It has been a while, but if you would like a refresher, here is my Central and Atlantic Division lookbacks. The Southeast had plenty of moves, and tons at the trade deadline too. This is just a lookback at the offseason, but the other moves gives us a better understanding of what truly happened.
When I initially looked back on the Hawks’ offseason, I felt they did a solid job, but thought they completely overlooked the backup point guard position. And this hypothesis was really proved true with their moves in the regular season. Going into this season, Atlanta only had Evan Turner as a guy to play backup point, and this failed greatly. He was removed from the rotation for Brandon Goodwin and DeAndre’ Bembry to take over that role. Goodwin is really not an NBA caliber guard and Bembry is a wing who can handle the ball, but definetly not a point guard. Trading for Jeff Teague signified they made a mistake in overlooking such a vital part of the game.
In their other moves, I thought drafting De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish were overdrafts at their respective positions. But to this point, it seems most teams outside the top two are not super satisfied with their lottery picks. Hunter is as advertised, a solid 3 and D wing, and Reddish has been improving since his horrid start to his rookie year. I was also very high on Bruno Fernando. And while he has not done much, he has a very limited role in Atlanta.
For the rest of their moves, I thought the Jabari Parker signing was fine for the money, but did not make sense with their hole at backup point guard. And as mentioned earlier, this was solidified in the Teague trade, and even more when Parker was moved to Sacramento. At the end of the day, Atlanta did not make any poor long-term decisions, as this was meant to be a rebuilding season anyways, but their roster building flaws seemed to be greatened with injuries and missed time.
So I was incredibly low on the Hornets’ offseason, as they basically lost their franchise player for nothing, and paid a ton for a solid replacement. Throw in their uninspiring draft, and I thought they probably had the worst offseason. Now looking back, did the Hornets have a better offseason that we initially thought? I don’t believe so. I think it looks less terrible due to Devonte’ Graham’s immergence rather than any move looking good at all.
Terry Rozier is playing in a similar fashion to how he did in the 2018 playoffs, so maybe his signing and contract is not so egregious. He may never be able to take the next step from a solid starter to an All Star, but I do believe his contract is a positive asset at this point. But the downgrade from Kemba to him is what I cannot accept at all.
While Jalen McDaniels has not contributed at all, their other selections in Cody Martin and PJ Washington both look solid. And sure, Brandon Clarke may have been the better power forward selection, but Washington has had a decent enough rookie season so the Hornets will not truly regret this pick. Cody Martin has not been a home run, but he does seem to be a serviceable NBA player at this point, and sometimes that’s all you need from a second round pick.
So while the Hornets did not make many moves, I am still super low on the idea of letting your franchise’s best player walk for nothing. Would I give their offseason an F again? Probably not, but I cannot see it getting anything higher than a D.
While the Heat have cooled off lately, their performance this year is still fairly surprising, While grabbing Jimmy Butler was an incredible upgrade, I thought their young pieces were times away from producing. I was not super high on Tyler Herro as I thought he was just a shooter, but I was wrong. Herro has shown real playmaking and shot creating ability as a rookie and has been a strong part of an underwhelming draft. I was also wrong on KZ Okpala. And while injuries have prevented him from really showing out, I thought he would have at least had a solid impact in the G-League.
Before I really discredit myself, I do want to give myself some praise for not being wrong on the Jimmy Butler move. I don’t think anyone was against it, but some people might have thought the Heat gave up too many assets to grab him. However, the Heat paid a pick to upgrade from Josh Richardson to Jimmy Buckets, and losing Whiteside has been an addition by subtraction. Butler has been a culture change to this era of the Heat, and with the phenomenal coaching of Spo, they seem poised for some more success.
So here’s, the thing. I try to be as honest as I can be. I was wrong. Yes, I still think dumping Bol Bol is not a great move, but I was largely wrong about the Heat filling out their bench. The largest miss was thinking that Duncan Robinson should have been cut instead of Yante Maten. Oops. Maten is still a solid player, but while he is playing in the G-League, Robinson is scorching hot from deep, nearly scoring 13 points a night. Chris Silva’s emergence as a deep-bench big has shown that Maten’s departure is not severely missed. Another part that I missed with the growth of their young core is thinking Jimmy would not be able to be on the same timeline as then. And sure, they don’t line up perfectly, but to this point, they are doing a solid job working together.
I was not very kind on the Magic’s offseason and I really do not think I was really off the mark. Overall, I thought their draft and signings did not make a lot of sense, even with the restrictions they had.
So once again I seemed to overrate Nickeil Alexander-Walker, but in this case, I am still right. With their first-round pick, the Magic picked up Chuma Okeke, and immediately redshirted him. I was never high Chuma, even before the ACL injury, And by what seems like punting on this pick, I really don’t think the Magic made the right move. Maybe Okeke develops into a decent wing, but even still, I think there were guys with higher upsides as well as higher chances of being an actual NBA player. Throw in them moving off of the Talen Horton-Tucker selection, and I am still confused to their draft day moves.
Their resignings are decent, as none seem like overpays, but none seem like great moves that bring the Magic closer to contention. Nikola Vucevic has regressed slightly from his All-Star level to a good starter, and Terrence Ross followed suit from a high level role player to a shaky shooter. Khem Birch has been as advertised and Michael Carter-Williams is better than I thought, but none are blowing your socks off.
And I think it only gets worse when looking towards their signings. Sure, they did not lose any major players, but they did lost tons of future flexibility. By stretching Timofey Mozgov’s contract, they now have to pay him for two more years, all to sign Al-Farouq Aminu. And I don’t want to discredit Aminu, as his decline is likely due to injury, I did not get essentially paying $15 million a year for 3 years for Aminu. The Magic are still projected to make the playoffs, but it is rather them whimpering into the playoffs in the decimated East rather than walking in with pride.
While the Wizards are not having a great season, I do think all things being considered, they are overperforming expectations. I saw them as being in purgatory, where they are not good enough to contend for the playoffs, but not bad enough to get a great pick. And they are exactly in that position, but I do think they should be optimistic of what is happening.
The Wizards did a nice job in the draft, as they did not hit any home runs, but they did a solid job finding some pieces and not striking out. Rui Hachimura is struggling at shooting the three, but has been able to score and rebound well as a rookie. He looks to be a solid forward for the Wizards of the future, and while he may not push them over the top, he is not holding them back. And while Admiral Schofield has shown nothing in the NBA, he has been a solid G-League player who should eventually turn to an NBA bench piece.
After the draft, the Wizards only hit homeruns, besides one trade and another that was essentially a wash. The wash of a trade was the Dwight Howard for CJ Miles swap. And while Miles did nothing for Washington, Dwight would have done even less. Without essentially hitting rock bottom, Dwight Howard would have not accepted his role for the Lakers and revitalizing his career. Therefore, he would have done nothing in Washington if he stuck there. The only trade that I thought they lost on was signing and trading away Tomas Satoransky. His 3 year/$30 million contract always seemed reasonable, and while he is not a great player, he would have been the best point guard on the Wizards this year, and a great backup for the future. Moving off him is baffling to this day, especially considering Washington wants to keep Bradley Beal happy by being a half competent team.
Now for their great moves, the trades. I was always high on their trades, but I do think looking back now, they look even better. The best one for them is taking on Davis Bertans contract from San Antonio. This type of move is exactly why I get upset by bad teams blowing their cap space on players who don’t make the team better. I guarantee the Spurs did not want to move off of Bertans, but they needed to in order to get all the players they wanted, so they needed to cut salary somewhere. The Wizards thought they were getting a solid role player for nothing, but he developed into one of the most lethal shooters in the league right now. Similarly, the Lakers also had to dump salary to get Anthony Davis, and Washington got some solid pieces. While Jemerrio Jones never played a game, Isaac Bongo and Moritz Wagner were nice pickups for sacrificing some cash. While Bonga has not done much in the league, he is only 19 and has a decent touch and ball handling skills considering his size. He may never be more than a deep bench player, but hey, why not take a look at a super young oversized guard? And finally the real sweet stuff, Moritz Wagner. While he has missed nearly half the season, he is already a good offensive big. While being efficient inside the arc, Wagner’s soft touch makes him a solid shooter from deep, all while not giving too much on the boards. He is still a weak defender, nearly every team would take him as a backup big.