Christmas Day is the unofficial start to the NBA season. It’s great exposure for the league as each game features a popular team or superstar player. That’s been the case in years past, but 2021 is different.
Many star players are in health and safety protocols due to COVID, jeopardizing their availability for Christmas games. These stars include Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young. As appetizing as a Cam Thomas versus Isaiah Thomas matchup might be, I, along with the rest of the world, wanted to see LeBron James square off against Kevin Durant.
Regardless, the season will (hopefully) go on, and every team needs something for Christmas – good health, more shooting, stars to play, etc. Luckily for these organizations, I’m here to write their wish lists.
Boston Celtics: 1) The “Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can’t play together” narrative to end. 2) A point guard that can shoot.
Brooklyn Nets: 1) Kevin Durant stays healthy. 2) Kyrie Irving plays basketball.
New York Knicks: 1) Trade for another ballhandler with Derrick Rose out for 6-8 weeks. 2) Trade for a true playmaker that can create his own shot. 3) Evan Fournier to play defense. 4) Pray that a star wants to come to the Knicks via trade or free agency at some point. 5) Play defense like the team did last year. I have a lot more wishes, but I’ll spare you the time.
Philadelphia 76ers: 1) Figure out the Ben Simmons saga. Either trade him or play him.
Toronto Raptors: 1) Realize that Scottie Barnes, not Pascal Siakam, is the player to build around. 2) Trade or buy out Goran Dragic.
Chicago Bulls: 1) Continue their hot start. 2) Trade for another big. Maybe Jerami Grant?
Cleveland Cavaliers: 1) Make the playoffs. 2) Protect Evan Mobley at all costs.
Detroit Pistons: 1) Compete on a nightly basis, but lose (a lot of) games. 2) Win the Draft Lottery.
Indiana Pacers: 1) Trade Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis. (Or trade both?)
Milwaukee Bucks: 1) Protect Giannis at all costs.
Atlanta Hawks: 1) To remember that they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 2) Start playing like they made the Eastern Conference Finals last year. 3) They have too many rotation guys so trade someone like Cam Reddish.
Charlotte Hornets: 1) Try to pry Myles turner away from the Pacers. 2) Let LaMelo cook.
Miami Heat: 1) Load manage Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler. 2) Get a healthy Bam Adebayo. 3) Explore the trade or buyout market for another big man.
Orlando Magic: 1) Keep playing the young guys. 2) See if a contender is interested in Robin Lopez.
Washington Wizards: 1) Face the reality that Bradley Beal needs to be traded.
Denver Nuggets: 1) Get the Joker some help. 2) Talk themselves off the ledge after signing Michael Porter Jr. to a max extension.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 1) Give Anthony Edwards the keys to the offense. 2) Leak to Woj or Shams that Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell could want out of Minnesota just to see what their market could be.
Oklahoma City Thunder: 1) Reassure Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that the team will explore trading for an all-star in the offseason. (Ex. The Paul George trade in 2017.) 2) Try your very hardest to move Derrick Favors.
Portland Trail Blazers: 1) Do whatever Damian Lillard wants. 2) Hit up the NBA Trade Machine every day to see potential returns in a trade for Lillard.
Utah Jazz: 1) Identify postseason problems (ex. how to defend a small-ball lineup without Rudy Gobert) now and try to implement solutions during the regular season.
Golden State Warriors: 1) Get Klay Thompson back. 2) Evaluate James Wiseman. 3) Consider packaging Wiseman and some other players or picks for an all-star caliber player. Looking at you, Sabonis.
Los Angeles Clippers: 1) Talk to Kawhi Leonard. That’s it. I’m not convinced that the Clippers talk to Kawhi daily (look no further than last year’s playoffs after Kawhi’s injury), and that’s very concerning.
Los Angeles Lakers: 1) Figure out what kind of team you are now before it’s too late. Is this a big team? Do they need to be a team of LeBron and shooters? 2) Somehow, bring in a wing that can defend. (Groundbreaking stuff.) 3) Remind Anthony Davis that he’s an All-NBA First Team member and needs to start playing like it when he returns from injury. 4) Stay around .500 until AD comes back. Then, accept the reality that the Play-In game could be their fate once again.
Phoenix Suns: 1) Keep Chris Paul healthy. 2) Explore the trade/buy-out market for another “3 and D” wing.
Dallas Mavericks: 1) Work with Luka Doncic on getting into better shape. 2) Get another ballhandler like Goran Dragic or Kemba Walker.
Houston Rockets: 1) Keep losing. 2) See if a team wants Christian Wood.
Memphis Grizzlies: 1) Go out and get more shooting. (15th in 3-point %)
New Orleans Pelicans: 1) Have a long and hard talk with Zion Williamson about the importance of staying healthy.
San Antonio Spurs: 1) Continue to run everything through Dejounte Murray.
Every Single Team: 1) Avoid COVID.
Have a great holiday!
Do you agree or disagree with my wish lists? Leave your answers in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.