The Golden State Warriors remained quiet during the frenzy that preceded the NBA’s trade deadline. But, the same can’t be said for some of the Warriors’ Western Conference rivals. As some strong teams sacrificed cap flexibility and future draft picks in order to bolster their rosters and give themselves the best possible shot at winning immediately, the parity among the top teams in the West has increased. The fleetingness of a title window is common knowledge in the NBA, which is why teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets made upgrades before the deadline. The Warriors have been dominant throughout the season, but their competition may have just gotten stronger.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder arguably had the most successful trade deadline move, parting ways with Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins in order to acquire Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, and Steve Novak. Kanter is one of the more promising young big-men in the league and will give the team something it’s sorely missed since Serge Ibaka‘s transition into a perimeter player: a strong low-post presence. Singler, along with Novak, also brings a skill that the Thunder are in need of with his three-point shooting ability. With the departure of Jackson, Augustin will play backup point guard to Westbrook and his playmaking ability should be conducive to a more fluid offense.
The Warriors need to be concerned about the Thunder specifically because they’re currently positioned as the 8th seed, so there’s a good chance the two teams will be matched up against each other in the first round if the Warriors retain their current standing. With two of the top 10 players in the league in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook plus their new additions, the Thunder would be a historically frightening eighth seed.
Portland Trail Blazers
One of the biggest flaws for the Trail Blazers has been their lack of depth. They rely heavily on their starters and have failed to receive significant contributions from their bench on occasions when their starters haven’t been effective. That’s why it was a great move by the Blazers to acquire Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee, only at the expense of giving up little-used bench players like Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, and Victor Blazer. Afflalo is the biggest name here, and as a shooting guard who averages nearly 15 points a game, he can be a huge asset to their bench. While Afflalo isn’t the most efficient scorer, he has the ability to create his own shoot and will provide a much needed scoring punch as a reserve.
Not many took notice of the Rocket’s moves before the trade deadline, and while Pablo Prigioni and K.J. McDaniels aren’t huge names, they will add value to the Rockets. Having a veteran point guard in Prigioni will add depth to the guard position. McDaniels is anything but a veteran, but the rookie has huge upside and has the potential to provide a spark off the bench with his athleticism. He’s averaging 1.3 blocks a game, the most of any small forward not named Draymond Green, and has already amassed a number of jaw-dropping dunks in his first few months in the league.
Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/USA TODAY Sports
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