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Community Shootaround: Most Improved Lottery Team In East?

This past spring, the Bulls, Wizards, Magic, Bucks, Knicks, Nets, and 76ers all failed to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, finishing in the lottery. All seven of those teams have been very active so far this offseason, signing free agents and adding players to their roster via trades and/or the draft.

The Bulls and Knicks have perhaps been the most visible of the Eastern lottery teams in recent weeks, beginning with the five-player trade they completed that sent Derrick Rose to New York and Robin Lopez to Chicago. Since then, the Bulls have added Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo in free agency, while the Knicks have signed Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Jennings, among others.

The two lottery teams from the Southeast – the Wizards and Magic – have also undergone some roster upheaval this summer. Washington re-upped restricted free agent Bradley Beal and made changes elsewhere, bringing in Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Smith, while letting go of Nene, Jared Dudley, and Ramon Sessions. Orlando was even more active, re-signing Evan Fournier, trading for Serge Ibaka, and adding D.J. Augustin, Jeff Green, and Bismack Biyombo.

The Bucks have been a little quieter, but they secured a pair of solid role players in free agency, signing Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic. They also drafted Thon Maker, adding another athletic prospect with upside to a promising young core.

Like Milwaukee, the Sixers didn’t make a huge splash, but with Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless, and Sergio Rodriguez entering the mix, the rebuilding franchise has more of a veteran presence. And if Dario Saric finalizes a deal with Philadelphia, the club feels it has three players – Saric, Joel Embiid, and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons – capable of competing for the Rookie of the Year award.

Finally, the Nets missed out on two RFA targets, when their offer sheets for Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe were matched. Their other free agent signings, including Jeremy Lin, Greivis Vasquez, Trevor Booker, Luis Scola, and Justin Hamilton – have been modest.

Today’s discussion question focuses on these seven teams, and their offseason transactions. Which team do you think improved the most? Which series of moves do you like best? Which of these non-playoff teams do you think is most likely to end up qualifying for the postseason next spring?

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the Bulls, Wizards, Magic, Bucks, Knicks, Nets, and Sixers. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

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21 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: Most Improved Lottery Team In East?

  1. I think the Knicks improved the most since they significantly upgraded their point guard position with D Rose and B Jennings from Jose Calderon and added a cheap SG replacement for Afflalo in Courtney Lee. But I think the Bucks take second over the Bulls because of the kind of players they got in free agency and the draft. The Bucks were in need of shooting and defense, so they went out and got RFA Matthew Dellavadova and drafted Malcolm Brogdon out of UVA who projects to be another nice 3 and D guy with a lot of maturity coming off a four year college career. They also got a nice stretch 4 in Mirza Teletovic who they will be able to use to spread the floor nicely to provide Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo ample driving lanes to finish or dish. The Bucks are young, so one more year of experience for these young guys might be enough on its own to improve this team in the coming year. Whereas the Bulls only got older this offseason signing an aging Dwyane Wade and a past-his-prime Rondo. Despite Noah’s poor numbers last year, I still can’t help but think Lopez is a downgrade here at the center position for them. When you look at the projected starting lineup of Rondo, Wade, Butler, Gibson, and Lopez, you’re looking at ONE three point shooter in that entire lineup. Granted the 3 ball isn’t everything, but it certainly helps with spacing, something this Bulls team will surely struggle with this upcoming season. Rondo can barely shoot the mid range, and pairing his ball dominance with the ball dominant Wade as well as Jimmy Butler could spell nightmares for this squad’s on-court chemistry. While there’s always the possibility that the Bulls end up starting Nikola Mirotic at the 4 over Gibson, that still only gives the Bulls two reliable 3 point shooters in the starting 5.

    • theeterps

      Good point re: the Bulls lack of perimeter shooting in their starting 5. The Bucks certainly didn’t make any sexy moves but I agree they improved, albeit very minorly. Brogdon has great shutdown defense. Will be interesting to see if his game translates to the NBA.

    • Stromalama

      Mirotic will start for the Bulls, not Gibson.

    • Grant Weddle

      Knicks and Magic improved and might steal a playoff spot from the plummeting Heat or a Hornets/Hawks team that got worse. My eastern projection is 1/Cavs, 2/Raptors, 3/Celtics, 4/Pacers, 5/Pistons, 6/Knicks, 7/Hornets, 8/Hawks, 9/Wizards, 10/Magic, 11/Bucks, 12/Bulls, 13/Heat, 14/76ers, 15/Nets


      • Jared McFarlane

        I think you may have forgotten about Antetokounmpo, Parker, Middleton, Henson, and how to turn off caps lock.

  2. @CW_Crouse

    I’d peg the sixers as the team that improves by the most wins-they could improve by 20 wins this upcoming season.

    I like the Knicks as well, but the Magic are the team I’m watching. Orlando will contend for the playoffs despite their new glut of bigs.

  3. Ryan Brubaker

    Most Improved? 76ers because of where they are coming from. Simmons + Saric + Embiid + Luwawu + 2 Vet PGs + Henderson. Not a bad haul. Still need to free up the big logjam. Then I would have to say Knicks or Wizards. Knicks all depends on health, and they will prove a lot of people wrong IF they can stay healthy. I think Wizards will be a playoff team this year.

    • hill

      If the metric is # of wins compared to last year it’s Philly by a mile. They could go 20 wins over last year.

      Bucks 2nd most improved especially if they ride out Monroe’s contract and have him come off the bench. They’ll go 10

      The Knicks a close 3rd especially if Noah is healthy.

  4. theeterps

    The Sixers are the most improved. Adding a guy like Ben Simmons is just invaluable. Bayless is a really nice signing. A guy who can and will take a back seat to Simmons when it comes to ball handling.

    But the Magic might be the most dangerous. I think people are seriously underestimating their frontcourt. They already had Vucevic down low, but the knock was always that Orlando didn’t have a rim protector to pair with Vuc. Now they have a 3 man rotation of Vucevic Ibaka and Biyombo at 4-5 (depending on how they use Aaron Gordon). Between that 3 man frontcourt, Elfrid Payton and the improving AG, this could be one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Frank Vogel running the ship is huge for the defense as well. Their problem will be filling buckets. Payton still can’t shoot (why DJ Augustin was a good signing), and Biyombo doesn’t bring much on the offensive end. I do think Fournier has proven he’s the real deal but they can’t lean on him as heavily as they did last year. Will be interesting to see how this team gels with its makeover roster and coaching staff.

    • Connorsoxfan

      The loss of Oladipo is going to show though.

  5. Grant Weddle

    Nets are the obvious choice by adding the 2016MVP jeremy lin but I really like the 76ers, Knicks, Magic and Bucks as being much improved. Bucks and 76ers will be the most improved since they are coming from such horrible seasons.

    • LMAO…


  6. reg grn

    It’s really hard to tell 2 weeks into the offseason,as alot can still happen.Knicks and Bulls got the sexy names,but I’m not sold on me,the loss of Gasol is just as big as the addition of either Wade and ny,Rose hasn’t been the same in a few years now,same can be said about Noah.both Rose and Jennings are sub 400 fg% players.i think Lee might end up their best addition.Orlando bringing in the rim protection should be big.we’ll see about the Bucks.i like Delevadova,but let’s be honest,everybody playing with Lebron is better just by playing with Lebron.except for maybe Kevin Love…I like the 6ers.gotta remember,we we’re 1-30 when we got Ish.Simmons,Sergio and Bayless are all improvments.3 possible Roy canidates,if Saric comes,plus another valuable rook in Luwawu.even Henderson should help us improve,not just with his play,but by pushing Stauskas down on depth chart.its gonna be an interesting year seeing how everything shakes out.

  7. King Day

    I think people are seriously underestimating the Magic, i think they’ll make the playoffs this season. They did what was needed to get the guys they wanted.

    But I like The Knicks as the Most Improved Lottery Team in the East I mean c’mon Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courteney Lee, Brandon Jennings added to a team with Carmelo Anthony & Kristaps Porzingis.. man if they can stay healthy skies the limit for those guys, not to mention if they don’t win the “Chip” this season they will likely add more pieces next year.

    The Bulls made some unexpected but pretty good moves by adding D.wade, Rondo & Robin Lopez, I’m certain they’ll make the playoffs.
    But I don’t know about Coach Hoiberg.

    The Bucks made some pretty smart but small moves by adding the guys they’ve added.

    The Nets made a small splash but nothing serious, I doubt they’ll make the playoffs once again.

    The Wizards… eh.

    The 76ers are projected to be really improved, but not Playoff seed type improved.
    Looking forward to Ben Simmons dazzle the crowd with his Phenomenal passing skills and his will to get to the rim and finish so easy.

    But don’t rule my Lakers on the west out. Lol

  8. Knicks can probably slide into the 8th slot but who is really going to put money on Rose and Noah being healthy? Other than NYC brass?


    • Luke Adams

      It’s sort of a two-pronged question: The team that improved the most, and the team that most improved its chances of making the postseason. The Bulls and Wizards won 30+ games more than the Sixers did last season, so they wouldn’t have to improve nearly as much to make the playoffs next year, even if Philadelphia is the more improved team overall.

  10. Matthew23Baltimore

    I gotta go with the Knicks. They got Jennings,Lee,Noah, and Rose. the Bulls are close and will probably make the playoffs but they don’t have much shooting

  11. Jared McFarlane

    The Bucks made all the right moves. Delly and Brogdon give them solid depth at guard while Maker and Teletovic can both knock down shots. Last thing to do is trade Monroe so Henson, Plumlee, and Maker get plenty of minutes.

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