So what teams in the Eastern Conference did the most to improve for the 2015-16 season? The availability of cap space and the status of retaining one's own free agents factors into what teams are able to do. The countdown starts with teams that did the least to enhance its roster -- and depending on the team that could be a good thing.
No. 6, Wizards
Last season's record: 46-36: Finish: 5th in the East.
Key additions: In the draft, traded up to acquire SF Kelly Oubre (No. 15). Added SFs Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson in free agency, and SG Gary Neal.
The skinny: The loss of Paul Pierce resulted in the Wizards pushing full-steam ahead into filling the gap he left behind by committee. Otto Porter, entering his third season, is projected to be the starter but they also have spot starters behind him and depth. The caveat to all of this is how long it takes Dudley, who had a surgery on his lower back to repair a bulging disk last month, to recover. The best-case scenario is he returns to the court early in November, just as the regular season takes off. Neal gives them an option they haven't had behind Bradley Beal since he came here, which is a deadly backup SG, which could make for a more effective PG Ramon Sessions off the bench. Because of the salary cap and luxury tax, the Wizards were limited in moves they could make in the offseason so they resorted to using their "exceptions" to score two of the free agents and a traded-player exception to get Dudley. Good value with limited cap space and didn't tie up money long-term.
Projected finish: No. 3. Though the narrative will be all about Pierce leaving and how the Wizards are going to miss him, this is a better regular-season team. Pierce, who paced himself with a big left toe and right knee injuries all season, didn't do much to help the bottom line as the Wizards won just two more games with him. This version of the team is deeper and should be better defensively. The absence of Pierce will be more of a factor in the postseason where he hit big shots vs. Toronto and Atlanta that had them on the cusp of the conference finals.
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