30. Philadelphia 76ers
Record Last Year: 19-63
Gains: Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, K.J McDaniels
Its all about the future for the Sixers after they selected Embiid and Saric on draft night. Could be another long season ahead.
29. Orlando Magic
Record Last Year: 23-59
Gains: Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Channing Frye, Ben Gordon
Losses: Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo
Look to have a promising future with Oladipo, Payton, Gordon and Vucevic but next season will bring more pain for fans as the Magic tried to cover the losses of Jameer Nelson and Aaron Afflalo with Channing Frye and Ben Gordon.
28. Milwaukee Bucks
Record Last Year: 15-67
Gains: Jabari Parker, Jason Kidd, Kendall Marshall
New head coach Jason Kidd has inherited a youthful roster which will show signs of what’s in store for fans in the years to come but the Bucks will likely struggle again. Buck’s top pick Jabari Parker will come in and make noise right away and is already the favourite for the Rookie of the Year award.
27. Utah Jazz
Record Last Year: 25-57
Gains: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Quin Snyder, Trevor Booker, Steve Novak
Losses: Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson
The Jazz added Rodney Hood and Dante Exum in the draft and matched the Hornets offer towards Team USA squad member Gordon Hayward. Exum and Trey Burke have showed promising signs working in tandem along with Hood at the Summer League in Las Vegas. Expect little improvement in the win/loss record for the Jazz following this off season but a brighter future in store.
26. Boston Celtics
Record Last Year: 25-57
Gains: Marcus Smart, Tyler Zeller, James Young, Evan Turner
Losses: Kris Humphries
The Celtics re-signed Avery Bradley to a 4 year deal and added promising young players Marcus Smart and James Young in the draft. With a fully fit Rajon Rondo and improvement from young centres Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk the Celtics will improve on their record from last season.
25. Los Angeles Lakers
Record Last Year: 27-55
Gains: Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Ed Davis
Losses: Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore
They didn’t get a big fish e.g. LeBron, Melo and they even lost Pau Gasol to the Bulls but the Lakers did draft underrated forward Julius Randle, acquired Jeremy Lin in a trade with the Rockets and signed Carlos Boozer off waivers from the Bulls. Their starting line-up of Lin/Kobe/Swaggy P/Randle/Hill doesn’t look too bad and will be more than competitive with a fit & firing Kobe Bryant.
25. Detroit Pistons
Record Last Year: 29-53
Gains: Stan Van Gundy, Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler, DJ Augustin, Aaron Gray, Cartier Martin
Losses: Chauncey Billups, Rodney Stuckey
Signing Stan Van Gundy was the best decision the Pistons have made for a while. He has a history of working well with big men e.g Shaq, Howard and Pistons current centre Andre Drummond will thrive under SVG. They also acquired Jodie Meeks, DJ Augustin and Caron Butler in free agency to bolster the bench. A trade involving Greg Monroe for Suns guard Eric Bledsoe is still in the pipeline as is a trade involving Josh Smith to the Kings.
23. Sacramento Kings
Record Last Year: 28-54
Gains: Nik Stauskas, Darren Collison
Losses: Isaiah Thomas
Picked another shooting guard in the draft with Nik Stauskas and traded away Isaiah Thomas before picking up Clippers back up point guard Darren Collison in free agency. Improvement from Demarcus Cousins is likely and Rudy Gay should start to feel more comfortable in Sac-Town so they should improve but in a strong Western Conference they are unlikely to make a run at the playoffs.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves
Record Last Year: 40-42
Gains: Zach LaVine, Flip Saunders
Losses: Kevin Love (????)
The Wolves should get something for All Star Kevin Love now rather than letting him walk for nothing next summer. Leading suitors for Love include the Warriors, Cavaliers, Celtics and Lakers. Apart from Love new coach Flip Saunders doesn’t have much to work with but this season shouldn’t be about maintaining ground and being reasonably competitive. The Wolves need to be aggressive at the trade table in the coming weeks to set themselves up for the future.
21. Denver Nuggets
Record Last Year: 36-46
Gains: Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, Aaron Afflalo
Losses: Evan Fournier, Aaron Brooks
The Nuggets picked up arguably the steal of the draft with guard Gary Harris at pick 19 and also selected international big man Jusuf Nurkic in the first round. The Nuggets also got Aaron Afflalo back from the Magic in a trade. The return of Danilo Gallinari will help but with the strength of the Western Conference its hard to see the Nuggets climbing up the standings.
20. New Orleans Pelicans
Record Last Year: 34-48
Gains: Omer Asik, Jimmer Fredette
Losses: Anthony Morrow
A successful off season for the Pelicans as they added Omer Asik to be Anthony Davis’ partner in the front court. Asik’s rebounding and defensive capabilities will complement Davis well as the former no.1 pick continues to assert himself on the league. Davis is a worry at both ends of the floor and the Pelican’s success will rest largely on his shoulders.
19. Atlanta Hawks
Record Last Year: 38-44
Gains: Adreian Payne, Thabo Sefolosha, Kent Bazemore
Losses: Lou Williams
A decent off season will be helped significantly with the return of Al Horford from long term injury. Horford will significantly improve the Hawks from last season with added presence on the inside at both ends. He is one of the most underrated big men in the league and his return will push the Hawks towards a return to the post season as he teams up with fellow big man Paul Millsap to create a dominant front court.
18. New York Knicks
Record Last Year: 37-45
Gains: Derek Fisher, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Cleanthony Early, Shane Larkin
Losses: Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton
Things seem to be starting to turn for the good in New York with the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony, the addition of Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher and the upside of young players Cleanthony Early and Tim Hardaway Jnr. They did lose Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavs but got an upgrade on Felton in Jose Calderon and a slight downgrade on Chandler in Samuel Dalembert. If J.R Smith can get his act together and Amare’ Stoudemire shows some of the form he showed towards the back end of last season then the Knicks have serious claims to a playoff spot.
17. Brooklyn Nets
Record Last Year: 44-38
Gains: Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev, Lionel Hollins
Losses: Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Jason Kidd, Andray Blatche
Losing the Truth wasn’t ideal neither was losing Shaun Livingston but they did get good bench coverage with Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev in a trade with Cavs. Plus they replaced an inexperienced coach in Jason Kidd with an experienced one in in Lionel Hollins. Couple this with the return of hopefully a fully fit Brook Lopez and the Nets will be right in playoff contention again. They boast a very good starting line up of D-Will, Joe Johnson, AK47, Teletovic and Lopez when fully fit plus an aging Kevin Garnett and Jarrett Jack off the bench.
16. Charlotte Hornets
Record Last Year: 43-39
Gains: Lance Stephenson, P.J Hairston, Marvin Williams, Noah Vonleh
Losses: Josh McRoberts, Brendan Haywood
They got their man in Lance Stephenson but it won’t make them a guaranteed playoff lock in the East. Al Jefferson had a stellar season last year and will need to play at that level again if the Hornets are to gain any ground in the coming season. Josh McRoberts leaves for South Beach but they gained a promising power forward in Noah Vonleh for the future and bench depth in P.J Hairston and Marvin Williams. Stephenson is unpredictable, Vonleh is raw, Walker and Jefferson are proven but expect a battle with the Knicks, Nets and Hawks for the remaining playoff spots in the East.
15. Phoenix Suns
Record Last Year: 48-34
Gains: Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Tolliver
Losses: Channing Frye, Eric Bledsoe (???)
Just missed the playoffs despite having a better record than most of the teams in the East. They added Isaiah Thomas from the Kings but are set to lose Eric Bledsoe in the coming weeks. Despite not making drastic changes to their roster and due to the youth of the roster improvement should occur. However due to the strength of the West and the potential loss of Bledsoe the Suns will struggle to make it to the post season again.
14. Toronto Raptors
Record Last Year: 48-34
Gains: Lou Williams
Losses: Steve Novak, John Salmons
The Raptors made giant strides in 2013-14 and have kept their squad in check over the off season while adding Lou Williams into a growing logjam at the point. They should get better next season due to the age of their roster but with the Bulls and Cavs improving significantly over the break the Raptors may find themselves in the bottom half of the eight playoff spots in the East.
13. Memphis Grizzlies
Record Last Year: 50-32
Gains: Vince Carter, Jordan Adams
Losses: Mike Miller, Ed Davis
They could have knocked off the Thunder in the first round and proved most wrong with an aging line-up. In the off season they lost the sharp shooting of Mike Miller off the bench but maintained their starting five and added extra scoring off the bench in Vince Carter. Expect another finish in the playoffs for the Grizzlies.
12. Washington Wizards
Record Last Year: 44-38
Gains: Paul Pierce, Kris Humphries
Losses: Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker
Last year was a defining season for the young Wizards as they cruised past the Chicago Bulls in the first round and pushed the Indiana Pacers in the second round before bowing out. They were able to re-sign key big man Marcin Gortat but lost Trevor Ariza to the Rockets. However they recovered well by adding the ‘Truth’ Paul Pierce to their line-up and Kris Humphries for some extra muscle off the bench. They have arguably one of the best back courts in the league with John Wall and Bradley Beal and much of the teams success will depend on their improvement.
11. Miami Heat
Record Last Year: 54-28
Gains: Luol Deng, Shabazz Napier, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger
Losses: LeBron James, Rashard Lewis,
Well what a four years in South Beach. The big three delivered with four trips to the finals and two championships in those four years but with the King heading home to Cleveland it seems as though the Heat may not be as dominant as they were. LeBron left but the other two in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade opted to stay despite enticing offers to go home. They add former All Star Luol Deng to their starting line-up plus role players Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger and LeBron’s favourite rookie, Shabazz Napier. The Heat won’t be what they were but they will still be good and should be aiming to be a top 4 team in the East behind Wade and Bosh.
10. Indiana Pacers
Record Last Year: 56-26
Gains: C.J Miles, Damjan Rudez, Rodney Stuckey
Losses: Lance Stephenson, Luis Scola
After being the best team for the most part of season 2013-14 the Pacers suffered a dramatic collapse in the last couple of months which ultimately cost them a chance at the Finals. In the off-season it didn’t get much better with the Pacers losing guard Lance Stephenson and bench player Luis Scola. They did add some bench depth with Damjan Rudez, Rodney Stuckey and C.J Miles but they may not be able to cover what Stephenson and Scola provided. However they had one of the best records in the league last season and still have an All Star in Paul George plus one of the most intimidating front courts in the league when Roy Hibbert decides to show up.
- Houston Rockets
Record Last Year: 54-28
Gains: Trevor Ariza
Losses: Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik
It hasn’t been the ideal off-season so far for the Rockets as they lose two of their starting five in Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik plus a solid back up guard in Jeremy Lin. They replaced these three with Trevor Ariza from the Wizards who may slot into the Rockets system better than expected with his productivity at both ends. Also they missed the boat on Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh after he opted to stay in South beach on a more lucrative contract. Expect a dip in the Rockets output from last year due to their losses but they have two of the game’s better players in James Harden and Dwight Howard to help them from dipping too far.
- Golden State Warriors
Record Last Year: 51-31
Gains: Steve Kerr, Shaun Livingston
Losses: Steve Blake
After an exciting run in the playoffs in 2013 the Warriors fell in the first round to the Clippers. They sacked head coach Mark Jackson at the end of the season and replaced him with Steve Kerr. Whether this is a good move or not is yet to be seen but the sacking of Jackson has reportedly angered some Warriors players and Kerr will initially have a hard time earning the respect from them that Jackson had in his time. However the Warriors still have one of the best starting line-ups in the league and are on of the leaders in the trade race for Wolves power forward Kevin Love.
- Dallas Mavericks
Record Last Year: 49-33
Gains: Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Rashard Lewis, Richard Jefferson
Losses: Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert
After pushing eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs, to seven games in the first round the Mavs improved their roster once again. They added the well rounded offensive skill set of Chandler Parsons in free agency along with off the bench scoring in Rashard Lewis. Along with this Dallas also acquired defensive big man Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton from the Knicks for Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. Adding Parsons means the Mavs could have one of the best offences in the NBA. Couple this with an improved defence on the back of Tyson Chandler and the Mavs could have possible claims to the title.
- Portland Trailblazers
Record Last Year: 54-28
Gains: Steve Blake, Chris Kaman
Losses: Mo Williams
If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it! The Portland Trailblazers improved significantly last year behind the starting line-up of Lillard, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge and Lopez so it was no surprise that they didn’t many changes in the off-season. They did however add guard Steve Blake and centre Chris Kaman to a young bench. With continued improvement from Lillard at the point and key additions on the bench the Trailblazers will look to make some noise in the West.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Record Last Year: 33-49
Gains: LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Mike Miller
Losses: Jarrett Jack, C.J Miles, Sergey Karasev, Luol Deng, Spencer Hawes
He’s coming home. The world’s best player, LeBron James, is back in Cleveland and the Cavs have catapulted up the rankings as a result. James will pair up with three fellow no.1 picks in Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013) and Andrew Wiggins (2014). The road to a ring will be a bit tougher than it was in Miami for James as the roster is so young. If the Cavs want to challenge the powerhouses in the West this season to claim their first title they will need to find a way to land Kevin Love in a trade.
- Chicago Bulls
Record Last Year: 48-34
Gains: Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott
Losses: Carlos Boozer
The Bulls seem to have been one of the big winners from this years free agency period despite missing out on their no.1 target, Carmelo Anthony. However they did add former All Star and NBA champion Pau Gasol to their line-up. They also added the talented Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott to the roster. Also they are hoping that Derrick Rose will have an injury free season. This ranking largely depends on a healthy and firing Rose. if he doesn’t play close to a full season the Bulls will tread water on last seasons finish or slightly improve on last season.
- Los Angeles Clippers
Record Last Year: 57-25
Gains: Spencer Hawes
Losses: Danny Granger, Darren Collison
The Donald Sterling racism scandal marred a solid season for the Clippers as they made the West Semis under new coach Doc Rivers. With the best point guard in the game in Chris Paul and a dominant twin tower duo in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan the Clippers should be aiming to improve on their result from last season.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Record Last Year: 59-23
Gains: Anthony Morrow
Losses: Thabo Sefolosha
With arguably two of the best five players in the league on their roster in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the Thunder are going to have a fair say in what happens next season. They added sharpshooter Anthony Morrow to the line-up in free agency but missed out on Pau Gasol. With such youth on their roster and two readymade superstars along with the shot blocking prowess of Serge Ibaka the Thunder look set to make a run at the championship next season.
- San Antonio Spurs
Record Last Year: 62-20
Gains: Larry O’Brien, Kyle Anderson
The reigning champs take the number 1 spot and rightfully so after they demolished the LeBron lead Miami Heat in the Finals. Yes Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will be a year older but it hasn’t seemed to worry them too much in the past few seasons. After his stellar finals performance Kawhi Leonard should improve his numbers. Along with the re-signing of Patty Mills and Boris Diaw the Spurs seem in a good position for a tilt at title number 6.