2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division

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2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division Empty 2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division

Post by bobheckler on Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:29 am

http://basketball.realgm.com/analysis/243170/2016-NBA-Offseason-Review-Atlantic-Division




2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division



BY KEITH P SMITH


AUG 22, 2016 8:30 PM


Boston Celtics

Additions: Jaylen Brown, Gerald Green, Al Horford, Demetrius Jackson

Subtractions: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner

2016-17 Cap Space: None. Over Salary Floor. Under Luxury Tax.

2017-18 Maximum Cap Space: $43.9 million

Analysis: The Celtics won 48 games last season and added the second best free agent on the market this summer in Al Horford. Horford brings a lot to Boston on both ends of the floor. He should immediately step into the starting lineup with returning players Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas. They’ll be backed up by holdovers Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko, who are joined by newcomers Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green. In addition, Boston has Tyler Zeller, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson. That is a roster that is 15 deep with viable NBA talent.

Having such a deep roster can be a blessing and a curse. You are covered in the event of injury, but it can be a juggling act for a coach to keep so many players happy with so few minutes to go around. Brad Stevens has handled a lot of roster turnover for the Celtics over the last two years and has been able to turn it into consecutive playoff appearances. Boston will use training camp and the preseason to settle into a consistent rotation that will probably go at least 10 deep to start year.

Stevens runs a system that is relatively position-less. He wants five players on the floor who can shoot, dribble and pass from just about anywhere. With very few exceptions, every combination the Celtics can play features those abilities. This should make them a versatile team that isn’t overly reliant on any one player to carry the load.

Jaylen Brown, drafted third overall, will be able to develop at his own pace playing primarily behind Jae Crowder as the backup small forward. He showed good ability to get to the basket and the free throw line in Summer League, as well as playing aggressive defense. Because he doesn’t have to come in and carry a team, Brown can focus on giving maximum effort for all the minutes he does get.

2016-17 Grade: A. The Celtics added Horford and made a solid pick near the top of the draft. The players lost (Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner) were solid performers for Boston, but are offset by the additions. The team hopes with another year of growth for the youngsters and a jolt from the newcomers that they will challenge for the top of the Eastern Conference standings with the Cavaliers and Raptors.

Long-term Grade: A. Giving Horford a fourth season at the maximum is somewhat questionable, but it was the only way Boston could get him to change teams. Beyond that, the team still has swap rights with Brooklyn in 2017 and owns Brooklyn’s pick outright in 2018. Those picks should be assets whether Boston uses them to draft players or as currency in trade. In addition, the Celtics cap sheet is as clean and flexible as any team in the league. They aren’t carrying any bad contracts and have additional other picks along with the Nets picks. It is a testament to Danny Ainge that he’s been able to rebuild the team into a pseudo-contender, while also maintaining a great asset base.


Brooklyn Nets

Additions: Anthony Bennett, Trevor Booker, Randy Foye, Justin Hamilton, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lin, Luis Scola, Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Whitehead

Subtractions: Markel Brown, Wayne Ellington, Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Shane Larkin, Willie Reed, Thomas Robinson, Henry Sims, Donald Sloan, Thaddeus Young

2016-17 Cap Space: $17.2 million. $7.8 million under Salary Floor.

2017-18 Maximum Cap Space: $65.7 million

Analysis: The Nets saw as much roster turnover from 15-16 to 16-17 as any team in the league and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a team that performed as poorly as they did. Sean Marks made it a goal to clean up the team’s cap sheet and not to take on any bad contracts long term. That meant moving on from a lot of players and bringing in new blood.

The Nets parted ways with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson last year. This summer they traded Thaddeus Young away for a first round draft pick. The leaves Brook Lopez as the last man standing from the last time the Nets made the postseason. Lopez has a Player Option for next season and is likely to opt out. Brooklyn can either build around Lopez or they can move on to their next iteration with a lot of cap space. Neither way is a particularly bad option and a lot may depend on Lopez’s performance this season.

As for this year, the Nets will have at least six new players in their rotation. Jeremy Lin and Luis Scola both project to be starters and Greivis Vasquez, Trevor Booker, Randy Foye and Justin Hamilton will all be a part of the bench rotation for Brooklyn. Outside of Lin, who signed a 2+1 (2 guaranteed years with a player option on the third year), none of those players are signed for more than two seasons. And all of them are signed for less than $10 million dollars annually. Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished last year playing at a high level and was terrific in the Olympics, enters his last season before restricted free agency. He’s a player the Nets would like to have in the fold long term.

The Nets' goal was to add veterans in an attempt to be a competitive team. This is a different approach to most rebuilds, but Brooklyn also didn’t commit long term to anyone either. This makes all of their additions tradeable, as well as maintains long term flexibility. And none of the players who moved on to new clubs will be missed, as none were part of the future in Brooklyn.

2016-17 Grade: C. The Nets are likely to be one of the worst teams in the league. In addition, they have very little young talent to watch grow this season. They may be in most games, but they won’t win very often. It projects to be a long season in Brooklyn.

Long-term Grade: B+. Sure, the Nets won’t likely own their next two first round picks, but that is a sunk cost at this point. There was nothing Sean Marks could do to change that. By shedding salary and years and keeping the cap sheet clean, Brooklyn is set up to bounce back quickly. They also have a smart and progressive front office led by Marks and Trajan Langdon. And they hired one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NBA to lead their team in Kenny Atkinson. This season may be rough, but things are finally looking up for the Nets for the long haul.


New York Knicks

Additions: Ron Baker, Willy Hernangomez, Justin Holiday, Brandon Jennings, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Courtney Lee, Maurice N’dour, Joakim Noah, Marshall Plumlee, Derrick Rose

Subtractions: Arron Afflalo, Louis Amundson, Jose Calderon, Cleanthony Early, Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez, Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams, Tony Wroten

2016-17 Cap Space: None. Over Salary Floor. Under Luxury Tax.

2017-18 Maximum Cap Space: $28.2 million

Analysis: Like their Big Apple brethren, the Knicks also turned over 2/3 of their roster. Gone are several additions from the last couple of offseasons. In their place is a crew of newcomers that the Knicks hope will lift them back to the postseason after a three year absence. Unlike the Nets, the Knicks didn’t do it with short term signings of veterans. New York did it by going big and putting together their version of a "super team".

The Knicks brought in new starters at point guard, shooting guard and center, while also adding 3-4 new players expected to be part of the bench group. That kind of turnover doesn’t always result in wins, especially when the players also have to get used to a new coach in Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek is expected to blend aspects of Phil Jackson’s preferred Triangle Offense with the dribble-drive, penetrate and kick style Hornacek played in Phoenix. The Triangle seems to fit new arrivals Joakim Noah, long regarded as one of the best ball handling and passing centers in the league, and Courtney Lee quite well. And we’ve already seen Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis excel in the Triangle as well. Hornacek’s Phoenix system fits the Knicks biggest addition, Derrick Rose, to a T. Rose is best when handling the ball and given space to attack off the dribble. How Hornacek blends the styles of offense and tweaks them to fit his personnel will go a long way in defining the Knicks success.

Despite all the additions, the future of the Knicks is Porzingis. He had an impressive rookie season and shows great promise long term. The Knicks will have to walk the tightrope of making sure Porzingis is able to develop by playing through mistakes vs trying to win now. They’d also be well served to make sure Porzingis sees plenty of minutes at the center position, where he makes for an incredibly difficult matchup for opponents. Essentially, focusing on Porzingis could cost the Knicks a win or two this season, but serve them greatly down the line.

Brandon Jennings will give the Knicks insurance off the bench for Rose. And Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez should be able to fill in capably should Noah miss time again. Lance Thomas returns to back up Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks most consistent player last season was arguably Arron Afflalo and he’s been more than adequately replaced by Courtney Lee.

Overall, the Knicks should be a better team this year than the previous editions. There is also a considerable amount of buzz going into this season and early season excitement can help a team get off to a fast start. That would aid a Knicks squad that is a little on the older side and bound to face some injuries over the course of a long season.

2016-17 Grade: B-. New York added some guys who still have good minutes left in them in Rose, Noah and Lee. The big question mark is health, but with several proficient backups the Knicks should be able to navigate the inevitable injuries. New York should be squarely in the morass of teams from 5-13 in the Eastern Conference and health and luck will ultimately decide where they land.

Long-term Grade: D+. While the Knicks undoubtedly improved their team for this year, they hampered their long term flexibility with some of the contracts they handed out this summer. Noah and Lee are due a guaranteed $92.3 million over the three seasons after this one. That is a lot of money for two players who are both already over 30 years old. And that is before you count the $54 million owed to Carmelo Anthony for the two years after this upcoming season. In addition, there is little upside to the Derrick Rose acquisition beyond this year. If he gets back to an All-Star level, the Knicks will have to pay him over $20 million a year to retain him. If not, they lost a prospect and a serviceable center to get him. All around, New York took the opposite approach to their neighbors the Nets, by choosing to win now and deal with the consequences later. Brooklyn took this approach a few years back and have regretted it ever since. Only time will tell if the Knicks feel the same way in a few years.


Philadelphia 76ers

Additions: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Sergio Rodriguez, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons

Subtractions: Elton Brand, Isaiah Canaan, Ish Smith, Christian Wood

2016-17 Cap Space: $20.8 million. $15.3 million under Salary Floor.

2017-18 Maximum Cap Space: $78.5 million

Analysis: The 76ers enter the first full year of the post-Hinkie era with overflowing excitement and enthusiasm. The team drafted a potential franchise player in Ben Simmons, Dario Saric is coming over after a two year delay and Joel Embiid is poised to take the court after a two year delay of his own. Those three paired with Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor gives Philadelphia five top notch young talents in their frontcourt.

The Sixers haven’t yet hit on quite the same mix on the wing or at the guard spot. To shore up those areas, and to help the team grow up a little bit, they signed NBA veterans Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson, while also bringing Sergio Rodriguez back for another run at the NBA. Adding those players to rotation mainstays Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson, Philly should have the makings of a solid perimeter rotation.

And the cupboard is far from bare beyond the players listed above. Jerami Grant has flashed at times as an athletic power forward and Richaun Holmes shows promise as a developing young big man. In the backcourt, T.J. McConnell shows good ability to be at least a third PG on an NBA roster. The jury is still out on Nik Stauskas and he needs to show a lot of improvement this year or his NBA future may be in doubt.

This year, Philadelphia might not see a huge move upwards in the standings, but that has more to do with the overall improvement of the Eastern Conference. But they should be more competitive and in more ball games. The team is already saying that they plan to put ball in Simmons’ hands a lot and let him function as a primary playmaker. If you think of what the Bucks did with Giannis Antetokounmpo towards the end of last season, you’ll have an idea of how Philly might look this year. That bodes well for Bayless, who isn’t a traditional PG and performs best when he’s off the ball as a shooter. Rodriguez will provide another ball handler to ease the pressure on Simmons, as will Henderson. Shooting is still a concern and Brett Brown has a challenge finding enough minutes up front for all his young talent. The first doesn’t seem to have an easy answer, but could be aided by a solution for the second. Bryan Colangelo has already said that the glut of talented bigs will probably lead to a trade. Dealing one of the big men could help shore up the lack of shooting.

2016-17 Grade: A-. It is hard to give the team much credit for drafting the player most regarded as the best prospect at #1 overall, but Philadelphia made the smart choice with Simmons. You wish he had a better jumper, but all of his other skills mesh well with the other bigs on the roster. They didn’t do enough to add shooting to the roster, but that is an extremely minor quibble.  And they didn’t solve logjam up front, but that isn’t the worst problem to have. Philadelphia may be the least successful (in terms of wins) “must watch” League Pass team of all time. One extra fun storyline to monitor: the 76ers could have three Rookie of the Year contenders on the roster in Simmons, Saric and Embiid. Not sure that has ever happened before in NBA history.

Long-term Grade: A. Simmons looks like a future All-Star. Saric’s Olympic performance did nothing to dissuade the excitement surrounding him. Embiid is ready to finally don a 76ers jersey. Okafor is coming off a very successful season offensively and Noel is seen as a major trade chip, and potentially much more. Also, the team still has more roster flexibility and future cap space than any other team in the league. Sam Hinkie put the pieces in place, but lost his job as the “process” took too long to come together for ownership and the NBA. But he is owed a huge amount of credit for building what could be something special in Philadelphia for the years to come.


Toronto Raptors

Additions: Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Jared Sullinger, Fred VanVleet

Subtractions: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Jason Thompson

2016-17 Cap Space: None. Above Salary Floor. Under Luxury Tax.

2017-18 Maximum Cap Space: $18.9 million

Analysis: The Raptors' lack of cap space forced them to choose between bringing back DeMar DeRozan, who has become the face of the franchise in many ways, and Bismack Biyombo. With a significant investment in the center position already with Jonas Valanciunas, and no way to replace DeRozan, the Raptors chose to bring back their longtime shooting guard. The team filled their needs in the frontcourt by drafting backup center Jakob Poeltl and will try to fill their age old hole at power forward with Jared Sullinger.

Losing Biyombo, who was one of Toronto’s best playoff performers when they pushed the Cavaliers to six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, is tough. But with Valanciunas continuing to grow into his role as a top end center, minutes weren’t going to be there for both players. In addition, a lot of teams are very high on the potential of Poeltl. He’s not likely to ever be the defensive presence Biyombo is, but he should be a nice offensive player and capable defender as he’s brought along slowly behind Valanciunas.

Signing Sullinger is a bet that he can more than replace what Luis Scola gave the Raps at PF last year. Sullinger should give them better rebounding from the position and he has more range on offense. Defense should be about the same, as both Sullinger and Scola are positional defenders vs shot blockers. If Sullinger and Valanciunas don’t mesh well up front, Toronto can start Patrick Patterson and Sullinger can backup both C and PF off the bench.

The wing and point guard spots will largely look the same, albeit the team should get better health from DeMarre Carroll this year. DeRozan and Lowry, fresh off gold medals with Team USA, return to form an All-Star backcourt. Cory Joseph will back up Lowry and play with him in dual-PG lineups at times. Terrence Ross returns as the first wing off the bench behind both DeRozan and Carroll. Last year’s surprise, Norman Powell is also back to play anywhere from the 1-3 positions.

2016-17 Grade: C. The Raptors aren’t likely to be any better than they were last year. Sullinger should be better than Scola, but that is the only real improvement. Poeltl will take time to develop and the team no longer has the Biyombo safety net behind Valanciunas. Of course, the Raptors were a couple games away from a Finals appearance, so expecting big improvement wasn’t realistic anyway. Toronto remains firmly in the mix with Boston as contenders trying to catch the Cavs in the East.

Long-term Grade: C-. Toronto didn’t do anything to help themselves long term. Poeltl may pay off, but he’ll have Valanciunas in front of him for years to come. Siakam was a questionable pick at best. If Sullinger plays well, he’s signed for this year only and Toronto will be limited in what they can pay him if they want to bring him back. Most of all, committing $137.5 million to DeRozan is a risky proposition. He’s 27 years old and his game relies heavily on his athleticism. If he slips at all, that contract could become an albatross. Kyle Lowry has the ability to be a free agent next summer and Toronto desires to bring him back. The Raptors are going to have a lot of money sunk into a backcourt that is very good now, but may not return that investment down the line.



bob
MY NOTE:  This guy gives Brooklyn a "C" for this offseason because they added some coaches but will still be one of the worst teams in the league?  And he gives them a "B+" longterm because they can't tank much lower than they already are?  They have salary flexibility and cap space?  Ask the Lakers what good salary flexibility and cap space is worth when your team is a dumpster fire.  In my opinion, the Lakers overpaid for Deng ($18M/year for 4 years for a player that's 31 now?  and who plays SF, which is the position they should be grooming Randle for) and Mozgov ($16M for 4 years for a player that is 30 now.  Not crazy overpaid but he's not that good, he's just BIG) precisely because that's what you have to do when money is all you have to offer.  Good players want to play for good teams because good players will get their money and minutes anywhere.  Talk about grading on a curve!


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2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division Empty Re: 2016 NBA Offseason Review: Atlantic Division

Post by dboss on Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:53 pm

Bob I do not see how the Nets can get anything higher than a D this year and a D long term

The Sixers have had more opportunities to add talent than any team yet the structure of their teams reflects a disturbing lack of balance.  I would not give them an A now.  Long term yes but not now.

The Knicks should get an I for Incomplete because adding the aging Noah and the oft injured Rose could blow up this year and then long term they are no better off.  The Knicks are still holding onto Anthony and that is a huge mistake as well.

The Celtics get an A+ short term and long term from me because they are already relevant

Can you believe that the oldest player on the roster at 30 years of age is none other than Gerald Green?

Are you kidding me?

That serves to underline the fact that Boston has a very young team that will grow together and get better.

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