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Can’t rest and be the best: Bulls, Lakers win free agency

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AUGUST 13, 2021

Unlike most professional sports’ offseasons, the NBA’s offseason brings in just as much — if not more — buzz than the actual games. This is largely due to the league’s high player turnover rate coupled with constant rumors, smoke screens and leaks by the media and teams themselves. 

The NBA offseason often captivates fans as fringe playoff teams can catapult themselves into becoming championship contenders in a matter of hours while bottom feeders can become legitimate playoff teams seemingly overnight. Here are the teams that have had the best offseasons thus far. 

 

Chicago Bulls

While the Bulls are no championship contenders, they have solidified their status as a potential playoff team this offseason. A second-round exit does not sound like a glamorous ceiling at face value but would be a huge step in the right direction for the Bulls, who, just last season, could not even make the play-in tournament in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.

The additions of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso will improve both sides of the floor for this group. Zach LaVine will have much of the scoring burden taken off of his shoulders with an elite scorer such as DeRozan at his side. Beyond that, LaVine will not have to focus on playmaking as much with one of the best passing point guards in the league in Ball.

Some might say that Ball’s presence could hinder Coby White’s development, but by sliding the still-inexperienced White to a sixth-man role, he will have more opportunity to flourish as he will be going up against lesser defenses and have more time with the ball in his hands while LaVine and company are on the bench.

Last but not least, having a defensive pest in Caruso is extremely crucial for any successful team. Caruso will compensate for White’s defensive struggles while providing the second unit with his explosive athleticism and keen court awareness.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ offseason acquisitions of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and others riled up the sports world, as many claimed that the group is “elderly” and “washed up.”  The new-look Lakers sport an average age of 32.4 years old, so the nicknames are not uncalled for.  On top of that, the roster fit is certainly questionable, and injury concerns are also valid.

Historically, LeBron James-led championship teams have great shooting, and Westbrook is certainly not a great shooter. However, James’s co-stars have not always been elite floor spacers. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Anthony Davis have all shot below 32% from the 3-point line in games played with James.

The key to James’ championship teams has always been the elite 3-point sniper role players such as Mike Miller, Ray Allen and J.R. Smith. While the Lakers aren’t bringing in all-time phenomenal shooters, the team still signed very competent options such as Wayne Ellington, Ben McLemore, Malik Monk, Trevor Ariza and Kendrick Nunn.

James is still the best player in the game, but it is no secret that he is getting older. Having Westbrook take some of the playmaking load off of his shoulders throughout the course of the strenuous regular season will do wonders for the King in the playoffs and vice versa. With James alone at the helm, any team has a chance of winning a championship, as he will usually find a way due to his elite basketball savvy. Add in a hungry AD, Westbrook and a top-tier supporting cast, and the Lakers will surely look to bounce back from their first-round exit in 2021.

Justin Kim covers women’s basketball and men’s water polo. Contact him at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

AUGUST 13, 2021


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