NBA: New Year's Resolutions for Every Eastern Conference Team
The NBA has been great so far this season.
The late start means that teams, fanbases and even David Stern are re-nergized.
It also means that as of January 1, every team still has a chance to make the playoffs.
Here are the New Year's resolutions Eastern Conference teams, players and coaches should set so they can still be playing basketball in late April.
Miami Heat: Stay Healthy
If the Heat stay healthy, they are clearly the best team in basketball.
LeBron James is having the best season of his career so far with a PER of 40, Dwyane Wade is still one of the most clutch players in the league, and Chris Bosh is getting to the free-throw line almost at will. Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers have both turned into solid options to be the Heat's "fourth scorer," and Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem remain great energy players off of the bench.
The Heat should do everything they can in 2012 to just stay healthy for the playoffs, and then they should be able to make another Finals run.
Atlanta Hawks: Use Your Depth
When you take a look at the Hawks roster this season, it is amazing how many solid players this team has.
The Hawks have seven players with a PER above the league average of 15.
Jeff Teague is becoming a solid point guard and is also becoming a solid scoring option. Joe Johnson remains a matchup nightmare on a nightly basis, and Marvin Williams might finally be playing up to his potential offensively. Al Horford is one of the best high-post players in the league, Josh Smith is a terror on the fast break and on defense and Tracy McGrady has shown flashes of his old form.
The Hawks have to find a way to play to all of these solid players' strengths, and they will win a lot more games this season.
Orlando Magic: Plan for Your Future
The Orlando Magic need to start planning for a future without Dwight Howard and see what team gives them the best deal for the all-star center.
Even though Dwight Howard is one of the five best players in the NBA, it is still possible for the Magic to have a playoff season without him.
When the Nuggets got rid of Carmelo Anthony, they became a much better team just because they could play "distraction-free" basketball.
If the Magic can get three to four quality players for Howard, they are still a contender in the Eastern conference.
Charlotte Bobcats: Be Logical
Their are only five good players on the Bobcats roster right now: DJ Augustin, Kemba Walker, Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson and a healthy Tyrus Thomas.
The Bobcats need to find a way to get all five of these players on the court at the same time (or replace Thomas with another big) so they can actually be competititive against most teams.
Walker and Augustin would be matchup nightmares for most teams if they played together. Henderson knocks down just about every mid-range jumper, Diaw has been one of the better "point centers" in the league so far and Thomas can get easy baskets on the break.
The Bobcats need to have all of their good players on the court at the same time if they want to have a chance to win this season.
Washington Wizards: Build Chemistry
The Wizards just have too many stats guys on their roster right now. Andray Blatche, Jordan Crawford, Rashard Lewis, JaVale McGee and Nick Young are all guys who just seem to be concerned with an offense running through them instead of helping John Wall run a decent offense.
These guys need to embrace the team concept, build chemistry and know that they can do things on offense besides throw up bad shots.
All of these players have a lot of talent, but they need to embrace the "team concept," or the Wizards will have the first pick of the 2012 draft.
Chicago Bulls: Get Some Offense out of Your Bench
It has been an absolute pleasure to watch the Bulls play so far this season.
The Bulls are the best defensive team in the league and one of the best passing teams. They have great chemistry and the best point guard in basketball. The Bulls are not the most talented team in the NBA, but they are the "ultimate team."
Since the Bulls are more focused on chemistry and defense, sometimes their second unit struggles to put up points.
If the Bulls can get some offensive production out of their second unit, they could end up being a one seed in the Eastern conference.
Indiana Pacers: Use Your Size
The Indiana Pacers need to use the talent that they have in their frontcourt.
Danny Granger is a nightmare matchup at the small forward position. Tyler Hansbrough is one of the more productive and energetic post players in the league. David West is still one of the better pick-and-roll forwards in the league, and Roy Hibbert is one of the few centers in the league that gets double teamed on just about every possession.
The Pacers need to isolate Granger, run a pick and roll with West or post up Hansbrough or Hibbert on just about every possession.
If they do this, they could have one of the better offenses in basketball.
Milwaukee Bucks: Get Tougher
The Bucks have potential to be a pretty solid team this season. Brandon Jennings is slowly becoming one of the better one-on-one point guards in the NBA, and Stephen Jackson is a solid slashing scorer. Carlos Delfino has a great PER and an even better looking shot, and Andrew Bogut is one of the best pick-and-pop options in the NBA.
The thing that makes me worry about the Bucks, though, is that I do not see one player on their roster that would be considered a "banger" or that would intimidate an opponent.
The Bucks either need to get tougher or trade for tougher players.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Find an Identity
The Cavaliers know they want to build around Kyrie Irving, but what kind of team do they want to build around Irving?
Do they want a Golden State Warriors fast-break type of team that allows Irving, Anthony Parker, Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson to run as much as possible?
Do they want to build a defense-first team around the length of Irving, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, and Tristan Thompson?
Or do they want to build a triangle type team around their post players?
The Cavaliers need to find their identity not only for this year, but also so they know who to draft for next year.
Detroit Pistons: Run!
The Detroit Pistons are talented enough to sneak into the Eastern Conference Playoffs as a seven or eight seed.
Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon and Jonas Jerebko are all efficient players who can drive, shoot and score.
The problem is that all of these players are average on defense.
Detroit needs to break as often as possible and get these guys open shots and hide their lack of ability on defense.
If Detroit can become a pressing drive-and-dish team instead of a strictly half-court isolation team, then they may have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.
New York Knicks: No Bad Baron
I really think that the Knicks "Big Two" can turn into a "Big Three" when Baron Davis returns to the Knicks lineup.
Davis has always played his best on the biggest of stages. He appears to be in decent shape and could be a great fast-break point guard for a fast-breaking team.
Davis will be able to get Anthony and Stoudemire easy shots. He will be able to score around 15 points a game, be a leader and will make big shots.
The Knicks just need to make sure he is motivated.
Philadelphia 76ers: Find Balance
The 76ers should be one of the more balanced teams in the Eastern Conference; they just have not found this balance yet.
Jrue Holiday is a great driving guard. Jodie Meeks is one of the better three-point shooters in the league and Andre Iguodala is one of the better fast-break players in the league. Elton Brand is a great one on one post player in the high or low post, and Spencer Hawes is becoming a productive center.
If the 76ers can take advantage of their talent at each position and get balanced scoring, they could be a four seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Toronto Raptors: Add Some Depth
The Tornoto Raptors only have two players averaging over 15 points so far this season and four players averaging over 10 points a game. There is only one player grabbing over six rebounds a game and one player averaging over three assists so far this season.
The Raptors simply have to trade to get more players who can score, rebound and pass the basketball.
Boston Celtics: Post Production
I have faith that Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce can give the Celtics solid production in just about every game they play.
I am worried about the Celtics frontcourt, though.
Can Kevin Garnett give the Celtics 15 points a game and still be one of the most feared defensive players in the league?
Can Jermaine O'Neal play like Doc Rivers' training camp MVP on a nightly basis?
Can JaJuan Johnson and Brandon Bass give the Celtics anything off of the bench?
If the Celtics can get solid frontcourt production on a nightly basis, then they will once again have a chance to make another championship run.
New Jersey Nets: Get Dwight Howard