Just like that, it’s a new year. It is no longer the year the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Warriors (although those 3-1 memes seem destined to stay alive). No longer the year where Philly have the worst record in Basketball again (it’s 2nd worst, but you take the small wins where you can).
The start of a new Calendar always brings with it a sense of a do-over. A chance to start fresh, wipe the slate clean and actually, definitely start making those changes you just spent 12 months avoiding. Resolutions are a staple of this time of year, as are failed promises when the daily grind of a 365 day journey starts to set in. Odds are by the time you read this you will have already failed at one of your resolutions, I know I have. For this reason, it is a time for great optimism or great pessimism, depending on your outlook.
For the NBA, N.Y.D. is a useful check point to measure progress on the floor, gauge how the team is tracking to the master plan and start contemplating adjustments if necessary. Everyone makes resolutions for the new year, so we thought why not make them on behalf of our rosters? And because resolutions are made to be broken, we gave ourselves some extra time to assess the progress; New Years Day already seems so long ago.
So here is the First Annual Four Point Play Presents New Years Resolutions for All 30 Teams post.
ATLANTA HAWKS – Current Record (21-16) / Since Last Time (11-6)
Resolution: Find a new home for Millsap
Rumours have started circulating that the Hawks would look at offers for Paul Millsap. Whilst they are unlikely to hand him over lightly, the Hawks would no doubt want to avoid a similar situation to Al Horford last off-season. Losing another all-star calibre player for nothing would be a kick in the guts to the franchise, so they may decide to auction him off now before it’s too late. With tight playoff races in both conferences and a number of teams on the outside looking in, a Millsap
/Korver combo addition to help NOW would have a number of teams bidding.
BOSTON CELTICS – Current Record (23-14 / Since Last Time (10-2)
Resolution: Trade for Millsap
The Celtics window is now. They decided that when they opted to throw $100+M at Al Horford as their franchise player. While the Hawks were an almost team over the past few years, few would argue that a starting lineup featuring IT, Bradley, Crowder, Millsap and Horford wouldn’t put Boston amongst the NBA elite.
Hell, adding Korver to the mix would also give the Celts a 3pt marksman that they just don’t have on their current roster. The cost? Well, it could be reasonably high. Jaylen Brown would likely be gone, along with perhaps Amir Johnson, another 1st round pick and a player such as Kelly Olynyk or Terry Rozier. If the Celts can pull that off whilst keeping the ’17 BKN pick…well…Ainge deserves Exec of the Year.
BROOKLYN NETS – Current Record (8-27) / Since Last Time (6-16)
Resolution: Trade Brook Lopez (To the Celtics)
The Brooklyn Nets are battling valiantly, yet they are still 2nd last in the East. With no timetable for Lin’s return, Brooklyn’s young players, (namely RHJ and LeVert) have shown no signs of becoming the stars the Nets desperately need. The League knows the Celtics and Ainge are desperate for that final piece, (Millsap, Boogie et al) so the teams with tradeable stars will ask for a kings ransom. Brooklyn should look to trade for their draft assets they stupidly gave up for the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce/Jason Terry trade in 2013 and offer a realistic target in Lopez. He would complement Horford nicely, allowing for him to move to the four and add length that would really bother the Cavs and Raptors.
CHARLOTTE HORNETS – Full Record (20-18) / Since Last Time (14-10)
Resolution: Get Help!
The Hornets have some solid players on their roster. Yet that is where the issue lies, they don’t have any GREAT players on their roster. (Yes Kemba is having a great season, but he didn’t make it on out early season All-NBA teams.) Yet in an Eastern Conference that is rising, Jordan and the Hornets will need to make some moves to keep the Hornets in contention come Playoffs. They have the 6th best rated defense in the league, but only the 13th best offence. Kemba averages the most points at 23ppg, with Batum coming in second at 14.9ppg. They need a solid role player to bring instant offence off the bench. Look for a Lou Williams or Wilson Chandler type.
CHICAGO BULLS – Full Record (19-18) / Since Last Time (13-10)
Resolution: Jettison Rondo
He is now clearly out of favour with Hoiberg. After being suspended for conduct unbecoming on the 13th of December, he received only 10 mins in the Bulls matchup against the Pacers on December 30th and received a DNP-CD against the Hornets on the 3rd of January. MCW seems to be a better fit, but they really need a PG that is pass first and is effective from deep. If they can get rid of Rondo and somehow get a PG that spaces the floor more, the Bulls would be a lock for the playoffs.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – Current Record (27-8) / Since Last Time (8-2)
Resolution: Get a viable backup Point Guard
The Cavaliers are sitting pretty atop the East and should cruise into yet another playoff (and finals) series. However one could argue that whilst the Big 3 are as good as they have ever been as a combo, the complimentary pieces are not quite as good as years past. Injuries strike (Liggins has stepped up for JR) and veterans fade (can R-Jeff keep it up &
will Dunleavy join him?) putting pressure on your depth. But PG depth is already a concern and the Cavs need to work a trade or strike FA gold to sure up their second unit. Speaking of trades, Kyle Korver is now a member of the Cavs. Not a back-up point, but he’ll do.
DALLAS MAVERICKS – Current Record (11-26) / Since Last Time (5-7)
Resolution: Tank like a Panzer III
The Mavs are 4-6 over their past 10 and have been playing pretty solid ball. Crazily enough, they’re only 4.5 games outside a playoff spot. The organisation has tried year after year to stay competitive for Dirk’s remaining years, but they are so deprived of young talent that they would be best served tanking out this season and adding a top 5 pick to this roster. Perhaps see what you can fetch on the trade market for tired veterans like Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut and Devin Harris, who no doubt would prefer to play for a winner by this stage in their careers. They’ve found a keeper in Barnes, and Matthews has returned to some of his better days – but the way forward is to take a step back.
DENVER NUGGETS – Full Record (14-23) / Since Last Time (9-15)
Resolution: Find a four that complements the emerging Nikola Jokic
Michael Malone’s rotations this season have been head scratching to say the least. With Jokic coming into his own in December and cementing the starting his place at the starting 5, Malone has often opted to have Faried in at centre with terrible results. For the season whilst playing the five, Faried has a True Plus/Minus (TPM) of -77. Nikola Jokic on the other hand is +273. Chandler is starting at the four, but he is much more effective coming off as the bench as the 6th man. What the Nuggets need is a Power Forward that can step out and create space, whilst offering to help with shot blocking duties. Hi there Paul Milsap.
DETROIT PISTONS – Full Record (17-21) / Since Last Time (3-6)
Resolution: Find some better shooting
Detroit has regressed on offence since last season. Their off season signings didn’t do much to ease the lack of shooting from the guard spots, and nothing from the season so far has suggested they can withstand their cramped confines. The Pistons rank 23rd in Effective FG%, 24th in PPG and it seems like no coincidence that they have the second highest number of 2pt FGAs vs 3pt FGAs in the league. Stan Van Gundy needs to find better shooting, either through improvement (Reggie Jackson, KCP, Stanley Johnson) or trade (Morris, Johnson, dare I mention Jackson or Drummond?!?!). Until that happens, this team will stay mediocre.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – Full Record (31-6) / Since Last Time (7-2)
Resolution: No Injuries!
Golden State are just chugging along. Other than a controversial loss on Christmas Day and an improbable fall from ahead loss to the Grizz, Dub Nation has won 11 or their last 13 and don’t really look like anyone can challenge them in the West over a 7 game series (cue Memphis fans vehemently disagreeing). Unless someone important gets hurt. The bench has been better of late, and how much do you really need them to score when you have 4 players averaging 81.8 points per game? But, this year’s 2nd unit is nowhere near as potent as last season’s version, and they even struggled for most of the Finals last year. Iggy has looked a half step slower, Clarke is inconsistent, and relying on JaVale McGee has never proven to be a long term solution. With the amount of point-to-the-sky-in-thanks the Warrior players do (Curry, Durant, looking at you both), here’s hoping they are praying to the basketball gods for good health.
HOUSTON ROCKETS – Full Record (29-9) / Since Last Time (15-2)
Resolution: Pray that Clint Capela gets healthy
The Rockets are R.O.L.L.I.N.G! James Harden is a legitimate MVP candidate, Coach Mike is a legitimate COTY candidate and Houston might be a legitimate Championship candidate come April. One thing is for sure though, they need Clint Capela back and firing for that last statement to have an ounce of chance. I am a big fan of Montrezl Harrell – who is averaging 14.8 pts, 5.4 reb and 1.2 blk on 70% shooting as a starter – but the Rockets need Capela back in the starting lineup to be a major threat in the playoffs.
INDIANA PACERS – Full Record (20-18) / Since Last Time (10-7)
Resolution: Bring Monta Ellis off the bench or trade him.
The wheels may already be in motion on this one, with Ellis playing off the bench since returning from injury. However, keeping things that way and making sure everyone is happy is a completely different beast (just ask Knight & the Suns). Ellis’ minutes have taken a dip since the move to the bench and the ego hit to have someone like Glenn Robinson III starting over you would not be easy for anyone. If the Pacers can make this work, then it will be great for their 16/17 playoff aspirations. If they can’t, they need to trade Ellis before he kills his own value.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS – Current Record (25-14) / Since Last Time (6-7)
Resolution: Trade Blake Griffin
Like clockwork, Blake Griffin is injured again – and the Clippers are 4-6 in their last 10. Given CP3 has also missed considerable time during his injury, it’s not surprising the Clippers have struggled badly – given their lack of depth. Blake is a FA and will cost this team dearly to retain. It might be a long shot, but if I’m Doc I would be calling Indiana and asking about Paul George – who is starting to make rumbles of discontent. The Pacers are barely clinging to a playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference. George is an LA native and would be a wonderful fit alongside CP3 and DeAndre. Could a trade of Griffin and Jamal Crawford for PG and Monta Ellis work for both teams?
LOS ANGELES LAKERS- Full Record (14-26) / Since Last Time (3-7)
Resolution: Get D’Angelo Russell going
D’Angelo at the start of the season was an inconsistent gunner, but a confident looking one. Shooting with no hesitation, attacking, creating. Most importantly he had that swagger. Since getting hurt, he hasn’t yet looked the same. Russell missing time has forced Luke Walton to use other players to initiate the offence and create for teammates, and suddenly LA finds itself flush with playmakers. Ingram has shown more than competent handling the rock and Randle has looked like Draymond Green x Zach Randolf. Add in Clarkson and Williams and there are a lot of players who can use the ball. The Last 5 games for Russell have been better, and the Lakers will need continued growth and consistency from their young guard.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – Full Record (23-16) / Since Last Time (17-8)
Resolution: Get full healthy come playoffs (also find Chandler Parsons new knees)
After signing a 4 year $94m, there was hope that Chandler could overcome his knee issues and become the answer Grizz fans had been searching for. He can score, facilitate, play multiple positions and most importantly, shoot. However after finally returning from torn meniscus, Parsons suffered a bone bruise against the Mavs on November 18, keeping him out until December 21. But here is the kicker, even with Parsons down AND Conley missing 9 games with fractured vertebrae, Memphis are 23-16 and a half game behind Utah for 5th in the West, and only two games behind the Clips. With Marc Gasol arguably this season’s best five, if Parsons and Conley come back to full health they will continue to trouble many teams in the West and may become this seasons surprise packet in the playoffs.
MIAMI HEAT – Current Record (11-27) / Since Last Time (2-10)
Resolution: Deal Dragic, tank it out
It’s fair to say the Goran Dragic trade hasn’t really worked out for the Heat. While Dragic himself is having one of his better career seasons, the Heat have slumped to one of the worst teams in the league – with 2 x 1st rounders owing to PHX over the next few years. It would be worthwhile seeing what Goran would fetch in the trade market, and perhaps looking to excise his contract from the books (despite it being relatively palatable in today’s NBA). With the top of the 2017 Draft loaded with PG’s (Miami owns their ’17 pick), and potentially HUGE cap space in 2017 Free Agency, Miami will be looking to reload quickly – and getting a pick and player for Goran may well be the best way forward for the rebuild.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS – Current Record (18-17) / Since Last Time (7-5)
Resolution: Give the keys to the rook
I know Delly is everyone’s favourite knee assassin Aussie, but he is better served as an energy bench player in the NBA. Good thing that the Bucks found the steal of the ’16 Draft in Malcolm Brogdon. The 24yr old Brogdon is fresh off his first triple double in his 2nd career start. At 6’5″ with a 6’10” wingspan and 220 lbs, he’s a big, strong point guard who is shooting 46% from the floor – an ideal fit alongside Point Giannis. Coach Kidd needs to give the Rook the keys and let the mature rookie blossom alongside his young Forwards (sidenote: it is pretty wild that Brogdon is 2 years older than Giannis and 3 years older than Jabari!).
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES – (Full Record 11-26) / Since Last Time (5-11)
Resolution: Focus on defense for remainder of season
News flash! The Timberwolves are not making the playoffs. Despite the wide open 8th spot in the West being within only a few games reach for the Wolves, the fact is there are more worthy teams that should beat Minnesota to the punch. So that means a focus on next season. No short sighted trades and no crazy minutes for their franchise guys would be a good start. Then, focus on D
IIII ! It’s no secret that the Pups have been deplorable on that end of the floor so far this season (currently 24th) but any work they put in for the rest of this season will be far greater than off-season/summer work, so the learning starts now!
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS – Full Record (14-24) / Since Last Time (5-4)
Resolution: Find the Brow a Starter Level front court partner
Anthony Davis has been amazing this year. It’s such a shame that he has played with a hodge podge line up ill suited to his strengths. It hasn’t helped having their best supporting players in Holiday and Evans missing plenty of time (again). The fact that they find themselves only a handful of games out of the playoff race just speaks to how top heavy the West is. The team has gotten very little from Solomon Hill and Omar Asik has finally been banished to the bench, but avenues for improvement are few and far between. AD needs a real front line partner; either find a true small ball 4 and push AD to 5 full time, or get a Legit C that doesn’t have stones for hands. Someone get Dell Demps a phone to find how much Vucavic would cost.
NEW YORK KNICKS – Full Record (17-20) / Since Last Time (5-11)
Resolution: Don’t kill the Unicorn
If the world discovered a single Unicorn, I’d like to think we wouldn’t kill it off just as quick by offering rides to every man, woman and child. Kristaps Porzingis is a Unicorn. He is also the best player on the Knicks. He is just the 7th highest paid player on the Knicks. That should remind you of the fact he is in just his 2nd season in the NBA. The Knicks created a roster for this season to compete and are paying several other starters A LOT more money to do so. They also have a coach on his 2nd chance in one of the toughest NBA climates there is and losing is not an option. I never said I agreed with this approach though and the worst thing New York can do is compound one problem into another by driving the Unicorn into the ground in a year that really shouldn’t matter.
OKC THUNDER – Full Record (22-16) / Since Last Time (8-8)
Resolution: Russ needs more help, get Russ some more help.
The OKC Thunder are sitting comfortably in the West playoff picture, with a chance still for home court in Round 1. There is really only one reason for this, Russell Westbrook. Presti has made some good moves and Roberson, Adams, Kanter, ‘Dipo have all played their part. But let’s be honest, Russ is the lightning strike for this Thunder season. Having one of the historically great statistical seasons (can he ACTUALLY average a trip-dub?), I’d like Presti to make sure it’s not all in vein. Fact is, Russ is going to need some more talent surrounding him to really shake things up in April and beyond.
ORLANDO MAGIC – Full Record (16-22) / Since Last Time (4-5)
Resolution: Balance out the roster; trade Vucevic, Payton and/or Hezonja
Orlando seem to have settled on how they want their team to look. Unfortunately, their personnel doesn’t really suit their style. The numbers reflect this; Orlando rank bottom 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, and is it any wonder when you see Vooch on the floor with Biyombo and Gordon? Orlando need a proper starting wing and starting point guard, if they insist on keeping Payton coming off the pine. Until Payton can consistently hit jump shots, he will be a liability to the offence. Given the money thrown at Biz, Vooch is overkill on this roster and could net a decent return. Hezonja has been relegated to the end of the bench and seems likely to be given up on early – just like Mo Harkless. 2 of them at least need to be flipped for a proven commodity.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS- Full Record (9-25) / Since Last Time (2-5)
Resolution: Get Embiid to the Allstar Game
Embiid has already cemented himself as The Future in Philly. He is a twitter G.O.A.T., but this campaign to make the All Star game is the stuff of legend. Philly don’t have much else to look forward to this season outside of Embiid getting ROY and Simmons getting healthy, so make this happen for them! If that isn’t on the cards? Philly need to Trade Noel – and I would suggest Okafor – before it’s too late and neither player fetch much in return. Noel, in particular, must be gone by the deadline. You just know there is a GM (Dell Demps) who will wake up one morning and decide it’s a good idea to sign Nerlens to an $95 million offer sheet. Philly can’t risk losing him for nothing, and they definitely don’t want to pay him $20+mil per to play 3rd string centre.
PHOENIX SUNS – Full Record (12-25) / Since Last Time (6-10)
Resolution: Trade some Vets to free up more time for some Rooks.
The Phoenix Suns have one of the worst records in the league, which is no surprise to this loyal fan. How they have managed it however, I am weirdly impressed by. After hitting late lottery luck in the form of Devin Booker last season, then drafting two very young/raw bigs in the draft, as well as having other young pieces such as Ulis, Warren & Len; the Suns were in for a developing season. Or so we
thought hoped would be the case. Instead, veterans such as Chandler, Tucker, Dudley and Knight have eaten into the 240 minutes there are to go around and the kids have sat on the pine. Even still, they continue to suck! Time to trade a few of the above, free up the rotation and at least suck with a purpose.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS – Full Record (16-22) / Since Last Time (3-6)
Resolution: Get out of the basement on defence.
Portland have shown over the past 8 games that they can, in fact play some defence. They have held Minny, Sacto, Dallas and T.Dot all under 100 points in that span! Sure, they have also given up 110 to the Spurs twice, 125 to the Dubs and 109 to the Lakers, but it seems like Stotts’ message of defending might finally be getting through. This roster isn’t designed to defend the way Stotts wants to though, and unless they decide to start bigger and bring either CJ or Dame off the bench (HA! Not happening), they need to find better rim protection or rebounding. The Blazers have been linked to several 5-and-Dive big men like Tyson Chandler and Nerlens Noel, but it is unclear how much they would be willing to give up in a trade. If nothing changes, expect this disappointing season to end in the Lottery instead of the Playoffs.
SACRAMENTO KINGS – Full Record (15-21) / Since Last Time (8-15)
Resolution: Trade Boogie Cousins
At the end of the next season Boogie will become an unrestricted free agent. We have all heard the never ending rumblings and rumours of unhappiness, discord, ect ect. If the Kings want to receive any value for Boogie, they will need to trade him before the deadline. With asset laden teams like Boston, Phoenix, Lakers and Denver circling, Sacramento could and would receive a Kings Ransom (pun intended) for Boogie. There is also another strong incentive for the Kings to trade Boogie. Tanking. They owe a first round pick to the Bulls, but it is protected 1-10. Right now they are 9th in the West in a tight race with Denver and Portland. If they trade Boogie, they can walk into the this years draft a strong chance to secure a superstar (because no star will sign with the Kings in the foreseeable future).
SAN ANTONIO SPURS – Current Record (30-7) / Since Last Time (10-2)
Resolution: Find a ring chasing vet at the deadline/buyout season
At 30-7, the Spurs just keep on keeping on. However what concerns me a little is their bench depth. Outside of Patty Mills and David Lee’s corpse, there isn’t much there if injury strikes – and this team features aging veterans in Parker and Gasol in their starting lineup. Finding some talent at the Guard and SF spots would ease some pressure on Parker and Green – and provide the Spurs with insurance coverage if injury strikes, given Houston are hot on their tails for 2nd spot in the West.
TORONTO RAPTORS – Full Record (24-12) / Since Last Time (15-7)
Find a Power Forward! Go get Paul Millsap!
Patrick Patterson/Pascal Siakam are the Raptors starting Power Forward options right now. Combined with JVal at centre, the Raptors defence is rated 20th in the league. Jared Sullinger is still recovering from foot surgery in October without a timetable for return. The Raptors need a big man that can rebound and defend (and preferably shoot from distance) and while there arent too many Draymonds out there, there is one Paul Millsap up for sale. A forward that can do any two of the three, and do it well will ensure the Raptors meet the Cavs in the Conference Finals again. So the Raptors should pay whatever it costs.
UTAH JAZZ – Current Record (23-15) / Since Last Time (7-5)
Resolution: Get healthy!
Easier to say, harder to do. The Jazz just can’t catch a break this season (or perhaps that’s the problem). George Hill back, then out and in again, Favors is just returning, Exum has just returned but is out of the rotation, Hood appears to be playing through discomfort…it’s kinda amazing that Utah sits 5th in the West despite all this. The Jazz could well be the new ‘Grit ‘n Grind’, as they play the slowest pace and keep opponents to the lowest PPG in the league. They could be a nightmare in the playoffs, if they can get their best players healthy and on the court.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS – Full Record (17-18) / Since Last Time (5-4)
Resolution: Improve the bench
When your best bench player is Kelly Oubre Jr, things aren’t looking so rosy. The Wizards have been surviving by the skin of their teeth thanks to the mini leap made by John Wall, some timely scoring outbursts from Brad Beal and the overall play of Otto Porter. But when they aren’t all on their game, it’s slim pickings. Free Agent signings Nicholson, Smith and Mahinmi have all been either in the dog house, injured or ineffective. Trey Burke is the back up point guard. Marcus Thornton is still in the league because this is the team that let Drew Gooden keep playing 5 years after he ‘retired’. The Wiz find themselves somewhat surprisingly just one game out of the 8th seed, every ounce of talent will help this top heavy team.