There was a host of fascinating offseason moves made this summer, with plenty of teams playing it smart, while others got it completely wrong.
Given so many big names changed allegiances, there hasn’t been a trade period like it in recent memory. Better yet, no one saw plenty of these moves coming, with several teams pulling off shrewd plays that considerably enhanced their prospects of becoming title contenders.
This list will focus on the trade swoops that caught us all a little bit off guard, yet had a profoundly positive impact on the teams that were able to execute them.
1 Paul George to Oklahoma City Thunder
Paul George was widely expected to leave Indiana, but no one saw him switching to Oklahoma City. The Thunder pulled off the move of the summer by picking up George, who will team up with MVP Russell Westbrook for at least a season. Both of these players' futures are up in the air after the 2017/18 campaign, but let's focus on the present. Even though the Thunder don't automatically become title contenders with this move, they definitely bridge the gap to the Warriors. They'll also be very fun to watch.
2 Chris Paul to Houston Rockets
As with George, Paul's departure from his former employers seemed inevitable. But, again, few pundits correctly predicted his new destination. Paul links up with James Harden to - on paper, at least - form the most lethal backcourt in the NBA. Many are questioning how the dynamic will work given both are ball-dominant lead guards, but the pair has more than enough quality - along with the coaching brilliance of Mike D'Antoni - to work it out. With the Spurs tipped to regress after an inactive offseason, the Rockets automatically become Golden State's chief rivals in the West following this move.
3 Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves
There's no doubt that the Timberwolves are on the rise and some are even predicting an end to their 13-season postseason hoodoo in 2017/18. A major reason for this is that they've finally acquired a genuine star in the form of former Chicago Bulls linchpin Jimmy Butler. Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn headed to Chicago to make way for Butler, while the Bulls also parted with a first-round pick to seal the deal. It was one of the most lopsided trades of the offseason and one that gives Minnesota a strong platform from which to launch a playoffs assault.
4 Paul Millsap to Denver Nuggets
Millsap linking up with the exciting Nikola Jokic creates a frontcourt that will make for compelling viewing on a team that was already ranked as the league's best offense last season. While this move might not be as high-profile as those above it on this list, it looms as an astute play by the Nuggets, who now have a strong core as a result. Denver should - at the very least - feature in the postseason and set the foundations for a title bid down the track.
5 Gordon Hayward to Boston Celtics
It's probably best to precede this with a note that Gordon Hayward makes this list ahead of Kyrie Irving only because the winner of the Irving-Isaiah Thomas switch isn't as clear as some would make you believe. Hayward may not have the status of Paul, George or Butler - yet - but he is an excellent player that won an All-Star berth last season. The move undoubtedly primes the Celtics to replace the Cavs as top dogs in the East and sets them up for a serious title challenge in 2017/18. Irving will no doubt help in those regards, too.
What was the best trade of the summer? Comment below!
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