Eastern Conference Early Off-Season Report Cards Part II, by Professor Weiner

Jake Weiner

Victor Oladipo Orlando Magic

If you missed the professor’s Western Conference grades, click here: Part 1 Part 2. For part 1 of the Eastern Conference, click here. Also, make sure you send any NBA-related (or not) questions to jweiner13@gmail.com for #JakeznerMailbag2k13!

Indiana Pacers

2012-13 record: 49-32 (3rd)

Biggest departures: none

Biggest arrivals: CJ Watson, Chris Copeland, Kinda Danny Granger

Analysis: The Pacers have had a quiet summer but should be improved next season after just missing the Finals. Without a doubt their biggest issue was having no bench depth, and the few moves they’ve made this summer have addressed that. CJ Watson is a much more capable point guard than DJ Augustin and can also play in two guard lineups with George Hill where both handle the ball. Chris Copeland, a restricted free agent snagged away from New York, is a stretch four with explosiveness; he’s much better than the departing Tyler Hansbrough. Finally, the return of Danny Granger’s health would seemingly do wonders for this team. He’s another All-Star caliber perimeter player. Their draft pick, Solomon Hill, was a big reach and will likely be a bust.

Grade: B

Miami Heat

2012-13 record: 66-16 (1st)

Biggest departures: none

Biggest arrivals: none

Analysis: So far, the Heat haven’t done anything besides bring back the Birdman. That was a good move, and they’ll continue to benefit from his energetic play on both ends of the court. Any time a crazy tattooed guy shoots more than 80% in your run to a ‘ship, you should bring him back. Besides that, Miami has had no moves to make. Ray Allen opted in for his second year, which Miami was obviously relieved about. Keep an eye out for them to make one or two bargain minimum signings, and perhaps win the Greg Oden Sweepstakes*.

Grade: B+

*-If that’s worth anything at all. You think Andrew Bynum’s a question mark??

Milwaukee Bucks

2012-13 record: 38-44 (8th)

Biggest departures: Monta Ellis, JJ Redick

Biggest arrivals: OJ Mayo, Zaza Pachulia

Analysis: The last piece of Milwaukee’s puzzle is Brandon Jennings. As the point guard market finishes shaking out, it’s becoming pretty clear that the Bucks need a PG and Brandon Jennings needs a team. After Atlanta opted to match Jeff Teague’s offer sheet, it looks like Jennings will resign in Milwaukee. The Bucks have had a questionable last few months. They gave away the promising Tobias Harris to rent Redick en route to getting slaughtered by the Heat in a first round sweep*. Then, unable to resign him, they got back a measly two 2nd round picks in a sign and trade. After showing no interest in bringing back polarizing guards Ellis and Jennings, the Bucks inked the equally irritating OJ Mayo to a three year, $24 million deal. Finally, they threw $5 million a season at Zaza Pachulia, who outside from this memorable GAAAMMEEE SEEVVEEENN!!! soundbite, is just another decent big man. THEY ALREADY HAVE LIKE FIVE DECENT BIG MEN. Bicky covered this at length last week.

Grade: C-

*-I won’t count this against their off-season grade since it happened before the end of the season.

New York Knicks

2012-13 record: 54-28 (2nd)

Biggest departures: Chris Copeland

Biggest arrivals: Andrea Bargnani

Analysis: The Knicks have gone out and done all of us Knick-haters a phenomenal favor by trading three future draft picks (including a first rounder) for the completely useless Andrea Bargnani, former #1 pick from Italy. Aside from costing them a small fortune in luxury tax payments, Bargnani simply does not fit New York’s roster at all! He’s a big man who can’t rebound or play defense. Sound familiar, Rabbi Amar’e? As a result, the Knicks let Copeland (an actual floor spacing big) walk and will undoubtedly play with mostly “big” lineups next year. The Knicks success in 2012-13 resulted from going small with a thriving Carmelo Anthony at power forward. Anthony had a career year. This summer reeks of the Knicks.

Grade: D

Orlando Magic

2012-13 record: 20-62 (15th)

Biggest departures: none

Biggest arrivals: Victor Oladipo

Analysis: The Magic haven’t had many moves to make in a crazy off-season. With the second pick, they grabbed Indiana guard Victor Oladipo. Obviously I’m a big fan of this pick as Oladipo’s a stud. Aside from that, the Magic really haven’t done that much. They’re in year two of a full rebuild and are set up to lose a lot of games this year while developing a few promising players. Things are going exactly as planned without the Rocket Man.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers

2012-13 record: 34-48 (9th)

Biggest departures: Jrue Holiday, Andrew Bynum

Biggest arrivals: Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter Williams

Analysis: The 76ers and their new front office briskly moved into an all out rebuild. Absent Andre Iguodala and now Bynum, they had no other options; this wasn’t a playoff team. So they moved potentially overrated All-Star PG Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Nerlens Noel, a potential franchise Center, and a valuable 2014 first round pick*. I love this move, as they have plenty of time to let Noel heal and will probably have two lottery picks in a STACKED draft. They used their first round pick, #11, to take pure point guard Michael Carter Williams. Slowly, a core is coming together they will develop in time. Philadelphia appears to be back on the right track for the first time in a while.

Grade: A

*-Top five protected, which means the Pelicans keep their pick if it’s #1-5.

Toronto Raptors

2012-13 record: 34-48 (10th)

Biggest departures: Andrea Bargnani

Biggest arrivals: Steve Novak, Tyler Hansbrough, Masai Ujiri

Analysis: Interesting off-season up north. Toronto lured mastermind and Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri from Denver to construct their team. His first big move was delightful, shipping off the dreadful Bargnani for a bucket of draft picks and a useful shooter in Novak. While he turned down the ballsier Joe Dumars offer that would’ve shipped Rudy Gay to Detroit, Ujiri still managed to create value out of a dead asset. I don’t really understand the Hansbrough signing, but it was only for two years and $6 million and the Raptors kind of suck. They might be trying to lose this year anyway.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards

2012-13 record: 29-53 (12th)

Biggest departures: none

Biggest arrivals: Otto Porter

Analysis: The Wizards, believe it or not, were a good team in 2013. With John Wall back at full strength, rookie Bradley Beal came into his own and the Wiz had a legitimately tough defense. Knowing this better than anyone, they’re entering the 2013-14 season with the intention of making the playoffs. Martell Webster, healthy for the first time, was rewarded with a four year contract worth more than $20 million. If he can stay on the court, there are worse moves; he was part of the Wizard’s best lineup. They also added Otto Porter, a pure small forward out of Georgetown who should be able to contribute in November. He’ll likely come off the bench but will be the starter of the future. Strong summer in the capitol.

Grade: B+

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