Catching Up on the 2017-18 NBA Offseason: The Pacific Division

Between the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Suns, and Kings, who got better this offseason?

Last week, we began recapping the whirlwind NBA offseason by division. So far, we've covered the Atlantic, the Northwest, and the Central. Today, we shift our gaze to the Pacific Division.

The goal is for this series to serve as a helpful guide for catching up on the numerous changes that went on in the Association this summer, while comparing how each team's moves stack up against those made by their most direct competition.

For said comparison, we'll be using our proprietary metric, nERD.

If you're not familiar with nERD, it combines several offensive, defensive, and usage factors to produce one number that is meant to project a player's overall value to his team. That final number is an estimate of how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would win over an 82-game season with the player in question as one of its starters. It's comparable to win shares, but is meant to be predictive (projecting an 82-game season) as opposed to descriptive (how many wins the player has contributed to his team in the past).

For our purposes, we'll use last season's nERD scores for every player on the move, focusing on total nERD in and nERD out for each of the NBA's 30 teams (leaving out rookies, overseas imports, and G League players with two-way contracts, since we have no idea how much they'll contribute).

Last season, the big story in the Pacific Division was Kevin Durant choosing to sign with the Golden State Warriors. There was no big splash like that made within the division this year, but there's still plenty of intrigue to be found in things like Chris Paul's exodus from the Los Angeles Clippers, and all the small- to medium-sized sneaky moves that went down. Let's dive in.

Golden State Warriors

Player InHow?nERDPlayer OutHow?nERD
Nick YoungFA0.6James Michael McAdooFA0.3
Michael GbinijeFA-0.3Ian ClarkFA0.1
Georges NiangFA-1.2
Omri CasspiFA-1.9

nERD in:
nERD out: 0.4
Net nERD: -3.2

As mentioned in the intro, the Warriors didn't make any one move this offseason that will have quite the impact that the addition of Kevin Durant had last year, but it's not like they needed to get any better anyway. They added Nick "Swaggy P" Young and Omri Casspi, and lost James Michael McAdoo and Ian Clark, essentially swapping out two decent rotation pieces for another two. (It's still weird to say that about the Swagster, but he was great for the Los Angeles Lakers last year.)

In the end, the Warriors may have registered a -3.2 net nERD this summer, but they're still our favorite to win this year's title by a whopping 40.5%, while also projecting to have the largest team nERD -- a team ranking on a scale from 0-100, with 50 as the league average, that is meant to be predictive of the team's ultimate winning percentage -- ever recorded in our database (since 2000) at 84.9. They win the summer just by existing, essentially.

Los Angeles Clippers

Player InHow?nERDPlayer OutHow?nERD
Danilo GallinariTrade6.1Chris PaulTrade12.8
Lou WilliamsTrade4.4Brandon BassFA2.3
Montrezl HarrellTrade4.2J.J. RedickFA1.2
Willie ReedFA3.0Diamond StoneTrade-0.4
Patrick BeverleyTrade1.8Luc Richard Mbah a MouteFA-1.1
Sam DekkerTrade0.4Paul PierceWaived-1.1
Marshall PlumleeFA-0.4Raymond FeltonFA-3.4
DeAndre LigginsTrade-2.4Jamal CrawfordTrade-5.5

nERD in:
nERD out: 4.8
Net nERD: 12.3

The Los Angeles Clippers had arguably the busiest summer in the Association, with eight players coming in and another eight going out (and that's without even mentioning the draft or the inking of overseas point guard import Miloš Teodosić). Obviously, the biggest change to the team will be the loss of the best player in its franchise history, Chris Paul, who was traded to the Rockets, but the Clippers might not feel the crunch of that loss as badly as other teams that lost a superstar this summer.

Other than re-upping Blake Griffin during the offseason, the Clippers also managed to grab a slew of nERD-friendly players. They acquired Danilo Gallinari (6.1 nERD) from the Denver Nuggets, netted Lou Williams (4.4 nERD), Patrick Beverley (1.8 nERD), Montrezl Harrell (4.2 nERD), and Sam Dekker (0.4 nERD) in the Chris Paul trade, and added the sneakily efficient Willie Reed in free agency. The Clippers now have the depth that they so sorely lacked when CP3 was on the team, and even have what could be a decent replacement for him in Teodosić. While many will likely predict a step back for the Clippers, their net nERD of 12.3 suggests they may be just as good or better next season as they've been in recent years. Don't be surprised if they are.

Los Angeles Lakers

Player InHow?nERDPlayer OutHow?nERD
Brook LopezTrade0.8Nick YoungFA0.6
Briante WeberFA-0.4Tarik BlackWaived0.1
Stephen ZimmermanFA-0.5David NwabaWaived-0.2
Kentavious Caldwell-PopeFA-1.4Timofey MozgovTrade-2.6
D'Angelo RussellTrade-5.4

nERD in:
nERD out: -7.5
Net nERD: 6.0

All the buzz this summer regarding the Los Angeles Lakers had to do with their drafting Lonzo Ball, but they quietly made a few significant moves around that too. Namely, they gave up on D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, when they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets to make room for Ball as their point guard of the future. In the Russell deal, the Lakers also managed to shed Timofey Mozgov's horrible contract, while bringing in Brook Lopez.

Both Russell (-5.4 nERD) and Mozgov (-2.6 nERD) were highly inefficient last year, while Lopez (0.8) and newly signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (-1.4 nERD) were at least closer to league average. That said, Russell still had plenty of room to improve at only 21 years of age, but the Lakers ostensibly got a bit better on paper with a net nERD of 6.0 this summer. Will it all be enough to lure LeBron James or Paul George away from their respective teams next summer? Well, we're about to spend a year discussing just that, so buckle up.

Phoenix Suns

Player InHow?nERDPlayer OutHow?nERD
Leandro BarbosaWaived-3.0

nERD in:
nERD out: -3.0
Net nERD: 3.0

Apart from picking up some promising youngsters like Josh Jackson in the draft, the only thing the Phoenix Suns did this summer was waive a 34-year-old Leandro Barbosa. That is literally it. Full stop.

Sacramento Kings

Player InHow?nERDPlayer OutHow?nERD
George HillFA5.9Rudy GayFA-0.5
Vince CarterFA0.6Darren CollisonFA-1.0
Jack CooleyFA0.0Ty LawsonFA-1.3
Zach RandolphFA-1.0Anthony TolliverWaived-1.7
JaKarr SampsonFA-4.5Tyreke EvansFA-1.9
Arron AfflaloWaived-3.9
Langston GallowayFA-4.0
Ben McLemoreFA-4.5

nERD in:
nERD out: -18.8
Net nERD: 19.8

This might be the weirdest thing I've written in five seasons of covering the NBA for numberFire, but the Sacramento Kings had a pretty solid offseason.

No, really.

They jettisoned eight efficiency-sucking players with negative nERDs and added three solid veterans in George Hill (5.9 nERD), Vince Carter (0.6 nERD), and Zach Randolph (-1.0 nERD). In the first full season of the post-DeMarcus Cousins era, Sacramento now has an interesting mix of young up-and-comers and wily veterans who have been around the block more than a few times. The Kings have been the butt of plenty of jokes over the last decade-plus of playoff-less basketball, but their arrow might finally be pointing up with this revamped roster.


TeamnERD InnERD OutNet nERD
Golden State Warriors-2.80.4-3.2
Los Angeles Clippers17.14.812.3
Los Angeles Lakers-1.5-7.56.0
Phoenix Suns0.0-3.03.0
Sacramento Kings1.0-18.819.8

Let's be honest: as far as the Pacific Division is concerned, the Warriors won the offseason simply by sticking with something close to the status quo. I'd bet my house on their winning their fourth consecutive division banner, as not one of the other teams improved enough to close the monstrous 16-game gap they held against the field last season.

That said, the Dubs wouldn't win any awards for improving the most this summer, and since the best any of the Clippers, Lakers, Suns, and Kings can hope for is that kind of consolation prize, let's go through the motions.

The Lakers shifted some pieces, but might not actually be any better for it, and the Suns did literally nothing at all of note. In which case, it comes down to the Kings (19.8 net nERD) and Clippers (12.3 net nERD), both of whom rank among the highest in the NBA in net nERD this offseason. While the Kings have the higher net nERD mark because of all the nERD they sent out (-18.8 outgoing nERD), the Clippers deserve a lot of recognition for bringing in a whopping incoming nERD of 17.1 in the wake of losing Chris Paul. They still don't come close to the Warriors, but consider their wounds sufficiently licked from an efficiency standpoint.