Acquiring Gordon Hayward will do nothing but good for the Celtics' offense. He is a talented wing player and shooter who operates at an All-Star level. Teaming up with Isaiah Thomas may be the key to pushing Hayward to superstardom. Both players excel at beating their defender off the dribble but can pull up for a jump shot as well. Also, reuniting with coach Brad Stevens could mean a significant boost in Hayward's attitude towards each game and the strategic sets he is part of in the future.
The Celtics were already competing to be the best team in the Eastern Conference, and Hayward's contributions will help them achieve even greater success. Drafting Jayson Tatum will also take a load off of Hayward’s shoulders as Tatum is predicted to become a star in the NBA. He will no doubt be given the playing time necessary to prove himself on the NBA stage in the upcoming season.
As for trading Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris, the jury is still out regarding that move. Bradley, an excellent defender, took a load of Thomas defensively by dealing with opposing star guards in most games. Losing Bradley may mean an increase in Thomas’ duties both defensively and offensively. However, Morris’ contributions as a wing player or big man can be hugely helpful to Boston. Their biggest concern last year was Amir Johnson’s form and their lack of mobile big men. Morris could be the solution.
On the topic of reuniting with coaches, Jimmy Butler has come to Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves. Already one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the league, the Timberwolves have replaced Ricky Rubio with Jeff Teague and added Taj Gibson as well. Look for them to fight for a high playoff spot this season. Whether or not Gibson will start over Gorgui Dieng will make no difference as either of them can handle themselves on both ends of the court.
The only concern for the Timberwolves comes with the uncertainty towards touches. Both Andrew Wiggins and Butler thrive in isolation with the ball in their hands. Increased time on the floor together could mean a significant decrease in one or both of their scoring. Both players excel when slashing or stepping back into a jump shot. While Butler is praised for his abilities to play without the ball, his effectiveness on the court will be diminished significantly if he goes without the ball for long periods of time. Wiggins will suffer an even greater loss in effectiveness offensively if his touches are reduced. On a positive note, adding Butler’s elite defensive capabilities will be a big improvement on Minnesota’s team defense and possibly rally them to achieve greater success as a unit.
The Rockets have lost Patrick Beverley but received his first team all-defensive teammate Chris Paul, who is possibly the best point guard in the league today. With Paul working alongside James Harden, Houston may own the most dominant backcourt in the NBA. Yet, the biggest concern for this squad will be their ability to gel together. In Los Angeles, Paul dominated opposing teams primarily through his mastery of the pick and roll or pick and pop. This was best seen accompanied by Deandre Jordan’s tremendous athletic ability.
On the other hand, Houston played an up-tempo, trigger-happy offense last season, relying on Harden’s offensive prowess. It is going to be difficult - maybe even impossible - to run both types of offense. Will Houston try to adapt to a slower two-man game run by Paul for some of their baskets, or will they get him to fit in with their style? Although either scenario may still allow them to reach success, Paul will most likely be able to adapt to their playing style relatively easily.
Also, look forward to Zhou Qi and P.J. Tucker's development. Both can play integral parts in either supporting roles or during clutch time. We will see if they are able to hold their own alongside the superstars they will be sharing the court with.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In another offseason coup, Paul George unexpectedly joined the Oklahoma City Thunder. Teaming up with the league’s reigning MVP Russell Westbrook could be a huge factor that brings out even more of George’s ferocity and dominance. Westbrook and George alone will have the ability to topple even the best of teams on some nights. Even though they are not the favorites in the talent-stacked Western Conference, the future of both players’ careers could be the most interesting factor. Westbrook played alongside Kevin Durant for his entire NBA career until this past season. In Durant’s absence, the MVP exploded for his best season ever. It will be interesting to see whether Westbrook’s dominance will carry over into next season when he is paired with another superstar wing.
Which team is the biggest winner of the offseason so far? Comment below!