A preview into the 2020-21 NBA season

Duncan Miller, Staff Reporter

Lasso writer Duncan Miller analyzes 15 NBA teams’ offseason performance and roster. (Graphic by Matthew Lin)

As the NBA returns amidst a turbulent sports world, let’s take a look at each team’s offseason and how each roster looks for the 2020-21 season, ranked from 1-30 and graded from A to F.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Offseason Grade: A

All is well in La La Land. Lebron and AD (Anthony Davis) are signed for 5 more years, and the team brought in some youth/scoring in Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroeder. The Lakers are the clear front-runner to defend their title.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

Offseason Grade: C

New coach, hopefully a new perspective. This could be the last year of Paul George and Kawhi Leoanrd’s partnership, and the addition of Serge Ibaka is smart. But the Clips need a more focused approach this year- if they have it, they should push the Lakers for a Finals berth.

3. Miami Heat

Offseason Grade: C

Miami returns all its key players from its Finals group last year. They’re my favorites in the East, especially if Tyler Herro makes an All-Star level leap, and Duncan Robinson can become an even bigger threat from the perimeter.

4. Milwaukee Bucks

Offseason Grade: D

They traded too much for Jrue Holiday, but it might pay off for this season. Milwaukee is desperate to make the Finals this season, but they’ll need an MVP level performance from Giannis and an All-Star caliber season for Holiday. That said, they do have talent and potential.

5. Boston Celtics

Offseason Grade: C

The Celts lost Gordan Hayward, but filled a needed role at center with Tristan Thompson. Title contenders might be a stretch, but Boston will be very good. Great? Probably not. But still a dangerous team that could make the Conference Finals.

6. Philadelphia 76ers

Offseason Grade: B

Philly has a lot of potential, and it comes down to their young stars. If new head coach Doc Rivers can get Simmons and Embiid to coexist and iron out their wrinkles (shooting jumpers and getting in shape, respectively), Philly could compete for a title- they certainly have the talent, and the addition of outside shooters should help.

7. Brooklyn Nets

Offseason Grade: B

Speaking of teams with potential, Brooklyn is another team with a shot at a ring this year. But their stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant pose a number of questions. Can they blend together offensively? Will they stay healthy? Does Kyrie still believe in Flat Earth? The pieces are in place, without question, but the outcome is anyone’s guess.

8. Denver Nuggets

Offseason Grade: C

Denver’s season hinges on Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr…If Murray continues to play at the level he did in the playoffs, and Porter makes a leap to carry more of the load offensively, Denver could have a terrifying 3-headed monster of Jokic, Murray, and Porter. My goodness. Look out.

9. Portland Trail Blazers

Offseason Grade: B

Portland smartly built out their roster with versatile wings this offseason, which could prove to be a fun team coming into the year. They have scoring, a top-10 player in Lillard, and a very complete roster. Portland will be competitive in a loaded Western Conference in 2020-21.

10. Dallas Mavericks

Offseason Grade: B

Luka Doncic is my pick for 2020-21 MVP. He’s a joy to watch- a creative scorer, elite ball handler, and an otherworldly passer. If you haven’t watched him, basketball fan or not, you need to. That’s all. Oh, and the Mavs should contend for a 4 or 5 seed in the West.

11. Utah Jazz

Offseason Grade: C

The Jazz essentially bring back the same squad as last year, and they’ll be steady as usual. If Donovan Mitchell can make the leap to true superstardom, the Jazz could compete for the 4 seed. Otherwise, they’ll be one of many teams hovering in the 5-8 seed range.

12. Phoenix Suns

Offseason Grade: B

Phoenix kept their young stars in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, and added veteran point guard Chris Paul. If Paul plays like he did last year, Phoenix will have an awesome backcourt with excellent complimentary pieces, and I think they could snag even a 3-seed.

13. Golden State Warriors

Offseason Grade: B

Klay Thompson’s injury is devastating, and probably takes the Warriors out of title contention. That said, they do still have a top-5 to top-10 player in Curry, and enough skilled players around him to be decent. I wouldn’t count out the Warriors- they’ll figure how to win.

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Offseason Grade: C

Get ready. If Zion Williamson truly is healthy this year, New Orleans will be a must-watch team. The Pels retooled a little during the offseason, trading Jrue Holiday, acquiring Steven Adams (and needlessly extending his contract, but oh well), and adding new head coach Stan Van Gundy. New Orleans could be in the thick of things in the race to make the playoffs in the West.

15. Washington Wizards

Offseason Grade: B

The Russell Westbrook-John Wall trade was a great one for this season. With Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook leading the charge, the Wizards will be a lot of fun, and should be very competitive in the East, at least in the regular season.