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Which NBA Teams Improved the Most at the Trade Deadline?

| February 8, 2020 7:06 am PST

Now that the dust has settled and Adrian Wojnarowski can finally breathe, let’s take stock of what transpired across the league. One of our top NBA writers discussed the biggest losers at the NBA trade deadline, as there were some obvious teams that dropped the ball when it came to adding pieces to their rotations.

On the flip side, there were franchises that dramatically improved.

I’d like to highlight the three biggest winners at the NBA trade deadline.

Clippers Beef Up for the Playoff Run

It was obvious the Clippers were in the market to add depth to their frontcourt, and they accomplished exactly that and then some on Thursday. I showcased Marcus Morris as a player the Clippers were targeting, so it’s no surprise that Jerry West was able to get a deal done with New York.

However, adding a hungry and proven scorer like Isaiah Thomas to LA’s second unit was the cherry on top.

West was able to once again work his magic and strengthen the Clips roster without sacrificing anything significant. Marcus Morris is a noticeable upgrade over Moe Harkless, and Jerome Robinson was averaging 2.9 PPG while playing under 12 minutes per night. Swapping out Robinson for Thomas (12.2 PPG, 41.3% 3-point shooting) is only going to make Doc Rivers’ bunch harder to defend.

I’ve been on the Clippers to win it all ever since the top NBA betting sites released 2020 Finals odds months ago. After soaking up everything that happened on Thursday, I only feel better about that premonition.

Cleveland Steals Andre Drummond From Cleveland

Somebody should put a warrant out for the arrest of Ed Stefanski and Malik Rose. Seriously, David Griffin and the Cavaliers just pulled off a highway robbery in Detroit, and I’m still trying to sort everything out.

I’m aware that the Pistons wanted to make sure they were compensated for Andre Drummond as opposed to eventually letting him walk out of the door during free agency and receiving nothing in return, but come on.

Was this really the best offer that the Pistons entertained?

Cleveland was able to trade for one of the premier centers in basketball and someone who’s an absolute force under the basket — for what? John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a second-round pick in 2023?

I’m not going to go out on a limb and suddenly call the Cavs a contender in the East, but I thought for sure this team would be shipping Kevin Love out of town and continuing to fade into oblivion. Instead, Koby Altman and David Griffin were able to pull enough strings to keep Love in Cleveland and pair him alongside another bonafide stud in Drummond.

If Collin Sexton and Darius Garland can continue progressing and this squad can show signs of life during the final 30 games, perhaps the Cavaliers will have a chance to make some serious noise in 2021.

Is Miami a Legitimate Contender?

Give credit where credit is due. Miami felt like they had an opportunity to elevate their organization and become a sincere contender to win a Championship, so team president Pat Riley decided to go all in.

When you assess the Heat roster and measure it up against the upper echelon in the Eastern Conference, it seems as if Andre Iguodala could serve as the missing link.

Andre is rested after taking the first half of the season off and should be ultra-motivated to provide a boost from the get-go in South Beach.

Where I applaud Pat Riley and the Heat front office the most is that they were able to trade for Iguodala — and sign him to a two-year extension — all without giving up any integral pieces to their puzzle. We knew guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were untouchable, and most assumed Kendrick Nunn would be staying put.

But Miami was able to acquire “Iggy” without parting ways with Tyler Herro. They didn’t have to wave goodbye to 3-Point Contest participant Duncan Robinson, nor did they let go of high-flyer Derrick Jones Jr., who happens to be one of the four competitors in the Slam Dunk contest.

I’m not entirely convinced the Heat will be able to hang with the Bucks in a seven-game series, but I think teams like Toronto, Philly, and Boston all might have just been passed by.

Final Words

One might argue that the Rockets got substantially better, even though they’ll be playing a whole lot of “small ball” over the next several weeks. The Timberwolves were extremely active and wound up flipping a huge chunk of their roster, although we won’t know if those moves pan out until much later on down the road.

When I look at the Clippers, they bulked up their second unit and look like the odds-on favorites to win the 2020 Finals. Miami has inserted their name into the discussion of the top contenders in the East, and what Cleveland was able to do in the final hours of the trade deadline needs to be extolled.

Not everybody wins at the NBA trade deadline, but those who are intelligently aggressive typically get rewarded. This year, the Clippers, Cavaliers, and Heat stood out among the rest.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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