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Top three most improved NBA teams heading into the 2021-22 season

After a long summer of drafting, trading, and signing free agents, all 30 NBA teams have done their best to improve their rosters, but how many of them actually have?

Using the business that has been done this offseason as a guide and comparing the rosters at the end of last season to what it is now, the contenders become apparent.

Here are the top three NBA teams who improved the most as we approach the start of the 2021/22 season.


Without a doubt, the Lakers are the most changed team by just comparing last season’s roster to this but that doesn’t make them the most improved.

The Lakers completely overhauled last season’s roster except for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, and Talen Horton-Tucker.

Trading for Russell Westbrook significantly improves their quality and forms a near-unstoppable big three (rather stoppable if you force them to shoot threes though) in addition to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The real magic happened with the rest of the roster though, Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss raided every elderly home in LA to form a decent support cast.

The Lakers' depth is wild 👀 And that's not even their whole roster 😳 — NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) August 30, 2021

Camelo Anthony, Kent Bazemore, and Wayne Ellington all shot above 40% from three-point range last season, and their enlistment is expected to solve that particular problem for the Lakers.

Trevor Ariza also comes in with his 35% outside shooting along with Dwight Howard and Rajon who are returning to the Lakers after helping them win the championship in 2020.

Not forgetting the signing of guards, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn to inject much-needed youth into the roster.

The Los Angeles Lakers were a great team last season, now with the big three and their deep roster, they’ve become a super team, an old one but still super nonetheless.


They’re still most likely going to lose in the second round regardless of who they play against in the playoffs but that doesn’t matter much here.

This list isn’t about contenders, it’s about the improvements made from last season, which qualifies the Miami Heat.

The focal point for their improvement is the trade that brought Kyle Lowry to Miami, a direct upgrade in the Point Guard position on Goran Dragic who went the other way to Toronto.

Kyle Lowry could prove me wrong and push Miami into serious championship contention just as he did with the Raptors in 2019 (it was mostly Kawhi Leonard though) to help win their first and only ever title.

They also quietly added Markieff Morris for much-needed depth and PJ Tucker who could turn out to be a key addition to their starting five.

Tucker’s impact was evident on the Milwaukee Bucks last season, playing his part in winning the championship, Miami now has the glue guy they’ve always needed.

Starting with Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, and Bam Adebayo with the likes of Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, and Markieff Morris on the bench.

We had an active Free Agency period here in the 3🏀5 There's one guy that connects the dots on the floor to all of the team's transactions – @Bam1of1 — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 12, 2021

All that under the tutelage of Eric Spoelstra and the legendary Pat Riley, the Miami Heat now have enough Championship experience and ability and are significantly better than they were last season.


And now for the most improved NBA team, give it up for…(drum roll please) … the Chicago Bulls? Yes, them. 

Once again, this doesn’t mean they’re contenders, it just shows how much better they are compared to last season, the Bulls look very good on paper.

While they most likely won’t win the championship, I expect them to go on a run similar to what Atlanta did last season with the quality now available in Chicago. 

Latest @ForbesSports is on the Bulls’ new FO dramatically reshaping the roster in just over a year. Zach and Coby currently the only ones left from GarPax era. We’ll see if it works out, but the aggression is a breath of fresh air after years of trash. — Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) August 30, 2021

Faced with the choice of quantity and quality, Chicago said screw it and chose both by adding Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball in free agency. 

Just before trading for DeMar DeRozan and drafting Ayo Dosunmu who I believe is one of the most underrated players in that draft class.

Lonzo will most likely displace Coby White as the starting Point Guard which in turn gives them more depth with White dropping to the bench along with Alex Caruso.

DeMar DeRozan comes in with just the right amount of star-power and experienced the Bulls needed even though they probably overpaid for him.

Add that to what Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic already bring to the table and you should have a fourth or fifth seed team in the East.

The only negative is that they lost the defensive acumen of Thaddeus Young but they’re still very much improved and will surprise a lot of people next season.

Featured Image via AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool

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