The NBA offseason never lets down. Despite the offseason taking place in November, this was still an offseason that features some premier free agent signings, significant trades, and quality draft choices. Teams are prepared to make a run at the Los Angeles Lakers, while the defending champions look to retool their team for a title defense.
There were three clear winners of the first week of the offseason. These three teams significantly improved their chances of making a run towards an NBA championship.
No. 1: Los Angeles Lakers
There is a reason NBA FanDuel optimizer can build lineups as the Lakers returning to the NBA Finals. Before we begin, it must be noted that Anthony Davis has not yet resigned from the ballclub. However, all signs indicate that Davis will remain with the Lakers for at least one more season. The Lakers showed that their offseason moves are entangled around supporting A.D. and LeBron James will be a high caliber role player.
That starts with trading for NBA Sixth Man of the Year Runner-Up Dennis Schroeder. Off the bench, Schroeder always ended games and had a career-best 18.9 points per game and 4.0 assists. Then, the Lakers signed Sixth Many of the Year Montrezl Harrell, who averaged 18.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. Throw in the fact the team also added a veteran leader and former NBA champion Marc Gasol, signed sharpshooter Wes Matthew for basically nothing, and re-signed Kentavius Caldwell-Pope. This team is going to be better than last year.
No. 2: Portland Trailblazers
Every NBA contender starts with stars and then builds a supporting cast. The Trail Blazers have that in Damien Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Trail Blazers brought in some significant supporting cast members. That started by trading for 3-and-D forward Robert Covington and re-signing Carmelo Anthony. Having a healthy Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins is going to be a plus when the next season starts.
The Covington deal may not sound like a great swing, but for this team, it is a perfect fit. This allows Anthony to come off the bench to provide scoring, while Covington can’t close out games defensively. At this stage of Anthony’s career, he can serve as a Lou Williams type player. It might have been just one trade, but Covington and Collins closing out games make this Trail Blazers team deep.
No. 3: Oklahoma City Thunder
There’s one GM in the league you should 100% trust and it’s Sam Presti. He has been the busiest body as the Thunder enter a fully constructed rebuild. He was able to turn Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio, and Kelly Oubre into the No. 17, No. 25, and No. 28 overall picks. He turned Danny Green and Steven Adams into the No. 34 overall pick and a future 2023 first-round pick.
The team also owns Al Horford, who spent the last two seasons with the Sixers, Celtics. George Hill also came over in a trade, who can help a contending team down the stretch of the season. Look for both of those players to turn into more future picks. The Thunder aren’t going to be good in 2021, but the future looks very promising.