Which NBA Western Conference teams did best and worst during the offseason?
With all the major free agents having found new homes and teams now busy preparing for the start of training camp next month, it's time to hand out grades for how teams managed to reshape their rosters, starting yesterday with the Eastern Conference and concluding today with the West.
Although West teams were busy, it doesn't appear this summer dramatically changed the playoff picture. The top nine West teams in preseason over/under win totals from Caesars Sportsbook are the same top nine as last season. The teams changing places within that group are affected more by health than offseason moves. Still, some West teams did better than others.
These grades are on a curve, with B as the most common outcome, and reflect the opportunities teams had to improve their rosters via the draft and cap space to use in free agency. We're interested not only in which teams have helped their chances for 2021-22 but how well they took advantage of their flexibility to do so.
Keeping that framework in mind, let's get to the grades, which are in alphabetical order:
When the Mavericks were unable to land one of the top free agents on the market, staying over the cap and re-signing Tim Hardaway Jr. (four years, $75 million) was a reasonable Plan B. Dallas did well to add Reggie Bullock using the non-taxpayer midlevel exception and Sterling Brown with the biannual exception, supplying needed shooting.
My biggest concern is Dallas hiring Jason Kidd to replace Rick Carlisle as head coach. After a turnaround defensively in Kidd's first season with the Milwaukee Bucks from 29th in defensive rating to second, the Bucks were never better than average defensively in Kidd's remaining two-plus years in Milwaukee. Many of those same players produced the league's best defensive rating the next two seasons under Mike Budenholzer. Will Kidd dial back the defensive pressure with the Mavericks?