How Every NBA Team Can Solve Its Biggest Problem This Season

Greg Swartz@@GregSwartzBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterSeptember 23, 2021

How Every NBA Team Can Solve Its Biggest Problem This Season

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    No NBA team found magical wand to make all their problems disappear this offseason, meaning there's still work to be done for all 30 franchises headed into the 2021-22 season.

    In Part 1 of this miniseries, we examined the biggest issue for every team, with solutions coming now in Part 2. With training camps set to open across the league next week, teams are running out of time (and options) to fix their remaining weaknesses, with some issues likely going unresolved into the regular season.

    Whether it be through trade, signing a remaining free agent, putting players in new positions, monitoring the future buyout market or through other means, here's how all 30 teams can solve their biggest problem.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    The Problem: Backcourt stoppers

    The Solution: Cam Reddish development, potential Gary Harris buyout

    Having two of the worst defensive guards in the NBA in the same backcourt (and possibly sharing the floor at the same time) could become a problem for the Hawks, no matter how talented Trae Young and Lou Williams are offensively.

    Marcus Smart signing a four-year, $77 million extension with the Boston Celtics has taken the all-world defender off the trade market, and there's no one currently remaining in free agency who could make a big difference defensively.

    Atlanta's first solution could come internally, as Reddish has shown elite defensive potential in his two injury-plagued seasons. At 6'8" and with a 7'1" wingspan, he's already good at playing passing lanes and has the athleticism and foot speed to stick to smaller, quicker players.

    With lead ball-handlers seemingly getting bigger and bigger (see Ben Simmons, Luka Doncic and LaMelo Ball, for example), Reddish could be the perfect backcourt defender for the modern game with more time and development.

    Harris, currently on an expiring $20.5 million contract with the lowly Orlando Magic, could become a buyout candidate at some point this season and has proven to be a good playoff defender when called upon.

Boston Celtics

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Problem: Bench experience

    The Solution: Use the trade exceptions

    If Al Horford wins the starting center job over Robert Williams III, this is going to be one very, very young bench in Boston.

    There's plenty of talent, but who among Romeo Langford, Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith and Grant Williams is ready to help the Celtics win games right now?

    The Celtics once again will enter the season with a massive trade exception ($17.1 million, via the Evan Fournier to New York Knicks sign-and-trade), and have others valued at $9.7 million (via Tristan Thompson) and $5.1 million (via Kemba Walker). That gives the new front office led by Brad Stevens plenty of options to add some veteran talent without having to send back salary in return.

    Players like Markelle Fultz, Davis Bertans and Thaddeus Young could all fit into the Fournier trade exception, with guys like Montrezl Harrell, Mason Plumlee and Cedi Osman all making less than Thompson's exception amount.

Brooklyn Nets

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    The Problem: Wing defenders

    The Solution: Check on Lu Dort's availability

    The center position looked like Brooklyn's biggest issue going into the offseason, but re-signing Blake Griffin, getting a medically-cleared LaMarcus Aldridge to come out of retirement while also signing veterans Paul Millsap and James Johnson seems to have solved the issue.

    There's obviously no offensive-related weaknesses with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving on the roster, although this group could still struggle to stop opposing wings.

    Finding a great wing defender at a reasonable price point won't be easy. Even the Nets care (at least a little bit) about luxury-tax bills, which is why they packaged four-second-round picks to the Detroit Pistons to get off of DeAndre Jordan's contract.

    This is why Dort would be the perfect trade target.

    The 22-year-old is making just $1.8 million this season and $1.9 the year after, an ideal amount for a Nets team that's projected to spend a whopping $288.2 million on player salaries and luxury tax.

    While it may cost the Nets rookie Cameron Thomas and Nicolas Claxton, getting Dort as an elite wing defender on that contract would be worth it.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    The Problem: An alpha scorer

    The Solution: Monitor Bradley Beal situation, grow LaMelo Ball's offensive game

    The Hornets recently handed leading scorer Terry Rozier a four-year, $96.3 million contract extension, meaning they obviously believe in his fit alongside LaMelo Ball moving forward. No disrespect to Rozier who is coming off a career year, but he doesn't project as the No. 1 offensive option on a championship-level team.

    Even with Rozier under contract for the next five years, the Hornets should be on the hunt for an alpha.

    While Beal isn't going anywhere for now, Charlotte should absolutely keep an eye on how the Washington Wizards' season plays out, especially since the three-time All-Star can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. After all, the Hornets' ownership group should be quite fond of dynamic 30-plus point-per-game shooting guards.

    If Beal never becomes available, Charlotte should focus on improving Ball's own abilities as a three-level scorer.

Chicago Bulls

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Problem: Frontcourt depth

    The Solution: Embrace small ball, target low-salary PF's and C's with $5 million trade exception

    Losing Lauri Markkanen, Thaddeus Young and Al Farouq-Aminu in trades this offseason has left the Bulls a little thin up front, which could cause head coach Billy Donovan to get creative with his lineups.

    Both DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams will have to see a large dose of their minutes at power forward, and we could see some three-guard lineups (Lonzo Ball, Coby White and Zach LaVine) with either DeRozan or Williams at the 4 and Nikola Vucevic at center. All three guards are at least 6'5", so Chicago shouldn't lose too much size even when supposedly going small.

    Also armed with a $5 million trade exception from the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade, the Bulls could go bargain hunting for backup big men.

    Players who fall under this price point and could become available include Willie Cauley-Stein, Gorgui Dieng, Danuel House and Mike Muscala.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Bart Young/Getty Images

    The Problem: Three-point shooting

    The Solution: Increase backcourt shot attempts, use Cedi Osman and picks as trade bait for wing shooter

    Swapping Larry Nance Jr. for Lauri Markkanen should help the Cavaliers' three-point attack, as they were the NBA's worst outside shooting team last season.

    Still, this team needs more help from the arc, a lot of which will have to come internally.

    Both Darius Garland (39.5 percent) and Collin Sexton (37.1 percent) are good three-point shooters, yet ranked 70th and 88th respectively last season in attempts per game. While no one's asking them to unleash Steph Curry's league-leading 12.7 attempts a night last season, both need to make a significant jump.

    From there, the Cavs should consider using Osman and his $8.1 million contract plus picks as trade ammo to get another wing shooter. Players like Joe Ingles or Luke Kennard would be ideal, should they become available.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Problem: A reliable second star

    The Solution: Maximize Kristaps Porzingis for now with eye on the trade market

    Should the Mavericks give Porzingis another chance to be Luka Doncic's running mate? Given his current contract and injury history, they may not have a choice.

    Porzingis' value is likely at an all-time low, so trading him likely means flipping the 26-year-old for another bad contract. The Mavericks' best bet is to see what new head coach Jason Kidd can unlock in his Doncic-Porzingis combo, one that still carries a pretty high ceiling.

    There's also currently a lack of star power available on the market, with only Ben Simmons looking like a lock to be moved. A ball-dominant Simmons with no three-point shot doesn't project as a good fit next to Doncic, however, and the Mavs don't have a lot of desirable pieces to send back to the Philadelphia 76ers, either.

    The Mavs should reluctantly see if Porzingis can return to his All-Star form while keeping an eye on stars who could become available.

Denver Nuggets

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The Problem: Rim protection

    The Solution: Give Bol Bol a chance, have Bismack Biyombo on speed dial

    No team allowed opponents to shoot a higher percentage within six feet of the basket last year than the Nuggets, who lost JaVale McGee—their best interior defender—to free agency. While Nikola Jokic was the league's MVP last season and has improved defensively over the past few years, he's not a true rim protector.

    Now going into his third professional season, the 7'2" Bol could offer some interior defense if Michael Malone finally trusts him with a rotation spot. After a strong summer-league showing (21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks in 26.9 minutes), Bol has earned a chance at some backup power forward/center minutes.

    If the title-hopeful Nuggets prefer to have more of a veteran presence behind Jokic, Biyombo, an unrestricted free agent, would be a good option as a rebounder and defender.

    The 29-year-old held opponents to just 52.2 percent shooting within six feet of the rim last season, a drop of 8.9 percent from their normal averages.

Detroit Pistons

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Problem: Patience

    The Solution: Judge the season on player development, not wins and losses

    The Pistons are going to be one of the most exciting teams in all of basketball this season, led by No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

    The Pistons will also be bad, and they will once again finish with one of the worst records in the NBA.

    Both can be true, and that's OK.

    With the optimism surrounding Detroit basketball possibly the highest it's been since the mid 2000s, this is still a roster that's a few years away from realistically winning a playoff series. Keeping Jerami Grant as a mentor and possible leading scorer even with Cunningham should help speed up the rebuild, and extending him past the two remaining years on his contract should be a priority.

    Not even LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Luka Doncic could lead their teams to the postseason as rookies, so it's important to keep expectations reasonable for Cunningham and the Pistons now.

Golden State Warriors

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    Robert Seale/Getty Images

    The Problem: A win-now center

    The Solution: Target Myles Turner or Christian Wood in a trade

    Asking James Wiseman to step in and be a championship-caliber center after playing just 39 games during his rookie season is probably unreasonable. Asking him to do so while spending the entire offseason rehabbing from knee surgery instead of working on his game is likely impossible.

    According to a medical update from the Warriors, Wiseman won't even be able to begin full jumping until Oct. 15 and will only be participating in individual drills to begin training camp.

    This leaves Kevon Looney as the only true, healthy center on the roster, with Nemanja Bjelica and Draymond Green able to play the 5 for stretches. For a team that fully expects to try and win a title once Klay Thompson returns, this isn't ideal.

    Turner and Wood would both represent huge upgrades at center, giving the Warriors a defensive anchor who can stretch the floor or a 20-plus point-per-game scorer with a face-up game.

    Both make $18 million or less, so Golden State wouldn't have to unload Andrew Wiggins or another centerpiece just to match salary, assuming Wiseman is the foundation of the deal.

Houston Rockets

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    The Problem: Too many veterans

    The Solution: Move Christian Wood, Eric Gordon and Danuel House before the deadline, consider giving up assets in John Wall trade

    By coming to an agreement with Wall that the veteran point guard won't play for the team this season, the Rockets are acknowledging that too many veterans can actually harm a rebuild.

    While young teams shouldn't want to remove all the adults from the room, Houston still has plenty of vets who will want playing time and touches that will inevitably come at the expense of foundation pieces like Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengun.

    Houston should absolutely look to sell high on Wood while he still has two years left on his deal, as the soon-to-be 26-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent before this team is ready to win. Gordon can still help a contender as a scorer off the bench, while House is a good defender who can play either forward position.

    For now, there's simply no team that will be willing to take on Wall's two-year, $91.7 million contract without getting some significant draft assets back.

    Given that the Rockets currently own 10 first-round picks over the next six drafts thanks to the James Harden trade, Houston should definitely consider attaching some capital to Wall if it means opening up $47 million in cap space next year.

Indiana Pacers

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    The Problem: The Domantas Sabonis-Myles Turner frontcourt

    The Solution: Keep Sabonis, explore Turner trade before deadline

    The Pacers should do everything in their power to put Sabonis in the best possible position to succeed, even if it means moving Turner and letting Sabonis take over as the team's starting center.

    In just two years as the team's starting power forward, Sabonis is averaging 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.0 steals and shooting 53.8 percent overall while making back-to-back All-Star games. At 25, he's the closest big man we have to league MVP Nikola Jokic—able to score, rebound and pass at a high level.

    If the Pacers do make Turner available, there should be plenty of teams interested.

    The Golden State Warriors would be a perfect home, and getting an elite prospect back in return (Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman) would boost the Pacers' ceiling.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Problem: Kawhi Leonard's recovery time

    The Solution: Use Leonard's injury as a chance to develop Terance Mann, Keon Johnson and Jason Preston

    Unlike most problems on this list, the Clippers simply can't do much while Leonard recovers from a partially torn ACL. There's no guarantee that Leonard will even return during the regular season.

    "Nobody knows at this stage," Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said via USA Today's Mark Medina. "Nobody knows. It’s possible. For sure, it’s possible. But it will depend on what the doctors say and what Kawhi says."

    For now, the Clippers can only try to make the best of Leonard being out by giving more playing time to breakout playoff star Terance Mann and rookies Keon Johnson and Jason Preston, both of whom may have been buried by the superstar's presence.

    If Los Angeles can still make the playoffs, the Clippers could actually have a better chance at a title when Leonard comes back if the rest of the supporting cast has had extra development time.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Problem: Youth

    The Solution: Give Talen Horton-Tucker, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn big minutes

    Age and durability were going to be issues for the Lakers even before the team signed Rajon Rondo (35) and DeAndre Jordan (33) over the past month. Now, head coach Frank Vogel will really have to be cognizant of minutes and mileage throughout the course of the season.

    Of course, not all (only nine!) Lakers are in their 30s, meaning there's still some youth and room for growth on this roster. It's up to Vogel to makes sure some of the younger guys get good minutes and ease the workload on some of the veterans.

    Horton-Tucker looks like the team's potential sixth man given his scoring and playmaking abilities, and starting him would kill any spacing on a unit featuring Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Dwight Howard.

    Monk should compete with Wayne Ellington for the starting shooting guard job, and Nunn is the best backup point guard option the team has, even with Rondo.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Justin Ford/Getty Images

    The Problem: Isolation scoring

    The Solution: Check on CJ McCollum's availability, especially if Damian Lillard is traded

    The Grizzlies' hopes of returning to the playoffs took a step back after trading Jonas Valanciunas to the New Orleans Pelicans. Getting a big-time scorer and playmaker like McCollum to pair with Ja Morant in the backcourt could give this team the boost it needs.

    With a roster that doesn't feature a lot of "beat you off the dribble" guys, McCollum was one of just five players in the NBA last season (James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan) to score at least 1.09 points per possession in isolation on 10 percent frequency or more while playing in at least half of his team's games.

    McCollum likely won't be available right away, but any turbulence suffered in Portland this season should result in the Grizzlies preparing a trade offer.

    If Lillard is moved (or if the Blazers are desperate to make some more moves around him), Memphis should try to pry McCollum away.

Miami Heat

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Problem: Point guard depth

    The Solution: Hope John Wall gets bought out, likely settle for Jeff Teague instead

    As good as Miami looks on paper, the team is only one Kyle Lowry injury away from potentially starting Gabe Vincent at point guard.

    Obviously, depth at floor general could be an issue.

    Yes, Jimmy Butler is going to handle the ball plenty and Bam Adebayo is an excellent playmaker from the center position, but this is still a team that could use a veteran backup behind Lowry just in case.

    A John Wall buyout would be the dream scenario for Miami, but The Athletic's Shams Charania reports that "there are no buyout plans" for Wall's remaining two years and $91.7 million at this time.

    Teague, 33, is still available in free agency after averaging 6.7 points, 2.4 assists and shooting 43.9 percent from three in his 17.3 minutes between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks last season and has 87 games of playoff experience (including 60 starts) under his belt.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The Problem: A healthy Brooklyn Nets team

    The Solution: Keep adding talent to an even deeper team now with championship experience

    Kudos to the Bucks for not being complacent this offseason after winning the 2021 title. Re-signing Bobby Portis while also acquiring George Hill, Grayson Allen, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye was about as well as this team could have done.

    If the Nets are healthy heading into the 2022 playoffs, none of this may matter, however.

    Brooklyn is loaded as well after signing LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap to fill the center spot around Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris. While the Bucks now have the confidence of knowing they can win a title, Durant and Irving carry previous championship experience as well.

    The Nets and Bucks should be the two best teams in all of basketball this season, with both likely locked in an arms race around the trade deadline and buyout market.

    Milwaukee has the core to compete with Brooklyn, but should still be looking under every single rock to try and add talent however possible.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Problem: Backup point guard

    The Solution: Stagger D'Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards' minutes

    Trading for Patrick Beverley only kind of helps solve the backup point guard role following the departure of Ricky Rubio, as the two are entirely different types of floor generals.

    While Rubio was once again one of the best and most willing passers last season (33.3 assist percentage, 12th-highest in the NBA), Beverley (career-low 12.0 assist percentage, tied for 115th) has become more of a spot-up shooter and defender.

    This puts more pressure on Russell and Edwards to handle the team's playmaking duties and could mean an early pull for one on most game nights. Head coach Chris Finch should look to stagger playing time between the two, making sure either Russell or Edwards is on the floor at all times so the Wolves always have a creator.

    Minnesota definitely benefits from Beverley's experience and defensive intensity, but moving on from Rubio will inevitably hurt the team's ball movement.

New Orleans Pelicans

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    The Problem: Frontcourt spacing

    The Solution: Hope for a Kevin Love buyout and reunion with David Griffin

    It's still puzzling why the Pelicans didn't push harder for Lauri Markkanen in the Lonzo Ball-sign-and-trade deal with the Chicago Bulls, as he would have been the perfect floor-spacing backup big man this team needs.

    Swapping Steven Adams in a deal for Jonas Valanciunas was a nice start in getting Zion Williamson a little more room to operate, but this is still a frontcourt in danger of becoming too clogged.

    Kevin Love would be an ideal free-agent signing if he gets bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he made 54.2 percent of his pull-up threes and shot 36.5 percent overall from deep last season.

    Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin was the one who traded for Love while general manager of the Cavs, and should be the first one to get on the phone with the five-time All-Star should he become available.

New York Knicks

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    The Problem: Getting a center who can shoot

    The Solution: Keep DeMarcus Cousins on speed dial, dabble with Julius Randle as small-ball center

    The Knicks already have a pair of potentially elite defensive centers with Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel, although both are extremely limited offensively.

    Finding a change-of-pace big man, one who can spread the floor on offense and score with his back to the basket would give New York's frontcourt more versatility.

    Cousins, 31, is still a free agent following an inspiring 23-game run with the Los Angeles Clippers that proved he's deserving of a roster spot in the league. While he won't stop anyone on the defensive end, Cousins did put up 21.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 53.7 percent overall and 42.1 percent from three.

    If the Knicks are comfortable with their roster as-is, using Randle as a small-ball center works as well. A 41.1 percent mark from three last season will be tough to sustain, however, as the 26-year-old was a career 29.5 percent shooter from deep coming into the year.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Problem: Experience

    The Solution: Bring some vets to training camp to complement the youth

    Remember back in the Houston Rockets section where we said too many veterans in a rebuild is a bad thing? Yeah, this is the opposite of that.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, all of 23 years old, is one of the elder statesmen on this roster, one that contains just two players (Derrick Favors and Mike Muscala) over 26.

    The Thunder could definitely use some more experience in the locker room, players like Jared Dudley who may not see the floor that often but can still make an impact with their knowledge, practice habits and professionalism.

    This could mean free agents like Wesley Matthews, Avery Bradley, James Ennis III and others should at least be worthy of training camp deals with a chance to make the regular-season roster. While none will make a big impact on the win/loss record this season, all could offer some added mentorship to this incredibly young Thunder team.

Orlando Magic

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    The Problem: Backcourt shooting

    The Solution: Sign Garrison Matthews or Langston Galloway to give young point guards some spacing

    The Magic backcourt trio of Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony will likely be the worst three-point shooting backcourt in the NBA. Orlando could desperately use a veteran marksman to help balance everything out.

    While turning to the trade market is one option, there's still a few quality snipers to be found in free agency.

    Matthews (38.4 percent from three, 38.9 percent off the catch) and Galloway (42.4 percent from three, 43.8 percent off the catch) would both be strong fits and shouldn't cost much at this point, helping to give Orlando's lineup the spacing it needs.

    Internal improvement can only go so far. The Magic should be seeking outside help when it comes to backcourt shooting.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Problem: A reliable third scorer

    The Solution: Target Malcolm Brogdon, CJ McCollum, Collin Sexton or D'Angelo Russell in Ben Simmons trade

    As good as Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are, the Sixers will still need a third scorer when Ben Simmons inevitably gets traded, especially considering Embiid's injury history.

    These candidates can essentially be broken down into tiers, with players like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal in the "we can dream" division and Brogdon, McCollum, Sexton and Russell all representing much more realistic options.

    All have averaged 20 points per game or more in a season already, with all but Russell having done so on strong efficiency.

    Sexton has the highest upside of the group, but will need to be paid next offseason. Brogdon is probably the best value at $21.7 million, but has just a pair of years left on his contract.

    The Sixers should absolutely try to package Simmons in a trade for Lillard or Beal first before inevitably settling for one of the guys in Tier 2.

Phoenix Suns

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    The Problem: Power forward clarity

    The Solution: Explore trades for Jerami Grant, Pascal Siakam or another "all-in" power forward first, commit to Jae Crowder or Cam Johnson as starter before season begins if no trade available

    While Crowder and Johnson are both solid starting options at power forward, the Suns should be in championship-or-bust mode before Chris Paul inevitably begins to show his age.

    Calls to the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors should be made as an exploratory gesture to check the asking price for players like Grant and Siakam, both borderline All-Stars who can play both sides of the ball at a high level. Even Thaddeus Young of the San Antonio Spurs would make sense. If and when those talks get shut down, head coach Monty Williams will have a decision to make.

    Whether it be Crowder (a starter in 42 of his 60 games last season) or Johnson (a starter in 11 of his 60), Williams needs to commit to one as his guy at power forward and avoid flipping back and forth.

    The rest of this starting lineup (Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton) is one of the best in all of basketball, only needing a high-level power forward to tie everything together.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Problem: Commitment to defense

    The Solution: Explore trade for Myles Turner, Ben Simmons or another elite defensive player around Damian Lillard

    Trading for Larry Nance Jr. was a nice start to rebuilding the Blazers' 29th-ranked defense, as Nance ranked in the 97th percentile in defensive swing rating (minus-9.3 points per 100 possessions) last season, per Cleaning the Glass.

    Still, there's more work to be done, especially for a team that surrendered a whopping 115.3 points per 100 possessions last year.

    Trading for an elite defensive player to put around Lillard could make a huge difference in where Portland ultimately lands in the playoff seeding, with Turner representing one of the NBA's best rim protectors and Simmons one of the league's most versatile stoppers.

    A scenario exists where both could be acquired, finally giving Lillard the defensive help he needs to make a serious run at a title. Portland simply can't trade buckets with teams on a nightly basis and needs to continue to add defensive talent.

Sacramento Kings

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    The Problem: Wing depth

    The Solution: Move Buddy Hield for a starting-level small forward

    Selecting Davion Mitchell with the No. 9 pick made a guard-heavy Kings team even more saturated with backcourt talent, with an upgrade to the wing now needed instead.

    Assuming De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Mitchell aren't going anywhere, this leaves Hield as the primary trade bait with which to acquire a true small forward.

    Terrence Ross should become available off a rebuilding Orlando Magic team, and a deal based around Hield to the Philadelphia 76ers for Danny Green and some salary filler could make sense for both sides.

    The Kings tried to trade Hield once this offseason, and should explore moving him again for some wing help.

San Antonio Spurs

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    The Problem: Pick-and-roll partners

    The Solution: Check availability on Montrezl Harrell and Dwight Powell

    There's not a lot of pick-and-roll talent for San Antonio's solid guard corps to work with currently, but options exist out on the trade market.

    Although he saw his playing time cut with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, Harrell ranked in the 95th percentile as a roll man (1.43 points per possession), with 13.5 percent of his offense coming this way. Powell ranked in the 90.8 percentile (1.38 points per possession), with a whopping 29.8 percent of his looks off the pick-and-roll.

    Once Thomas Bryant returns to the Washington Wizards following a torn ACL, Harrell could become expendable with Daniel Gafford and Bryant as younger, cheaper options. The same could be said about Powell given the amount of big men (Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban Marjanovic) on the Dallas Mavericks roster.

    If the Spurs want to compete for a playoff spot and make life easier for their guards, picking up a player like Harrell or Powell would certainly help.

Toronto Raptors

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    The Problem: Rebounding

    The Solution: Explore trade for Tristan Thompson or Derrick Favors, make sure Precious Achiuwa gets minutes

    While Khem Birch and Chris Boucher are both solid starter-quality bigs, neither is an especially good rebounder for a Raptors team that ranked 28th in glass cleaning last season.

    The good news? A pair of the NBA's top-10 rebounders should be pretty easy to acquire via trade, as both Thompson and Favors were moved to new backup roles this offseason.

    Thompson (19.0 total rebound percentage, 10th in the NBA) is one of many backup centers with the Sacramento Kings, while Favors (19.2 total rebound percentage, 9th) was salary-dumped by the Utah Jazz onto the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    If Toronto feels comfortable with its center rotation as-is, head coach Nick Nurse should at least make sure Achiuwa (10.2 rebounds per 36 minutes as a rookie, 16.1 total rebound percentage) gets a spot in the rotation.

Utah Jazz

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    The Problem: A post-up threat

    The Solution: Use Eric Paschall as small-ball center, eye Robin Lopez trade

    Rudy Gobert and new backup center Hassan Whiteside will anchor the Jazz defense, but both leave a lot to be desired on the offensive end.

    Utah doesn't have a center it can dump the ball down to, with Whiteside ranking in the 32.5 percentile in post ups and Gobert coming in even worse at a measly 5.0 percent. Both players are reliant on getting the ball delivered in the pick and roll or simply cleaning up after a teammates' missed shots.

    Using the 6'6", 255-pound Paschall as a small-ball center at times is an option, as he ranked in the far more respectable 63.0 percentile on post ups. He's also the best three-point shooter of the three, knocking down 33.3 percent of his outside shots for the Golden State Warriors last season.

    If there's an injury or Whiteside just doesn't work out, keep an eye on Lopez as a trade option.

    A likely third-string center this year with the Orlando Magic, Lopez ranked in the 93.1 percentile in post ups last season with the Washington Wizards and could make a nice backup to Gobert in Utah.

Washington Wizards

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The Problem: Quantity over quality

    The Solution: Have an open training-camp battle for rotation spots, trade third-string options for draft ammo

    The Wizards roster should look far different this time next year, with a lot of guys unlikely to even make it past the trade deadline. After trading Russell Westbrook for a collection of rotation players, Washington is a fun, deep, somewhat mess of a team right now.

    Even players like Kyle Kuzma, Aaron Holiday, Davis Bertans or Montrezl Harrell could find themselves out of the rotation entirely at points this season, making a flurry of deadline trades entirely possible.

    Only Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie should feel good about their starting jobs, with the rest of the roster set to battle for spots during training camp.

    The Wizards should look to move some of the excess talent for future draft picks instead of just letting guys collect dust on the bench.


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