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2012 NBA Wishes

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A year ago the malingering malaise of a lockout still blanketed NBA basketball. Like a Winter Solstice celebration, the agreement between the league and the player’s union meant warmth and light were on the horizon, but it was still a joy being crept towards at an unbearably slow pace. In those days of slowly lifting darkness, I tried to put together a project that would buoy and carry spirits through the last few days before the season began:

The beginning of the NBA season, is a time for unbridled optimism. The old adage that each season begins with every team in first place is the psychological equivalent of cubic yards of rich, dense compost. Hope, while bridled in places like Detroit and New Orleans, can’t help but sprout, even there, from the tiniest of crevices.

The last few weeks of the year, for many cultures, faiths and belief structures, is also time for reflection and looking forward; a time for resolution and a time for wish making. David Stern, along with the owners and players, were able to arrange for these two time periods to overlap.

As a way to celebrate the dawning of a new season and the close of a calendar year, I decided to try and assemble an NBA Wish List, covering each team. This was my starting point:

If Santa Claus/Hanukkah Harry/Mystical Deity of Specific Origin/Mystical Deity of Unknown Origin/Family Member with Magical Powers/The Lifeforce Present In All Things/Richard Dawkins were going to bestow one gift on (insert team here) this season, what would you like it to be?

The result was a collaborative wish list, covering 29 NBA teams (Miami Heat fans were all set apparently). For myself, and hopefully some of you, starting the season by reading manifestations of common threads of hope binding all NBA fans was an inspiring way to start the season.

Thankfully we’re a quarter of the way through an NBA season this year, and not just beginning one, but I wanted to try this project again. I wanted to see what it would look like mid-season, and see if the same threads emerged. Like last year, I sent this question out to friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, formal acquaintances and total strangers. After several days of begging, pleading, and cajoling, 83 basketball writers from all over the internet were nice enough to respond, sharing their wishes for their favorite team or the league as a whole.

Like last year, wishes run the gambit from fantastic, to plausible, to fantastically plausible. There are pinings for health and wealth (both financial and of talent). There are desires that stretch the limits of the space-time continuum, and expectations for the simplest pleasures of fandom, like having a competitive team or a team that continues to play in the same city, year to year.

This project continues to be collaborative in nature and hopefully that will extend out beyond this post. Read what’s here and then please share your own wishes in the comments, or on Twitter with the hashtag #NBAWishes. Put those good thoughts out into the universe for your special team.

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ATLAtlanta Hawks

Jason WalkerPeachtree Hoops@JasonWalkerSBN - The city of Atlanta has long been an essential destination for many of the NBA’s finest players. It’s basketball team, however, has not enjoyed such popularity. In the gift giving spirit of the season, I would like the Atlanta Hawks to receive the gift of being a hot spot for high PER, perennial All-Star NBA players.

Be it ownership, lack of cap space, or whatever, the last top-of-the-line free agent to say, “Why yes, I’ll play for the Atlanta Hawks”, was Dikembe Mutombo over seasons ago. That’s not exactly a track record commensurate with the attraction of the city in general.

Now we understand that this sort of wish comes from the NBA Catalog under the Be Careful What You Wish For department, as we have seen at times throughout history of the NBA. But to be so relevant that when the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard become free agents this next summer that Atlanta is an “approved” place to discuss their talents being showcased, it would be a welcome change.

Daniel ChristianHawksHoop@DChris_Hawks - A taser. One that goes off every time Josh Smith shoots a jumper outside of 15 feet.

Oh, and how about some national recognition? Not just for this Hawks team, but for Larry Drew, who I thought, and I’m pretty sure everyone else thought, wasn’t the right fit for Atlanta. He may not be perfect, but what he’s done with this roster defensively is magnificent. And offensively, there’s ball movement! There’s real motion! People do things other than stand in the corner! This is what Larry Drew was capable of all along, and we didn’t know it because Joe Johnson was dribbling in circles, and watching the sun set, and going to the bathroom, and reading the newspaper, and feeding the cows with the ball in his hands. I over-exaggerate– Joe was a huge stabilizing force in Atlanta, one that kept the franchise afloat for several years. Hawks basketball fans owe him their first born after he almost singlehandedly kept the team out of the lottery for 5 years, whilst simultaneously allowing Atlanta fans to take the bag off their faces from the previous years of shame. All of that is to say that while I liked Joe, he wasn’t the right fit for Coach Drew’s system. Drew came in preaching of this motion based and transition offense, and we never really saw it until the Hawks shed Johnson. So what Santa Claus/Richard Dawkins/whomever should bestow upon the Hawks is national appreciation for Larry Drew, and maybe some sort of federal holiday.

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BOSBoston Celtics 

Ryan DeGamaCeltics Hub@CelticsHub – 1) A Godfather deal. Similar to the pre-Big Three 06-07 season, the Celtics roster is filled with a batch of assets that don’t necessarily fit together into an on-court whole. If there were a GM out there with a disaffected superstar he wanted to move for a selection of underperforming wings and flawed big men prospects, Danny Ainge would be happy to oblige him.

2) Stamina. The Celtics are world beaters with KG on the court. But he can’t sustain his impact from minutes 31-40 each night because he doesn’t play those minutes. He’s just too damn old. If Garnett was granted the ability to produce for 10 extra minutes beyond his standard 30, the Celtics would be an entirely different animal this season. And while that animal would be obnoxious to fans of other teams, it would also probably lead the league in defensive efficiency.

Jeff ClarkCeltics Blog@CelticsBlog - Avery Bradley’s healthy shoulders and all the mojo he had last year. Hoping for health first and foremost. But trying to temper expectations that he’ll be a “savior” for this team. But since I’m wishing, here’s hoping that he has all the disruptive force of nature swag that he had at times last year. And make him a better shooter and viable backup point guard while we’re at it. Because why not?

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BKNBrooklyn Nets

Justin DeFeoThe Brooklyn Game | HoopChalk@JustinDeFeo – For MarShon Brooks, the gift of minutes. It wasn’t too long ago that MarShon was our rookie sensation that most were calling a “steal” for the Nets, but with the arrival of Joe Johnson and re-emergence of Jerry Stackhouse, time on the wing has come sporadically for Brooks. When he does get into games, his offensive creativity is still apparent, but his quick hooks usually come as a result of defensive lapses. With the Nets being a veteran heavy team, Avery Johnson can ill afford to work through “mistakes” made by inexperienced players, which keeps MarShon glued to the bench. He needs minutes to continue and grow as a player, so that’s my gift!

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CHACharlotte Bobcats

Spencer PercyQueen City Hoops@QCSportsCrave - In understanding that this team is clearly in a full blown rebuilding mode, there have actually been quite a few positives to see from Charlotte so far this season (disregard current 12-game losing skid). When I say positives, what I really mean to say is that this team has been extremely competitive this season. That being said, the positive also underlines the problem- the Bobcats can’t perform when the game is close and in the final period. In games during the 4th quarter when the score is tied (note: per 48 min) Charlotte is shooting a horrid 23.1% and turning the ball over on 24% of their possessions. I don’t believe that I need to explain that’s leading to late game collapses and losses.

So, what I would wish upon this team for Christmas is to gain the self-confidence in themselves and as a team to start performing in CLUTCH situations more efficiently. All this struggle spells to me is late game anxiety and inexperience.

Brett HainlineQueen City Hoops - @BrettQCHoops - If the Bobcats were to receive one gift this holiday season, I would want it to be…defensive awareness/intensity/ability for everyone. Bismack Biyombo has quickness, springiness, and length to be a great defender – but he’ll fall for any pump fake. Byron Mullens has the size to be an interior presence, but seemingly little interest in being more than a matador (though his rebounding has improved this year). MKG is among the better Bobcats’ defenders already – but he’s been a bit too aggressive for his own good, taking himself out of games with quick, cheap fouls. I could go on about the individual players – but it’s a team effort, and watching the Bobcats scramble around the court, trying to recover to the open 3-point shooter (but always a pass behind) has already gotten tiresome just over a quarter of the way into the season. So, Santa – all I want for Christmas is for the Bobcats to play better defense (because asking for them to be able to score efficiently is just a crazy dream).

Ben SwansonRufus On Fire@CardboardGerald - This is a tough question. In spite of all their improvement over the previous year, the Bobcats still are a team with more than their fair share of holes and weaknesses. I want them to get a backup guard that can score and also play some semblance of defense. I want them to get an adequate backup frontcourt. I want them to get an adequate starting frontcourt. I want them to pass the ball more. I want them to not panic and remember to take care of the ball with better shot selection when they have leads late in the game.

But given only one present to wish for, I would have to wish for a better Byron Mullens. Make no buts about it, Byron Mullens has been a better all around player than he was last season. His shooting may have dipped, but he’s shown much more focus when rebounding and on defense. There’s no doubt he’s one of the Bobcats’ best options in the frontcourt, but he’s just as often a liability as a benefit. He may catch fire on occasion but you don’t really have to worry about his favorite shots, the mid-long range jumpers. He loves them dearly, and misses them often. Surprisingly, Mullens is very good as a roll man in the pick and roll, can finish at the rim and has transformed into a half-decent rebounder. If only he had a consistent jumper. If only he could play in the post. If only he could pass without the ball’s path being impeded by opponents’ bodies. If only he could read plays better on defense. If only he could defend in the post better. Gosh, I hope Gheorghe Musersanta Claus brings me a better Byron Mullens.

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CHIChicago Bulls

Braeden RitterBulls By The Horns@BullsByTheHorns - Most Bulls fans would say they want a healthy Derrick Rose back in the line-up. One that hasn’t lost a step even after tearing his ACL in last year’s playoffs. And I agree with that, but the thing I’d ask for is consistent play from the bench.

Chicago had one of the best second squads in the league the last two seasons, however, the opposite is true this year. That’s because CJ Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik are all playing elsewhere. If the Bulls had a bench that coach Tom Thibodeau trusted, they would not only have more wins, but their starters wouldn’t be playing 40-plus minutes per game. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are both near the top of the league in minutes, because Thibs doesn’t trust the new bench. Those big minutes are going to become a factor later in the year (or earlier).

This has become the Bulls’ biggest issue. Without a reliable bench, their starters are wearing themselves down in the regular season. And some consistency from the reserves would lessen the load on Rose when he is healthy enough to return.

Actually now that I think about it, I wish the Bulls could get the bench from last year back. Oh, and while you’re at it, a healthy 2010 version of Derrick Rose. I guess, what I’m getting at is a time machine.

Thanks in advance, Basketball Wish Fulfiller!

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CLECleveland Cavaliers

Kevin HetrickCavs The Blog@Hetrick46 - I want a family member with magical powers.  Oh, that was diversity-correctness and not choices?  I want Anderson Varejao to record a double-double every game from Christmas until the All-Star break…then a double-double in the All-Star game.  Is that two gifts?

Amin Vafa - Hardwood Paroxysm | SBNation Cleveland@AminNBA - Some sort of bubble-wrap that Kyrie Irving could wear so that he wouldn’t have so many freak injuries (like a broken face, or a broken hand, or a broken finger, or turf toe, or…). Or, you know, a bench.

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DALDallas Mavericks

Kirk HendersonThe Two Man Game | Mavs Moneyball@KirkSeriousFace - My wish for Dallas is simple and incredibly unlikely: I wish for them to admit defeat this season and tank. The guys are 11-13 as of this writing with a brutal slate of games the remainder of the month that could leave the team seven or more games under .500 by January 1st. The guys are bad, having lost seven games by double digits with six of those being by 19 points or more. Dirk’s coming back though and he’ll give everyone just enough hope to where the Mavs hop aboard Cuban’s “Mediocrity treadmill” for the second straight season. I’d just love to see them head into the off season with a ton of cap room AND a high draft pick. Might make 2013-2014 veeeery interesting.

Travis WimberlyThe Two Man Game@TravisRW - I’d settle for a couple 25-game win streaks to close out the regular season, a 16-0 playoff run in which Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo combine to average 90 PPG, and the return of Eddy Curry playing at a 2000-era Shaq level.  Failing all that, how about an economy-sized tub of that tar-like substance (Stick Em?) used by Rashid “Hot Hands” Hanon in the American cinematic classic Little Giants?  Then maybe the Mavs can pull down some rebounds and stop throwing the ball all over the gym.  Maybe.

Brian RubaieThe Two Man Game@DirksRevenge - My holiday wish is a simple one: I want Dirk to finish out his career injury-free. Dirk had been blessed to avoid surgery before this season and I’d love to see him go out on his own terms.

David HopkinsThe Two Man Game@DavidHopkins- The new CBA’s luxury tax may put an end to Mark Cuban’s wild spending ways. For this holiday season, the Mavs need a multi-billion dollar television deal. And what should they do with all that extra money? Among other things, I’d recommend a weekend team building retreat. Maybe a ropes course? Because while the Mavericks have a talented roster, they don’t seem to click as a unit. All those turnovers are an obvious sign. Individually, they are good. They now need to learn how to make each other better.

Bryan GutierrezThe Two Man Game | Mavs.com - @BallinWithBryan - I’m hoping that I see a continued journey of progression and growth for O.J. Mayo. When you really think about it, you have to go back to the days of Devin Harris, Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard to find a young’n within the camp that has seen some kind of real growth (even if it wasn’t a full one) as a player. The Mavericks have been successful over the years because they signed veteran guys or acquired them via trade. They really haven’t drafted players that have seen maximum potential. While Darren Collison is still learning, O.J. Mayo is making huge strides this year as a player. He has had to be the man for the Mavericks. With Dirk out, the scoring responsibility has been put on his shoulders. To this point, he has shown he can handle it. He’s doing it with poise and a dedication to his craft that I’ve only really seen out of guys like Dirk and Jason Terry. His total acceptance to Rick Carlisle’s coaching has been terrific, as well.

It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to interact with him and see his approach to the day-to-day rigors of the league. It feels like things just didn’t work for him in Memphis and he’s not got a chance to really tap into his true potential in Dallas. So, I’m hoping for continued success for Mayo. Based on how he’s handled himself this year, he truly deserves it.

Andy ToboMavs Moneyball - @AndyTobo - If the relevant deities were to gift the Mavericks with anything, it should be a sudden reversal, in the front office, of a complete lack of interest in anyone who can rebound dating back at least to the year 2000. As much fun as your Raef LaFrentzes and Brian Cardinals have been, someone who could keep the other team from having 12 extra possessions a game might just be what the Mavericks need not to systematically drive every one of their fans to the looney bin this season.

Lisa RotterMavs Moneyball - @LJRotter - It is my wish that human cloning be made legal for one purpose only: to duplicate one Dirk Werner Nowitzki so that the Mavericks might draft his clones and create a team made up entirely of Dirks. One thing this season has taught us thus far is that the Mavericks really are quite bad without Dirty on the court. We are suddenly facing our own mortality as his career draws ever slowly to its close. This demise would feel a lot less hopeless if we knew, somewhere down the pipeline, was a lineup of übermen just waiting to return Dallas to basketball glory!

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DENDenver Nuggets

Andres AlvarezWages of Wins@NerdNumbers - This year Santa can actually give me a gift. I would love for Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari to magically re-appear to their previous top levels, instead of the both inconsistent and poor performance they’ve shown. I would also like to give a shout out to one of Santa’s elves (Arturo Galletti), who gifted me Eric Bledsoe as a sleeper to start the season.

Kalen DeremoRoundball Mining Company@PrincePickaxe - If I could ask for one gift this holiday season, it would be for a trade. I know it sounds funny but the Nuggets’ depth is almost more of a problem than a solution. They are a team full of guys who score 10-15 points per game. Even players on the farthest ends of the Nuggets’ bench are good enough to log robust minutes on most NBA teams. The fact remains: The Nuggets are not winning a title as currently constructed but really aren’t too far away from contending if they just land a perennial All-Star type of talent. So whatever omnipotent deity may exist is out there, please, help yet another spoiled-rotten NBA player stubbornly become disgruntled with his current situation and demand a trade — one that the Nuggets just so happen to fully capitalize on. I promise if I got this wish granted I would never ever ask for anything in my life ever again.

Nate TimmonsDenver Stiffs@Nate_Timmons – The Denver Nuggets wish for a healthy season. Pretty obvious wish from the Jolly Fat Man, but with the history of the team and a couple guys battling back from serious hip injuries in Wilson Chandler and Julyan Stone – it’d be nice to see everyone stay healthy and see what this Nuggets team can do.

Oh and if we could possibly get some additional free throws to fall into the cylinder, that’d be great too!

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DETDetroit Pistons

Patrick HayesPiston Powered@Patrick_Hayes - The Pistons are currently playing former power forward Kyle Singler at shooting guard because the team is in such desperate need of a competent 3-point shooter on the floor, they have no real long-term answer at small forward to eventually replace Tayshaun Prince and, I’m sure, many Pistons fans would ask for a replacement coach for Lawrence Frank, one who would — it seems crazy, I know — actually play the young players on a rebuilding team rather than limited veterans. But I’ll make this easy on Frank. I’ll just turn to Andre Claus and his helper Elf to request the gift of more minutes for prized rookie big man Andre Drummond. Drummond is far more advanced than even his most hopeful predraft proponents expected, and he’s earned a bigger role with the Pistons based on his production than the one they’ve entrusted him with.

Ben GulkerPistons By The NumbersDetroit Bad Boys@BRGulker - I wish that Andre Drummond played as much as he deserves. He’s rather quietly putting together a brilliant rookie campaign, doing all the things that teams need big men to do. He spent most of the first 20 games playing fewer than 20 minutes a night, while older, less-productive players got starter’s minutes. Free Andre Drummond!

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GSGolden State Warriors

Zach LoweGrantland@ZachLowe_NBA - That we see pre-injury 2009-10 Andrew Bogut again, and specifically for this Golden State team. The Bogut who was destroying opposing offenses and putting up the best scoring numbers of his career was one of my favorite players from the last half-decade or so in the NBA, and he would fit perfectly within this surprising Golden State context. They don’t even need Bogut to be at peak offensive form; even a gunshy Bogut is still a strong enough roller and passer to do many times more than Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins can do for the Dubs, who have enough scoring at other positions. But they need a defense-first center who can play heavy minutes without handicapping the team’s offense to the point that they are almost playing 4-on-5 with the ball. Golden has survived playing David Lee and Carl Landry together for big minutes, but they need a third productive big badly; Draymond Green has helped more than expected, but he’s shooting worse than 30 percent. Bogut is the answer for a team that looks so intriguing on paper. I miss his brainy defense, all tiny slides that anticipate every offensive moment and demoralizing lefty shot-blocks. I hope we see him again.

Jack WinterWarriors World - @ArmstrongWinter - Health.  With apologies to limited rookies Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, just how much better would Golden State be if the injured Brandon Rush and Andrew Bogut took their respective places in the rotation? A portly, undersized, unskilled 22 year-old replaced by a reputed “three-and-D” guy coming off the best season of his career – I’ll sit on Santa’s lap for that! A stone-handed turnover machine that can’t finish outside of three-feet supplanted by a bearded Aussie with a reputation as a top-four all-around center – bring on the Festivus feats of strength!

Evan ZamirThe City | Golden State Of Mind@theCity2 - As a Warriors fan, it almost feels like Christmas has come early with the team being ranked in the top 10 in virtually every poll. I don’t think anyone saw that coming, let alone with Rush being out for the season with a devastating injury and Bogut’s injury being more serious than previously thought. Still, I think it’s fairly unlikely that the team can take the “next step” and seriously make a run at going deep in the playoffs without a healthy Andrew Bogut. So my wish would be that Bogut comes back at close to 100% health at some point before the trade deadline. That will give him enough time to get back to playing shape and to incorporate with the team before the playoffs.

Jordan RamirezWarriors World@JRAM_91 - I wish upon the Warriors Holiday tidings in the form of great health. The Warriors have both been largely lucky and unlucky this season in regards to team health. Obviously the Andrew Bogut injury has been well-chronicled, and it’s still not known when he’ll come back. Brandon Rush went down in just the second game of the season. But on the other hand, Stephen Curry has been (a tweak here and there aside) mostly healthy this season and has performed to, dare I say, MVP-level? With all that said, may the Warriors be bestowed with everlasting good health as their surprising, exciting, successful season treks on.

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HOUHouston Rockets

Michael PinaRed94 | Celtics Hub | Shaky Ankles | Bleacher Report@MichaelVPina - A playoff spot. Last year it would’ve been a “superstar,” but now that they’ve obtained one, Houston’s next step is the playoffs. The Rockets have barely missed the postseason these last few years, and it’d be a shame to see that streak continue in James Harden’s first season.

Patrick HarrelThe Dream Shake@PatrickHarrel - Bear with me, but my wish is a bit convoluted. All I wish is that Chase Budinger has been sent to Minnesota as a plant; that he’s spending all year convincing Kevin Love that Houston is a pretty chill place to play for a California bro like himself. I can see it now. Kevin McHale, architect of the Joe Smith scandal, Kelvin Sampson, embattled coach of OU who recruited illegally, and Daryl Morey, general badass, have sat down together and concocted the very best tampering plan possible.

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INDIndiana Pacers

Tim DonahueEight Points Nine Seconds@TimDonahue8p9s - Prescience. While the short-term need is obvious – Danny Granger’s return – a better understanding of the long-term outlook is much more important. The Pacers expected to be entering a four- or five-year window of being one of the top two or three teams in the East. However, Granger’s knee has thrown that all into question. Now, they will face decisions much sooner than hoped. If the Pacer Powers That Be could look into the future and see that:

  • Danny Granger will return with a relatively healthy knee and years of productive play in front of him.
  • Paul George’s December (20.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, .551 eFG) is indicative of the player he will be, instead of just the player he can be.
  • George Hill will continue to grow as a point guard and leader.
  • David West has at least three more years of being David West.

If they could see those things, then it will confirm their path for the next few years, and give them the intestinal fortitude to sign the types of contracts that David West and Paul George are likely to command over the next two years.

However, uncertainty could cascade. Questions about Danny Granger’s long-term health could tighten the purse strings when it comes to David West. Losing David West (and Granger – should his knee problems limit or end his effectiveness) would be a huge step backwards for this franchise. And at that point, they have to consider the wisdom of re-signing Paul George to a contract that is growing with each improvement in his game.

What the Pacers believe will greatly influence who and what they are for the next five years. Being able to see the future would be a handy stocking stuffer.

Nathan SamplesIndy Cornrows - I’m sorry, Santa. Wishing for health feels like a cheap one, and for the past couple of seasons, your gifts of health have been successfully delivered to the Pacers, but is it greedy to keep asking for the same thing every year?

As you know, what matters most for the 2012-13 Pacers is that Danny Granger really will be back at some point this season, and that he will be in form by the time the postseason comes around. His health dictates, and should readily improve nearly every other aspect of this basketball team, from Paul George’s continued development to the bench’s consistency to the search of a competent back up point guard. Is it too much to allow his health in hopes that Indiana can be playing games in May again this year?

Jared WadeEight Points Nine Seconds - @8pts9secs - Personal accountability. The Pacers offense too often simply floats along on a little rain cloud of futility, with nobody ready to take it by the reins and direct it to where it needs to go. David West and to a lesser extent George Hill do often just say “Screw this non-working set, give me the ball and I’ll make a play.”

But given how bad things have been during long stretches of most games this season, we should see it more often and not only at the end of the game after the uber-urgency of possible defeat hits home. Hate ‘em or love ‘em, most good teams have a guy like Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry or JR Smith who are willing to just try something. Just put up a shot. Just make something happen with the ball that the defense has trouble reacting to.

There are pros and cons to devoting possessions to such low-percentage plays, but from a psychological perspective, a team, I think, needs to be taken out of its offense sometimes — especially when the sets are yielding little — just to wake up the other players to the fact that this is a simple sport that they have all been thriving at since the playground days of their youth.

Danny Granger is the guy in the Pacers’ starting lineup that is supposed to do that. Just jack something up every 12 possessions. Without him, there is a void of personal willingness to ensure a possession results in a makable shot. These other players don’t need to necessarily pull up from 24 feet like he tends to, but they do need to at times look at the offense they are failing to run and put it on themselves to just go get a damn hoop.

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LACLos Angeles Clippers

Jovan BuhaESPN LA | ClipperBlog@JovanBuha - Most people will wish for more minutes for Eric Bledsoe or pristine health, and while I’d love those things, they’re not at the very top of my list. I’d also like it if Blake Griffin got the respect he deserved, or if DeAndre Jordan was viewed as a top-5 center, but you can’t always get what you want. My Christmas wish is simple: The Clippers win 55+ games, get to the Western Conference Finals (at the very least), and re-sign Chris Paul. In this scenario, they’ll be a contender for five years or so and have their first relavant decade since… well, ever. Is that too much to ask, Santa?

Breene MurphyClipperBlog@BreeneMurphy - Mostly, it’s a wing defender, the Phoenix Suns’ training staff, and 4 inches for Bledsoe so that he could start at the two (and solve the wing defender quandary, though I think he could now). I would say a better coach, but I suppose that I can’t complain… yet. And can I wish for Willie Green to be gone? While I’m at it, can I wish for Donald Sterling to be gone, too?

Andrew HanClipperBlog@AndrewTheHan - I’d like for everyone to be healthy. No biggie. A few of players are trying to get back (Odom, Billups, Hill) and a few are nursing nagging injuries (Griffin, Bledsoe, Butler). Aside from health? More minutes for DeAndre Jordan in crunch time would be nice. And more minutes next to Chris Paul for Bledsoe. Also, maintain the defensive intensity they’ve shown so far this season. And never lose again. And win multiple consecutive championships to form the organization’s first dynasty. And invent cold fusion through their highlights. These are modest requests.

Michael ShagrinClipperBlog | Hickory-High@MShaggy - I wish that each basketball game was longer than 48 minutes. This rule change would not only lead to more basketball for our consumption, but would also open up more time for Eric Bledsoe in the Clippers’ already crowded backcourt rotation. The cult of Bledsoe taken root beyond the municipal boundaries of Clipperland as he’s been recognized for his objective efficiency (2nd in PER amongst point guards, behind only his teammate, Chris Paul) as well as his eye-popping contributions to the highlight reel. Sadly, Bledsoe’s breakout regular season hasn’t translated into a proportional increase in minutes–the third-year guard spends an average of only 18 minutes on the floor.

Fred KatzClipperBlog | HoopSpeak U@FredKatz - If Chanukah Harry were going to bestow one gift on the Clippers, I would like it to be: the return of Lamar Odom.

Odom is already starting to turn his season around a bit. He has lost 10-plus pounds, is clearly in better shape and is more active and energetic on the court, both going for rebounds and on the defensive end. But he still is far from ODOMINATION: SIXTH MAN CHAMPION AND CAPTAIN OF THE BENCH.

Over his past 10 games, Odom has started to put it together, averaging 9.0 points per 36 and 11.4 rebounds per 36. I’m assuming that’s all Harry’s work. When Odom rebounds so well, it can only help the bench succeed. That is a unit that loves to get out and run and with Lamar outlet passing as well as he does, the fast breaks get out moving so much quicker.

So Odom is better. Much better, actually. But he isn’t there. He’s not close. He needs a jumper and he needs to get back to where he was at as the Lakers’ key facilitator. A potential eight-man playoff rotation that includes Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, and a supreme Odom could breed unheralded Clipper success.

But for now, Odom is simply a quality bench player. That is, until Chanukah Harry intervenes.

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LALLos Angeles Lakers

Rey MoraldeForum Blue and Gold | Sports City@ReyGMoralde – A point guard. A healthy point guard. A point guard that can walk. A point guard that can run. A point guard that can run the offense. A point guard that can pass. A point guard that doesn’t look lost. A point guard that can shoot. A point guard that can command everyone’s respect. Basically, Steve Nash. We all miss you, Steve!

David MurphySearching For Slava | Forum Blue and Gold@DaveM324 - As the New Year unfolds, Mike D’Antoni guides Steve Nash and the Lakers back into their rightful place in the western hierarchy through geriatric speed and cunning. Tragedy strikes in March however, when Mike is blinded by Craig Sager’s pixilating suit during a network mandated interview. Jim Buss is forced to journey to Deer Lodge and prostate himself at Phil Jackson’s feet. The Omnipotent One returns and guides the Lakers to his 12th ring via a mind-numbing display of half-court sets. When presented with the trophy, Phil is asked if he’d like to thank anyone. He ponders, smiles, and replies, “not really.”

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MEMMemphis Grizzlies

Tom LorenzoStraight Outta Vancouver@TomLorenzo - My wish would be for the Grizzlies to put John Hollinger to work, immediately, to find the team an efficient backup point guard who can also shoot threes. Is that too much to ask for? Probably. Oh, and while I have his/her/its attention, can he/she/it please put the Mike Bibby rumors to rest? That alone would bring so much holiday cheer to the city of Memphis.

Joshua Coleman3 Shades Of Blue@3SOB - Health, chemistry, luck — all of the things that any potential contender needs to make a deep playoff run. Beyond those obvious keys, I wish the Grizzlies could find a consistent perimeter threat (I’m looking at you, J.J. Redick) to complement their fearsome frontcourt foursome. I’d wish for a time machine — not to go backwards, but forwards — so that I could see how Rudy Gay is going to turn out, which would make the issue of whether or not to trade him a lot easier to answer. See previous wish and insert Zach Randolph — surprisingly, a 31-year old, 12-year NBA veteran already. We have gotten a new owner and a few new front office people already, so my last wish is for some stability and continuity through the rest of the season and the off-season. After all, Chris Wallace and Lionel Hollins have done a pretty good job with this team so far.

Marcus PrivittStraight Outta Vancouver - @MarcusPrivitt – If I had to choose a gift for the Grizzlies this year, I’d choose a voice in the National Media Market.  The Grizzlies, despite their skyrocketing winning percentage, have never quite had the “marketability” other teams seem to have.  This season, for the first time, I feel we finally can put some push to the request – the media can’t ignore our winning record for too long.  As soon as the media starts recognizing our wins as legitimate and not the “opponent’s loss,” we can get the attention we deserve.

Also, a life-sized Marc Gasol stuffed animal giveaway-night would be splendid.  Just sayin’.

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MIAMiami Heat

Jay RamosHot Hot Hoops@CourtBully - It seems absurdly greedy to call upon the magic of mythical creatures to add more gifts upon the defending champions, but I’ll do it anyway.

How about a regression for Mario Chalmers? He’s a more important player than most believe, and his 3-point shooting really spaces the floor for Wade and James with the Heat’s starting lineup. Chalmers shot 39 percent last season from long distance and is a career 36 percent shooter from out there.

The Heat’s offense was nearly five points better with him on the floor in 2011-12 and that’s down this year. So my extremely greedy wish as a Heat follower is getting Mario’s shooting back, and the big shots that come with it.

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MILMilwaukee Bucks

Jeremy SchmidtBucksketball@Bucksketball - I’d like a new team, please. Start from scratch. Trade Jennings. Trade Ellis. Trade Dalembert. Trade Przybil … okay, some things, even this gift giver fella can’t do. But this whole thing needs to be scrapped. I know it’s strange that these are my wishes for a team that, as of the moment I’m writing this, is sixth in the Eastern Conference, but I have so little hope for this group.

They aren’t very fun to watch. They take tons of bad shots and have no one who can consistently impose his will on a game. They have a couple of guys who don’t mind trying to do that with jump shots, but it rarely ends up well.

I’m ready for something different. A drastically different direction for the franchise.

Steve Von Horn and Frank MaddenBrewHoop@SteveVonHorn and @BrewHoop - Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl is 77 years old and filthy rich, but he’s definitely not miserly. His philanthropic spirit stands in stark opposition to the misanthropic shut-in Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, yet Kohl’s generosity and loyalty have backed the Bucks into a corner (or maybe a windowless room) on countless occasions.

From the max deal to extend Michael Redd (six years, $91 million), to the re-up on Mo Williams (six years, $52 million), to the five-year pact with Bobby Simmons ($47 million), to the six-year contract for for Dan Gadzuric ($36 million), to the big deal for John Salmons (five years, $39 million), to the recent five-year, $40 million contract for Ersan Ilyasova, it’s no wonder why the Bucks are going on 12 years without a playoff series win. It’s also no wonder why Milwaukee has only appeared in the post-season four times over that that same span.

We at Brew Hoop would never wish for Herb Kohl to become miserly – he’s the biggest and best advocate for basketball in Milwaukee that a fan could ever ask for – but we do wish that he’d learn spend his money….er…wiserly. That’s why we hope he’s visited by the Ghosts of 30-to-42-Win Seasons Past this Christmas.

An avalanche of apparitions would descend upon the Kohl household if our wish came to pass (the Bucks have finished in that range for eight of the last 11 years), but that’s the point. The Bucks need a new arena. Then again, they recently signed a six-year lease at the BMO Harris Bradley Center and now have a window to turn the team into something fans can really get excited about – home attendance currently ranks No. 28 in the NBA.It’s time to break the cycle of mediocrity and let a rebuilding process begin in earnest. As far as we’re concerned, Earnest Saves Christmas.

Matt CianfroneHickory-High@Matt_Cianfrone - My wish is that Brandon Jennings learns how to make shots at like a 43 percent clip. I like Brandon and think he brings more to the table than Monta Ellis, so if he can start consistently making shots it makes the Bucks choice between the two obvious. Unfortunately, based on everything we have seen his entire career, he is just below 40 percent, and with his horribly bad shot selection, a Christmas miracle may be the only way this happens.

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MINMinnesota Timberwolves

Patrick MintonThe NBA Geek@NBAGeek - I feel like this one is super easy. Just give the team perfect health. It’ll be really fun to see how good this team can be when all its players are healthy at the same time. And that includes Kevin Love’s hand, he’s clearly still having tons of problems with it. So, Santa, just so we’re clear: no back spasms, no broken appendages, no sprains, no stomach flu, no stubbed toes…I don’t want to even see a scab from someone cutting themselves shaving, k?

Jordan WhiteHardwood Paroxysm@JordanSWhite - I just want Brandon Roy to have his meniscus back.

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NONew Orleans Hornets

Chris TrewHornets 24/7@ChrisTrew - For the Pelicans uniforms to be as awesome as this mockup. Because the name is awesome (state bird!). The symbolism is awesome (pelicans are on everything in New Orleans!). And most people just don’t get it, like a lot of New Orleans culture, which is awesome (see: Mardi Gras). Cut to two years from now and the general consensus being “yeah, I thought it was weird at first but actually it might be the most interesting name in the league.”

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NYNew York Knicks

Seth RosenthalPosting and Toasting@Seth_Rosenthal - A fully healthy, totally amenable Amar’e Stoudemire. The Knicks might not want to mess with their starting lineup, but they need Amar’e back. The second unit offense is badly in need of someone to roll competently off screens and draw the occasional double team. Hell, the Knicks could even use Amar’e on defense, where he’s mostly bad but does offer somewhat reliable weak side help, or at least the occasional block. Anything’s better than lineups with, like, Kurt Thomas and Steve Novak as the best interior help on the floor. If Stoudemire is well and willing to accept any role given to him, he could make the Knicks even better. (While we’re at it, a healthy Iman Shumpert could do so much for New York’s flimsy perimeter defense. General health would be nice. I’m pretty sure this is what I asked for last season.)

Jared DubinHardwood Paroxysm | HoopChalk@JADubin5 - The seamless transitioning of Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire into the lineup. The Knicks badly need help containing dribble penetration. Enter Shumpert, one of the league’s best one-on-one defenders as a rookie last season. The Knicks also badly need help scoring when Carmelo Anthony isn’t on the court. Enter Stoudemire, a (hopefully) fantastic weapon to bring off the bench with JR Smith and Steve Novak.

Jim CavanKnickerblogger@JPCavan - You mean besides getting Renaldo Balkman back? Hmm…

…What about Ronald… Sorry! Sorry.

Setting aside the obvious – a championship, Renaldo Balkman – my penultimate Holiday wish is for Iman Shumpert’s fade to get hit with a tech. Doesn’t matter for what, really – hanging on the rim, throwing a chair, yelling “Bald don’t lie!” during a Jerryd Bayless free throw. Flicking off a ref would be pretty cool.

I’ll pay $50 for Photoshop renderings of any of these, by the way.

Robert SilvermanKnickerblogger@BobSaietta – The 2012-13 season has been replete with so many delicious unexpected gifts— Jason Kidd’s transformation into a deadly three-point marksman, the (largely) turnover-free, heady point guard play from Raymond Felton, Carmelo’s evolution into Bernard King 2.0 with a golden patina of 46% three-point shooting, the continued rim-smashing, guttural, gladiatorial dominance of Tyson Chandler, Mike Woodson dropping his bland ISO-Player X offensive tendencies and unearthing a heretofore unseen wellspring of creative playcalling and, last but not least, Sheed! I mean, c’mon, we looked under our collective ‘Bocker Xmas three/Hanukkah Shrub/ Chrimbus Bush and got a mint-condition Sheed from that slightly creepy, rarely-seen uncle who delights in touching our shoulder/offering Buster Bluth-style massages for no reason whatsoever in a well-meaning but still horribly awkward way. One would have to exhibit a Veruca Salt-esque level of avarice to ask for anything more.

That said, we Knickerbackers have received so many lumps of coal in our NBA stockings over the last ten years, perhaps this unreal bounty is some kind of karmic payback. And since we’re so battle-scared as to twitchingly assume that at any moment this will all be revealed to be some kind of terrible, cruel joke/mirage, the Gods might as well deliver yet one more goodie before the massive weight of our hopes and dreams burdening this oh-so-delicate, improbable, gorgeous alternate universe causes it to collapse upon itself.

Therefore, my wish is that the denizens of Madison Square Garden will unwrap an all expenses paid, round-trip ticket to Lourdes. Carmelo Anthony’s missed a full 20%* of the season so far, Sheed’s back in a walking boot, Kidd skipped a few games when his vertebrae got all dodgy, Camby’s tootsies have apparently never been right and Amar’e and Shump still haven’t donned their blue and orange togs. The fact that bumps and bruises of varying severity have hobbled the league’s oldest team should surprise absolutely no one, but (relatively) good health is the only thing preventing this team from embarking on a deep playoff run.

*Assuming Melo’s out Wednesday night v. Brooklyn. If he suits up, it’s 4/25 or 16%

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OKCOklahoma City Thunder

J.A. ShermanWelcome To Loud City@WTLC - My one wish for the Thunder this season surprisingly is not that we could rewind time and successfully re-sign James Harden. That ship has sailed and I find myself being OK with it having left port. The direction that the Thunder offense is moving right now is vastly superior to where it was a year ago, and if it took Harden’s departure to get it there, then that is good in the long term.

Rather, I would like the Thunder to find more meaningful ways to use their two promising young rookies Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III, as well as 2nd year guard Reggie Jackson. Harden’s replacement Kevin Martin has fit into the Thunder concept well, but there is no guarantee that he will be with OKC after this season. In the meantime, coach Scott Brooks needs to make better use of his youngsters so that they not only contribute to this season’s championship pursuit, but will also be valuable assets for the team down the road.

Royce YoungCBS SportsDaily Thunder@DailyThunder - An MVP for Kevin Durant. He won’t tell anyone, but he really, really wants it. And he’s playing fantastically beautiful basketball, which helps. KD has rightfully been second to LeBron for a while now, but it kind of feels like it’s Durant’s turn.

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ORLOrlando Magic

Nate DrexlerMagic Basketball - @NateDrex - To be honest, I wish that the Magic could find a way to finish above .500, limp into the playoffs to get these younger guys some experience, and some how luck out in the draft (like they intended to do), and get a top five pick going into next season. In other words, the greatest gift they could get right now is success this season to bolster a championship mindset, and have that exponentiation by a miraculously high draft pick.

Need more detail? I hope we draft the next Damian Lillard. There’s not a Lillard coming up in the next draft, but you’re asking for miracles and gifts! Maybe one will develop in the next 6 months!

Secondary wish: Deron Williams.

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PHIPhiladelphia 76ers

Tom SunnergrenPhiladunkia - My Christmas wish: A brilliant young trainer on the Sixers staff—he broke his neurosurgeon parents’ hearts by entering a field of medicine they thought was below him; but he just loved the game so damn much—hits his head in a pickup soccer game, and comes to to find he’s finally licked the problem that’s obsessed him for months: he’s devised a fully-formed, unprecedented, and devastatingly effective training routine for big men with just Andrew Bynum’s malfunction. The results are immediate and overwhelming. Bynum and the renascent Sixers take the Eastern Conference by storm, a run that continues into the finals where they topple the Thunder by six games to claim the franchise’s first title since 1983. “Even more than that brilliant and eccentric trainer, Tom Sunnergren was instrumental to this victory,” Doug Collins will say at the postgame podium, stopping to wipe tears from the corners of his wrinkled eyes. No one will know what he’s talking about.

Carey SmithPhiladunkia@Philadunkia - All I want for Christmas is a concrete answer to the Andrew Bynum enigma.  Does he simply need the rest he is currently getting so that his knees can return to 100%? Is he soft and lazy and taking his sweet ass time returning to action? Are his knees permanently damaged and this will continue to be a problem for years? The Sixers new-ish ownership group and front office need to formulate a long range plan for this franchise (They’ve needed one for years now.) and a great deal of that plan will hinge on the health of Andrew Bynum’s knees. Thus we need a definitive medical diagnosis on the big man’s mid-leg joints. So Santa Claus forget about the Mississippi Leg Hound I ask for every year and please grant me this one wish.  (FYI…if you could also stuff an NBA starting caliber SG in my stocking that would be great as well. Sorry to be greedy, but I’ve been really good this year.)

Matt SwimanHickory-High | Hardwood Paroxysm - @MSwiman - I wish Bynum could suit up and play for the 76ers and I wish that Jrue gets the credit he deserves and is named to the All-Star team this year.

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PHOPhoenix Suns

Michael SchwartzValley Of The Suns@ValleyOfTheSuns - What the Phoenix Suns need more than anything is a cornerstone player to build around. Now before you chide me for taking the easy way out by picking something every NBA team could use, take a look at the landscape around this franchise. Goran Dragic is their best player and nobody on the roster figures to develop into even a top-three player on a championship contender. In Year 1 post-Nash, the Suns need to find that next star BAD. The squad possesses some solid role players that would be a great fit on a championship team, but you’re not going anywhere when that’s all you have. The sad thing is that even if they find that cornerstone they would still be searching for a secondary star next holiday season before they can even think about jumping back into contention.

Adam KoscielakGothic Ginobili@AdamKoscielak - That Michael Beasley breaches his contract in the most hilarious (and non health-threatening) way possible, allowing the Suns to get rid of his abomination of a game, all the while entertaining twitter endlessly.

That Goran Dragic captures some of Steve Nash’s leftover mojo, learning to balance his scoring with passing to catapult himself into the top-tier of point guards.

That Marcin Gortat plays with all his heart, rather than thinking about his shots and future earnings. If he does that, he’s going to get a whole lot of both.

That Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers (despite Steve Nash’s best efforts) into the deep lottery, giving the Suns a solid shot at Shabazz in a fit of karmic justice.

And finally, that Channing Frye recovers from his heart issues. He’s not only a really good role player, but also a genuinely good guy. The sooner we see him on the court, the better for all of us.

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PORPortland Trail Blazers

Danny NowellPortland Roundball Society | HoopSpeak - @DMNowell - Right now, more than anything, the Blazers need a center. Yes, J.J. Hickson has been rejuvenated this year—or perhaps simply juvenated, when you compare his activity to some of his least inspired seasons—and yes, Meyers Leonard has shown bright glimpses of promise, but a true presence in the middle is the Blazers’ biggest need. A rebounding space-eater would give Portland a semi-complete frontcourt rotation and prevent them from having long minutes featuring such offensively woeful units. So while the Trail Blazers have a couple needs before they’re a finished product, the biggest of these is the biggest of these.

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SACSacramento Kings

Tom ZillerSBNation NBA | SactownRoyalty@TeamZiller - For the Kings, as always, I would kindly request a new arena. It would not make Aaron Brooks a great point guard, John Salmons an excellent shooter, Tyreke Evans an All-Star or DeMarcus Cousins a perfectably reasonable, rational young man. But it would ensure we here in Sacramento get to find out first-hand whether any of our myriad wishes come true.

James HamCowbell Kingdom@James_Ham - If Santa were going to bestow one gift on the Kings this season, it would be for a new lease agreement between the city of Sacramento and the Maloof family to play in a new building in the downtown Sacramento Rail Yards.  This amazing fanbase deserves to be rewarded for their nearly 30 years of incredible support with a guarantee of at least another 30 years of Kings basketball.

Jordan KahnHoopChalk |Bullets Forever@AyoItsJordan - I wish that Tyreke Evans would become an efficient team player. Even though he can’t jump, he’s one of my favorite finishers in the league. But I can’t fully enjoy his Euro-step/spin move layups because, deep down, I know that he’s probably not helping his team. Let me love you, ‘Reke!

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SASan Antonio Spurs

Andrew McNeill48 Minutes of Hell@Drew_48moh -

  1. Clone of a 20-year-old Tim Duncan.
  2. A new big man able to both protect the rim and hedge aggressively on pick-and-rolls.
  3. A magic elixir capable of keeping Manu Ginobili healthy for months at a time.
  4. An evil Tim Duncan clone.
  5. Whatever those scientists gave Steve Rogers in Captain America to make him taller. I would like to pass that on to DeJuan Blair and Boris Diaw.

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TORToronto Raptors

Sam HolakoRaptors Republic@RapsFan – If … were to bestow one gift on the Toronto Raptors this season, I would like it to be a new GM; preferably in the mold of Sam Presti or Kevin Pritchard. Someone who, after seven years at the helm of the team, could demonstrate a positive…anything, really. I want a GM who is above average at his job and has much more hits than misses.

Devin DignamWages of Wins - After years of wishing and hoping, I’d like it to be that Raptors’ GM Bryan Colangelo finally trades away Andrea Bargnani. Upon making such a trade Colangelo would also realize that he had reached the pinnacle of his career and resign from his GM position. I asked for this last year too, so my belief in Santa Claus is understandably shaky.

Blake MurphyRaptors Republic | HoopData@BlakeMurphyODC - Milk and cookies. Seriously, I love cookies. Someone hit up Moo Milk Bar and get me some. Oh, the Raptors? Well, they’re hopeless, but I suppose a Bargnani trade would be nice, not because he’s THE problem, but because he’s representative of a bad era in franchise history, and unloading him will allow some semblance of a “fresh start” as we head into Rebuild # (Insert how many years franchise has existed, minus two). I’d also love for every team to install those camera systems that 10 teams are now using. The sooner they all have it, the sooner the info will be available to us (like Pitch FX).

Adam FrancisRaptors HQ@RaptorsHQ - Picking one gift for this beleaguered group is nearly impossible.  You start with a trade that would move Andrea Bargnani and net something fruitful in return, and even go as far as replacing Bryan Colangelo and crew, who have hardly been a smashing success seven seasons into their tenure.

However I’ll look more on a micro level and ask for help at the small forward position.  The team has tried a litany of options this season, from Dominic McGuire to Mickael Pietrus, but nothing’s worked.  The team’s PER at that position is still an astounding 7.9, and while Alan Anderson and Landry Fields appear to finally be healthy, a true starter at that spot would give Raptors’ fans a reason to smile this holiday season.

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UTAUtah Jazz

Spencer HallSalt City Hoops@SaltCityHoops - If the Jazz could somehow receive the gift of playing as well on the road as at home, we’d all be eternally grateful. It’s the same team, so it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Maybe, if it isn’t asking too much, you could include a small playbook with some in-bounding sets and maybe something for ends of games as a stocking stuffer.

Spencer also included this pre-emptive thank you note with his wish . . .

photo

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WASWashington Wizards

John Converse TownsendTruth About It@JohnCTownsend - A healthy John Wall (the kid is 22 years old and battling what we think is osteoarthritis), stage lighting for the Verizon Center and a new general manager slash team president.

Amin VafaHardwood Paroxysm | SBNation Cleveland - @AminNBA - A magical potion that would allow everyone on the roster to be healthy for an entire 82-game season so that full-potential could be properly gauged.

Rashad MobleyTruth About It - @Rashad20 - I would give the Wizards the gift of a playoff berth, but in the spirit of the holidays,  I’m doing it for purely selfish reasons.  I started covering this team in June of 2008, just two months after the Wizards last playoff appearance (they lost 4-2 to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers).  Since then Eddie Jordan, Ed Tapscott, and Flip Saunders have all been fired, and Randy Wittman’s current 3-19 record may lead him to the same fate.  The Wizards combined record in those non-playoff years? 88-224 (a 39% winning percentage).

For once, I’d like to cover a team that is scoreboard watching, and checking the standings to see what seed they will earn in the playoffs.  I would like to feel the (media) intensity of a 6 or 7 game series, as opposed to sitting in press row, trying to decide how many media workouts I’m going to attend in the month of May.   It would be a win-win.  I would get the playoff experience, and the Wizards would be freed from the wrath of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and the rest of the TNT crew.

And ultimately isn’t that what the holiday spirit is about?  Mutually beneficial gifts?

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NBA logosGrab-Bag

Ben GolliverThe Point Forward@BlazersEdge - The one gift I would like the NBA to give all of its teams, fans and media bums is simple: embedding capability on its entire video archive. The league office takes all sort of crap (much of it well-deserved) but there isn’t a Christmas card big enough to begin to thank them for how quickly and adeptly they have jumped into the online video world. The NBA now enjoys a massive and much improved presence on YouTube, loading highlight clips quickly after they happen, cutting together game reels to single out a great performance, cross-posting video content used on its television shows, and the like. They instantly feed out the content via Facebook and Twitter and even stream full D-League games on YouTube now. In short, the league’s video presence is better, faster, smarter, deeper, easier to find and often funnier, and a growing audience is embracing all of it with open arms and lots of clicks.

The last remaining hurdle is to break down the wall that separates much of the league’s video content from the open world of YouTube. Too many clips are getting overlooked on team sites that are hard to navigate, impossible to search and lacking in visibility. Whether it’s post-game interviews, in-game jumbotron features, whatever… that stuff should all be made easily share-able and/or simply posted directly onto YouTube. You can the see number of interested observers looking to open up this content work on a daily basis, with individual users downloading or recording videos from NBA sites and re-uploading them to YouTube so they can be shared more easily. That’s a waste of time and an inefficient, unnecessary process. The NBA seems to have found multiple ways to incorporate advertising onto its YouTube videos so it’s unclear what the argument is for restricting some of the content onto old, clunky sites. Just open the floodgates! How many memes and viral moments are we missing out on? And, more importantly to the NBA, how many views are being squandered?

Kevin PeltonBasketball Prospectus@KPelton - Overall, I continue to wish for good health (get well soon, Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Danny Granger, Andrew Bogut, Steve Nash, Eric Gordon, Andrew Bynum, John Wall and company) and well-played basketball that shows this is the world’s greatest sport. But specifically, I’m feeling a bit more selfish this holiday season. I hope that 2013 marks the return of my beloved Seattle SuperSonics. The arena funding is ready. So too are a wealthy and committed local ownership group, the fans and KeyArena as a temporary venue. All that’s missing is a franchise, so expansion would be the best gift possible.

Neil PaineBasketball-Reference@Neil_Paine - My league-wide wish is simply for all of the injured stars to come back ASAP and at 100%. Is it just me or have more guys missed the first quarter of the season with injuries than in the past? Either way, the NBA is just not as much fun when Derrick Rose, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Andrew Bynum, Danny Granger, John Wall, and Amare Stoudemire (and to a lesser extent Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups) are on the shelf. Get well soon!

Kirk GoldsberryCourt Vision@KirkGoldsberry - I would love for Stata Claus and his Reindeer  to softly land atop the roofs of every NBA arena and secretly install SportVu cameras in their rafters.

Joe KotochPro Basketball Draft@ProBBallDraft – Three Wishes:

Cavs fans, get a new GM. In his third season running the team GM Chris Grant has made several questionable selections with high lottery draft picks. Choosing Tristan Thompson over Klay Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, and Kenneth Faried among others was the first questionable choice he made.  While the jury is still out on Dion Waiters, who was selected fourth in this years draft, Grant has not done himself any favors with a very patient fanbase that has been long-suffering.  Even as Miami has hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, Cleveland fans seem just as far away from the playoffs as they did the previous season and with four first-round picks the last two years it appears as though the Cavs have one foundational player and three players best suited coming off the bench for winning ballclubs.  As a draft analyst it’s shocking to see Cleveland squander so many high draft choices and at the same time makes so many puzzling selections.

More clubs make bold choices when it comes to hiring front office personnel.  This past week John Hollinger of ESPN was hired by the Memphis Grizzlies as the vice president of basketball operations.  Well, Hollinger has yet to establish himself in this capacity, his unique perspective and analytics background bring much-needed diversity to Memphis’ front office.  More NBA teams should make bold decisions like this, as too many former players are given these jobs and do not have the proper training outside of scouting to succeed.  For instance, one reason why so many teams have bad contracts could be due to the fact that most GM’s are former players and do not have legal training or negotiating experience outside of on-the-job training. Whereas nearly all NBA agents have extensive negotiating experience worldwide as well as legal experience.

More success for small-market clubs.  The trend in the NBA of late has been stars forcing their way into large markets and holding their’s clubs from smaller markets hostage along the way – see LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, etc.  Certainly the NBA has a right to want to see large market team such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami be successful, but it should not be at the expense of clubs in Cleveland, Orlando, Denver, etc.  Make no mistake, what Oklahoma City is doing is great, and most fans are very excited to watch the Thunder.  For the greater good of the NBA as a whole the success of smaller market and midmarket teams is essential because today’s NBA, and for that matter sports leagues in general, are all about winning correlating to fan interest.  Better balance league-wide from market success makes the NBA more valuable.

Myles Ma - Hickory-High - @MylesMaNJ - I wish the NBA would man up and schedule national television games opposite NFL games. Woody Allen said 80 percent of success is just showing up. Just show up, NBA.

Kris Fenrich - Dancing With Noah - @DancingWithNoah - 1. Contraction: There are too many bad teams and bad players in the league as it stands. Cut out 3-5 franchises and we’ll lose somewhere between 36 – 70 of the league’s worst players while simultaneously adding depth and quality to the remaining teams. 2. A fully developed farm system: Every team would have a dedicated farm system a’la MLB. In my dream world, this would replace the corrupt, hypocritical, gestapo-like NCAA. There would be multiple classes like MLB has single A, AA, AAA. There would be career minor leaguers, but kids like Nerlens Noel would develop playing against both young prospects and savvy/dirty old vets. And those 36 – 70 players out of jobs from the contraction above would suddenly have jobs (albeit, lower-paying jobs) at the highest level of the NBA Minor Leagues.

Kyle Soppe - Hickory-High | The Fake Basketball | Fantasy Trade 411 - @unSOPable23 - I wish the NBA would develop a “Redzone” type channel, where you are taken around the league from game to game. No commercials. Catch all the great endings. Keep an eye on if Kobe Bryant is going to get 50, and see instant replays of the latest Blake Griffin dunk. The NFL has this, and the NBA could generate excitement from doing something similar.

Vijay ShravahSaving The SkyHook | NBA Fan’s Take@NBAFansTake - 1. Orlando Magic:  An above-.500 record for the Orlando Magic, the NBA’s most inspiring team this season after suffering a 2-year long Dwightmare.

2. Brooklyn Nets:  For the D-Will we know and love to arrive to Brooklyn, as the imposter version of him is currently shooting a career low FG% and 3PT%.

3. For a restored NBA landscape that is currently devastated by injury; hoping for successful recoveries from long-term injuries and a healthy remaining season for many of the NBA’s superstars:  Derrick Rose, Ricky Rubio, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Andrew Bynum, Eric Gordon, Andrew Bogut, and even Grant Hill.

James BrocatoShut Up And Jam@Shut_Up_And_Jam - Besides getting the Sonics back? I guess I’d settle for the next best thing: I want Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to win a championship together. And I want them to bring back the “he thinks that I think he’s gonna go left…” commercial with those two. Not that anyone but me remembers that commercial…

Paul GothamPickin’ Splinters@PickinSplinters - Here’s hoping St. Nick visits the D-League and leaves some goodies in its stocking. Draft picks aplenty are finding out they need work on their games. Maybe the Jolly One can leave them some fundamentals. While he is at it, here’s hoping St. Nick blesses us all with an increased D-League. Get rid of the one year in college and instead let’s get a minor league system for hoops.

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