It’s that time of year where most of us are frantically searching out presents for friends and loved ones. Whether we’re braving crowded shopping malls, searching online, or making that frantic last-minute gas station stop, we’re all trying to find that perfect gift the recipient will, love, cherish, and not return come January. And it’s not easy. Will that shirt fit you dad? Is somebody else already buying your brother that computer game? And will that piece of jewelry look nice (expensive) enough to convince your girlfriend that you put in the time and effort?
But you know what’s easier than buying presents for your family? Buying a present for your favourite NBA team. You’ve seen more than a quarter of their games this season, and the stats are there for all to see. Their weaknesses are obvious, as are their strengths, and you can therefore make a reasonable assessment of what they require to push them to that next level, or simply to keep them afloat.
Here are the ideal gifts for 5 NBA teams.
The Boston Celtics Should Ask Santa For: An Offensive Rebounder
To be honest, any sort of rebounder would do, but a player who can crash the offensive boards and gain the Celtics a few all-important extra possessions—someone in the Reggie Evans mold—would be ideal. The Celtics are once again the worst rebounding team in the NBA—averaging just 38.6 boards per game. On average they’re getting outrebounded by 4 boards per game by the opposition, while their leading rebounder, Kevin Garnett, only ranks 42nd in the league when it comes to his game average.
The Celtics have been pretty mediocre so far this season, but they began slowly last year, and have the quality to pick-up it up again down the stretch. But when it comes to the playoffs this team could really use a dominant player on the glass. Garnett is getting too old to bang inside and their lack of offensive rebounding seriously limits their offense. G.M. Danny Ainge may want to keep a close eye on the NBA’s leading rebounding, Anderson Varejao. He’d be quite the present for Celtics fans.
The Indiana Pacers Should Ask Santa For: A Dynamic Scorer
The Pacers don’t have any of the issues on the boards that the Celtics are dealing with; in-fact, they’re the best rebounding team in the NBA, and one of the best defensive teams in the league. However, it’s on offense where they really need some help. Only the lowly Wizards score fewer points per game than the Pacers (91), and the team as a whole is shooting a dismal 42% from the field—good enough for 28th in the league.
Despite the improved play of Paul George, the Pacers have really missed small-forward Danny Granger, who continues to rehab an injured left knee. Granger is the one player on this Pacers team who can create his own shot, and the offense has looked stagnant at times without him. Despite the offensive struggles, the defense has been good enough to keep the team near the top of the Central Division and in playoff contention. If Granger can return before the playoffs—something all Pacers fans should pray for this holiday season—they could be a real handful in the post-season.
The Memphis Grizzlies Should Ask Santa For: Some Reliable Outside Shooting
The rough and rugged Memphis Grizzlies appear on the verge of greatness. They have the perimeter defense—Mike Conley and Tony Allen can shut down the best guards in the league—a shot-maker in Rudy Gay, and the best 1-2 punch down-low in the NBA: Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. But the Grizzlies’ weak spot remains their inconsistent outside shooting.
The percentages aren’t bad this year, but as a team they just don’t take many shots from beyond the arc (only 15.3 per game), possibly because of a lack of confidence in their outside shooters. The likes of Wayne Ellington and Jerryd Bayless can get hot from downtown, but they’re never going to terrify the opposition. Having good 3-point shooting is essential when it comes to the playoffs; just ask the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. Given that the likes of Randolph and Gasol will be double-teamed in the low-post, not being able to score consistently from 3-point land when the ball is kicked out is an absolute waste of a massive match-up advantage. Consistent shooting from beyond the arc transforms this team from good, to great.
The Minnesota Timberwolves Should Ask Santa For: Better Luck
The Timberwolves are currently a very respectable 12-9, and it’s a credit to Rick Adelman, and the likes of Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, that the team has stayed above .500 despite the injury bug that has plagued them for the past year. Ricky Rubio went down last season, and of course, Kevin Love has missed a good chunk of this season as a result of those ever-so-deadly knuckle push-ups. But the T-Wolves have also lost some glue-guys to injury this year. The underrated Chase Budinger went down with a serious knee injury back in November, J.J. Barea has missed games, and the tragically unlucky Brandon Roy is once again battling knee problems.
Rubio returned to action on Saturday, while Love has been back for a few weeks now, and the injury curse appears to be finally lifting. But being well aware of their team’s recent history, T-Wolves fans won’t be counting any chickens just yet—they know better than anyone (perhaps other than Trail Blazers fans) that their fortunes could change with one torn ligament. But if this team can survive the next few months relatively unscathed, they could really make some noise come April.
The Washington Wizards Should Ask Santa For: John Wall’s Return
Despite what Andrea Bargnani told the Italian press, or was misquoted as saying, it’s the Wizards that are the worst team in the Association. They’re a miserable 3-18, score the lowest amount of points per game in the NBA (89.8), shoot a league-worst field-goal percentage, and don’t have a player that averages even 15 points per game. It’s a good thing that RGIII is around to cheer up sports fans in D.C.
It’s easy to forget now, but before the season began many people were relatively optimistic about the Wizards. Nene was a useful pick-up at centre, Bradley Beal looked like a great prospect, and Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor were expected to add defense and a veteran presence—and, of course, fans were anticipating John Wall making a big jump in his 3rd season. But Wall hasn’t played a second of basketball this year, and the Wizards have missed him immensely—both on offense, and defense. A timetable for Wall’s return is expected soon, and a team without offense, general cohesion, and a star to get excited about, desperately needs him to return to action soon. Write that letter to Santa, Wizards fans.