Hopefully, you’re all enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday and spending time with family and friends. The holiday weekend will bring us to the quarter mark of the NBA season and many NBA teams are thankful for their recent offseason moves, as they’ve worked well thus far. Others, not so much.
Best: Chicago Bulls
This past offseason the Bulls signed Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Tony Bradley, and DeMar DeRozan. At the time those moves were either panned or seen as not significant. The Bulls are 12-6 and sixth in adjusted net rating.
DeRozan leads the team in EPM at +5.6 and the three other acquisitions are net positive in that column. This is a solid playoff team in a tough eastern conference.
Worst: Los Angeles Lakers
We will begin with the caveat that LeBron James has only played in eight of a possible 19 games so far. That matters. But the acquisitions, aside from Carmelo Anthony, have performed poorly thus far.
Avery Bradley, Malik Monk, and DeAndre Jordan have EPM’s of -3.2, -2.2 and -1.0 respectively. Sharpshooter Wayne Ellington has a TS% of 52 and an eFG% of 49. Not good. Kent Bazemore is one of the only positive defenders for head coach Frank Vogel but his offensive impact, or lack thereof, negates that.
While Russell Westbrook has been an overall net positive at +0.1, the Lakers were expecting a lot more from the former MVP.
Kendrick Nunn, whom they also acquired this past offseason, has yet to play due to injury.
The Lakers are 25th in adjusted net rating. It’s getting late early.
Best: Miami Heat
Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker have fit right into #HeatCulture. Hard-nosed, tough, hyper intelligent players that know exactly what to do in any basketball situation. After a hot start, the Heat have cooled off a little as they work through injuries. But they remain in the upper echelon of the league on offense and defense, and are No. 3 in adjusted net rating.
Best: Golden State Warriors
Andre Iguodala, Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., and Nemanja Bjelica aren’t filling up the stat sheet. But they are exactly the right types of players to be in the Warriors’ system. For lack of a better phrase, they fit.
Iguodala has all the corporate knowledge from his time on the dynasty from 2015-2019. Payton II provides defense at the point of attack, and can more than hold his own in the switch-everything small lineups.
Bjelica and Porter Jr. are smart players, and you need a high basketball IQ in the Dubs’ read-and-react offense. They know how to play off Steph Curry and move the ball to get great shots. Plus they can both spread the floor from three.
Worst: New York Knicks
The Knicks surprised many in the league last season, but head coach Tom Thibodeau implemented his system and the team made the playoffs riding the No. 4 defense in the league.
This past offseason the Knicks acquired Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker. Both were seen as upgrades in perimeter shot creation, an area the Knicks struggled in last season.
For the most part Fournier and Walker have been good offensive additions for the Knicks, but they’ve struggled a bit on defense. Walker’s defensive EPM is -2.0. He, Fournier and Julius Randle are negatives on defense. That’s three fifths of the starting lineup.
The Knicks are 20th in adjusted defensive rating, and what makes this troubling is they’ve played the fifth-easiest schedule in the league thus far.
There’s still 3/4 of the NBA season remaining, but trends emerge at about 20 games, and barring something major where a team is now is likely around where they’ll be in the standings at the end of the season.
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