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Grading the Southeast division: centers

Grading the Southeast division: centers

We've talked about all the various changes made by the Wizards this offseason - or really since they made the move for Nene last season. Now we look at how the local NBA team stacks up with its Southeast Division rivals, position by position. We started with the floor generals and shooting guards. Now, we move inside, where the centers roam. (2011-12 stats listed)...Atlanta Zaza Pachulia...7.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 44 stars...One of the few mainstay holdovers for the Hawks squad, the 6-foot-11 Russian matched his career-high on the boards last season. No mere low post stiff, Pachulia shot 49 percent from 10-feet and beyond in 2011-12. Remains a secondary scoring option behind Al Horford, Josh Smith and the various backcourt members, but the Hawks lack of interior depth makes keeping Pachulia active and involved a front and center issue.Charlotte Brendan Haywood...5.2 points, 6.0 assists, 1.0 blocks...Despite no more Tyson Chandler in Dallas, the ex-Wizard received only 21 minutes of playing time per game for the Mavericks and Haywoods production has been in decline since his strong 2009-10 campaign. Perhaps a return home North Carolina helps the former Tar Heel rebound. Coming off a 7-win season, the Bobcats certainly hope so - and that he grabs plenty of rebounds. The 32-year-old will also serve as mentor to raw big man Bismack Biyombo.Miami Joel Anthony...3.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks...Yuck. Even if the pedestrian space filler actually jumps center for the Heat, his starter tag does not in any way imply Anthony is a viable player. In crunch time Miami will move Chris Bosh or Udonis Haslem inside; thats the plan, but not ideal either. Regardless, this remains the Heats true Achilles heel and outside of injury the one area that could derail a repeat title run.Orlando Nikola Vucevic...5.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 16 minutes in 51 games last season for the 76ers.One of those situations where the player, in this case a crafty and aggressive rising second-year talent, is being somewhat dismissed because he was part of the Dwight Howard deal and few like what Orlando received overallin the Dwight Howard deal. Not a true low post presence, but Vucevic can stick the mid-range shot and likely displays more overall game with more minutes. The Magic can turn to rookie Kyle OQuinn and Gustavo Ayon when a meaty presence is required.Washington Emeka Okafor...9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 block...Were you expecting Kevin Seraphin here? Perhaps Randy Wittmans game plan ends up bringing the veteran defender off the bench, but seeing as Okafor doubles as the Wizards highest paid player in 12-13, well assume he starts. The career double-double performer posted personal lows during an injury plagued campaign with the Hornets last season, but all signs point to good health entering the upcoming season. The most intriguing part of Okafors role with the Wizards is how this big man blends in on both ends of the court with Nene and Seraphin. Regardless, his presence enhances Washingtons defense and rebounding capability.And the winner is...Okafor, though somewhat by default simply because there just isnt much else going on with the centers in the Southeast division now that Dwight Howard is on the left coast. The reality is Bosh and Horford are often fourth-quarter centers for their respective teams and that changes this positional hierarchy. Then again, the Wizards have a deep rotation with Okafor, Nene and Seraphin, one they will need to powerfully take advantage of against some of these softer middles in the division. If Okafor returns to his career norms and Wittman schemes up a way to keep his three bigs happy and effective, this area, along with the point guard spot, is where the Wizards could rise above against their division foes next season.Rank: 1) Okafor 2) Pachulia 3) Vucevic 4) Haywood 5) Anthony

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NBA offseason grades: LeBron James leaving changes everything in Central Division

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NBA offseason grades: LeBron James leaving changes everything in Central Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Central Division...

Cleveland Cavaliers, C

2017-18 finish: 50-32, lost in NBA Finals
In: G Collin Sexton, F Channing Frye, F Sam Dekker
Out: F LeBron James, F Jeff Green, G Jose Calderon

Technically, the Cavaliers had the worst offseason of any team in the NBA simply because they lost James in free agency, but overall they did quite nicely for themselves as they prepare to enter a new era as a franchise. Sexton seems like a solid first round pick and gives them a nice young piece to build around. They also signed All-Star Kevin Love to a contract extension. Cleveland should have enough to remain competitive, at least for the back-end of the playoffs, but they need to clear some salary to justify the step back they are about to take.

Indiana Pacers, B+

2017-18 finish: 48-34, 1st round of playoffs
In: G Tyreke Evans, G Aaron Holiday, F Doug McDermott, F Kyle O'Quinn
Out: G Lance Stephenson, F Glenn Robinson III, F Trevor Booker

There was nothing flashy about the Pacers' offseason, but they did a good job adding talent and depth. Evans on a one-year, $12 million deal is almost certain to work out well for them. McDermott should add shooting and O'Quinn is an underrated big man. And Holiday, their first round pick, is an intriguing young guard who could help on both ends of the floor. Indiana may not have enough to join the top teams in the conference, but they should be set up to recreate the success they had last year.

Milwaukee Bucks, B

2017-18 finish: 44-38, 1st round of playoffs
In: C Brook Lopez, F Ersan Ilyasova, G Pat Connaughton, G Donte DiVincenzo
Out: F Jabari Parker, G Jason Terry

The Bucks didn't have a whole lot to play with in terms of money in free agency or trade assets, and they let Parker go, so it wasn't a great summer for Milwaukee. They did, however make some smart moves in acquiring Lopez and Ilyasova for reasonable prices. The reason they got a 'B' has a lot to do with their decision to hire Mike Budenholzer as head coach. Beyond young guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo getting better, Budenholzer offers the Bucks their best chance to improve year-over-year.

Detroit Pistons, C+

2017-18 finish: 39-43, missed playoffs
In: G Kyhri Thomas, C Zaza Pachulia, F Glenn Robinson III, G Jose Calderon
Out: F Anthony Tolliver, F James Ennis III

It was another low-key offseason for the Pistons, who didn't have much money to spend in free agency and didn't make any major trades. Their biggest acquisition was through the draft with Thomas, a guy who offers intrigue on both ends of the floor. They get a decent grade, however, because of the move to hire Dwane Casey as head coach. If it weren't for that, their grade would be very low.

Chicago Bulls, B+

2017-18 finish: 27-55, missed playoffs
In: F Jabari Parker, F Wendell Carter, Jr., F Chandler Hutchison
Out: F Noah Vonleh

The Bulls had arguably one of the better offseasons in the East. They got Parker on a bargain and brought in two nice young players as first round picks in Carter and Hutchison. Carter was particularly impressive in the Summer League and could form a nice combination with Lauri Markkanen, who looks like a future All-Star. The Bulls might be one draft away from having the necessary pieces to start ascending into the next stage of their rebuild. They just keep chugging along with smart moves.

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

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NBA offseason grades: With Kawhi Leonard, Raptors shined most in Atlantic Division

Here is a look at how the 2018 NBA offseason went for teams in the Atlantic Division...

Toronto Raptors, B+

2017-18 finish: 59-23, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Kawhi Leonard, G Danny Green, C Greg Monroe
Out: G DeMar DeRozan, C Jakub Poeltl, C Lucas Nogueira

The Raptors had one of the more consequential offseasons of any NBA team this year. First, they fired Dwane Casey, the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year, following a season in which they won 59 games. Then, they pulled off the biggest trade of the summer, a deal that featured two perennial All-NBA players. They let go of DeRozan and brought in Leonard in return. If they hadn't parted with DeRozan and Casey, they may have gotten an A. But it's hard to tell how much better they will be following the deal and Leonard does bring with him some concerns based on his quadriceps injury and the fact he has only one year left on his contract. The Raptors do, however, also get points for re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet.

Boston Celtics, C

2017-18 finish: 55-27, conference finals
In: C Robert Williams, G Brad Wanamaker
Out: C Greg Monroe

One year ago, the Celtics flipped nearly their entire roster and brought in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. This year, they mostly stood pat and didn't add much of anything in free agency or trades. Their biggest acquisition was Williams, who they took 27th overall in the first round of the draft. The Celtics will hope they improve from within. They re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes, and should get Irving and Hayward back from injuries. They should have plenty of talent to compete for an NBA Finals berth, but as far as this offseason goes, they didn't do much.

Philadelphia 76ers, D+

2017-18 finish: 52-30, 2nd round of playoffs
In: F Wilson Chandler, C Mike Muscala, G Zhaire Smith, G Landry Shamet
Out: G Marco Belinelli, F Ersan Ilyasova

Where do we begin? This summer was about as dramatic and bad as it could get for the Sixers. First, they had to fire their general manager because of a burner Twitter account scandal. Then, they struck out miserably in free agency with LeBron James and Paul George, and in trade talks for Leonard. After that, Smith - their first round pick - hurt his foot. And along the way, Ben Simmons has been dating a Kardashian, flirting with the curse that has claimed many pro athletes before him. Philly did re-sign J.J. Redick and Johnson, and the Chandler trade was nice, but all in all it was an offseason that fell way short of the Sixers' expectations. That said, they can still get way better next season based solely on their young players taking another step.

New York Knicks, B

2017-18 finish: 29-53, missed playoffs
In: F Mario Hezonja, F Kevin Knox, F Noah Vonleh, C Mitchell Robinson
Out: F Michael Beasley, G Jarrett Jack, F Kyle O'Quinn

It's been a while since the Knicks had an offseason to write home about and this one is no exception. There was nothing they did that would flirt with an A-grade. However, the early returns on their draft are excellent. Knox and Robinson were both standouts in the Summer League and offer fans a little bit more hope about the team's future. As long as Kristaps Porzingis can return this season safe and sound from his ACL tear, the Knicks could take a step forward in 2018-19.

Brooklyn Nets, C+

2017-18 finish: 28-54, missed playoffs
In: F Ed Davis, F Kenneth Faried, F Jared Dudley
Out: F Dante Cunningham, G Nik Stauskas, C Jahlil Okafor

The best news about the Nets' offseason is that their trade with the Celtics, the one that stripped them of years of first round picks, is finally over. Next year, the Nets will have a first round pick. This summer, they once again didn't add any major pieces in the draft, but seemed to make some smart moves in free agency. The Davis deal is solid and Faried may benefit from a change of scenery. More baby steps for Brooklyn.

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