As the 2022-23 season draws near, our writers will weigh in on some intriguing topics around the league.
Which team improved its roster the most this offseason?
Steve Aschburner: Boston. Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari fill specific needs in the Celtics rotation with battle-tested veterans. That team has a talented enough core that plugging holes offers a major overall impact. To me, Minnesota adding Gobert and Cleveland picking up the other ex-Utahan, Donovan Mitchell, pose as many questions as answers. Brooklyn improved by not tearing itself down, but it will be a while before we know if the Nets’ minds are right.
Brian Martin: While we saw other teams acquire All-Stars via trade — Dejounte Murray to Atlanta, Rudy Gobert to Minnesota, Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland — Philadelphia retained an All-Star at a discount price in order to do some more shopping in free agency. James Harden’s new two-year deal (with a player option for next season) at below market value gave GM Daryl Morey and the 76ers the financial bandwidth to add some key players to complement the trio of Kia MVP runner-up Joel Embiid, former MVP Harden and rising star Tyrese Maxey. It’s a bit of a Rockets reunion with free agents P.J. Tucker and Danuel House from the Harden/Morey era in Houston. in the fold. Adding that duo along with De’Anthony Melton (from the Memphis Grizzlies) helps bolster the Sixers’ perimeter defense and 3-point shooting.
Mark Medina: The Cleveland Cavaliers improved their roster the most this offseason. After all, Cleveland landed a three-time All-Star guard still in his prime (Donovan Mitchell) from Utah. Of course, the Jazz extracted plenty from Cleveland, including young talent (Collin Sexton via sign-and-trade, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji), unprotected first-round picks (2025, ’27, ’29) and pick swaps (’26, ’28). But the Cavs still retained most of their core group: last season’s Kia Rookie of the Year runner-up (Evan Mobley), an All-Star guard (Darius Garland), an All-Star center (Jarrett Allen) and a former All-Star that has adapted to a reserve role (Kevin Love). Cleveland has not climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference just yet as the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have reserved that space. By acquiring Mitchell, though, Cleveland should jump to No. 6 after flaming out in the Play-In Tournament last season.
Shaun Powell: The pick here would’ve been the Malcolm Brogdon-fused Boston Celtics had Danilo Gallinari not gotten hurt, or the Atlanta Hawks with Dejounte Murray, or maybe the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets, both flush with first-rounders. But when a three-time All-Star who’s still in prime his gets dealt to a team, then we have a winner. Donovan Mitchell puts the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were a Play-In team last season, firmly into the second group of Eastern Conference powers. On the surface, that doesn’t sound so glorious … until you understand that it’ll take more than that to make the Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets sweat. Maybe that happens two seasons from now, when the young core around Mitchell starts flexing more muscle.
John Schuhmann: Philadelphia. Rudy Gobert is clearly the most impactful player that changed teams, but the Sixers stacked their rotation with the additions of P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, Montrezl Harrell and Danuel House. Harrell is the only one who doesn’t provide shooting around the Sixers’ two stars, but he’s scored 1.33 points per possession as a roll man over the last five years and he can be a great pick-and-roll partner for James Harden (a roll he’s had before) when Joel Embiid goes to the bench. The Sixers’ success will ultimately come down to Harden’s ability to play like a star in the postseason, but this team is now incredibly deep and versatile, with the ability to rank in the top five on either end of the floor if Embiid stays relatively healthy.
Michael C. Wright: It’s tough to say. Cleveland solved its Collin Sexton dilemma by trading him and landing Donovan Mitchell to add to a young, talented core featuring Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. The Cavs have a couple of Ferraris in the backcourt now and a couple of elite rim protectors. James Harden sacrificed some in Philly so that Daryl Morey could go out and add toughness in P.J. Tucker. The Sixers’ trade for De’Anthony Melton was low-key a shrewd move, too. As someone based in San Antonio that has watched Dejounte Murray essentially grow up over the years, his addition in Atlanta makes the Hawks the team that improved the most this offseason. Murray gives Atlanta a defensive presence on the perimeter, while allowing Trae Young to stay fresher during games playing off the ball. It’s as if Atlanta killed two birds with one stone by adding Murray (a defensive guard and secondary playmaker).