2020 NBA Offseason Recap: Analysis and Grades

If you can believe it, NBA training camps started last week! That’s right, the 2020-2021 NBA season is officially upon us. If you’ve been out of the loop since the Lakers celebrated their championship in the Bubble, you’re in luck. Welcome to AFTR PRTY’s offseason recap, along with some previews for the upcoming season. Even though this years’ crop of free agents was paper-thin, there are a TON of familiar faces in new places.


Before we get started, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Big Rona. While vaccines are FINALLY on the horizon… they aren’t here yet. Unfortunately, the Big Rona is an existential threat to the NFL and will pose the same risks for the NBA. All we can do is hope that the NBA’s protocols will be effective enough to limit game postponements/cancellations, but time will tell. All we can do is hope.


On a lighter note, I’ve placed all 30 teams into five tiers and included championship odds for each team. Odds are from Bovada on December 1st. The below rankings are based on rosters as they are PRESENTLY CONSTRUCTED – obviously everything changes if stars like James Harden or Ben Simmons are moved before the season starts.


Legitimate Title Contenders


LOS ANGELES LAKERS (+230)

Key Additions: Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schröder, Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews

Key Subtractions: Danny Green, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley

Offseason Grade: A+


Damn, the rich really do get richer. The Lakers enter the 2020-2021 season as the overwhelming title favorites following a long list of shrewd offseason moves. By adding proven veterans like Trezz, Schröder, and Gasol and re-signing rotation guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Markieff Morris, the Lakers are poised to continue closing the #rings gap between LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Those extensions for LeBron and Anthony Davis allow the Lakers to contend for the short and long term, too. We’re gonna be seeing plenty of purple and gold in June in the 2020s.


MILWAUKEE BUCKS (+650)

Key Additions: Jrue Holiday, DJ Augustin, Torrey Craig, Bobby Portis

Key Subtractions: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Robin Lopez

Offseason Grade: B


Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract situation notwithstanding, this was a solid offseason for the Bucks. Jrue Holiday is a defensive wizard and consistently shuts down opposing teams’ best player in crunch time (see above). Signing Augustin and Craig while re-signing Pat Connaughton helps offset the losses of Bledsoe and Hill. If not for the humiliating Bogdan Bogdanovic debacle, I’d give Milwaukee a grade in the A-range.


BROOKLYN NETS (+500)

Key Additions: Landry Shamet, Bruce Brown, Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni

Key Subtractions: Garrett Temple

Offseason Grade: A


DISCLAIMER: I hate the Nets, but holy shit they are gonna be fun to watch. Getting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back healthy would have been enough, but re-signing Joe Harris and adding three-point marksmen like Shamet and Brown will really open the floor up for KD and Kyrie to do their thing. Nash and D’Antoni will push this team to fly up and down the floor and jack up a zillion threes. The Nets might legitimately average 130 points per game this season. Aside from KD and Kyrie’s inevitable off-court weirdness, the only question is: can they prevent opposing teams from dropping 140?


MIAMI HEAT (+1600)

Key Additions: Avery Bradley, Moe Harkless, Precious Achiuwa

Key Subtractions: Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr.

Offseason Grade: B+


While the Heat didn’t make a run at Victor Oladipo or Bradley Beal like many thought they should, I like what they did this offseason. They re-signed Bam Adebayo to a (well-deserved) max extension. They retained Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, and Heat legend Udonis Haslem. They added a defensive stalwart in Avery Bradley to help take the pressure off guys like Dragic and Tyler Herro. I think Achiuwa has a chance to develop into a real impact player with the guidance of Pat Riley, Jimmy Butler, and the famed Heat Culture. A second consecutive NBA Finals appearance is absolutely in play for this Miami team.


BOSTON CELTICS (+1500)

(Image via @celtics)

Key Additions: Tristan Thompson, Jeff Teague

Key Subtractions: Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker

Offseason Grade: A-


Look, I like Hayward as much as the next guy, but he’s definitely fell off from his days in Utah. Letting him walk was an addition by subtraction. Describing Kanter and Wanamaker as “key” subtractions is a stretch; neither guy moves the needle at all. I really like the additions of Thompson and Teague, too. Both will serve as veteran complements to a core of young studs. Tristan Thompson specifically is going to be big in creating a much-needed paint presence that the Celtics failed to overcome last year. Giving Jayson Tatum the max was a no-brainer, but it gives the Celts a sense of comfort regardless. The Celtics have the firepower to make it out of the Eastern Conference – is this finally their year?


LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (+650)

(Image via @laclippers)

Key Additions: Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard, Ty Lue

Key Subtractions: Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, Doc Rivers

Offseason Grade: D


Listen, any team with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has the potential to make a deep playoff run. That said, this offseason was a disaster for the Clips. Overpaying the everliving shit out of Marcus Morris doesn’t solve any problems. Losing a true franchise cornerstone in Trezz is brutal. He was a tremendous presence in that locker room and a real tone-setter for the organization. You can’t replace dudes like him. Signing Ibaka and Kennard is nice, but are they really gonna help win playoff games? I also think the jury is still out on Ty Lue. Is he actually a decent coach, or will he lose the locker room like Doc did last year?


Almost There… But Not Quite


DENVER NUGGETS (+2200)

Key Additions: JaMychal Green, RJ Hampton

Key Subtractions: Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig

Offseason Grade: C


The good news for Denver is that they didn’t need to do much this offseason. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are emerging as a premier superstar duo. They also retained Paul Millsap on a one-year deal, and I like the Green signing. The bad news is that the Nugs will regret letting Grant walk. He’s emerged as a really valuable 3&D player behind his stellar shooting in the Postseason. Denver’s floor spacing, pace, and switchability on defense will take a massive hit. The Nuggets are betting on Michael Porter Jr. and/or Bol Bol to make the leap – will they?


UTAH JAZZ (+4000)

Key Additions: Derrick Favors, Udoka Azubuike

Key Subtractions: Ed Davis

Offseason Grade: A-


As a team in a shitty media market, the Jazz did everything any reasonable fan would expect them to. They gave Donovan Mitchell a well-deserved max extension. They re-signed Jordan Clarkson on a four-year deal, which gives them some potent scoring punch off the bench. Favors and Azubuike will help Rudy Gobert dominate the paint on both ends of the floor. While I don’t see the Jazz as a true contender in the loaded West, they’ve proven themselves as a tough playoff matchup for any team.


PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (+2200)

(Image via CBS Sports)

Key Additions: Danny Green, Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey, Terrance Ferguson, Dwight Howard, Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey

Key Subtractions: Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Zhaire Smith, Brett Brown

Offseason Grade: A


First off, the Sixers are liable to make a massive splash at any moment (Ben Simmons for James Harden, anyone?), so I reserve the right to change this grade accordingly. But seriously, they earned that A the second they traded Horford and fired Brown. Losing Richardson hurts, but Green and Curry will help ease the pain. Honestly, Rivers and Morey are my biggest question marks for this team. Can Doc re-establish himself as an elite coach after an embarrassing flameout with the Clips? How will Morey adjust his strategy now that his lead guard sucks ass at shooting? Do they lean into Joel Embiid more?


DALLAS MAVERICKS (+2200)

Key Additions: Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Wes Iwundu

Key Subtractions: Seth Curry, Delon Wright

Offseason Grade: B+


Man, if the Mavs play their cards right, they could be a real force to be reckoned with for the next decade-plus. We all know about Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but Richardson and Johnson will add an element of toughness and defensive chops that this team lacked last season. Curry and Wright were key bench scorers, but the Mavs retained Trey Burke to help soften the blow there. I still think this team is a year or two away, but they’re certainly on the rise. They have enough cap room for a max free agent next summer, too. Watch out.


TORONTO RAPTORS (+2800)

Key Additions: Aron Baynes, DeAndre’ Bembry

Key Subtractions: Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol

Offseason Grade: C+


Realistically, the Raptors had a questionable offseason. I like the Baynes signing and retaining young Chris Boucher was smart. But they lost veteran leaders in Ibaka and Gasol and I think they overpaid Fred VanVleet. This team is still solid and a playoff threat in the East, don’t get me wrong, but I look at the offseason they had and I’m like, “Really? That’s it?”


Playoff Potential, But Not A Real Threat


PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS (+3000)

Key Additions: Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, Derrick Jones Jr.

Key Subtractions: Hassan Whiteside, Trevor Ariza, Mario Hezonja

Offseason Grade: A+


Getting rid of Whiteside and Hezonja would be enough to earn this team an A. But I LOVE the Covington and Jones Jr. signings and retaining Carmelo Anthony and Rodney Hood were solid moves, too. If you ask me, a starting five of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Covington, Zach Collins, and Jusuf Nurkic sounds pretty damn formidable. Also, sidenote: Melo brought the braids back so very likely this team wins over 50 games.


GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (+1600)

Key Additions: Kelly Oubre Jr., James Wiseman, Brad Wanamaker, Kent Bazemore

Key Subtractions: N/A

Offseason Grade: A-


God damn man, Klay Thompson rupturing his Achilles tendon is the saddest shit ever. Even if you hate the Warriors, you simply can’t hate Klay. Losing two years of his prime – with no guarantee that he’ll ever return to peak form – just fucking sucks. Credit to ownership for footing a truly staggering luxury tax bill to sign Oubre and keep the team competitive. But Klay was the glue that held everything together. Without him, the Warriors can still be a great team (they still have Steph Curry, after all). But don’t get it twisted – the dynasty is over, and the Warriors’ return to serious title contention is probably years away.


PHOENIX SUNS (+4000)

(Image via @suns)

Key Additions: Chris Paul, Abdel Nader, Jae Crowder, E’Twaun Moore

Key Subtractions: Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., Aron Baynes, Jalen Lecque

Offseason Grade: B+


I give the Suns a lot of credit. By acquiring Chris Paul and Jae Crowder while re-signing Dario Saric, Phoenix is pushing their chips to the middle of the table. I don’t think they’re ready to compete just yet, but they finally got Devin Booker some help. This team will be sneaky fun to watch and has the potential to snag a 4 or 5 seed in the loaded Western Conference.


HOUSTON ROCKETS (+3300)

(Image via @houstonrockets)

Key Additions: John Wall, Christian Wood, DeMarcus Cousins, Raphael Stone, Stephen Silas

Key Subtractions: Russell Westbrook, Robert Covington, Austin Rivers, Daryl Morey, Mike D’Antoni

Offseason Grade: F-


Full disclosure, I wrote this article before the blockbuster trade that sent John Wall to Houston and Russell Westbrook to Washington. Here’s what I originally wrote:


"The Rockets are fucked. Everyone hates everyone, they lost their coach and GM, their two superstars are demanding trades, and their owner is a douchebag who’s losing all of his money. Honestly, the Rockets are only in this category because James Harden and Russell Westbrook are still technically on the roster. Time for this team to blow it up and start the rebuild. Signing Boogie’s washed up ass isn’t a great start."


Now that the trade has gone through, here’s my up-to-date take:


The Rockets are still fucked. Pairing John Wall and Boogie together in hopes of recapturing their Kentucky magic is cute, but there’s just one small problem. They aren’t 19 years old and in the best shape of their lives anymore. They’re both 30 years old and have ruptured their Achilles tendons in recent years, which is a BRUTAL injury for NBA players. Especially if your game is predicated on speed/athleticism… or you weigh 270 pounds. In any event, this team is careening towards a full rebuild. Harden will be gone by the deadline and this team will be lucky to win 40 games.


NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (+7000)

Key Additions: Steven Adams, Stan Van Gundy, and a couple of first-round picks

Key Subtractions: Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors, Alvin Gentry

Offseason Grade: A-


Overall, I really like what the Pelicans did in what turned out to be a VERY busy offseason. I love the Van Gundy hire. People will debate giving Brandon Ingram the max, but it was the right move. Acquiring Adams is huge. Losing Holiday sucks for sure, but they got enough draft capital in return to justify the move. If this team stays healthy, Zion Williamson & co. will be a very fun team to watch this season.


ATLANTA HAWKS (+8000)

Key Additions: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, Onyeka Okongwu

Key Subtractions: Jeff Teague, DeAndre’ Bembry, Vince Carter

Offseason Grade: A


The Hawks are making moves! All key additions listed above will be impact players. Losing Teague, Bembry and Carter hurts a little bit from a veteran leadership standpoint… but not even really. The Hawks are poised to become a regular presence in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Especially if Trae Young ever learns how to play the slightest ounce of defense…


OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (+15000)

Key Additions: Al Horford, George Hill, Trevor Ariza, TJ Leaf, Justin Jackson, Mark Daigneault, and like 8000 draft picks

Key Subtractions: Chris Paul, Dennis Schröder, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Abdel Nader, Terrance Ferguson, Billy Donovan

Offseason Grade: B


So there are two ways to view OKC’s offseason. On one hand, this team unquestionably got way worse. They lost their coach and four of their five best players. From a wins/losses standpoint, this was simply not a good offseason for Sam Presti and co. On the other hand, this is a team that has amassed a STAGGERING amount of draft capital. Amazingly, they opened up additional cap space with the moves they made (which even includes the addition of Horford’s albatross contract), so they have the flexibility to take on bad contracts from other teams – with EVEN MORE draft compensation attached. Seriously, the Thunder have the ammo to start making teams trade offers they can’t refuse in a couple of years. Watch out.


WASHINGTON WIZARDS (+15000)

Key Additions: Russell Westbrook, Robin Lopez, Cassius Winston

Key Subtractions: John Wall

Offseason Grade: B

Again, I wrote this blurb prior to the Wall/Westbrook trade. Prior to the trade, I gave the Wiz a D grade and had them down in the “Absolute Ass” section, so I definitely think they won in this situation; my updated take:


Clearly, the Wizards had to choose between John Wall and Bradley Beal, and they wisely chose Beal. I think they were lucky to only have to part ways with one-first rounder to get Westbrook, honestly. Beal and Russell Westbrook will certainly take time to develop their on-court chemistry, but this could work. I love pairing Russ with his old coach in OKC, Scott Brooks. Both guys love and respect each other, and Russ will bring an element of fire and accountability to that locker room. The Wiz won’t be a true contender this season, but they definitely got the best of Houston in this deal.


Mediocre/Middle of the Pack


SAN ANTONIO SPURS (+10000)


Key Additions: Drew Eubanks

Key Subtractions: Bryn Forbes

Offseason Grade: C


How weird is this? The Spurs’ most notable move this offseason was handing Jakob Poeltl a three-year extension. Sad to see Gregg Popovich’s legendary career fade away like this, but you can’t be a contender forever. Just ask Bill Belichick.


INDIANA PACERS (+10000)


Key Additions: Cassius Stanley, Jalen Lecque, Nate Bjorkgren

Key Subtractions: TJ Leaf, Nate McMillan

Offseason Grade: F


The Pacers are one of the most overrated organizations. Victor Oladipo is pissed. They made exactly zero moves to improve the team this offseason. They fired a solid coach only to hire a guy who’s most notable feature is having a lot of consonants in his last name. This is a franchise on a serious downswing, and I suspect sweeping roster changes will come sooner rather than later.


ORLANDO MAGIC (+15000)


Key Additions: Cole Anthony

Key Subtractions: DJ Augustin, Wes Iwundu

Offseason Grade: D


The Magic are quickly becoming one of the most random franchises in American sports. I like some guys on this team like Nik "Vucci Mane" Vucevic, Markelle Fultz, and Jonathan Isaac (once he gets healthy), but come on. The Magic’s ceiling is sneaking into the 8-seed with a sub-.500 record, only to get smoked in the first round. Fun!


MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (+10000)

Key Additions: Mario Hezonja

Key Subtractions: N/A

Offseason Grade: C


This exercise has made me realize how much it would suck to be a GM for a small-market team. The Grizzlies’ biggest move was giving De’Anthony Melton a three-year extension. Uh, cool. In fairness to the Grizz though, they know they aren’t ready to compete yet. This next season is all about developing their stud youngsters like Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. (when he returns from injury), Brandon Clarke, and Dillon Brooks.


SACRAMENTO KINGS (+15000)

Key Additions: Tyrese Haliburton, Hassan Whiteside

Key Subtractions: Bogdan Bogdanovic

Offseason Grade: B-


The Kings, man. They just can’t quite figure it out. I will say that I love the Haliburton pick, and I think down the line that will be one of the bigger steals in the draft. But letting Bogdanovic walk and acquiring Whiteside is, uh, not great. I’m also not convinced that De’Aaron Fox deserved that max extension, but that is subject to change. This is now a mediocre team with salary cap constraints – a recipe for success!


MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (+20000)


Key Additions: Anthony Edwards, Ricky Rubio, Ed Davis, Malik Beasley

Key Subtractions: James Johnson

Offseason Grade: D


First off, I’ve been out on Edwards even before his brutal draft-night comments. Guy reminds me of Andrew Wiggins – both are freakishly athletic wings, both were #1 overall picks, and both lack the drive to be great. Second, why would you shell out cash for Rubio when you just spent huge money on fellow point guard D’Angelo Russell? They also overpaid Malik Beasley. I don’t think this front office has a solid plan in place. Get ready for another season of 25-35 wins, Wolves fans!


Absolute Ass


CHARLOTTE HORNETS (+12500)

Key Additions: Gordon Hayward, LaMelo Ball, Vernon Carey

Key Subtractions: N/A

Offseason Grade: F+


Why is owner Michael Jordan the king of throwing money at shitty, washed-up players? I mean seriously. Did you know that the Hornets are on the hook for Nic Batum’s $27.1M salary this season? Yeah, and the Clippers just claimed him off waivers. They’re still throwing a preposterous amount of money at Terry Rozier, who sucks. I think Hayward should have MAYBE gotten a deal in the Marcus Morris range (4 years, $64m). $30m a year for Hayward is BANANAS. This team is smelly in every way. One positive note though, at least it’ll be fun to watch LaMelo Ball! If the news about training camp is any indication of Lamelo's fit with the Hornets, he is going to be an exciting player to follow for the next few years.


NEW YORK KNICKS (+15000)


Key Additions: Obi Toppin, Austin Rivers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Tom Thibodeau

Key Subtractions: Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington

Offseason Grade: D


The only thing keeping my beloved Knicks from getting an F was their choice to draft Obi. With that said, I think Obi Toppin is good, not great. He’ll be a solid building block for the franchise but won’t be its savior. Anyway, the Knicks are still garbage, they replaced their shitty old veterans with other shitty old veterans, and I think Thibs will wear out his welcome in 2-3 seasons, max. At least the Knicks will have the cap space to make a run at two marquee free agents next summer! Man, I fucking hate rooting for this pathetic ass team.


DETROIT PISTONS (+20000)


Key Additions: Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Wayne Ellington, Delon Wright, Zhaire Smith, Killian Hayes, LIANGELO BALL

Key Subtractions: Christian Wood, Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown

Offseason Grade: D


I love the Jerami Grant signing and Killian Hayes will be pretty good. Beyond that, what the hell are we doing here? This isn’t the 1980s anymore, guys. Bum ass Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor aren’t your modern-day Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. They suck. Losing Kennard and Brown – two good shooters – was also stupid. This team refuses to adapt to the NBA’s modern style. Get ready for another good draft pick, Detroit!


CHICAGO BULLS (+25000)


Key Additions: Garrett Temple, Billy Donovan, Patrick Williams

Key Subtractions: Kris Dunn

Offseason Grade: D


I guess Billy Donovan is a solid hire? Beyond that, this team was shitty last year and will be shitty again. Nothing to see here. (NOTES from Editor, and devout Bulls fan: If Patrick Williams turns out to be a stud, the Bulls may have answered glaring issues at their forward/wing spot and will not be that bad)

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (+25000)


Key Additions: JaVale McGee, Isaac Okoro

Key Subtractions: N/A

Offseason Grade: D


Their biggest move was re-signing Matthew Dellavedova to a one-year deal. Isn’t it amazing that this team won a championship 4 years ago?

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