The offseason is a period where all 30 NBA teams take a hard look at themselves in the mirror to assess their performance and current status. This is a time where each team gets an opportunity to improve with free-agent signings or by simply making the right pick in the draft.
With the 2021-22 season ongoing, let’s analyze three teams whose offseason moves have paid dividends early on.
Additions: Lonzo Ball, Demar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso
The Chicago Bulls made some noise in the offseason when they were able to nab former New Orleans point guard Lonzo Ball at the onset of free agency with a 4-year, $80 million deal. To many, this was a reasonable deal for the former No. 2 pick who has shown flashes of brilliance when he is healthy and surrounded by the right people on the court.
However, the Bulls raised some eyebrows when they also acquired DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade deal with the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers fan-favorite Alex Caruso. No one completely understood what the Bulls were doing as they crowded their backcourt even if they already had an All-Star in Zach Lavine.
To the surprise of the league, and with the ingenuity of coach Billy Donovan, the Bulls have had a hot start powered by the 1-2 scoring punch of Lavine and DeRozan who are both in the top seven in this season’s scoring list at 26.1 and 25.8 points, respectively, per game. The addition of Ball and Caruso has also improved the team’s perimeter defense, allowing the team to play at a faster pace and to rely less on Nikola Vucevic’s defense—or lack thereof. Expect the Bulls to continue to disrupt teams with their lengthy backcourt and improved offensive firepower.
Golden State Warriors
Additions: Andre Iguodala, Jonathan Kuminga, Nemanja Bjelica, and Otto Porter
The Golden State Warriors pulled off the biggest surprise of the season as they are currently atop the league standings with a 16-2 (win-loss) record. Aside from Steph Curry raising his game to another level and staking his claim as the league’s greatest shooter, the Warriors have been able to draw solid performances from their supporting cast.
They didn’t do much in the offseason, just adding notable pieces like Andre Iguodala and Nemanja Bjelica, who both have been decent. Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II are stealing the show with their stellar plays, Andrew Wiggins is finally comfortable with his role, and Klay Thompson is getting ready to return for the first time in two years. Plus they also have their two lottery picks with James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga.
The Warriors remain a threat in the open market as they can package players and salaries to go after disgruntled All-Stars who might be available. With Curry playing again at an MVP level, this may force Bob Meyers and the Warriors’ management to try to go all-in for another title run.
Additions: Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Montrezl Harrell
The Wizards’ offseason was more of an addition than a loss. After trading former league MVP Russell Westbrook to the Lakers, not only was the team able to free up more cap space, but more importantly, they were able to surround All-Star Bradley Beal with more scoring options.
Kyle Kuzma now operates more freely on offense while the addition of Spencer Dinwiddie gives Beal a more consistent partner on offense. Montrezl Harrel and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are also solid additions.
The jury is still out on these teams if their offseason moves will pay off come playoff time. However, as they say, a good beginning means the job is already half done.