Check the List Twice
It really may take a Christmas miracle for some teams to truly get back on the path of contention. For other teams, it may be as simple as getting better luck with injuries or not messing up the draft.
Either way, this is the Christmas wishes for NBA teams 16-30. If you missed the list detailing teams 1-15, it’s linked here.
Memphis Grizzlies – A Healthy Jaren Jackson Jr.
The Grizzlies are on the right trajectory as an up-and-coming franchise. They have their franchise cornerstone in Ja Morant, solid young players in Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke, along with veterans such as Jonas Valanciunas.
All that’s missing is a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr. who suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee on August 3rd, 2020. He was averaging an impressive 25.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in the three games he and the Grizzlies played to restart the season in Orlando.
If Jackson Jr. can recover successfully from his injury, expect his two-way potential to really emerge. He may be the key to the Grizzlies making it back to the postseason, and Memphis fans are certainly hoping he comes back strong.
Miami Heat – Tyler Herro Proves Himself as The Chosen One
The Miami Heat are certainly ready to win now. Coming off a breakout season which saw them reach the finals, they’re surely trying to make moves to acquire more talent in an attempt at winning another championship.
Tyler Herro really emerged, especially in the postseason, which saw him net a career high 37-points against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
If Herro can live up to the hype as Miami’s next star, more doors will begin to open for both the franchise and for Herro. Whether he takes up the mantle as the next franchise star, or is included in a trade to acquire a superstar, the future is certainly bright in South Beach.
Milwaukee Bucks – Giannis Signs the Supermax to Stay in Town
The Bucks are hoping for Santa Claus to deliver a christmas miracle in Milwaukee. The free agency of Giannis Antetokounmpo is looming, and with his ultimate goal of winning a championship, the Greek Freak could look to take his talents elsewhere.
The Bucks must do whatever it takes to convince Giannis to stay, whether it’s acquiring a marquee star along the lines of a Chris Paul or Victor Oladipo, it’s certainly desperation time in Milwaukee.
A talent like Antetokounmpo comes maybe once in a decade, and to lose such a talent would almost be as bad as the Grinch ruining Christmas.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Don’t Mess Up the Draft
The Timberwolves lucked out securing the number one pick in this year’s draft. They didn’t get lucky in the sense that this year’s draft isn’t quite top-heavy with franchise-star level talent.
What makes things even worse is that the top-three projected prospects in this year’s draft all have issues in terms of their individual fits in the Timberwolves roster.
All that fans ask from the franchise is that they don’t mess up the draft this year. The last time there wasn’t a consensus number one overall prospect, Anthony Bennett was selected. Hopefully the Timberwolves don’t follow suit this year.
New Orleans Pelicans – A Healthy Zion
The Pelicans are in somewhat of an interesting position, with two stars in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, along with a bevy of young players that could potentially blossom into key contributors moving forward.
The biggest indicators to this team’s ceiling will ultimately be Zion Williamson’s health. Zion has shown that when healthy, he can be a league-altering force.
His sheer athleticism and size is nearly un-guardable, similar to Shaquille O’Neal’s dominance in the 2000s, and if he’s able to play at least 80% of his regular season games over the next four years, the Pelicans should return back to contention.
New York Knicks – Asset Accumulation
Face it Knicks fans, not even Santa Claus can bring James Dolan to step down as owner of the franchise. The next best thing fans should wish is for the team to get smarter with their moves going forward.
The Knicks are reportedly looking to take on bad contracts in exchange for acquiring assets. This is a step in the right direction, as they likely won’t be contenders in the near future given that their young players still need time to develop.
Instead of swinging for the fences on a star past their primes, it’s the logical move to rebuild more organically, through the draft. Getting extra picks in the next couple drafts, especially where the talent pool projects to be considerably better than this year’s draft, is what Knick fans should want moving forward.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Win Now, Build Now
If there was an equivalent to the Wizard Of Oz in the NBA, it would be Sam Presti. Thanks to the efforts of Presti and the OKC front office, the Thunder are now in the enviable position of being able to rebuild while contending.
They can choose to keep Chris Paul for another year, remaining competitive in the West, while still likely receiving top draft picks in future years thanks to the Paul George Trade.
They can also choose to move Chris Paul, who’s stock around the league is considerably higher than last year, and receive even more assets to stockpile.
The Thunder honestly don’t need any Christmas gifts or miracles. Everything is already set for them to dominate the decade, so long as they make the most of their assets.
Orlando Magic – Culture Reset
Orlando needs to reset their team, and it needs to happen soon. They have been a respectable team throughout the past couple season, making some playoff appearances, but not much can be said about seventh or eighth place finishes and first round exits year after year.
Something has to give. The worst place you can be in as a franchise in the NBA is in the middle of the pack. Not good enough to win anything substantial, not bad enough to get a good draft selection that can potentially help turn things around.
It’s time to move on from the Nikola Vucevic era in Orlando.
Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons Jumper Starts to Fall
There’s nothing like a fresh snowfall on Christmas morning. That euphoric, sentimental feeling of seeing the snowflakes fall ever so gently while opening gifts, 76er fans long to feel the same way about Ben Simmons’ jump shot.
The debate about Simmons and Embiid’s fit on court together can be solved very easily.
If Simmons unlocks the ability to at least hit some 18-footers off a pick and roll with Embiid, Philadelphia’s championship window may truly begin to open.
Phoenix Suns – Sustain Bubble Play
The Phoenix Suns were one of the bright stories of the Orlando Bubble, going undefeated in the seeding games. Devin Booker and the squad were playing beautiful basketball, and for the first time since Booker got to the team, they looked like a legitimate playoff team.
The biggest question for the Suns moving forward is if what happened in the bubble was just a fluke, or if they truly are the real deal. The only way to prove that the ‘Bubble Kings’ are the truth is if they sustain their outstanding play for longer stretches throughout the season.
Portland Trail Blazers – Get Healthy Throughout the Roster
The Trail Blazers have probably been one of the most injury riddled teams over last season, missing key contributors all year. A clean bill of health throughout the roster is all that Blazers fans want for Christmas.
Remember, the Trail Blazers are only a season removed from a Western Conference Finals berth, and have a transcendent offensive talent in Damian Lillard leading the way.
Sacramento Kings – Find a Suitable Package for Buddy Hield/Bogdanovic
There are a lot of problems in Sacramento, but above all, the most pressing matter is what they will do about their shooting guard position.
It’s been clear over the past season that this town isn’t big enough for the two of Buddy Hield and Bodgan Bogdanovic. The Kings need to move on from one of the two.
They also need to find a trade package that can potentially bring back some talent to pair up with budding star De’Aron Fox. A talented two-way guard or a 3-and-D wing would be ideal in this case.
San Antonio Spurs – Hit the Rebuild Button
The Spurs are in a similar situation to the Orlando Magic. The only thing that differs is that the Spurs still have a legendary coach to guide their team.
Regardless, the combination of players the Spurs currently have isn’t good enough to catapult the team back to contention.
DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge will likely be moved in the next season or so, and with young players like Lonnie Walker IV, Keldon Johnson, and Dejounte Murray, the Spurs youth movement should be fun to watch under the guidance of Gregg Popovic and Tim Duncan.
Toronto Raptors – Masai Ujiri Signs Massive Extension
The Toronto Raptors’ most valuable employee isn’t a player, a coach, a scout, or a general manager. The Raptor’s most valuable employee is their President, Masai Ujiri.
None of the Raptors’ success over the past six years is possible without Ujiri, and in a Raptors Fan’s ideal world, Masai opts in to stay long term with the franchise throughout the 2020s.
The reality is that Masai Ujiri is a hot commodity around the league, and he will be courted by numerous teams. The world is Masai’s oyster, and he will ultimately decide where he takes his career next.
Utah Jazz – Acquire a High Impact Point Guard
The Mike Conley experiment in Utah hasn’t worked out all as planned. Conley was supposed to be the difference maker at the point, providing playmaking, defence, and three point shooting.
He has been anything but his productive self in Utah, and the Jazz should look to acquire a guard that can actually do the things the team needs to succeed.
Washington Wizards – John Wall’s Return
John Wall hasn’t played in a near-full NBA season in three years. The Wizards desperately need him to be back near his full capability.
The Wizards were once seen as a team on the come up with Wall and Bradley Beal as building blocks for the future. If Wall isn’t near his former self next season, it’s likely no form of magic can save Washington from a rebuild.
Bonus: NBA Head Office – Dec. 22 Start for the 2020-21 Season
Adam Silver and the higher-ups are hoping and praying they can get the season rolling on the 22nd of December. The benefits of starting the season so soon are mostly related to money, as expected. There’s reportedly a 500 Million Dollar difference between starting the season in December, versus starting on January 18th, which is what the players prefer.
An added benefit to starting in December is the fact that the NBA won’t have to compete with other sports such as the NFL, and the upcoming 2021 Olympics. TV ratings were down across the board in this past playoffs, and it would help boost ratings if the league isn’t competing with other sporting events during primetime hours.