Grading an offseason is like saying the Big Mac you just ordered at McDonald’s is going to be really good. Judging by history and your knowledge for sandwiches, you’re probably right. This Big Mac that is cooking in the back (or that has already been made for three hours and 42 minutes) will be delicious. But you don’t know for sure. What if there is a hair in your Big Mac? What if they forget the special sauce? What if you end up with the dreaded McRib instead?
We don’t know how the 2017-18 NBA season will end up. We don’t know who will make the playoffs. And we don’t know what players will fit well with new teams. But we have a pretty good idea based on history, coaches and other factors.
Here are three teams from the West and three from the East that I consider big winners this offseason.
What went right: This is Timberwolves.com. Legally I can’t leave the Timberwolves off of this list. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing.
(Checks with HR . . .)
But in all seriousness, the Wolves added Jimmy Butler, a lockdown defender and an All-NBA player. That alone would put them on this list because it’s not a normal thing to acquire a player in his prime, especially in a trade. But the Wolves also added an All-Star in Jeff Teague, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford, and a premiere post defender in Taj Gibson through free agency.
I’ve worked with the Wolves for four years and don’t remember excitement quite like this heading into a season.
It’s your time to shine, Minnesota.
Golden State Warriors
What went right: The rich got richer. Not only did the defending champions retain Andre Iguodala, the Warriors also added Nick “Swaggy P” Young. Throw your Iggy and missed 3 jokes in the trash. This was a solid move and Young should thrive. The dude shot 40.4 percent from deep last season, making a career-high 2.8 per game. He won’t get as many looks in Golden State, but the looks should be cleaner.
The Warriors have done what dynasty teams do. Make players want to play for them, even if it means sacrificing money or playing time.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson is busy being awesome.
What went right: Daryl Morey, who I’m convinced is actually a wizard and not a general manager of the Rockets, finagled his way into trading for Point God Chris Paul. How will that work with Paul and James Harden in the same backcourt? I don’t know, but in order to take down the Warriors, teams will have to do weird things. The team also added defensive stopper P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. The team was able to get Paul without having to trade Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza or Eric Gordon, which seems illegal. But again. Morey is the Dumbledore of NBA general managers.
What went right: Gordon Hayward reunited with his college coach Brad Stevens. The Celtics now have a million guys who can guard multiple positions with Hayward, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, a Morris twin and Jayson Tatum.
Also, Tatum looked like an absolute stud in Summer League. I don’t know if that means anything because it’s hard to figure out what matters in Summer League, but if the Celtics traded out of the No. 1 spot and still got the best player in the draft, well, hot diggity. That’s something.
It stinks they traded Avery Bradley, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too unless it’s your birthday party.
With all of the turmoil in Cleveland, the Celtics might have just made themselves the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
What went right: After a few drama-filled months, the Wizards signed All-Star point guard John Wall to a long-term deal. The team also signed Otto Porter Jr. to a long-term deal. The core is solid in Washington. Is it good enough to dethrone the Cavaliers or take down the Celtics? I don’t think so, but if the Wizards lost Wall after the 2017 season, it would be time to move to a rebuild in Washington.
What went right: J.J. Redick isn’t as good as he once was, but the fact that he signed with the 76ers tells us that the way people view the Sixers across the league is changing.
Somewhere Sam Hinkie is smiling.
With a starting lineup of Markelle Fultz, Redick, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington/Amir Johnson and Joel Embiid, the 76ers have a very real chance of getting back to the playoffs. And if they do, Redick might not be the last proven veteran this team adds over the next few years.