In what has been one of the craziest NBA offseasons in recent memory, there seems to be one clear winner this summer. With the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland, the Cavaliers will easily be the most improved team and an immediate championship contender. According to our nERD metric, the Cavs may have just booked their number one seed in the East as well.
nERD is a statistic that gives an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a team would win with a certain player as a starter. With the new big three taking shape in Cleveland, the cherry has been placed atop this incredible offseason for the Cavaliers.
Here's a look at what Lebron James and Love bring to Cleveland, as well as some other teams with small wins this offseason, and some others who lost in the offseason.
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers (+38.1 nERD)
Even though a lot of teams got better this summer, no team has improved like the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last season, the Cavs ranked 22nd in the NBA in nERD, however, in light of recent reports, the Cavs just got a lot better.
Lebron James already gives them the second-highest nERD in the league from last year, but wait, there’s more. The Cavs have also agreed to a deal to send Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a first-round pick to Minnesota for Kevin Love.
This could immediately shoot the Cavs to the top of the power rankings next season, and to call any other team a ‘winner’ may not be fair considering the jackpot that was given to Northern Ohio this summer. Together, Love and Lebron had 30 Win Shares last season. Outside of injury to one of the members of this new big three, there seems to be nothing that will stop them from getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks (+6.8 nERD)
The Mavericks added two starters this summer in Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, and the two together give Dallas a nice boost in a tough Western Conference. If it wasn’t for the incredible gains the Cavs made this summer, the Mavericks might be in the running for the biggest winner. They stole Parsons from one of their main in-state rivals, and even though he is a shell of his former self, Chandler is still going to give the Mavs as much or more than Tyson Chandler was producing at center. The two combine for a nice gain both offensively and defensively if they can duplicate their numbers from last season.
Winner: Charlotte Hornets (+6.5 nERD)
The biggest gain to Charlotte this season may be the return of one of the greatest sports trademarks of all time. However, another big reason to be excited in Charlotte is the addition of Lance Stephenson. Stephenson brings a 3.4 nERD to the table, and he replaces Gerald Henderon, whose player ranking was a -3.1 last season. Moving Henderson to the bench should move Charlotte into a solid playoff spot in their first season back as the Hornets.
Winner: Washington Wizards (+2.3 nERD)
The Wizards were in a tough spot this summer. They were financially forced to choose between Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat, who both produced nERD ratings of over 5.0 last season. However, after they lost Ariza to the Rockets, out of nowhere came Paul Pierce to the rescue. Even at age 36, if Pierce can produce similarly to last season, he gives the Wizards a net gain of 2.3 nERD with Gortat returning to offset the loss of Ariza. In the East, it may be enough to put them among one of the top-three playoff teams.
Winner: Chicago Bulls (? nERD)
It’s hard to calculate the Bulls’ nERD improvements this offseason. Even though they added Pau Gasol, his nERD was -2.6 last season. He replaces Carlos Boozer, whose nERD wasn’t much better last year.
So why are the Bulls up as winners this summer? If you watch the World Cup of Basketball this summer, you might remember a guy named Derrick Rose. He happens to be healthy (for the time being), and might be tearing up the world later this month. If Rose returns to his MVP form, and if the Bulls’ new deep roster comes to play this season, Chicago might be the only team now capable of knocking off the new-look Cavs. In his MVP season of 2010-2011, Rose had a nERD of 14.0.
Loser: Miami Heat (-20.6 nERD)
Like the Cavs four years ago, the loss of Lebron is going to sting for a while, and with Luol Dengtaking his place, things don’t look great for the Heat next season. Even though they’ll likely be among the Eastern Conference playoffs, it’s unlikely they’ll win a series. Deng had a nERD of -0.2 last season, and unless Dwyane Wade plays 20 more games this year as opposed to last, the Heat are taking a dive in 2014-2015. The Cavs went from a 61-win team in 2009 to a 19-win team the year after Lebron left in 2010. While the Heat won’t take that big of a dive, it might be a drastic dip in wins from last season.
Loser: Indiana Pacers (-12.9 nERD)
This one is just sad, but with the injury to Paul George and the departure of Lance Stephenson, the Pacers have the biggest loss of any team outside of the Heat. George alone accounted for the league’s 15th-best nERD at 9.5, and without their two best wing players from last season, the Pacers will likely go from a number one seed in the East to a potential lottery team in 2014-2015. Even though they’ll probably still be a good defensive team without the solid defense from George and Stephenson, the Pacers are going to be very limited on offense. Those two wing players accounted for nearly 35 points per game for the Pacers last season.
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers (-2.4 nERD)
The Lakers went into the offseason with a ton of money to spend, and after it was all said and done, they brought in Boozer and Jeremy Lin, two players with a combined nERD of -2.4. They spent the rest of their money re-signing several players from last season to big deals, like Nick Young and Jordan Hill.
With the question mark surrounding soon to be 36-year-old Kobe Bryant, and basically nine million dollars of dead money in Steve Nash, the Lakers not only lost the offseason, but they may have lost their ‘allure’ and ‘prestige’ that allegedly lured free agents to the team. There's almost no way they make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference. All there is to talk about now is how the Lakers will have wasted the final years of one of the league’s greats.