When it comes to making a push toward a potential championship everything starts out in the off season. Sure, you’ll hear GMs and analysts talk repeatedly about the draft, and they aren’t wrong, but really you’ll see contenders constructed due to great free agency periods. When the Cavaliers can go from missing the playoffs to the NBA Finals in one single free agency period (salute to King James) then you know how important it is. So we decided to look over the 2015 – 16 field and grade the best off season work done by the various teams. We’ll highlight a few obvious choices as well as one underrated squad.
Los Angeles Clippers – Winners
Last post season we saw Los Angeles endure possibly the most devastating post season collapse since the New York Yankees got backdoor swept by the Boston Red Sox almost a decade ago. Losing to the Rockets after starting the series 3 – 1, LA knew they needed to make changes…and they did. The Clippers worked hard to re-sign their super star center in DeAndre Jordan and then they got active with free agents. The Clippers signed Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson, and Cole Aldrich and thus completely re-designed their roster.This should be an elite team and a dark horse candidate in the West to upset Golden State.
San Antonio Spurs – BIG Winners
When it comes to ensuring that your franchise never falters, you really have to focus on continuing the legacy of your star players. The Spurs are one of the winningest franchises in the past 20 years thanks in large part to Tim Duncan. Duncan is edging toward retirement so San Antonio made sure to grab his successor, much like David Robinson before him. The Spurs opened the checkbook to grab coveted PF LaMarcus Aldridge before doing some magic on David West to get the player to sign for a minimum deal. The Spurs are locked and loaded and ready to compete once more.
Atlanta Hawks – Winners
After owner Bruce Levenson sold the team to Antony Ressler many didn’t know what to expect from the Hawks in the coming season. However, Bruce Levenson and Ressler made sure to put fans at ease by getting busy in free agency. Ressler made re-signing Paul Millsap, who was coming off of a career year, a priority. Millsap signed on a three year deal with a player option for the third year. Then Atlanta went ahead and nabbed up Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr while refusing to overpay for the services of Demarre Carroll. Atlanta was the top seed in the Eastern Conference last year and while we don’t think they repeat that performance, it seems very likely that they’ll trend toward an upper half playoff seed once more.
No matter which teams won big in free agency eventually the war of attrition sets in during the NBA season. With 82 games plus the playoffs looming, teams will have to make adjustment son the fly. Still, these teams set themselves up well for a potential championship run.