New Years' Resolutions: How All 30 NBA Owners/GMs Can Help Their Teams
A new year is coming around.
In 2010 some teams like Miami, Chicago and New York did a lot to improve their teams.
Others, like Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers, did a little, but didn't need to do a lot.
Others like Orlando, made some big changes so far this season but it remains to be seen if they will pay off.
Finally, some like Atlanta stood pat. If everyone is getting better and you're not, you're getting worse.
What can each team's management do to improve their team's chances of getting to the playoffs, or even getting the NBA championship trophy? Here are New Year's resolutions all 30 teams can make to get better.
Resolution: Just do something
While many teams in the East, such as Boston, Orlando, Miami, Chicago and New York are all getting better, Atlanta has stayed pat on a team that can't make it past the second round.
With so many teams moving forward, by not doing anything Atlanta is effectively moving backwards. They need to do something.
The first suggestion would be get a real, authentic big body.
Josh Smith is talented, but a bit small for a power forward, especially since Al Horford is a bit on the small side for a center. The Hawks have been out-rebounded in 16 of 33 games this season. Their frontcourt is 16th in the NBA in scoring. They are 23rd in the NBA in offensive rebounds.
That's not a way to win championships. They need a big body.
The other thing they could use is an upgrade at point guard.
It's possible that the NBA has never seen so many great point guards as there are right now. The Hawks are 28th in the NBA in efficiency from their point guards, and 27th in efficiency differential. They need an upgrade.
Either one or both of these improvements are something the Hawks need to commit to in order to get better.
Resolution: Show patience
The Celtics don't really have a weakness. Their resolution needs to be showing patience.
Right now the only place where they really have any struggle is in the middle. They are "only" 13th in the NBA from the center position in spite of having their best center injured all season.
The main thing the Celtics need to do is make sure they don't rush Kendrick Perkins back before they need to. It's better to have him for the postseason than risk getting him back early an aggravating his injury before it's fully healed.
Resolution: Be very, very flexible
The Bobcats have a payroll of $65 million and are 28th in the Hollinger rankings. The best thing they can do right now is be open to anything.
They need to be willing to make trades, and they need to be willing to trade anyone.
Give up on now. Now is bad. Get draft picks and youth, and plan for the future.
Resolution: Be thrifty
The Bulls are almost complete, but not quite.
They are a shooting guard away from being a legitimate contender. They are 27th overall in efficiency from the shooting guard position, and in the category they need most in their offense—three-point shooting—their shooting guards are a combined 29th in the NBA.
A shooting guard who can shoot and guard is all they need.
They are aware of this and are shopping for one, but the key is to not overpay in the process. They just need to be thrifty, not desperate.
The Cavaliers excited the hometown's hopes of a post-LeBron playoff run when they got off to a 5-5 start. Since then they've gone 3-17. So much for a playoff run.
Overall this team is arguably the worst in the NBA. They are ranked dead last in the Hollinger rankings. They have the worst point differential in the NBA. They are also last in efficiency differential.
On top of that, when you look at who's playing the minutes for the team, it's not like they are in a full-fledged rebuilding mode.
Of the top eight players in terms of playing minutes, five are 28 or older, and the player with the most minutes, Anthony Parker, is 35. In part, this might be due to the fact that their "best" young players, Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson, have respective PERs of 15.2 and 10.8.
In short, this team is going nowhere, and needs a youth movement. It's obvious Dan Gilbert's pledge is likely to go unfilled, but he needs to show commitment to his promise.
Rebuild now, and go young.
Resolution: Be content
Mark Cuban always makes a deadline trade. This year's Mavericks, though, are a very solid team.
Part of what's impressive about the Mavericks' great start is that only two of the players in their starting lineup were with the team at this time last year. This is a team that is still learning to play together, and they are more likely to get better by virtue of stability than by making another move.
I know Cuban is always itching for another trade, but the best thing he can do right now is be content.
Resolution: Be generous
They don't need to give away their players, but the Nuggets need to realize their position is a bit weak. Carmelo Anthony's contract is expiring, and if they aren't careful they'll end up in a position like Cleveland: no star and no trade tokens.
They need to be willing to part with him for less than what he's worth, because in many ways his worth is limited to what he provides to his destination this season.
If they are stingy, they may be left with Anthony after the trade deadline, and left with nothing next year. In this case two in the bush is worth more than one in the hand. Take draft choices and/or a young player and be happy.
Generosity is a virtue the Nuggets can't afford to not have right now.
Resolution: Be balanced
Detroit's backcourt is fourth in the NBA in scoring, their frontcourt is dead last. Does that pretty much some things up? A team this far out of balance is not going to win, and that's why Detroit is not winning.
They are second to last in the paint and they are looking to trade either Tayshun Prince or Rip Hamilton.
If they do, they need to make sure they get some real size to help in the pain. And by size, I don't mean a 36-year-old with no offensive game like Ben Wallace or Jason "Put the Max In" Maxiel.
Golden State Warriors
Resolution: Think defensively
The old maxim, "defense wins championships," is a good one. Only two teams in the last 30 years have won an NBA championship without finishing in the top 10 in defensive rating, and none have won without finishing in the top half. Over the same span, 16 have been in the top three.
Currently Golden State is 27th. The thing is, some teams just don't have the athleticism to be defensive, but the Warriors are athletic enough. It's the mindset that they lack.
They need to adjust their thinking. You can't just expect that you're going to score more and win. You need to make the other team score less. Changing their mindset could be a huge help to the Warriors.
Adding a defensive center with size would help, too.
Resolution: Be accepting
There will be no "Ming Dynasty" in Houston. It seems they've accepted this at long last and are looking to trade away Yao's expiring contract. That's the right kind of thinking, as they are accepting reality.
They have two big needs, one of which may have been taken care of in their acquisition of G/F Terrence Williams.
The other is the obvious need of a new starting center. At 6'6", Chuck Hayes is just too short to be a starting center in the NBA. You honestly have to wonder if this is the only time in NBA history where a team has had to drop a full foot in the middle.
You have to admire Hayes' strength in the middle, and he's hard to back down; however, he's not too hard to shoot over. The Rockets are 24th in the NBA in points yielded to centers.
Part of accepting the end of the "Ming Dynasty" is accepting that they need a new, permanent, long-term solution.
Resolution: Be forward-thinking
The Pacers need to be forward-thinking, as in power forward, as in getting one or giving Tyler Hansbrough the chance to prove himself. They've recently re-installed Jeff Foster as the starter, but at 34 he's not the future of the franchise.
They aren't on the cusp of being a legitimate playoff threat, and they need to think about the future, not the present. They need to be forward-thinking.
Los Angeles Clippers
Resolution: Influences are important
The biggest problem with Baron Davis isn't that his huge contract isn't worth his play. It's that his attitude as a senior player on a team so full of young talent could have the wrong kind of influence.
They need to do whatever they can to get Davis out of there. Addition-by-subtraction is all the math we need to do here. Getting rid of Davis is better than having him.
If they could acquire a positive mentor for the team, that would be even better, even if he comes with a bad contract.
The Clippers have a fantastic young core and right now it's all about how they develop.
Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant said after the Lakers were blown out by the Miami Heat that their opponents care more about these games than they do. That starts at the top.
When Phil Jackson complains about playing on Christmas, and Kobe Bryant insists to the world that Miami is "just another game" over and over again, the rest of the team is going to put as much stock in the game as they do.
No team in the NBA has more talent than the Lakers. The problem is that right now there are teams with more heart. Kobe needs to take the lead, not in saying that they care, but in actually caring.
For better or worse, he is the leader of the team.
Resolution: Change is good
Memphis has been floundering long enough that their name is adequate—with a franchise record of 418 wins and 811 losses, they have one of the more grizzly histories in sports.
They have only made the postseaosn three times, those three times composing all their winning records in the team's history. In fact, those three seasons account for over one-third of all wins over the franchise's 15 year history and they are one of the biggest perennial doormats in professional sports.
They need to change, and part of that means they need to change their ways.
With players like OJ Mayo they need to poop or get off the pot.
By benching him they aren't allowing him to improve and they are pushing down his trade value. For a team as weak as the Grizzlies, there's no reason to not do one or the other. It's decisions like this that have made them so bad for so long.
Change is good.
Resolution: Silence is golden
The team itself is already complete and able to compete with anyone—they established that on Christmas Day.
That doesn't make them any more popular, though.They need to look at the other stars who have overcome huge publicity blows, like Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant and Michael Vick. They all had one thing in common: They didn't say anything.
If they want people to come around they can do that by just shutting up and winning.
Silence is golden.
Resolution: Be healthy
The Bucks were expected to compete with the Bulls for the Central this year. Injuries had another idea. They've been clobbered, to put it mildly.
Their starting point guard, Brandon Jennings, is out with a broken foot; their top shooting guard, Michael Redd, is recovering form a knee surgery; their starting small forward from last year, Carlos Delfino, has missed most of the year with a concussion; center Andrew Bogut has missed five games due to injury; and Drew Gooden has been in and out of the lineup with plantar fasciitis. You get the picture.
There may be a tendency to want to rush people back, but the best thing the Bucks can do is figure that they aren't going to be competing this year.
They have a lot of youth, and they are better off waiting til next year. They don't want to destroy the futures of bright young stars like Jennings trying to rush them back early.
Resolution: Not all Love is forever
I know that all seven or eight Timberwolves fans are going to like to hear me say this, but the best thing the Timberwolves can do right now is trade their best player.
Don't get me wrong, I like Love as a player, and think he's bringing a lot to the table, but I don't see him as a player that you can build a team around—he's a second piece, not a first piece.
However, they can get a first piece for him. Part of his rebounding numbers are a result of the team he plays on.
Love's the best rebounder in the NBA but not by as much as the 2.5-rebound margin would make it appear. His team misses more combined shots than any team in the NBA, and the same is true for their opponents. In other words, part of the reason Love has so many rebounds is that he's a great rebounder combined with a lot of opportunities to get those rebounds.
Much of his offense is also generated on put-backs too—which isn't to say they don''t have value—so some of his scoring is also a result of the plethora of missed shots.
Love is a "sell high" candidate for the Timberwolves. There are teams with the need and goods to trade for him.
Not all Love is forever.
New Jersey Nets
Resolution: Be aggressive
New Nets (or should I say New Yorkers?) owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been aptly aggressive with his new team. He's now looking to land the huge prize—the one he couldn't land during the offseason.
The Nets (or New Yorkers) haven't had a reason to be optimistic in a long time. They should be now. Even if this deal doesn't work, look for Prokhorov to do something soon that makes a big splash in the NBA.
He just needs to resolve to stay aggressive, even if things don't work out with Anthony.
New Orleans Hornets
Resolution: Be open
The Hornets are a pretty good team, but probably not good enough to win the West.
They have one of the league's most exciting players in Chris Paul, and one of its most underrated players in David West. However, the issues with the Hornets right now have nothing to do with the composition of the team, and everything to do with its future.
Where will they play, and what will happen?
For the sake of the players, their families, and the fans in New Orleans, the NBA should be open in regards to what their plans with the Hornets' future are.
New York Knicks
Resolution: Be stingy
Knicks fans love their offensive style and seeing Amar'e's explosions in the middle, along with the accompanying three-point shooting barrages.
It's a style the Phoenix Suns are familiar with. It saw them get to the Western Conference finals twice, but never beyond that.
The Knicks are 28th in the NBA in defense, and it's not just because of pace. Even their defensive rating is 23rd in the NBA. Until Mike D'Antoni learns that you have to get stops too, the Knicks aren't going very deep in the playoffs.
I'm not sure that adding another player with an explosive offensive skill set and little defense is what they need. The Knicks need to learn to be stingy.
Resolution: Go Green
The Thunder have a very bright future with their two young stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. It also has a third potential star that has been lost a bit in the limelight of the other two, Jeff Green, but contract negotiations broke down.
One hopes that the front-loaded Nick Collison signing was to free up money for next year so they could re-sign Green when he becomes a restricted free agent.
Resolution: Be nice
The recent trades seem to be working out well and all the components seem to be working together pretty well. Sooner or later, though, they're going to hit a rough patch, and that's when we'll find out how they all work together.
There is enough personality on that team for two teams, and that means a lot of potential for personality conflict.
How they handle adversity will be the real test.
If they stay nice to one another, the team will make it through, but if they give in to tempers, look for a major implosion.
Resolution: Sell high
The 76ers haven't been playing their top draft selection Evan Turner much. Of course part of the reason for that is that he hasn't been showing the team much reason to play him.
Philadelphia should be looking towards the future, not the present. They simply don't have the pieces in place to get to the top, but they do have valuable trade pieces. With Turner, Thadeus Young and Jrue Holiday they have some building blocks for the future, though.
Selling high on Andre Iguodala and, if they can find a taker, Elton Brand, for more young talent or draft choices could make them a team for the future.
Resolution: Be loyal
You have to like what you're hearing Steve Nash saying. Instead of asking for a trade to a team where he can get the ring he's never gotten, he's happy to remain a Sun and help the team to rebuild.
Having a two-time MVP mentor young talent is, without question, a rare opportunity. If the Suns are talking about a trade involving Nash they should stop.
Loyalty is a two-way street, and Nash has made his loyalty clear.
Resolution: Be prudent
Another disappointing, injury-plagued year has come to the Trailblazers. They're talking about making some trades, and they should make some—if not a lot.
The thing they need to do in all of this is remain prudent. They need to trade wisely and build for the future.
Most importantly, they need to figure out how to acquire some players who are without an injury history. They also need to know who to trade and who to keep, particularly LaMarcus Aldridge, who has become their most dependable and consistent player this season.
Resolution: Aim high
The Kings need to aim high...as in the top...as in firing president Geoff Petrie and head coach Paul Westphal.
This team is messed up. Clearly, they need to take a new direction. The only direction they've been going lately is down.
Last year was pretty weak, as they only won 25 games. This year, after their start, it would be considered a monumental success if they could reach that plateau.
San Antonio Spurs
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Who would have thought that the cure to the aging Spurs would be to speed up? Coach Greg Popovich should be commended for his brilliance.
The Spurs are making a run for another ring as their stars age and Tim Duncan's skills diminish.
Resolution: Think positive
The Raptors had the worst of both worlds. Not only did they lose their franchise player (alongside Cleveland), but they didn't even get a lick of the sympathy that was poured out for the Cavs.
The thing is they've actually done a lot more to help themselves to rebuild.
They have some nice young players coming along in the likes of Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless. There will some more losing ahead of them before they start winning, and right now they need to remember to keep a positive attitude.
The loss of Carlos Boozer was turned into a gain as Paul Millsap has filled his shoes, and the Jazz added Al Jefferson through trade.
They are as deep a team perhaps as the Jazz have ever had, even going back to the Stockton and Malone years, and they have the talent to win it all. If they have the resolve to do it, they will.
The team has shown an ability to stand together in some of their notable comebacks this season. If that remains, they could be hoisting the trophy at season's end.
Resolution: Give peace a chance
Almost as soon as they rid themselves of Gilbert Arenas and relieved themselves of one feuding situation, two more teammates, Andre Blatche and JaVale McGee, get into a fist fight at a night club.
It seems the only time the Wizards show any fight is with one another. It would be nice if they showed some of that fight on the court. With a young player with the talent of John Wall, they don't need that kind of locker room drama.
They aren't that good, either. They need to dump anyone with attitude problems and bring in character guys that will give peace a chance.