Many teams make changes and move things around in the offseason hoping to improve from their last season.
Especially when it was a bad season – not just a .500 year – but a season where after 25 games – fans are starting to tune out from the garbage that the team is putting on the court.
It is hard to come back as a NBA basketball team. When a team goes on the court with the same 5 they had the year before – how can a team with the same ingredients expect a massive turnaround from what was playing the year prior?
Then if a team gets a new coach – you have to hope they can get a new mindset and create cohesion.
But there have been a few teams this season that have looked so much better than they did in 2020. From the teams here – who has gotten better from last year in the best way? Who has made the biggest adjustment on their teams and made their fans have the most to get excited about and hope?
Let’s dive in.
= Cleveland Cavaliers
Last year record; 22-50
Last seasons ppg; 30th in the NBA
This seasons ppg; 26th in the NBA
Last seasons oppg; 17th in the NBA
This seasons oppg; 1st in the NBA
3p shooting last year; 30th in the NBA
3p shooting this year; 16th in NBA
3p defense last year; 28th in NBA
3p defense this year; 9th in the NBA
Assists last season; 21st in the NBA
Assists this season; 8th in the NBA
Rebounds /game last season; 24th in the NBA
Rebounds /game this season; 12th in the NBA
MOST IMPROVED this season from last season; Jarrett Allen; has gone up in scoring, and rebounding and has been a huge part of this teams success.
Last year the Cleveland Cavaliers were simply terrible and ended 27 games out of 1st place, and flopped into 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Cleveland Cavaliers were an offense and defensive trainwreck in the NBA .
Starting guard, Darius Garland has more than come into his own with 20ppg and 8apg – last year he was looking like he had excellent potential, but still raw in some ways, with 17ppg and 6apg , but it looks like he could easily be one of the better guards in the game right now.
The Cleveland Cavaliers defense has improved the most from last year to this season, going from ranking 17th to being the best defensive team in the NBA this year. Making teams settle in and worry when seeing them arrive, they are a team that concerns teams, and if they don’t.
Last year they struggled for 90% of the season – this year the Cavaliers have just gotten so much better.
Looking at what they did last season, it clearly looks like they are ready to make some noise and get some action in the postseason – the fans of Cleveland will be ready to go, and so will their team.
= Golden State Warriors
Last year record; 39-33
Last seasons ppg; 12th in the NBA
This seasons ppg; 10th in the NBA
Last seasons oppg; 18th in the NBA
This seasons oppg; 4th in the NBA
3p shooting last year; 9th in the NBA
3p shooting this year; 7th in NBA
3p defense last year; 8th in NBA
3p defense this year; 3rd in the NBA
Assists /game last season; 1st in the NBA
Assists /game this season; 2nd in the NBA
Rebounds /game last season; 22nd in the NBA
Rebounds /game this season; 8th in the NBA
MOST IMPROVED this season from last season; Klay Thompson; C’mon the 31 year old sharpshooter hasn’t played in the NBA in 2 years because of a devastating knee injury – he hopped back in, is starting, and popping in 17ppg and is seeing the court better than he has in his career.
It was another letdown season for the Golden State Warriors, but still far better than the disastrous 2019 season.
A team with a proud history, and having been known for their championship mindset, for much of their recent history.
The Warriors have lacked the punch and explosiveness that their teams have had in the past. But, their rabid fanbase stayed loyal, and now are able to fill up the Chase Center as they wanted it to be. Now it looks like they are being rewarded in return.
Golden State has picked up their already tough 3p defense going from being 8th in ranking last year to 3rd this year, as they brought up the pressure outside the arc. Last season they gave up 110 or more points in 56% of their games, this year they have given up 110+ in only 31% of them, as they currently sit at 4th in the league in oppg.
Kevon Looney has improved his game, getting more time on the court, and getting valuable boards, scoring at a career high and fully understanding his role. The Golden State Warriors rebounds /game has improved so much, going from 22nd in the NBA up to 8th. They have had great contributions from Looney and Draymond Green off the glass, especially on the offensive side of rebounding.
Golden State typically have always had a team that could put points on the scoreboard – it was their defense that was in question, over the last 3 seasons. They were leakier than a 100 year old roof – giving up 115.0 ppg in 2019 , 111.2 ppg in 2018, and 112.7 ppg in 2020 – this year, allowing just 103.5 – the improvements are obvious.
= Memphis Grizzlies
Last year record; 38-34
Last seasons ppg; 15th in the NBA
This seasons ppg; 2nd in the NBA
Last seasons oppg; 16th in the NBA
This seasons oppg; 14th in the NBA
3p shooting last year; 20th in the NBA
3p shooting this year; 24th in NBA
3p defense last year; 18th in NBA
3p defense this year; 18th in the NBA
Assists /game last season; 4th in the NBA
Assists /game this season; 7th in the NBA
Rebounds /game last season; 4th in the NBA
Rebounds /game this season; 1st in the NBA
MOST IMPROVED this season from last season; Ja Morant; The high flying PG, has been simply a blast and a ton of fun to watch. His court vision and scoring output have been climbing higher and higher this season – it will be fun to see how good this kid can get.
A team that hasn’t exactly been a juggernaut in the Conference – has not had a 50 win team since 2014. Memphis has lugged around a 127-182 record over the last 4 years. But they are easily looking to be moving in a great direction, winning many games this year that they probably wouldn’t have won last year.
The Grizzlies made some changes with more aggressive interior play and improved their scoring output. Morant and Desmond Bane have been so much better than they were last year with 28ppg between them to 45ppg this year between them. Their well founded attacking the rim style of play has been a huge reason for their improvement. Ja was terribly inaccurate from deep hitting just 30% from downtown last year – the 22 year old is still hitting just 33% from behind the arc but has not been struggling as much from deep this year. He is embracing his high flying style, getting himself much more interior buckets this year.
Putting Desmond Bane at starting SG was without a doubt a good decision for this team, he brings stable play and leadership to a young Grizzlies team that lacked some of that as well. As long as he stays healthy and can play his game – their backcourt situation is established and they can put a check mark next to that.
= Chicago Bulls
Last year record; 31-41
Last seasons ppg; 21st in the NBA
This seasons ppg; 8th in the NBA
Last seasons oppg; 14th in the NBA
This seasons oppg; 18th in the NBA
3p shooting last year; 13th in the NBA
3p shooting this year; 2nd in NBA
3p defense last year; 7th in NBA
3p defense this year; 24th in the NBA
Assists /game last season; 8th in the NBA
Assists /game this season; 14th in the NBA
Rebounds /game last season; 11th in the NBA
Rebounds /game this season; 27th in the NBA
MOST IMPROVED this season from last season; DeMar DeRozan; The 32 year old PF has been playing the best ball of his career. Scoring 28ppg and hitting 34% of his 3p shots – both career highs for the 13 year veteran.
Coming off a 31-41 season, and not making the playoffs, yet again – it was looking like it was going to be pretty hard to get better. But, Chicago, so far this season, looks to have the swagger and power that they had back in 2014 when Tom Thibodeau had them battling LeBron and the Cavs.
It is not terribly hard to improve on their 2020 season, but let’s be clear here – the Chicago Bulls have improved, they did show signs of getting better at times, with their 3p defense, in particular. They are sitting in 8th place in offensive output, but have been getting tore up from behind the arc this year opposed to 7th ranked coverage from outside last season. DeMar DeRozan has been exceptional as a player for them, but the team’s quick switching on D is lacking compared to last year’s play. They are certainly a better team, but as far as the Conference goes, they have not improved equally compared to the better play, to the other teams on the list.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies both certainly make a case for being the most improved from last year, based on their gameplay compared to last year’s play. But, overall, with the Cavs changes with better ball movement and improving on defense – those are huge improvements for a team, and they have reacted with great play. They have become a team in the East that can make some noise and win tough games with the best of them. They didn’t go out and “purchase” a team, and they did not tear things apart. They just tightened things up and settled into their style – and this season has been plugging along with a ton of great improvements. It should be a fun and exciting 2nd half of the season.