Sure, the NBA offseason isn’t over yet, but with the passing of Summer League and most of the key free agents signed, let’s grade each of the NBA teams’ progress this summer. Next up is the Northwest Division.
Denver Nuggets (53-29, Lost First Round): C
The Nuggets didn’t make any notable moves this summer, and they didn’t draft anybody, but they didn’t need to. Denver is still ready to contend with the roster as it is. As Ty Lawson progresses, he should be more integral in their plans on a game-by-game basis. And if they had managed to extend Carmelo Anthony’s contract this summer, that would have been ideal.
Utah Jazz (53-29, Lost Western Conference Semifinals): A-
As I wrote last week, the acquisitions of Raja Bell and Al Jefferson drastically outweigh the losses of Carlos Boozer and Wesley Matthews. The Jazz did everything they could to prepare themselves for a playoff matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011, and they’re just better overall.
Portland Trail Blazers (50-32, Lost First Round): B-
Portland is another team that didn’t really need to make drastic changes. Adding an impact offensive player on the block would have been nice, but they can hope that Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla remain healthy for the entire year. With Marcus Camby there as the defensive stopper and rebounder, they should be able to contend with the best of the frontcourts in the league. And there’s always LaMarcus Aldridge, who continues to improve. They also nabbed Wesley Matthews from Utah, who has shown he is a talented youngster who can affect a basketball game on both ends.
Oklahoma City Thunder (50-32, Lost First Round): B
Oklahoma City is a difficult team to judge, as its success is so largely dependent on team chemistry and player development. While adding a post scorer would have been the tops, it’s still a solid result to have all the players on the roster just continue to improve. Their so young that doing nothing in terms of personnel makes the team better. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, and even Kevin Durant stand to become better players during the year ahead. That’s enough to make the stagnant offseason understandable.
Minnesota Timberwolves (15-67, Missed Playoffs): D+
Who knows? David Kahn made so many moves this summer that it’s really hard to keep track of them all, but the dominating concern is the bloated contract that the zany GM awarded to Darko Milicic. Al Jefferson’s gone, Ryan Gomes is gone, and Ricky Rubio’s still in Europe. Wesley Johnson should contribute immediately, though, which is one good thing.