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?
I know this time of year can leave people of certain cultural backgrounds feeling either ignored or put upon in an extremely comfortable way. I tried to phrase the question in a way that was inclusive, not offensive, and ridiculous enough to diffuse frustrations.
I then sent this question out to friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, formal acquaintances and total strangers. 68 basketball writers from all over the internet were nice enough to respond, sharing wishes for their favorite team or the league as a whole. 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.
The responses I got are below, covering 29 teams. Miami Heat bloggers must have felt that their team was all set, or are keeping there wishes secret for fear they won’t come true. There is also a Grab-Bag at the end covering multiple teams or the entire league.
This project was collaborative in nature and hopefully that will continue to extend out. Peruse what’s here and please share your wishes in the comments or on Twitter with the hashtag #NBAWishes. Put those good thoughts out into the universe for your special team.
Bret LaGree – @Hoopinion – Hoopinion - A new owner, preferably one with money to spend, the good sense to let basketball people make basketball decisions, and the necessary sense of shame not to give interviews bragging about being in the top 10 in payroll in order to field a 44-win team that got outscored on the season.
But if we’re wishing upon the stars for everything and everything, perfect health for the rest of the team and surprise “step-up”contributions from the younger players on the team. I sure would like to see one last hurrah before the window closes.
Brendan Jackson – @CelticsHub – Celtics Hub - Health. The storyline has and will be the same as long as the Big Four are together. Last year, not even Rondo’s youth could stave off the injury bug as it plowed its way through the Celtics roster. This season, the Celtics have a deeper, more focused bench despite already being hit hard in the injury department (Jeff Green is out of the season while recovering from heart surgery). If whoever has the power to bestow the gift of health to the Celtics decides to do so, then the C’s can hang with anyone.
Spencer Percy – @QCSportsCrave – Queen City Hoops - I wish for just one of the two first round draft picks to actually work out and end up being better in seven years than Emeka Okafor, our highest draft choice ever. Oh, and to also not be a complete bust (refer: Adam Morrison, Sean May, Alexis Ajinca).
Doug Thonus – @DougThonus – Chicago Bulls Confidential - It looks like he already came and gave us Richard Hamilton, but if we get more gifts then I’ll take health under the tree with a bench scorer in our stocking.
Colin McGowan – @CS_McGowan – Cavs: The Blog – To play reasonably well but still have a horrible record. The Cavs need a high draft pick, but, for the sake of my sanity, I would prefer the team play like competent professional basketball players, not a collective of washed-up veterans and 13th men.
Rob Mahoney – @RobMahoney – The Two Man Game - Is Tyson Chandler on a one-year rental too much to ask? Would Samuel Dalembert on a short-term deal be too ambitious a request? I fear so; even good ol’ secular St. Nick — last I checked, anyway — can’t turn back the hands of time and un-sign those who have already been signed.
I’ll settle for an all-inclusive chemistry playset. Dallas won’t have Chandler in the middle this year, challenging every ball-handler from their first step in the paint. But they could still have a fun, highly productive squad with the help of some fast gelling. Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West, Sean Williams, and Brandan Wright will need to get their bearings quickly, and a rack of plastic test tubes filled with water and food coloring seems like the perfect prescription.
Kalen Deremo – @24kGoldenChild – Roundball Mining Company - Honestly, I pray to whatever omnipotent deity is out there that George Karl doesn’t play Andre Miller and Ty Lawson together at the same time. For years Nuggets fans have been haunted by Anthony Carter-Allen Iverson, Anthony Carter-Chauncey Billups and Chauncey Billups-Ty Lawson back-courts that in no way have been successful. Yet for some reason, Karl continues to drive Nuggets fans absolutely nuts with this unconventional lineup.
This year the Nuggets have two legitimate shooting guards in Rudy Fernandez and Arron Afflalo, and two pure starting point guards in Ty Lawson and Andre Miller. There is absolutely no reason in the world that Lawson and Miller should end up on the floor at the same time. I don’t care if it’s Miller and Afflalo, Miller and Fernandez, Lawson and Afflalo or Lawson and Fernandez, just please do not play two point guards together any longer for the sake of Nuggets Nation’s sanity!
Andres Alvarez – @NerdNumbers – The Wages of Wins - I want to the Nuggets to re-sign Nene and Afflalo and draft Faried. . . oh wait I guess if Santa wanted to make it perfect we’d amnesty Harrington and trade Brewer too.
Nate Timmons – @Nate_Timmons – Denver Stiffs - My wish: That Timofey Mozgov plays defense like Bill Russell and offense like Hakeem Olajuwon. With his starting gig in Denver likely to begin on December 26th, this would be a fantastic Christmas Present for Nuggets Nation!
Patrick Hayes – @Patrick_Hayes – Piston Powered - A time machine. Undo the Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signings. Keep Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson. Draft Ty Lawson, Darren Collison or Jrue Holiday instead of Austin Daye. Draft the right DeJuan (Blair, not DaJuan Summers). No team has had a more catastrophic recent run of poor free agency, trade and draft decisions than Detroit. The Pistons have intriguing young talent in Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Jonas Jerebko, but they could very realistically be working with so much more right now.
Ben Gulker – @BRGulker – The Wages of Wins - Honestly, I was hoping for more addition by subtraction, but Dumars has decided to lock up several middling players. What I would take is a big man who dominates the glass and interior defense to pair with Greg Monroe. As would every other team in the league…
David Berri – The Wages of Wins - How about Kris Humphries? That would be part of my wish list. Not going to get it, though. Haven’t done the analysis yet, but I think the Pistons are Greg Monroe and not much else. This is going to be an awful season. So here is another item for the wishlist… Pistons fans hope for the NBA draft to get here soon!
Golden State Warriors
J.M Poulard – @ShyneIV – Warriors World - The one present that Warriors would have absolutely loved would have been the great gift of an NBA big man. Not just any kind though. The perfect one to complement the Warriors players would cover up for a myriad of defensive mistakes, help out in the pick-and-roll by hedging or trapping the ball handler, cleaning up the boards and finishing anytime he got the ball within a few feet of the basket. His mere presence would discourage opponents from attacking the lane and would lead to the resurgence of the Golden State Warriors. The player in question is none other than Dwight Howard. To be fair, once we realized that wasn’t going to happen, we turned to our contingency plan. And the back up that we were planning on getting, well he got away. So please, hook it up?
Ethan Sherwood Strauss – @SherwoodStrauss – Warriors World and HoopSpeak - I wish for the Warriors…to break the gridlock, to finally leave low lottery purgatory. Or to use Dan Gilbertian religious parlance, I believe you have to die before reaching heaven. What I mean is, the Warriors must stop with lukewarm mediocrity and finally descend into top-3 pick territory. Do it. Enough with the “meh,” please shoot for “bleh!”
Evan Zamir – @TheCity2 – Golden State Of Mind and The City - I would have said a healthy Biedrins a couple of days ago. But I think it’s pretty obvious now with Curry hurt, that what every Warriors fan wants for Christmas (or whatever) is him to return to the team healthy once and for all and get this ankle issue behind him.
Michael Pina – @ShakyAnkles – Red94 - So many options are running rampant through my head, and the no-brainer I’ll decide to hone in on is most likely the least original. If the Houston Rockets woke up Christmas morning with Dwight Howard stuck in their chimney—preferably with a contract extension taped to his forehead—almost all their problems would magically evaporate. The glaring hole at center would be filled. The franchise superstar would be summoned. Houston would be on the fastest track possible to winning a title. Life would be good.
Tom Martin – @DreamShakeSBN – The Dream Shake - I want Marcus Morris to look at himself, now back at me, now back at himself and then back at me and say, “I pity the fool who think I’m worse than Carmelo Anthony,” before ultimately scoring 30 points per game this season with high-flyer, small-forward, swagger. Or he can renounce his Kansas blood. Either works.
Jacob Mustafa – @JacobMustafa – Red94 - The Rockets most need some damn hope. For years, our dreams lied with a couple of well intentioned, poorly bone-structured superstars whose era eventually evaporated like so much bone dust; for one wild day this December, the hope returned. Now, with a team stocked with players who were basically traded and are certainly frustrated, Houston now plods on in search of anything to inspire it besides an 8 seed and first round elimination at the hands of Kevin Durant and Co.
Tim Donahue – @TimDonahue8p9s - Eight Points, Nine Seconds- Health. 90% or better up time for the principal players – Hibbert, West, Granger, Collison, Hill, George, Hansbrough. The more I look at the Pacers, the more I realize that the optimism is based on a series of assumptions: Vogel can coach. Hibbert will become consistent. West will be healthy and a be a good fit. Paul George will deliver on the flashes of promise. Darren Collison will rebound to rookie form. Tyler Hansbrough will continue to develop. That’s a whole lotta if.Indiana is far from a complete product, but in order to move forward towards becoming a contender, they have to have a much better understanding of what they have. So, benevolent force of your choice, please bring the Pacers a season of relative health so that there are no excuses and no noise in this year’s results.
Jared Wade – @Jared_Wade – Eight Points, Nine Seconds - Resilience. This team is poised to become a solid squad that can beat anyone in the league on any given night. But it is a strange year. For instance, they have two sets of back-to-back-to-back games and play 15 of their first 22 games on the road. If they take a measured approach, rely on their depth and understand that they are still a young team with a first-year (full-time) coach, they shouldn’t get beaten down by the compressed schedule. On the other hand, if they let every loss get to them and go into the fetal position at the first sign of adversity, the negativity could snowball and the defeats could pile up. If they stay resilient, maximize the personnel on the court and embrace the new-found atmosphere of hope in the city, this can be a team that no other squad wants to see in the first round of the playoffs. Or, they could finish below .500 again.
Tom Lewis – @IndyCornrows – Indy Cornrows - One gift for the Indiana Pacers would be a magic knee brace for David West to alleviate any concerns about his injury recovery and keep him available for all 66 regular season games.
Los Angeles Clippers
Steve Perrin – @ClipperSteve – Clips Nation - All the Clippers want for Festivus is a relatively healthy season. What they’ve always wanted is to be relevant in the NBA, and they already got that between Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Provided they stay healthy, this team will certainly cement their new-found relevance with a successful season.
Jovan Buha – @JovanBuha – Clipper Blog - I wish for Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to be healthy for at least 90 percent of the games this season. I wish for Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler to play above-average perimeter defense. I wish for DeAndre Jordan to earn his contract. I wish for Vinny Del Negro to figure out his offensive sets. And lastly, I wish for all the Laker fans to mysteriously get poisoned.
Nick Flynt – @NickFlynt – Clipper Blog – If I could have one thing for the Clippers, it would probably be big strides in the defense/defensive system. I’m trusting that Chris Paul and future talent can help with turnover/offensive problems. I’m willing to go ahead and ask for a miracle in regards to the defense.
Kurt Helin - @BasketballTalk - Pro Basketball Talk - Just this once for the basketball gods to let Clippers fans enjoy their good fortune and not have injuries or the gods’ evil puppet Donald Sterling screw this all up. Please, don’t rob us of this entertaining show as you have every other sign of hope to put on a Clipper uniform in the past three decades.
Los Angeles Lakers
Darius Soriano – @ForumBlueandGold – Forum Blue and Gold – I’d like the gods of gift giving to bestow upon the Lakers better production from their point guards. Note, I’m not asking for a trade or an elite player. I simply ask that Steve Blake revert to his pre-Laker form or for Darius Morris to have some of the flashy production from Ann Arbor travel with him to Los Angeles. If Derek Fisher can channel some of that 2010 Game 3 of the Finals magic for an extended period, that will do too. Any of these three are fine by me. I’m not choosy. Thanks, in advance.
Chip Crain – @3ShadesOfBlue – Three Shades Of Blue - If whoever was going to bestow one gift on the Memphis Grizzlies this season it would be a PF/C shot-blocker who wasn’t terrible on offense. With the loss of Darrell Arthur, the slow start of Marc Gasol (nursing a sore ankle injured while working out in LA) and a rusty Rudy Gay, not to mention a condensed season that will put tremendous pressure on teams starting slow, the Grizzlies need someone to fill that vital 3rd big man position.
If I was going to be greedy I would also wish the team would stop reading their press clippings and focus on improving their game but that may be a bit too much to ask anyone.
Wishes for the Heat coming soon . . .
Steven Von Horn – @SteveVonHorn – BrewHoop - A group of enterprising scientists from the Office of Scientific Intelligence to rebuild Andrew Bogut’s right arm with bionic implants that allow him to perform at the All-NBA level he flashed late in the 09-10 season before his gruesome fall in a game against the Suns.
We want someone who can come in and confidently say: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.” He is still better than most starting centers in the NBA by virtue of his game-changing defense, but he could have been so much more. Bucks fans had something special brewing (see what I did there with the Brew Hoop tie in?) in 09-10, and we just want that feeling back again.
Benjamin Polk – @A_W_A_W – A Wolf Among Wolves - There are so many things. An owner with a little more basketball acumen; a perimeter scorer who can defend twos; a complete rewrite of all front office decisions made between 1996 and 2006. (I’m assuming this Dawkinsian Mystical Deity can alter history.) But if I had to choose one thing for the present moment, it would to have the Wolves’ 2012 first round pick back from the Hornets. The Wolves originally sent it to the Clips along with Sam Cassell in exchange for, ah, Marko Jaric. This year that pick was used to help land Chris Paul. Sigh.
Mike Reynolds – @TWolvesBlog – TWolves Blog - For Christmas this year, I would love nothing more than Santa Kahn to deliver a freshly-wrapped, certified, high-quality NBA starter to the Wolves via trade. The Wolves’ could assure themselves future success by taking the Celtics and Clippers approach to rebuilding: selling youth for experience. The team has acquired a set of nice, young players, but the roster and rotation is horribly imbalanced, mismatched, and built around nothing of skillsets and fit, but the principle of youth alone. It is time to trade a few young pieces for an established player such as Andre’ Iguodala, Pau Gasol, pre-scandal Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, etc. Doing so would propel the Wolves forward to a +.500 record, and would turn Wolves fans over-attached to mystique, allure, and draft picks toward the only thing that matters: a winning team. Happy Kahnukkah!
Patrick Minton – @NBAGeek – The Wages of Wins - It’s really hard for me to wish for only one thing for a team that needs OH SO MANY THINGS. How about if Santa were to mystically take away Michael Beasley’s ability to shoot the ball from anywhere other than in the land or beyond the 3-point line?
New Jersey Nets
Mark Ginocchio – @MarkGinocchio – Nets Are Scorching - My wish, a stable roster, including a Nets season that’s not full of trade rumors. Whether that means Dwight Howard is a Net or not (I clearly hope he is), I just don’t want what’s left of the fanbase and the players to endure another “Melodrama,” though Billy King and Otis Smith may not really care what I think.
New Orleans Hornets
Joe Gerrity – @GerrityJoe - Hornets 24/7 - Ideally the Hornets would get a local owner willing to shell out big bucks for the chance to win a title, but I’m not greedy. I’ll take any owner who is actually excited to build a championship team in the great city of New Orleans.
Rohan Cruyff – @Rohan_Cruyff – At The Hive - The Hornets’ wishlist would have to start and end with a new owner, one that will commit to giving the city of NOLA a fair shot, given how fans have rallied around the team even through the lockout. Anything else beyond that – two lottery picks next June? an… All-Star appearance for Eric “The Commissioner” Gordon?? – would be gravy.
New York Knicks
Seth Rosenthal – @Seth_Rosenthal – Posting and Toasting - What Knicks fans would like more than anything from Kwanzaa Karl is for Carmelo Anthony to reach at least some of his potential as a passer and defender. Without a true point guard (at least until Baron Davis returns), New York would really benefit if Anthony chooses to create for others a bit more– something he’s great at but doesn’t always pursue. Additionally, if he could take his defensive match-ups a bit more seriously, it’d instantly improve New York’s perimeter D and take some pressure off Tyson Chandler in the process. We know the guy can and will score, but he’s capable of much, much more than that.
Mike Kurylo – @Knickerblogger – KnickerBlogger - That every optimistic hope and dream of Knick fans comes true. That Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert shore up the Knick defense. That Amar’e Stoudemire improves his game play with a true center next to him. That Toney Douglas is able to run the point well enough so that he can stay on the court longer and let his defense shine. That Landry Fields was more the Landry Fields of the first half of last year. That Renaldo Balkman redeems himself as an energy guy (and sends Jared Jeffries to the bench for good). That Jorts makes enough threes and grabs enough rebounds to make himself useful. That Mike Bibby & Baron Davis find the Fountain of Youth which hides their flaws. That Carmelo Anthony embraces all aspects of his game and gives his best defensive performance every night.
Or maybe we just wish that age finally catches up to the Boston Celtics.
Either one really.
Oklahoma City Thunder
J.A. Sherman - Welcome To Loud City- My one gift on which I would bestow the Thunder is the ability to play at a faster pace. The team is loaded with athletic players who can both start and finish plays, but too often last season, we saw the team walk the ball up the court and engage in their half-court offense with too little time left on the clock. I believe part of this problem is that, like a wild mustang, the players are still learning to stay within their running lanes and at times they played too aggressively. Coach Brooks’ antidote to this problem was to have his team slow down a bit so that sloppiness was minimized. The byproduct however was that the Thunder’s athleticism and talent was bridled.
If the team as a whole can do a better job at protecting the ball and accelerate their pace of play, it will open up even more opportunities for the likes of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant. The faster pace will also help them open up their offense late in games, a period of time when they seem to struggle most with finding open shots. Lastly, each players’ personal skill-set will be enhanced as they become a team that engages and attacks, rather than a team that merely reacts.
Evan Dunlap – @BQRMagic – Orlando Pinstriped Post - The biggest thing Orlando needs is a perimeter player who can reliably create his own shot, which in turn would make its offense more dynamic. As it stands, the Magic’s wings are catch-and-shoot types (Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson, J.J. Redick) or space cadets (Hedo Turkoglu). Von Wafer (word out of training camp is that he’s got the quickest first step on the team) could be that guy, but teams with championship aspirations ought not lean on Von Wafer.
Carey Smith – @Philadunkia – Philadunkia - My wish is for the 2-spot in the Sixers lineup to become a legitimate, every night scoring threat that other teams have to game plan for when the play the 7-6. Now I don’t care how it happens: Jodie Meeks takes his game to that “next level”; AI9 learns to shoot from the outside; Jrue Holiday moves to the SG; Andrew Toney or Hersey Hawkins make a comeback – whatever. As long as my Christmas wish is granted I won’t argue with the form in which this little miracle presents itself.
Michael Levin – @Michael_Levin – Liberty Ballers - All I want for Christmas is a lottery pick. The NBA is not about assembling a bunch of decent players and going after a championship. You need a superstar and in most cases, you need two of them. The Sixers, as put together, have 80% of a superstar in Andre Iguodala (curse that tricksy jump shot!). We could use a full one. So whether or not they trade Dre, lose enough games to fall into the lottery, or steal one from the Hornets, that’s what I want. Secondly (bear with me), all I want for Christmas is for Evan Turner to play 35 minutes per game. Jodie Meeks is a nice player, but he’d be great on the bench in 18-20 minute spurts. Let Evan and Jrue take control of this team and realize, for the love of God, that going 41-41 and making the playoffs is the worst thing ever. Hooray for youth and hooray for Judaism taking me back now.
Michael Schwartz – @ValleyOfTheSuns – Valley Of The Suns - A fountain of youth for Steve Nash. It may seem like Nash has already found such a fountain, but in reality he will be 38 years old a month into the season. Nash would be a perfect player for the Suns to build around as they seem to be attempting to do … if only he were a decade younger.
Portland Trail Blazers
Ben Golliver – @BlazersEdge – Blazers Edge and Eye On Basketball - The most obvious answer here is one game from center Greg Oden. December 25th will mark the third Christmas Blazers fans have celebrated since No. 52 last touched an NBA court, if you can believe that. The preseason prognosis on a potential 2011-2012 regular season return was discouraging but, at this point, even a single appearance would mean a lot to a fanbase that has been waiting on the big man to dominate since the 2007 NBA Draft. With Oden becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer after signing a one-year deal two weeks ago, the seemingly endless waiting game just got an added jolt of urgency. Oden has more than his fair share of detractors, both in the Rose City and around the country, but a Rose Garden return would be met with deafening applause. That’s a moment everyone — Santa Claus included — should be rooting for.
Tom Ziller – @TeamZiller – Sactown Royalty - This one is a simple: a new arena in Sacramento. Without that, there are no Sacramento Kings in 2012 or 2013 or beyond. Sacramento would become the nation’s largest city without a major league team in any sport, and there’d be no plan to pull another one. Speaking personally, I’d gladly take an 0-66 season for a new gym.
Jonathan Santiago – @Cowbell_Kingdom and @itsJonSantiago - Cowbell Kingdom - A new arena, so that Sacramento doesn’t have to go through all of this again.
San Antonio Spurs
Andrew McNeill – @drew_48moh – 48 Minutes of Hell - If I could wish for one thing for the Spurs, it would be a 21-year-old Tim Duncan clone the Spurs magically had Bird Rights to because they have the original Tim Duncan currently under contract. The Tim Duncan era was perfect in terms of fit. The Spurs couldn’t have asked for a better basketball player and personality to fall into their laps and build around. There’s never going to be anything like it for San Antonio as long as I’m alive, that I’m convinced of.
Graydon Gordion – @GraydonGordian – 48 Minutes of Hell - As far as the wish goes… I hope the Lobster God has Chris Paul sign a long extension with the Clippers, only to have Donald Sterling force the Clips to trade him to the Spurs in a shameless, borderline malicious salary dump.
Zarar Siddiqi – @ZararSiddiqi – Raptors Republic -
AB to see the reason for D
Maybe even grab a board
One of DD’s Ds to stand for D
To sign a deal and not hit the road
Ed to get a solid J
Bayless learns to shoot the trey
It’s all we ask, you see
Now it’s all up
Sam Holako – @rapsfan – Raptors Republic- I’d like a billionaire owner who cares about winning more than multi-media broadcast rights. I’d like to not have to listen to games on mute because of the verbal diarrhea Leo Rautins’ spews with his commentating. I’d like a franchise player who is better than a 3rd option on any contending team.
Devin Dignam – The Wages of Wins - That Bryan Colangelo finally gets fed up and trades away Andrea Bargnani. Bonus if it nets the team an average or above average player, but I’m not crossing my fingers; I’d be fine with a salary dump.
Tom Liston – @Liston – Raptors Republic - Buy-in and patience. The culture has shifted under Coach Casey and the Raptors leadership finally has a multi-year plan. Thus, we need continued buy-in and patience from not only the organization but players and fans as well during this transition as the Raptors are finally headed in the right direction. With Jonas Valanciunas joining in a year, Colangelo being smart on free agents this year, and a stocked draft upcoming, the Raptors *may* be set up well in a couple of years.
Spencer Hall – @SaltCityHoops – Salt City Hoops - All I want from the Jazz this year is to play with passion. I can handle losses if the team is playing with the heart of an indomitable lion–or even the heart of a reasonably feisty lion. But an apathetic season will be catastrophic for the Jazz.
Jeff Lind – @JeffLind – Salt City Hoops - All I want for Christmas is a starting role for Derrick Favors. I don’t ask for much… Favors already has the tools to go to the next level. All he needs is a boost in confidence & some on the job training. In the NBA, this means a starting role and big minutes against the world’s best. If the Utah Jazz coaching staff provide the right environment for Favors and let him start, he’ll be up the curve in no time.
Michael Pina – @ShakyAnkles – Wiz of Awes - Washington already has their franchise player, but what they possess in skill, they lack in maturity guided upside. With Wall’s second season promising to be another 20 win laugher, the one thing this franchise needs is one more No. 1 overall pick. With it, they can pair Wall up with a true big man, like Anthony Davis or Andre Drummond, then trade the juvenile delinquents that are JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche for lesser talented, higher IQ role players, and watch as the team contends for the next decade.
Rashad Mobley – @Rashad20 – Truth About It - My one irrational, crazy holiday wish for the Wizards? That a humble, hungry Gilbert Arenas would call up Ted Leonsis for a power lunch in downtown DC, and convince him that he is ready to return to lead the Wizards back to playoffs as a sixth man. Yes I know Nick Young or Jordan Crawford will be filling that role, and yes I know that Gilbert burned bridge after bridge during his tenure here, but this is MY wish. Arenas would come back, average 20 points off the bench, and be completely deferential to John Wall who would easily average at least 20 points and 10 assists. The Wizards would make a glorious return to the playoffs, and then they would get swept by the Heat. But the playoff buzz, which has not been in place since Eddie Jordan was prematurely fired in 2008, would be back in play. And on a selfish note, if Gilbert came back to DC, can you imagine the amount of blog material that would be put in Truth About It’s lap? I can.
James Brocato – The Wages of Wins - 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 the good people of the state of Washington this season, it would be the return of the Supersonics. Perhaps that would mean buying New Orleans from the NBA, but of course the league is protecting the Hornets from being sold to an out of state buyer. And of course the NBA didn’t offer that protection for the Sonics. Can you tell I’m upset? Regardless, please Jesus, god of the sun and all things good, give us our team back!!!
Vijay Shravah – @NBAFansTake – Fan Of Every Team - 1. A new rule to forbid the NBA from ever owning a team again
2. Rejuvenated careers for cousins Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter on their respective new teams
3. A Magic superstar that doesn’t stretch for excuses to leave Orlando
4. Cartilage for Brandon Roy’s knees
5. 3-hour commercial-free Inside the NBA skits with EJ, Kenny, Charles, and now The Diesel
6. To put Lakers games on TV at 3 PM with all the other soap operas.
Alex Dewey – @DewNO – Gothic Ginobili - I want to see a Spurs-Celtics Finals. In the spirit of being careful what you wish for, let’s note that both these teams have serious frontcourt depth problems, and it might require injuries to Chandler, Wade, Bynum, and Perkins in order for this to be remotely possible. I don’t want that, so let’s just wish that at the end of the season, regardless of where they end up, the two decide to play a full televised 7-game series (regardless of who wins 4 first). Seven games of immaculate halfcourt execution, of KG vs. Duncan, of Pierce vs. Kawhi and RJ (or just bring back Bruce Bowen), of Ray Allen vs. Manu, of Parker vs. Rondo.
Tell me that wouldn’t be perfect vintage basketball. We’d put it right next to the Red on Roundball tapes and watch it again and again; we’d hold watching parties 20 or 30 years later. I love the Heat-Cavs-Bulls-Celtics series over the years, and the Spurs-Suns-Mavs-Lakers collective rivalry has been a joy to watch, but we’ve only seen eight games staggered over 4 years matching up the present C’s and Spurs rosters. It’s kind of unbelievable, because most of the games have been as good as games get. Great matchups, great screens, ballers in the truest sense of the word, clutch all around, role players that act as personified competitive statements that the stars have to play off of on their own team and deal with on the opposing team. And the coaches would be great too. And the press conferences! I realize that there wouldn’t be a lot of dunks, but the outlet passing, the defensive execution, the god-mode passes of Rondo and Manu, the speed of Tony? The final conflict between KG and TD?
Tell me this isn’t appointment viewing for anyone that loves basketball. Tell me this is within the bounds of reason and not just a Bill Simmons thought experiment that goes nowhere. Tell me how to rent an arena.
Neil Paine – @SportsRef_Neil – Basketball-Reference- I basically already got my wish from the Flying Spaghetti Monster this holiday season — a shorter season… But as long as we’re asking for gifts, I would have liked to see the schedule still start on Christmas, but with even less than 66 games.The nature of basketball (i.e., the large # of possessions, the ability to filter so many of them through your best player, etc.) is that the superior team wins more frequently than in any other sport, and thus you need fewer games to arrive at a meaningful set of standings. Research by Tom Tango found that you get the same amount of information from 12 NFL games, 36 NHL games, 69 MLB games… and 14 NBA games. In other words, the standard 82-game NBA season is the equivalent of a 70-game football season, a 211-game hockey season, and a 404-game baseball season!In a perfect NBA world, we’d cut out so many of those unnecessary games and spread a shorter schedule across more days, eliminating back-to-backs and other scheduling quirks that take away from the quality of the product on the court.
Paul Gotham – @PickinSplinters – Pickin’ Splinters - Presents? Make mine stocking stuffers. You know those little little gems hung by the fire(or in 21st century America, the gas-fed ambience creator) with care. I don’t need wow factor like walking out into the snow blindfolded to find an overpriced status symbol in the driveway. Give me something little. Don’t sweat the small stuff? It’s all about the small stuff. Please, oh please, Bearer of Gifts give the Big Fundamental 66 games of health, so I can see the pick and roll, the pick and step back and the pick and pop. I’m not asking for Duncan to return to his prime. Just a clean bill of health, so I can turn on a Spurs game and see him play 20-25 minutes. Another stocking stuffer, please Lord can you help the Warriors make the playoffs. I can’t get me enough Steph Curry. While you’re at it, can you help him with his ankle injury.Yeah, it’s all about the little things.
Kris Fenrich – Dancing With Noah - If I had just one wish to send up to the Big James Naismith in the sky, it’d be for all of the league’s 400+ players to free themselves from the bondage of cameras, contracts, reputations, agents and Twitter hackers and realize greatness lies within. This realization will lead some guys to walk away from the game in pursuit of a higher calling, Amaechi-style, but it will also present us with the gift of a spiritual expression of self within the multi-dimensional confines of a basketball court.
Kevin Pelton – @KPelton – Basketball Prospectus - My wish is for well-played basketball this season. With so little time to practice in training camp and a compressed schedule, this obviously won’t be a normal year, but I’m hoping that the results won’t quite be as dramatic as they were in the shorter 1998-99 season. After waiting this long for NBA basketball, I think we all deserve to see it at close to its very best. It certainly wouldn’t hurt that goal if we could keep the serious injuries to a minimum and get guys like Greg Oden back healthy. (Oh, and a bunch of Chris Paul alley-oops to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan would be nice, too.)
Matt Moore – @HPBasketball – Eye On Basketball - I’d wish for seven-game series in every series in every round of the playoffs. After five months without basketball, you appreciate it and miss it. And for as much as everyone balks at the idea or worth of competitive balance, close series between two tightly-matched teams makes for the best in sport. So here’s to Hawks-Sixers going seven! … Wait.