2012 NBA Offseason: Grading the Pacific division


August 10, 2012; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard holds his jersey during a press conference held to introduce the three-time defensive player of the year who they aquired in a four-team trade from the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Lakers: A+

Out: Andrew Bynum, Christian Eyenga, Josh McRoberts, Ramon Sessions

In: Earl Clark, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Antawn Jamison, Darius Johnson-Odom, Jodie Meeks, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre

Quick take: The Lakers had an excellent offseason; aside from the fact that trotting this bonafide championship contender every night will cost nearly double the salary cap, even before their monumental luxury tax bill.

The additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will obviously be pretty important. But the juxtaposition of their talents — Nash being the prototypical pick-and-roll threat and Howard being the indomitable force when he’s on the move — will infuse the Lakers’ pick-and-roll attack with much more vigor and extra means of attack.

While fielding this roster isn’t an example in solid cap management, it can be done especially in a market like Los Angeles, which is conducive to super teams like this one. Sometimes it doesn’t have to make sense financially as long as winning a championship is back within the Lakers grasp.

Los Angeles Clippers: B

Out: Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Mo Williams, Nick Young

In: Jamal Crawford, Willie Green, Grant Hill, Ryan Hollins, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf

Quick take: The acquisition of Turiaf shouldn’t be overlooked; his energy on defense and offensive rebounding ability will be needed on a team devoid of these precise abilities. Turiaf’s energy level is consistently high and he will sufficiently fufill Evans’ role as the quintessential energy guy. His addition was a solid move that will bolster the Clippers’ frontcourt.

Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom are a little long in the tooth but there is no question that they are potent offensive contributors. Crawford excels at one-on-one situations; Hill strives in posting up smaller defenders and spotting up in transition; Odom creates for others in any setting.

The Clippers may have improved, a fact I’m not sold on yet, but they did manage to make it more difficult for Eric Bledsoe to earn minutes. His skill set aggregates with that of Chris Paul’s and they were highly effective in lineups together. Preventing his possibility for growth isn’t ideal.

May 25, 2010; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash (13) reacts after being fouled during the second half in game four of the western conference finals in the 2010 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115 - 106. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Phoenix Suns: C

Out: Aaron Brooks, Josh Childress, Grant Hill, Robin Lopez, Steve Nash, Ronnie Price, Hakim Warrick

In: Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Jermaine O’Neal, Luis Scola, P.J. Tucker

Quick take: At the very least, scrapping Scola off amnesty waivers alleviated the damage of losing their elite point guard — Steve Nash. Replacing him with Dragic and Marshall will cause some inevitable growing pains but their additions offset the blow of losing a player of Nash’s caliber. Dragic is an underrated pick-and-roll asset and they won’t lose as much in that department as some would tend to believe. If Marshall can translate his passing prowess to the next level, Phoenix will be fine in the shot creating department as well.

The curious addition of Beasley, meanwhile, doesn’t jive with their other acquisitions. Beasley’s addition hurts primarily because he will earn $6 million over three seasons and his lack of positional versatility hamstrings the team from utilizing other pieces effectively. Beasley struggles to defend 4’s so any potential for small ball goodness is out. He isn’t tremendous against 3’s either, making it difficult to justify playing Marcin Gortat and Scola with him. Losing Robin Lopez also hurts as he was an effective defender that was adequate in the pick-and-roll.

Beasley is also a marginal scorer, despite shooting as much as an above average scorer. So there’s that going against him, too.

Golden State Warriors: A-

Out: Nate Robinson, Dorell Wright

In: Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green, Jarrett Jack, Ognjen Kuzmic, Carl Landry

Quick take: Replacing the volatile Robinson with Jack is an easy transaction to make; Jack can defend both guard positions seamlessly and won’t detract from Stephen Curry’s ball handling responsibilities. Losing Wright, while receiving no one of immediate value in return, wasn’t a net loss either. Barnes and Green are excellent mid-range shooters, and Barnes can step out and shoot the 3, so Wright’s departure doesn’t affect the second-ranked 3-point shooting team.

Ezeli and Landry, along with Andrew Bogut and David Lee, could potentially be a nice match on the interior. Landry is strikingly proficient on post-ups, representing 40.4% of his possessions last season, as he scored 1.03 points per possession. It’s this kind of efficiency that can carry the Warriors’ second unit while Bogut and Lee recharge their batteries.

It’s undecided whether these Warriors are a playoff team because of the inherent defensive inhibitions and injury concerns. But their front office put themselves in a good position to contend should they get lucky in the aforementioned departments.

Sacramento Kings: C

Out: Hassan Whiteside

In: Aaron Brooks, James Johnson, Thomas Robinson

Quick take: Outside of drafting Robinson, the Kings didn’t do much to extricate themselves from mediocre limbo. It’s true that Robinson will be the kind of hard nosed, technically sound frontcourt mate that will mesh well with the talent of DeMarcus Cousins. It’s also true that adding Brooks, who is a quick point guard with a nose for transition, is a net positive. Yet adding Johnson is anything but positive. He’s an athletic wing that unfortunately will have to fight for minutes with John Salmons, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Francisco Garcia and Travis Outlaw. That muddled situation doesn’t spell effectiveness.

Other division offseason grades: Southwest