NBA Tier List: Raptors hit bottom floor, Clippers find footing

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23). (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The NBA’s trade deadline is in the rearview and the biggest names in the buyout market have pretty much all found new homes meaning rosters as we know them right now will pretty much be what we know them as for the remainder of 2020-21 campaign.

The stretch run towards the post-season has now begun.

Here’s a look at how we view the league in the aftermath of what was a hectic week where the trade deadline took centre stage.

Jazz, Clippers streaking; Nets add another star

After each going through some mid-season swoons, it looks like the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers have found their footing again as each are on league-high five-game winning streaks right now.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets have a supremely confident James Harden who says he’s the MVP -- and is playing like it -- and just added two more stars in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge in the buyout market. Neither are the same players they used to be, but with the two veterans, the Nets now have 13 all-star appearances and 10 All-NBA selections coming off the bench.

Nuggets, Blazers load up

Both the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers made impact moves at the trade deadline with the Nuggets adding Aaron Gordon and Portland trading for Norman Powell.

Both of these clubs are potent offensive teams and these additions figure to make them each that much more lethal as Gordon is another big man who can run the floor and can play-make for Denver and Powell gives the Blazers a needed ultra-efficient shooter and scorer that they can rely on in the event Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both have off games.

Elsewhere at this tier, the Los Angeles Lakers picked up Andre Drummond in the buyout market. A flashy move, for sure, but you have to wonder how impactful the move might actually be. What the Lakers need, more than anything, is for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to return.

Spurs manage to land Dieng

The strangest move on the buyout market so far has been Gorgui Dieng deciding to sign with the San Antonio Spurs.

The veteran big man figures to be able to help San Antonio, but his choice to join the Spurs seems odd, particularly because they’re a team that’s currently seventh in the Western Conference and not much of a title contender. Normally desired players in the buyout market would be looking to sign with teams who will be competing for a championship come July, and the Spurs don’t exactly fit that bill.

The Bulls are going for it

In the first big -- and surprising -- move of the trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls made a deal for two-time all-star centre Nikola Vucevic.

Chicago is currently holding at No. 10 in the Eastern Conference -- good for the last play-in tournament spot -- but are certainly looking to move up the standings with the acquisition of Vucevic.

The Bulls haven’t made the playoffs since 2017, and with a talent like Zach LaVine, who in his prime right now, getting any kind of playoff experience will be an important stepping stone for this young club.

At least March is nearly over Raptors

The Toronto Raptors dominated the conversation at the trade deadline as the team made three deals, highlighted by the Powell trade with Portland that saw them acquire Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.

But it was the move they didn’t make that grabbed the most headlines as Masai Ujiri and the Raptors elected to keep Kyle Lowry at the deadline, despite reports of multiple teams sending offers for the star point guard.

The offers the Raptors were seeing just weren’t good enough it would seem, and now the Raptors will look to make the play-in tournament at the very least.

In order to do so, however, the team may need this nightmare month of March to end as the club’s won just once all month long.

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