The Summer that Shifted the NBA´s Momentum

How a few operations changed the entire landscape of the league

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Fictional rendition of Kawhi Leonard in his future LA Clippers jersey. Source: TSN

It rewarded smart, stable management

A significant portion of the teams that came out on top after these chaotic times are known for their efficient, intelligent management styles. These front office structures often combine long-term vision with win-now moves and a mix of low and high-risk operations, just like smart investors. While most NBA teams are perfectly capable of performing decent trades, the ability to land a superstar is only reserved for a few, as it requires a collection of assets gathered throughout years of planning and making right decisions. Additionally, free agents are aware of who the best managers are, and are more likely to pick a well-run organization like the Los Angeles Clippers over a sloppy one like the New York Knicks. Here are the teams that made the biggest jumps forward thanks, in large part, to their high-quality strategic thinking.

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Jerry West, at a Clippers press conference. Source: NBA.com
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The Oklahoma City Thunder have the richest collection of draft assets in the NBA. Source: SLAM
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Mike Conley, while still in the Grizzlies, and Donovan Mitchell chat after a Grizzlies-Jazz game. They will be teammates in Utah. Source: The J Notes
  • Brooklyn Nets: It is a new era in New York. Not because of the Knicks´ struggles and their disappointing offseason, which at this point is customary, but because of the resurgence of the Brooklyn Nets, a franchise that was bound to years of misery after completing one of the worst trades in basketball history in 2013. In 2016, the Nets hired Kenny Atkinson as their head coach, and the tides started to change. Atkinson soon proved to be a premier talent developer, empowering young, unproven players like D´Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris, who all rose exponentially under Atkinson, achieved an impressive sixth place in the East, and competed against the 76ers in a five-game elimination. With free agent superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant joining forces in Brooklyn, the Nets officially become New York´s most interesting team.

It popularized two-star teams

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Three of the NBA´s brand new five superstar duos. Source: NBA.com
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LeBron James and Anthony Davis celebrate during the 2019 All Star Game in Charlotte. Source: The Big Lead
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Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons during a game of the 2018–2019 NBA season. Source: NBC Sports Philadelphia
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Russell Westbrook and James Harden, during their stage with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Source: Yahoo! Sports

It made the NBA better

Judging from the parity and fierce competitiveness that the offseason operations should yield, it is fair to say the NBA is entering an all-time great era in terms of evenly distributed quality on the court. There very well may be around ten teams that could easily win the title (Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, 76ers, Warriors, Rockets, Jazz, Celtics, Nets, and Nuggets), an unprecedented number in recent NBA history.

Sports, communications, and personal development enthusiast. I seek interesting concepts and ideas and try to put them into simple words.

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