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FHM's Holiday Wishes For NBA Teams—Western Conference Edition

A proper send-off for Dirk Nowitzki, a jump shot for Lonzo Ball, and a break from the injury Gods
by Kirby Garlitos | Dec 23, 2017
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Last week, we ran down a list of holiday wishes for teams in the Eastern Conference. This week, our NBA Christmas wish list continues with the Western Conference.

The drill remains the same. We looked at the current state of the affairs of each team and tried to figure out how each of them can improve upon their current standing in the league. Hopefully, some of these wishes come true because the teams will be better off because of it. Imagine if Anthony Davis suddenly finds himself impervious to injury? While we’re at it, a future with Lonzo Ball being a competent shooter is much more compelling than one where he throws up bricks from all corners of the court.

So indulge in this wishlist and hope that if you have a team in the West, they’ll get theirs granted sooner rather than later.


Dallas Mavericks - A proper send-off for Dirk Nowitzki

With Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Paul Pierce all retiring, any vestiges of the pre-LeBron James era in the NBA now rests on the shoulders of four players: Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Vince Carter. Of the four, Nowitzki really stands as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Now that he’s playing in his last season—at least that’s what we think—he deserves a proper send-off to what has been a first-ballot, Hall-of-Fame career.

Denver Nuggets - A new home for Kenneth Faried

This is a marriage that should have ended a long time ago. The Nuggets are better off trading Faried and the Manimal deserves to be in a team that’s going to play him more than the typical “DNP-Coach’s Decision” we’ve been seeing from him for the past two seasons.

Golden State Warriors - Motivation

The Golden State Warriors fall into the same category as the Cleveland Cavaliers. What happens in the regular season is irrelevant. All that matters is the playoff run. We’ve seen the Dubs exhibit a lack of motivation in getting up for some games in the season. It’s not a cause for concern because of their bigger goal, but it is worrisome in the sense that sleepwalking through the season can cause bad habits for a team that’s been through its share of extended championship runs.

Houston Rockets - Threes, threes, and more threes

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What do you give a team that’s on-pace to destroy the record for most threes shot and made in the course of a season? Yep, more threes.

Los Angeles Clippers - A new home

We’re not talking about finding a new stadium in Los Angeles. We’re talking about leaving LA altogether because the Clips will never have the same fanbase for as long as the Lakers are in town. It didn’t happen during the peak of the Chris Paul era; it certainly won’t happen now. The best way for the Clips to really establish its own identity is for the team to relocate to another city. Seattle’s available, in case you didn’t know.

Los Angeles Lakers - A jump shot for Lonzo Ball

How much better would the Los Angeles Lakers be if Lonzo Ball had a reliable jump shot to work with? We can’t say for certain, but his inability to put the ball in the basket has flipped the narrative on how great of a player he can be. There’s still time to correct that part of his game, but if he’s going to be the player we all envisioned him to be, he’s going to need to make improvements on his shot as soon as possible.

Memphis Grizzlies - A new identity

It wasn’t that long ago when the Memphis Grizzlies was defined by its “grit-and-grind” mentality. That was the team’s calling card, and it had a lot of success adopting that personality. But the departures of Tony Allen and Zach Randolph have turned the Grizz into a team without an identity. The two weren’t the stars of the team, but they epitomized the grit-and-grind mentality more than anybody else.

Minnesota Timberwolves - Less playing time for the stars

Tom Thibodeau is known for running his star players to the ground by playing them far more minutes than they should. That’s what happened in Chicago with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler. Is it a surprise that we’re seeing it again in Minnesota with Butler (again), Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. Ease up on their minutes, Thibs.

New Orleans Pelicans - A healthy Anthony Davis

The book on the Brow has been simple to read in the past few seasons. When healthy, he’s one of the most devastating players in the league. But that part about being healthy for an extended period of time has proven to be elusive for Davis. It’s startling how many injuries he’s had in the course of his career. This season has been no different as Davis has suffered injuries to his ankle, foot, groin, and finger. If the Pels are going to make an extended run in the playoffs, they’re going to need AD to be healthy for a prolonged period of time.

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Phoenix Suns - Positive returns from their draft picks

Outside of Devin Booker, the Phoenix Suns’ recent run of draft picks have netted them nothing in the way of positive returns. Whether its Alex Len, Dragan Bender, or Marquese Chriss, none of these three players have lived up to where they were picked in the NBA draft. All three are lottery picks. It’s now or never for them to start playing like one.

Portland Trail Blazers - A functioning bench unit

As dynamic as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are, the Portland Trailblazers will find it hard-pressed to compete in the West conference. Blame the absurd lack of depth for that. It’s hard enough to win when you have two guards anchoring your offense, it’s even harder if you don’t have a competent bench unit to help support its stars.

Oklahoma City Thunder - A different kind of engagement from Russell Westbrook

There are real problems in Oklahoma City, and a big part of it starts with Russell Westbrook. He’s still a singular talent who can carry a team on his shoulders, but having Paul George and Carmelo Anthony means that he doesn’t have to anymore. Still, Westbrook continues to dominate the ball in a way that has been detrimental to both George and Anthony. When he’s not involved in the offense, he’ll just stand in a corner, wait for somebody to shoot, and try to crash the paint as soon as the shot goes up. The Thunder need Westbrook to be more engaged on offense, especially when he doesn’t have the ball. We’ve seen flashes of that this season, and it’s been devastating. Brodie just needs to do it more consistently.

Sacramento Kings - Patience

After escaping from the storm that was Demarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings can now properly rebuild with a stockpile of young talent. It hasn’t translated to a lot of success on the court, but when you’re a team with so many young pieces to build from, a sprinkling of patience wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

San Antonio Spurs - A healthy Kawhi Leonard

This is a no brainer. When he’s healthy, Kawhi Leonard is, at worst, a Top 5 player in the league. The Spurs have managed to remain successful even in his absence, but if the team has any hope of being competitive in the playoffs, it needs a healthy Kawhi. Rest assured, if he is, the Spurs are contenders.

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Utah Jazz - A break from the injury Gods

No team has had to deal with so many injuries like the Utah Jazz. The bug has derailed what’s supposed to be a competitive season for the Jazz. It’s not too much to ask for this team to be at full strength for once this season, right?

 

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