By Matt Ferris
The 2017 NBA offseason has been one of the most active in recent memory.
The Golden State Warriors have clearly set the bar, and now, it’s become an arms race to see who can catch up. Golden State, however, continues to raise the bar even higher, bringing in two knockdown shooters with Nick Young and Omri Casspi.
The Houston Rockets have made a serious push to try and get over the hump. In June, Houston was able to complete a trade to get nine-time all-star Chris Paul. However, they had to sacrifice to acquire Paul. They lost lockdown defender Patrick Beverly and bench scorer Louis Williams. Both played crucial roles for the Rockets in 2016. Sure, Houston looks good on paper – but the lack of chemistry hinders them enough for Golden State to stay just out of reach.
Oklahoma City got significantly better over the summer. The Thunder turned Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott into Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Those two men have combined to make 14 all-star appearances, which is 14 more than the other four combined. Joining reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, the Thunder now have three reliable playmakers in their starting lineup. It is a given that OKC has one of the best starting fives in the NBA, but the Thunder still lack a bench. Besides Patrick Patterson, who the Thunder acquired from Toronto this offseason, nobody else really stands out. Because of the limited bench play OKC is likely to get, it’ll be tough for them to compete with the Warriors – a team with a bench.
Boston has also made some big time moves this offseason. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are the headliners coming to Boston this season. The Celtics won the Hayward sweepstakes this summer, signing him to a four-year, $128 million deal. Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, was acquired from Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, a first-round pick and a second-round pick. Trading away Crowder means the Celtics will have to rely heavily on youngsters Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics also traded away one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA – Avery Bradley. Bradley was a crucial part of the Celtics’ success last year, and his loss will hurt Boston badly. Last year, the Celtics put up good fights against the Warriors, but that was with Crowder and Bradley, two defensive standouts, on the floor. If Boston’s expectations are championship or bust this year, Celtics fans are in for a disappointing season.
Last but not least, the Cleveland Cavaliers have taken some steps to try to get back to the Finals for a fourth consecutive season. But not only does Cleveland want back in, it wants its second ring in four years. The Cavs did trade away one of their best players in Irving, but they received a lot in return – Thomas and Crowder. Even if Thomas doesn’t return to basketball until January, he will still have an impact for Cleveland. Crowder provides some more depth to an already deep Cleveland bench. The Cavs acquired former MVP Derrick Rose, who will probably start in the absence of Thomas. Depending on Rose’s health, this could be a very impactful move. The Cavs were also able to land Dwyane Wade. The three-time NBA champion provides a lot of experience and veteran savvy to the Cavs. Wade may not be the same player he was in 2006 when he won Finals MVP, but he is still an effective NBA player.
The Cavs still haven’t improved enough to get over the hump, but Cleveland is definitely the field’s best shot at taking down Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.