What Present Can Each Team Use For the Upcoming Year from Santa?
It’s Christmas, so one would think it’s a very giving time of the year.
With that in mind, no team is perfect, and every team in the NBA can always use something to get better and improve. Whether it be a depth piece or a coaching change, or in the New York Knicks case, an intervention from the basketball gods, every team could find something that they could ask for from Santa.
To make their lives easier, we compiled one thing that each NBA team can use during the holiday season, to hold them over for the upcoming year!
Atlanta Hawks: Patience
The Hawks have something. This is one of the sexiest young rosters in the entire league.
Between Trae Young, John Collins, Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter, and De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks may have something very special. Something so special that it’s easy to forget that they are still incredibly young and some things take time. The Hawks must remain patience and realize that they have the pieces that can turn things around soon enough in Atlanta.
Boston Celtics: Playmaker off the Bench
With Kemba Walker, the Celtics haven’t missed a beat with Kyrie Irving out of the picture, but looking past a very impressive starting five, Boston lacks legitimate playmakers off the bench, specifically a point guard who can backup Walker. While defensive wizard Marcus Smart is a solid secondary option, his offensive game is largely limited and doesn’t provide the Celtics with an ideal playmaker for the second unit.
Brooklyn Nets: No More Kyrie Drama
On every stop, it seems like Kyrie Irving is in the news for all the bad reasons.
Be it an ugly divorce with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his uncomfortable tenure in Boston, or all the reports that suggest he may be a locker room cancer in Brooklyn, the Nets want nothing more than to just get the All-Star point guard back in the fold and for him to do all of the talking on the floor.
Charlotte Hornets: Trim the Fat
For an organization that has never seen anything good outside of Kemba Walker, it’s easy for the Hornets to get a little overly excited about the young core they have coming together. Terry Rozier has been good, Miles Bridges is slowly developing, PJ Washington looks like a solid draft selection, and Devonte’ Graham has been a complete revelation. This is all good.
The bad is everything else – all the veterans taking up cap space and playing time. Between Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Bismack Biyombo, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the Hornets must find a way to cut bait and create the cap space to build around their young core.
Chicago Bulls: Find a New Voice
Jim Boylen is just not a good fit for this team.
Run-ins with Zach laVine aside, Boylen hasn’t found a way to really push the development of this team forward and it’s easy to envision a plateau. Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Coby White are the organization’s future and whether or not LaVine is part of that future or not, it’s time for the Bulls to get a new voice who can get to the team’s young stars.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Shed Salary
The Cleveland Cavaliers are ready to hand over the keys to the organization to the young guns in Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr.
Everything else has to go.
The teardown started with moving Jordan Clarkson. Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Brandon Knight, John Henson, and Matthew Dellavedova are all next to go. The Cavs brought in a new coach in the offseason who has made a career of helping develop young players in John Beilein. The Cavaliers will look to continue to add more youth to the fold as time goes on.
Dallas Mavericks: An Impact Defender
The Mavericks rank in the bottom third in both blocked shots and steals, while as a team, they rank 15th in defensive rating.
Offensively, they are solid and once Luka Doncic returns from injury, things will get back to normal in Dallas. On the defensive end, they need some sort of impact defender who can lock down the opposition’s best players, or a defender who can protect the interior. Honestly, having both wouldn’t hurt in Dallas either.
Denver Nuggets: Life in their Offence
Under Mike Malone, the Denver Nuggets have the second best defense in basketball, but god are they kind of boring to watch on the offensive end. So much of the offense relies on Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, that the Nuggets are in desperate need of more playmakers that can push the pace. Maybe its the thin air in Denver, but the Nuggets are ranked 29th in the league in pace and they need some kind of jolt to help them in the postseason.
Detroit Pistons: An Identity
There aren’t many rosters that look weirder than the one in Detroit.
Built around Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson, it appears that the absolute ceiling for this group is a bottom-feeding playoff team. Drummond and Griffin have failed to click in the front court, Jackson hasn’t seemed to find chemistry with just about anybody, and the remaining players are just awkward to watch together.
This team is missing an identity and at this point adding more marquee names to the bunch will not solve much.
Golden State Warriors: The Summer to Come Faster
This has been a brutal way to open up a brand new, state-of-the-art arena in San Francisco.
The Warriors are dead last in their conference and are playing with a collection of young and nameless players. But fear not Warriors fans, for Klay Thompson and Steph Curry will be back in the fold next year, and the Warriors will also hold a high lottery pick which they can either use or dangle in trade. The organization is treating this year as a gap year, and hell, the quick growth and development of the likes of Ky Bowman and Eric Paschall don’t hurt the Warriors one bit long term.
Things will go back to normal next year, but until then, the Summer cannot come soon enough.
Houston Rockets: Playoff Success
This may be the end of the line for this group in Houston.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden experiment may not be a long one if things don’t click in the playoffs this time around. The Rockets are still an offensive juggernaut, they still shoot a ton of threes, and by no means will they change their identity come the playoffs. Much like the case for the Milwaukee Bucks, the Rockets are in dire need of a postseason breakthrough.
Indiana Pacers: Victor Oladipo Back
The Indiana Pacers have played incredible basketball in the absence of Victor Oladipo who is expected to return to the team by late January. A former All-Star, Oladipo is working his way back from a knee injury and has already been able to participate in team practices.
Los Angeles Clippers: A Interior Defender
On the perimeter, the Clippers are absolutely stout, but when a guard is able to breakdown the defense and get past the three-headed monster of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverley, the Clippers’ defense becomes very penetrable. Ivica Zubac isn’t the answer down low, and all in all, the Clippers simply do not have any reliable shot-blockers or players who can at the very least, protect the rim.
Back in Toronto, Kawhi had exactly what he needed down in the paint in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Maybe if the Raptors injury issues force the teams to sputter moving forward, both big men become available at the deadline?
Los Angeles Lakers: Andre Iguodala
Essentially, he exact opposite of what their LA rivals need.
Between Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, and of course, Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the best interior defensive teams in the entire NBA. What they lack is on the perimeter, where outside of James, who does just about everything, and Danny Green, the Lakers lack a true perimeter defender.
Maybe Andre Iguodala is in the Lakers cards in the future?
Memphis Grizzlies: Build Around Ja and Jaren
The Memphis Grizzlies have two potential franchise stars in Jaren Jackson and Ja Morant.
Still moving past the Grit-n-Grind era, this will be a process for the Grizzlies, but it will be important for Memphis not to attempt to rush things. It’s incredibly difficult to start off at square one with potential two franchise-altering stars and the Grizzlies already have that.
Miami Heat: Weeding Out Distractions
Dion Waiters has been largely a distraction and with a string of bad publicity and a contract that goes into next year, he appears to be near impossible to move. Maybe Santa can help the Heat out who to this point have been nothing short of impressive, boasting a team of interesting young talent and savvy veteran leadership.
Milwaukee Bucks: NBA Championship
The Milwaukee Bucks are good at just about everything when it comes to basketball. First in in pace, first in defensive rating and second in offensive rating. All of this is made possible by the incredible play of reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. This upcoming offseason, The Greek Freak is eligible to sign the supermax and an NBA championship can go a long way to helping convince Giannis to remain in small market Milwaukee for years to come.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Reliability
Andre Wiggins is a legitimate volume scorer, while Karl-Anthony Towns is very clearly one of the league’s premier big man. Jeff Teague is an alright point guard, but nothing to write home about, and Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie are nice young pieces with potential, but damn the Wolves just lack so much on both ends.
There’s no consistency, there’s no reliability. On any given night, you just don’t know what to expect from the Wolves who struggle to put together a rotation of players that can provide on a nightly basis.
New York Knicks: A Miracle
It’s possible to win an NBA championship with an average coach, or a couple of below average players, but it’s impossible to win with a piss-poor front office – unless you have LeBron James who can cover up just about anything.
The New York Knicks don’t have LeBron, and between owner James Dolan and president Steve Mills, the Knicks are running an absolute circus. Every good business is built from the top down and it’s time for the Knicks to take a long look at the very top and make the necessary adjustments, otherwise they will continue to be the laughing stock of the NBA.
New Orleans Pelicans: Believe in Ingram and Zion
Welp, this has been a colossal disappointment.
Some even had the Pelicans as a dark-horse playoff team in the Western Conference, but just after a couple of months, New Orleans is still awaiting the debut of first overall pick Zion Williamson. The original plan may need some re-thinking as Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick may find themselves on the chopping block in a few short weeks.
What initially looked as a fast-tracked rebuild after trading Davis, the Pelicans may be looking at a much longer timeline, but at the very least, Brandon Ingram looks absolutely legit and between him and Zion, the Pelicans future remains bright.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Trade Partner for Paul
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is the team’s present and future at the point guard spot.
Chris Paul just ain’t it anymore. At least not for a team looking to re-set and become younger. Steven Adams will be on the move soon enough, but the contract which will be the most difficult to move is that of Paul. The Thunder are no strangers to blockbuster deals and it will be interesting to see if Sam Presti has another magic trick up his sleeve when it comes to CP3.
Orlando Magic: A Professional Scorer
Once again, the Orlando Magic are one of the top defensive teams in the league. While they are 12th in defensive rating, they give up the fourth fewest amount of points per game. Yet, they remain a bubble team in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture and once again, their lack of a reliable scorer who can create his own offence is a glaring issue. If it wasn’t for DJ Augustin blowing up in Game One of their first round matchup against the Raptors, the Magic would have been swept and they have failed to address this scoring need over the offseason.
Ranked 29th in points per game and 25th in offensive rating, the Magic need something to jumpstart their scoring.
Philadelphia 76ers: A Reliable Jump Shot
Ben Simmons can do a whole lot of things on the basketball court except for shoot and when push comes to shove, his inability and lack of confidence in his shot forces the Sixers to become far more “guard-able”, especially in a playoff series. Unlike in year’s past, Simmons has both attempted and made shots from long range. The Sixers hope that this is just the beginning for their star point guard.
Phoenix Suns: Drafting a Superstar
The Phoenix Suns need help and for a team that is pitted in the lottery as much as the Suns have been, they have failed to hit gold more than once. The one time was Devin Booker, but since then, there hasn’t been a selection that showed true star potential. The Suns need one more big break because true stars aren’t arriving via free agency.
Portland Trailblazers: Kevin Love
The Blazers have been known suitors for Kevin Love for quite some time. Expect that not to change as the Blazers should make a huge push for the former All-Star as the trade deadline approaches. Especially with the injuries of Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic, and Rodney Hood, the Blazers need help and it come definitely come in the form of Kevin Love.
Sacramento Kings: Lock Up Buddy
It doesn’t get more simple than this.
The Kings had an opportunity to reach a deal with Buddy Hield in the offseason and they failed to do so. The sharp-shooting guard will enter restricted free agency in the Summer and extending him will be atop the Kings’ list of priorities.
San Antonio Spurs: Accept Reality
Two decades of dominance.
It’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to accept the harsh reality that it’s time to re-tool. Their dynastic days are behind them and it’s time to find talent in the draft and develop the youth. With the deadline coming, the Spurs should be aggressive in finding a trade partner for DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Spurs remain an incredibly smart organization and it’s going to be important for their pride to not get in the way of what they have to do.
Toronto Raptors: Health
It’s hard to show the heart of a champion when nearly ever member of the Raptors has gone down with injury. It’s not even the midway point of the season and the Raptors have experienced injuries from just about everyone including Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Ibaka.
The list just goes on and on.
Utah Jazz: Offensive Star-power
Donovan Mitchell isn’t on that level yet.
He may never get there either. He may just be destined to be one rung below the likes of a Damian Lillard. If that is the case, the Jazz need some offensive star-power because to this point, the aging Mike Conley has failed to provide the Jazz with everything they expected. Bojan Bogdanovic has been good, but the Jazz need a little bit more than a Jordan Clarkson addition to jump start a team that sits in the bottom third in most offensive categories.
Washington Wizards: Selling High on Beal
In the absence of John Wall, Bradley Beal has been one of the best two-guards in the entire game.
Let’s admit to the truth here, the Wizards have peaked in the Wall and Beal era, and it’s time to look for something different. Beal is still young, is signed on long-term, and does not have a history of injury troubles. Now is the time to sell high, acquire young prospects and draft picks, and look toward the future.