What player would each NBA team want the most right now?
Who would help fill a hole, enhance an existing strength or completely reinvigorate a franchise?
This offseason is a curious one for the NBA, mostly because no one yet knows if there will even be a season in 2011-2012. Still, if we hope for the best, then we must consider what needs are presently greatest for each of the 30 teams.
Here is a list of the players that every team would ideally like to make a move for, either via trade or free agent signing.
Keep in mind, because the word is "ideally," the chances that these moves will actually be made may at times be scarcely higher than zero. But, somehow, that seems only appropriate during a time when the state of the upcoming season is so much in question.
Stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
The Atlanta Hawks, with their perennial early-round playoff exits, could use another veteran presence to guide their younger, talented pieces.
More importantly, they could use a veteran point guard to help groom Jeff Teague, the likely starter of the future.
Steve Nash would be perfect in both roles. Combined with steady scorers like Joe Johnson (his former teammate in Phoenix) and Josh Smith, he could revitalize the Hawks' offense and provide the occasional wise word in the locker room. And no one would be a better mentor than Nash, who already helped former Sun Goran Dragic develop before he was traded.
And, with all due respect to Kirk Hinrich, few can compare career credentials with Nash.
All things considered, the Boston Celtics had a pretty good year. With a lineup that is continually criticized for being too old, the C's made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the Miami Heat.
But a member of the team that ended their season may have touched upon the reason why Boston didn't extend their run further. After losing their first three regular season games to the Celtics, the Heat won their final matchup resoundingly, 100-77.
The difference, according to Heat forward Chris Bosh, was the loss of Kendrick Perkins, who was traded to the Thunder in February.
The depth chart should tell you all you need to know. With Shaquille O'Neal absent and/or ineffective most of the season, the Celtics were left with Jermaine O'Neal and, after the trade, Nenad Krstic to man the center position.
Perhaps the Celtics should pull for a "backsies" provision to be implemented into the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Charlotte Bobcats finished with the second-worst offense in the league last season, with 93.3 points per game. They were also ineffective from the three-point line, making only 4.8 shots from long-distance per contest (tied-for third-worst in the NBA).
Shooting guard Gerald Henderson didn't exactly flourish in the starting role last season after Gerald Wallace was traded to Portland. He ended the 2010-2011 season with 9.6 points per game—far below prime production from your shooting guard.
Still, seeing as he's only entering his third year in the league, it hardly makes sense to give up on him now. But it would be valuable for the Bobcats to jump-start their scoring, particularly from three-point territory. Enter Mike Miller, who still has a sweet stroke despite being hampered last season by a surgically-repaired right thumb. He recently had similar surgery on his left thumb, which will not help his chances with the Heat, who played him a career-low 20 minutes per game last season.
If Miller (presumably healthy by the time the season begins) could split time with Henderson in Charlotte (or cement himself in the starting small forward role with Stephen Jackson traded to Milwaukee), the former Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year could see a resurgence in his stats, while the Bobcats would receive more consistent production on the offensive side of the ball.
Plus, who knows? Maybe it could spur the beginning of the Charlotte-Miami rivalry for which we have all pined.
Whenever you end the year tied with the Los Angeles Clippers in anything, it's not a good sign. When you're tied in a major offensive statistic, it's even worse.
The Chicago Bulls ended the 2010-2011 regular season with 98.6 points per game, good for 19th in the NBA along with the Clippers. It's not difficult to figure out where the weak spots were; Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer received regular playing time at the shooting guard position.
Monta Ellis, one of the more dynamic scorers in the league who averaged 24.1 points per game last season, would be a terrific running mate in the backcourt with MVP Derrick Rose. With Rose's growth at the point guard position evident last season (a career-high 7.7 assists per game), he would flourish with a teammate as offensively gifted as Ellis.
Ellis has been allegedly on the Golden State Warriors' trading block this offseason, and he has already been linked to the Bulls. This latter possibility has just as quickly been thwarted, however.
Look, no one player is going to help the Cleveland Cavaliers tremendously. They finished 19-63, the second-worst record in the NBA. They suffered a record-long 26-game losing streak.
No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving is a great source of hope for this otherwise downtrodden franchise, but he'll be lucky to even bring this team to respectability next season.
So why not bring in one of the biggest sources of positive energy in the league?
Brian Scalabrine has been recognized for his constant moral support from the bench. On the Cavaliers, he could probably be the same optimistic force in the starting lineup, particularly after power forward J.J. Hickson was traded to Sacramento.
The Dallas Mavericks had a terrific season, obviously, but they still showed weaknesses in certain areas. They finished 23rd in the league in steals (6.8 per game) and 28th in offensive rebounding (9.5 per game).
Bringing in Gerald Wallace, one of the most energetic defenders in the league, would help immensely. He's averaged 1.5 steals per game over his career and is a high-flying rebounder.
Wallace would fit in with the other veterans on the team and allow Shawn Marion to return to his appropriate reserve role. He would also give the Mavericks the freedom to not re-sign Caron Butler, whose health seems to always be in question.
The post-Carmelo Anthony Denver Nuggets have made a concerted effort towards centering their team around defense, but the results from last season suggest they still have work to do. They ended the regular season ranked 21st in points allowed with 102.7 points per game.
Still, the new-look Nuggets only had about two months to get on track, so the experiment is still young. What would greatly help its development would be to bring in a veteran defensive presence like Ron Artest* to come off the bench.
Starting small forward Danilo Gallinari has occasional bright moments defensively, but overall, he is inconsistent. Plus, the Nuggets have a successful recent history of bringing in veteran defenders (Marcus Camby, Kenyon Martin, Chris Anderson, etc.). Artest, though not the lockdown defender he once was, is still a strong force to be reckoned with, and he would likely bring up the Nuggets' 13.7 turnovers caused per game statistic (20th in the NBA) from last season.
*Perhaps you know him better as Metta World Peace.
The Detroit Pistons had plenty of problems last year, leading to their 30-52 record, but the most glaring of all was rebounding. They averaged 38.6 boards per game, good for dead last in the NBA. Greg Monroe led the way with an unimpressive 7.5 rebounds per contest.
Kevin Love had 31 rebounds in one game last season, or only 7.6 short of what an entire roster of Pistons would have amounted on average.
The NBA's leading rebounder from last season had a breakout year, scoring 20.2 points to go along with his 15.2 boards average. He plays with the hard-nosed, high-effort approach emblematic of Detroit basketball.
The Golden State Warriors had an explosive offense last season, but their defense was far from adequate. They were 27th in the NBA with 105.7 points allowed per game and 19th with 40.5 rebounds per game.
They could use a strong big man up the middle, with David Lee primarily playing the four, Andris Biedrins struggling last year and 2010 sixth overall draft pick Ekpe Udoh still growing accustomed to the NBA game.
Al Jefferson had a strong season for the Utah Jazz in 2010-2011, averaging almost 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. His slower offensive game would contrast a bit with the Warriors' fast-paced style, but then again, if Monta Ellis is traded, Golden State may have to adjust anyway.
The Houston Rockets were another poor defensive team last season, allowing 103.7 points per game (22nd in the NBA). Recently, they suffered a mental blow when center Yao Ming announced his retirement.
Yao has been injured for much of the last couple of years, so this doesn't actually affect the Rockets' on-court play tremendously. But they know now for certain that they need a long-term replacement at center.
Andrew Bogut would be a great fit in Houston. He led the league in blocks last season with 2.6 per game, and he also added 11.1 boards per contest. He doesn't have the strongest offensive output (12.8 points per game), but the Rockets, behind Kevin Martin, are managing well enough in that area.
Bogut would be an improvement over Chuck Hayes, who could become a very solid bench player.
The Pacers, coming off their first playoff appearance since 2006, appear to be on the upswing with a slew of young talent. With center Roy Hibbert, forward Tyler Hansbrough and recent trade acquisition George Hill, Indiana has a formidable roster destined for improvement.
The Pacers could use help, however, in the point guard department. They finished 28th in the NBA in assists last season with 19.6 per game. Chances are that Hill, who backed up Tony Parker in San Antonio, will see considerable time at shooting guard, given the relative lack of depth at that spot on the Indiana roster.
Darren Collison, entering only his third year in the league, has played well but could use a veteran to learn from. Andre Miller, with 12 years and 7.2 assists per game to his credit, would be a good fit. Miller has played in the postseason in seven out of the past eight seasons.
With Miller running the offense, Collison could reprise the back-up role in which he thrived in New Orleans.
The Los Angeles Clippers are centered around one player, and you shouldn't even need two guesses to figure out whom.
Blake Griffin is the conductor of the train turning this sorry franchise around. He did everything Clippers fans and brass could have asked for during his rookie season, and he jumped over a car on top of it.
Now, he could use a mentor. Someone to show him how to play the game the right way, polish his fundamentals and grow into a professional.
Antonio McDyess may be on the verge of turning 37 years old, but he can still be a productive player—evidenced by his tenure on the San Antonio Spurs. He has valuable experience from his 16 years in the league that he can share with Griffin.
Not to mention, McDyess could also serve as a good back-up at power forward or even center.
It would be something of a reunion, too; the Clippers selected McDyess second overall in the 1995 NBA Draft, but they traded him to the Denver Nuggets before he ever suited up for Los Angeles.
This pick is made purely to emphasize the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers do not need Dwight Howard as much as they do a solid, or in this case spectacular, point guard.
Derek Fisher, who is now approaching his 84th birthday, is still starting for L.A. I exaggerate (though not by much), but he simply can no longer play at the level required for such a demanding position. I'm not saying he should retire just yet, but, especially with the Phil Jackson era now over, it's time for a change on this spot in the depth chart.
Steve Blake didn't exactly rise to the occasion in his first year in purple-and-gold. In 20 minutes per game, he averaged just four points and 2.2 assists. The Lakers as a whole didn't pile up the dimes, either, ranking 13th in the league in assists per game with 22.0.
So who would be a better fit than one of the most dynamic point guards in the game? Chris Paul would bring a renewed sense of excitement to a team still feeling the aftershock of being swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs.
He would also be a great complement to Kobe Bryant (with whom he's already played on Team USA). Paul's first intention is always to pass—even when surrounded by sub-par scorers on his New Orleans squad—which Bryant would welcome. But Paul can also take the scoring pressure off of Bryant whenever the aging superstar can't handle it all by himself.
Plus, can you imagine a team where Pau Gasol is the third-best player? Scary.
The Memphis Grizzlies have the young core. They have the veteran pieces. They now have playoff experience.
Now, they need a star.
Sure, O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph are recognizable names. Rudy Gay has a (perhaps questionable) $82 million contract. But the Grizzlies could use a player who can single-handedly make their team go.
Andre Iguodala is a great all-around player. He would maintain the balance of Memphis's scoring attack while also enhancing it. Iguodala only averaged 14.1 points per game last season in 67 games but consistently dropped 17-20 per in the four seasons prior.
His athleticism would also be a terrific fit in the Grizzlies' young squad. Iguodala was second only to LeBron James last season in triple doubles. He was also named to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team.
Acquiring Iguodala would also allow the Grizzlies to move Mayo, who has already been the subject of controversy (highlighted by his failed drug test last season) and trade rumors. With Iguodala cemented at the shooting guard position, Memphis would have a much better perimeter defense.
I think this might be the most unlikely of any of the moves I've suggested so far. And remember, I already promoted the reversal of a Thunder-Celtics trade that took place only five months ago.
But wouldn't Jason Terry be a fun addition to the Miami Heat? For a squad whose (arguably) biggest star failed to show up in the fourth quarter throughout the NBA Finals, it could use a guy whose claim to fame is coming up with clutch shots.
Terry also brings a lot of energy as a sixth man, and the Heat's bench has displayed weaknesses in the past. He could give Dwyane Wade a rest—and after Wade averaged 37.1 minutes per game during the regular season and 39.4 in the playoffs, don't be surprised if he'll need one once in a while next season.
Terry could also play the point and spell the inconsistent Mario Chalmers. That is, of course, unless the Heat prefer to go with Mike Bibby again. And after his remarkable postseason (3.7 points, 1.2 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game), that could be a tempting possibility.
The Milwaukee Bucks were lacking in two crucial offensive statistics last season: points and assists. How lacking were they?
They finished dead last in the league in both categories.
So, seeing as they seem committed for now to Brandon Jennings (and his five assists per game) at the point guard position, the Bucks could use a versatile player, one who could do a little bit of everything.
Add veteran experience, and you have Lamar Odom. Odom has been the third option for much of his Lakers tenure, but put him on an offensively thirsty team, and he could flourish.
In the beginning of his career, Odom played the "point forward" position for the Los Angeles Clippers. He could assume a similar role with the Bucks (though perhaps not quite as effectively, seeing as it's 10 years later) when Jennings is on the bench.
Odom's rebounding numbers have increased over the second half of his career, but if he sacrifices some time on the boards to become more of a playmaker, he could probably be a 15-7-5 player for the Bucks and save his body from some extra wear and tear.
Plus, Odom has two rings on his fingers (not including the wedding one), which is two more than all the other Bucks on the depth chart have combined. That kind of experience would be useful in a locker room unused to winning.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were last in the NBA in points allowed last season. Trading for one player may not be able to change that, but acquiring one of the best defensive players of the past decade couldn't hurt.
Shawn Marion isn't what he once was with the Phoenix Suns, but he is still a versatile player who can lock down on opponents.
He would back up starting small forward Michael Beasley, which could be beneficial for more than just the on-court results. Beasley is still battling some maturity issues, and Shawn Marion happens to be one of the acknowledged "good guys" of the game.
If you need proof, check out this resume.
It doesn't hurt that the two were already teammates for one year on the Miami Heat. If Marion could help mentor Beasley, who still is only 22 years old, that would be considered a win for a team that only had 17 all of last season.
"If Jeezy's paying LeBron, I'm paying Dwyane Wade."
-Jay-Z, "Empire State of Mind"
Okay, so maybe that lyric isn't a premonition for Wade one day suiting up as a member of the team Jay-Z part-owns.
But it would be nice if it were.
The Nets, after a historically bad 2009-2010 season, appear to be on the road to respectability now. Their move to Brooklyn is moving ever closer, and they now have a legitimate star in Deron Williams (assuming he doesn't stay in Turkey). And they have a Kardashian sister on their side, which we all know is the instant key to a championship.
Still, they could use a scorer. The Nets were 28th in the league in points per game last season, and their current depth chart lists Anthony Morrow (13.2 points per game) as their starting shooting guard.
Not only would a Wade-Williams backcourt transform this team into a contender, it would also balance the powers in the Eastern Conference. All of a sudden, Nets-Knicks becomes an instant watch (Wade versus Carmelo Anthony), as does Nets-Heat (Wade versus LeBron James).
And, once the Nets move to Brooklyn, New York would have another successful sports franchise. Who doesn't want to see that?
If you need any proof that the New Orleans Hornets need offensive help, you don't have to look at the league rankings to see that they ranked 27th in points per game in 2010-11.
Instead, consider these four numbers: 78, 86, 90 and 80.
Those were the Hornets' point totals from their four losses to the Los Angeles Lakers during the first round of the playoffs. Granted, that was without David West, who was injured.
But if this New Orleans squad, with Chris Paul staying for now, is going to compete in the Western Conference, they need another scorer. Kevin Martin would be nice fit for them, and he would shift Marco Belinelli to the bench.
Martin averaged 23.5 points per game last season, which would have led the Hornets. He also has only started one playoff game in his career, during the 2006 playoffs with the Sacramento Kings. Playing for New Orleans would give him an easier ticket back than with the Houston Rockets.
Despite having their most successful season since the days of Allan Houston, the New York Knicks could not break out of a running pattern that has plagued them for the past several seasons.
They couldn't play defense.
The Knicks gave up the third-most points per game last season with 105.7. While new stars Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are top-notch offensive players, they aren't hyped for their defense—and justifiably so.
The Knicks could use a stopper in the middle and leave Stoudemire in his appropriate power forward position (He started 31 games at center last season.). Javale McGee would be a great fit for the Knicks, as he would bring energy and athleticism in addition to high-flying swatation.
McGee averaged 2.4 blocks per game last season, second in the NBA. He also added eight rebounds per contest, which would help the Knicks as well. Stoudemire led all Knicks (who played the whole season with the team) with 7.8 rebounds per.
McGee is a light-hearted, exciting player who would probably do well under the bright lights of New York. One need only recall his world-record breaking dunk from February's All-Star festivities to get a glimpse of how fun he can be to watch.
Honestly, I think the best thing the Oklahoma City Thunder can do is continue to gain experience. Their young roster has blossomed in recent seasons, highlighted by last season's run to the Western Conference Finals.
Still, as tremendous a player as Kevin Durant is, he's still a bit on the quiet side. As unstoppable as he can be on the court, he sometimes appears a bit less intimidating off of it.
He could use some pointers from one of the most intense players in the NBA, Kevin Garnett.
Garnett could fire up this youthful Thunder team in ways the still-learning Durant cannot master just yet. He would prove most helpful during playoff time, as he could then take some of the leadership burden off of Durant's shoulders.
Durant appeared to absorb a lot of the pressure his overmatched team felt against the Mavericks, and looked despondent at times at the postgame press conferences.
Mind you, I'm not saying Durant can't be a leader, but it's important to remember that he is still only 22(!) years old. He has been expected to be the go-to guy for this franchise since he was drafted, and he's never had a proper veteran role model to learn from. Garnett would be perfect in that role.
Not to mention, Garnett is still pretty good on the court as well.
If the Orlando Magic are going to convince Dwight Howard to stay, they need to show him they're committed to winning. And with all due respect to Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson, their recent moves haven't really done that.
The Magic could also use some more offensive firepower, particularly at the point guard position. Jameer Nelson has been a consistent performer on this team, but Orlando would benefit from having someone who can score more consistently.
Stephen Curry is younger and a better shooter than Nelson. He averaged 5.5 more points per game than Nelson and shot 48 percent from the field, compared to Nelson's 45 percent.
Curry is also an excellent three-point shooter, which would enhance Orlando's already-stellar attack from long range. The Magic led the league with 9.4 threes per game in 2010-2011.
Still, the Magic ranked only 16th in points per game with 99.2. They could use someone who can spark their offense on a regular basis, and Curry can do it on every play.
As long as the Philadelphia 76ers have Andre Iguodala, they are probably a peripheral playoff team in the Eastern Conference. But they need another scorer, particularly one who can grab boards, too, if they want to advance any further.
Pau Gasol could be for Andre Iguodala what he currently is for Kobe Bryant: someone to lighten the offensive load on a nightly basis.
I know, I know, Elton Brand is the power forward for the Sixers right now, and he had a fine season, leading the team with 15 points per game. But how many people in Philadelphia trust him to stay healthy?
Gasol is a consistent performer, which is what this team needs to stabilize their offense. They ranked 18th in the NBA in points per game with 99.0. They weren't great on the glass, either, ranking 13th with 41.8 rebounds per game.
Plus, you know if Gasol goes to the 76ers, Kobe Bryant's seasonal homecoming will have another added storyline.
Okay, so this is obviously relevant only if the Suns trade Steve Nash, which I still think is a significant possibility. If that happens, they will need a big name to fill his spot, and there are few bigger names than Rajon Rondo at point guard.
Rondo wouldn't be able to replace everything Nash could do offensively, but he would come close. He averaged 11.2 assists per game to Nash's 11.4, and while he isn't as proficient from the three-point line, Rondo still shot 48 percent from the field last season.
Best of all, Rondo can do one thing better than Nash: play defense. Rondo averaged 2.3 steals per game in 2010-2011 and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
The Suns need help on defense; they ranked 29th in the league with 105.9 points allowed per game. If they want to return to the playoffs in the always-competitive Western Conference, they need to stifle some of their opponents' high-powered offenses.
Josh McRoberts was originally drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007. He played only eight games during his lone season with the Trail Blazers. He was traded to the Indiana Pacers on the subsequent NBA Draft night.
Four years later, the Blazers could use McRoberts once again. The power forward has increased his numbers as he's received more playing time, and can now serve as a solid backup.
A backup to emerging star LaMarcus Aldridge is what Portland could use most of all. Aldridge led the team with 39.6 minutes per game last season.
McRoberts is an efficient scorer, shooting 55 percent in 51 games last season. In 22 minutes per game, he posted 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. The Blazers would take that in a reserve role, especially seeing as many expect McRoberts to continue to improve.
Special thanks to OregonLive.com for this suggestion.
The Sacramento Kings were a poor defensive team last year. That won't change if their only new player in the 2011-2012 season is rookie Jimmer Fredette.
The Kings could use a backup center, or even someone to split minutes with starter Samuel Dalembert. Darko Milicic, one-time laughing stock of the NBA, could be just the guy to trade for.
In his first full season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milicic averaged 2.0 blocks per game, good for fifth in the NBA. He still isn't the biggest offensive threat, but he has increased his production as he has received more minutes in his career, and he could be a 10 point scorer off the bench.
As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The San Antonio Spurs demonstrated last season that they were still in prime condition, earning the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 61-20 record.
So don't expect me to be the one that declares the Spurs' championship window closed. Despite a first round playoff loss to the No. 8 seed Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio proved that their Big Three (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker) were still formidable forces.
Nevertheless, as they do continue to get older and their minutes continue to decrease, the Spurs' reserves become all the more crucial. Especially important now is the backup for Parker after George Hill was traded to the Indiana Pacers on Draft Night.
What better replacement could there be than J.J. Barea, the Mavericks' sparkplug guard that played a key contributing role to Dallas's NBA Finals victory?
Barea is young enough to bring a fresh burst of energy to the aging Spurs roster, and he now has the championship pedigree to fit right in.
Plus, it would kill two birds with one stone, as San Antonio would enhance its team while striking a major blow to one of its chief rivals.
The Toronto Raptors need a lot of help, but their biggest deficiencies currently exist in team rebounding and defense. They were 21st in rebounding last year with 40.3 per game and 26th in points allowed with 105.4 per game.
They could use Marcus Camby, who has averaged 10 or more rebounds per game in 10 of the past 11 seasons and is a two-time member of the All-NBA Defensive Team.
Raptors power forward Amir Johnson is better suited as a bench player, and his production is relatively similar compared to his numbers as a starter. He averaged 1.4 points and 0.8 rebounds more as a starter last year (in eight fewer minutes per game) but shot for a higher field goal and free throw shooting percentage.
Camby would strengthen Toronto's frontcourt defense while offering a mindful veteran presence. His acquisition would allow current center Andrea Bargnani to move to the power forward spot, where he could attempt to turn into Dirk Nowitzki Lite. Bargnani scored 21.4 points per game last season and shot 37 percent from three point territory, but he averaged only 5.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game—numbers quite below what you expect from your center.
Like the Raptors, the Utah Jazz are lacking in rebounding and team defense, ranking 26th and 19th, respectively, last season.
Unlike the Raptors, the Jazz are reasonably close to playoff contention and in need of a major franchise renovation.
After iconic head coach Jerry Sloan re-signed and star point guard Deron Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets, the Jazz have been left searching for an identity during the past few months.
Who could fill that void better than the biggest NBA personality this side of Shaquille O'Neal?
Dwight Howard would strengthen the Jazz's greatest weaknesses while restoring interest to the Utah faithful. He's already been rumored to have had his fill with the Magic, though there is no substantial lead having him land in Utah next year. Still, you never know, right?
The Washington Wizards have a dynamic young backcourt featuring 2010-11 rookies John Wall and Jordan Crawford. The duo has a promising future but, for now, they are still too inexperienced to have strong expectations thrust upon them.
Jamal Crawford would be a nice fit for the Wizards because he would be a versatile bench player who could spell either of the two young guards. Crawford, the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year, is the perfect reserve who can fill big minutes.
He can also make an offensive impact for a team in need of it. The Wizards ranked 21st in points last season and 29th in assists.
It's worth mentioning that Jamal and Jordan (not related) were briefly teammates last season with the Atlanta Hawks before Jordan was traded to the Wizards.