rozier who is an exciting prospect, the Celtics have an strong point guard trio. At small forward, the Celtics have Evan Turner, who can slide all the way to point guard if needed along with Jae Crowder who was a smart player to re-sign. Jonas Jerebko can also play on the perimeter when needed.
Power forward may be the deepest position, with Jared Sullinger, Lee and Johnson. As of right now, it is unclear what the rotation will look like, due to the talent of all three players. And at center, the Celtics have both Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, two solid options.
Shooting guard is currently the weakest position for the Celtics. Avery Bradley is a solid start, but behind him are James Young, R.J. Hunter and Chris Babb. None of these players are proven, or consistent and when Bradley is off the floor, the Celtics could struggle. However, Smart can move over to shooting guard if needed, and Jared Sullinger has been involved in trade rumors as well.
The Celtics look like a dangerous team this season, and could be a significant threat to Brooklyn’s playoff chances.
Point Guard – Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier
Shooting Guard – Avery Bradley, James Young, R.J. Hunter, Chris Babb
Small Forward – Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko
Power Forward – Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, David Lee
Center – Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk