There really aren’t any naughty or nice lists in the lottery. All of the teams that struggle to win basketball games are naughty, or just bad, at basketball. They get treated nice when they get to draft before everyone else. Except for the Brooklyn Nets, who did a bad job of understanding the value of draft picks when being very bad at basketball for an extended period.
Also, think about DeMarcus Cousins. He’s definitely naughty, but his game is so nice.
No, it isn’t about being naughty or nice because every person and every team is both. It’s more a philosophical look at the human condition. What’s great about the holiday season is that a lot of people get stuff, but a lot of people also give stuff. So we’re going to give it a little twist this year and look at what the teams currently in the lottery should have on their wish list, and also what they should be giving this holiday season.
No team has a clearer wish or more obvious gift to give. The Sixers will be putting healthy Ben Simmons at the very top of their wish list. Their gift: Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. You’d think that it might be an either/or situation, but Joel Embiid appears to not enjoy sharing the court with Okafor. Noel has been completely removed from the Philadelphia rotation and received a DNP-CD in the 76ers thriller over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. They’ve got an overloaded front court, it’s time they start giving instead of getting.
The Nets already gave their gift, their first-round pick in the upcoming draft that is likely to be a hell of a score for the Boston Celtics. The top wish on their list is probably a split. Wish One: They can find a huge offer for Brook Lopez that gets them a solid roster piece and a first-round pick somewhere closer to the eight or nine picks. It’s unrealistic, of course. So is Wish Two: An extended period of Linsanity puts fans in the stands and spurs them to a few extra wins in a mediocre Eastern Conference in a season without the benefit of their likely great draft position.
The Heat should just wish for one more round of Riley voodoo in the summer of 2017. They’ll probably end up with a good pick in the upcoming draft, though not necessarily a home run. As far as giving is concerned, they should probably give the Charlotte Hornets their props. The two teams duel fiercely every season and it’s lowkey fantastic basketball almost every time those teams play, even with Dwyane Wade off to Chicago. The Heat had been running the division, time to give another team props for their great work (yes, I’m ignoring the Hawks).
Can we put a wish on their list for a trade already done to be undone? Or can we put a wish on their list that Aaron Gordon doesn’t get played out of position anymore? How about court time for Mario Hezonja? They could probably give away Hezonja right now, try to find a team that will feature him more prominently for a little while so we know more about what his true ceiling is in the NBA. I dunno. They are a hard team to follow. Let’s all just agree to watch that Shaq and Penny 30 for 30 and forget everything else.
The Wizards are currently riding a hot streak, including a big win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Bradley Beal had a monster game and is healthy. John Wall is doing John Wall things. They’re positioned nicely, considering their terrible start to the season, only one game out of the final playoff spot. They should wish for DeMarcus Cousins. I mean, they wasted like a year pretending they were any kind of destination for Kevin Durant, at least this wish has some legs to it with the recent comments between Wall and Cousins. The only thing I would like them to give this holiday season is to give up the “2DC” campaigns. If you get Boogie, the rest of the league is jealous. No need for the “2DC” malarkey.
They should wish for Dwight Howard to act like an adult. They should give better halftime shows, because what I saw on League Pass this week was atrocious.
All they need to wish for is better free throw shooting from Andre Drummond. If he can get himself anywhere near 60 percent from the line by the time the playoffs roll around, life will be easier for everyone in Detroit. They should give a seasonal fruit basket to the Magic for gifting them Tobias Harris last year.
Health. That’s all they should wish for. Everyone healthy, everything fine and nothing hurting. They should give Dirk Nowitzki a dignified retirement. He’s an all-timer and very close to the end of his playing days, already missing significant time this season. Plus, some sort of mini-farewell tour type thing would make the games seem more special for everyone involved since no one will be getting up for their 35-minutes-of-Seth-Curry shenanigans.
They need to wish for Gar Forman to see the writing on the wall and pull off a ballsy trade before getting fired. Yes, Jimmy Butler should be at the top of their wish list. It would cost them, but not that much. No price is too high and they are so stacked with young players that even a generous package in return wouldn’t set them back because they’d still have Karl-Anthony Towns, Kris Dunn, Tyus Jones, and either Zach LaVine or Andrew Wiggins to pair with Butler. They should give up some of those prospects, any combination that suits them, aside from Towns, in exchange for some more established talent.
A wish for Tyson Chandler to retire. I really don’t like his contract. They should give Devin Booker a shooting coach and maybe keep exploring what they have in T.J. Warren. Their front court future looks great and everything on this team sets up well for the future, but not this season. Probably not next year either. Move some vets, maybe even dare to move a good point guard or two.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pels should wish for Buddy Hield to be really, really good. And very soon. Anthony Davis is such a gift to that basketball community and he’s locked in on a deal that, as of today, he’s bolting on immediately when it expires. They’re going to have to trade him or he’s going to walk at the end of his deal. Unless, they stay healthy (which could also be a legitimate wish for them) and Hield morphs into a scorching outside shooter that can carry scoring and give Davis a player that approaches his equal, though that’s impossible. They should give the rest of the NBA world what we deserve – no more Pierre and no more King Cake Baby.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers should simply wish for the continued evolution of Nick Young. Swaggy P does so many cringe-worthy things, but he’s actually been playing good basketball compared to what most people would have expected from him entering the season. They should give everyone else more of the amazing drama. Can they just go ahead and offer Phil Jackson a job right now? Like, forget the rules. Also, can they do it on Snapchat via D’Angelo Russell? Yeah.
They need to wish for DeMarcus Cousins to be visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. Because anything short of some kind of insane dreamstate trip that reorders the very chemicals that flow in synapses through his body will save that relationship. Alternatively, they should give DeMarcus Cousins to another team. Chicago? Sure. Washington? I don’t care. Golden State? Make. My. Day. Punk.
The Nuggets should wish for the Denver Broncos to be very bad and/or football to stop existing in general. They’re at the bottom of the Colorado sports pecking order, but they’ve got a lot of intriguing roster pieces that people should be watching. They should give Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris back to the Bulls and apologize for fleecing them so terribly in the Doug McDermott trade. That’s not happening? Well, then. Fine.