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New Year’s Resolutions for Every Western Conference Team

© Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With the start of 2024 and almost half of the NBA season done now is the perfect to evaluate each team’s goals in the New Year. After analyzing the Eastern Conference it’s time to break down each Western Conference team’s goal. These goals or New Year’s resolutions as holiday tradition calls them range from making massive roster changes to slight tweaks that can make a big difference impacts on the season.

New Year’s Resolutions for Every Western Conference Team

Dallas Mavericks: Perfect The Roster Around Luka

Luka Doncic is having an incredible MVP-caliber season. He has been especially impressive in the absence of Kyrie Irving, keeping Dallas afloat in the playoff picture. However, as currently constructed this isn’t a championship-caliber roster. The Mavericks feel like they’re one piece away from true title contention. Exploring trades involving larger contracts such as Tim Hardaway Jr, Richaun Holmes, and Maxi Kleber paired with a young player such as Jaden Hardy and future draft picks should be on the table. Targeting a two-way wing feels like a realistic move that could move the needle for Dallas.

Denver Nuggets: Become Unstoppable Again

Whether you like it or not what we saw from the Nuggets last year was a dominant and unstoppable run. I’m here to remind you with the greatness of Nikola Jokic and an incredible core around him the Nuggets can do it again. Denver’s incredible ball movement, all-around excellence, and offensive efficiency make them a matchup nightmare. The Nuggets are a great regular season team capable of winning 55-plus games but it’s clear Denver is at their best during the playoffs. Look out for the Nuggets to ramp up come playoff time and possibly repeat as champs.

Golden State Warriors: Get Steph Curry a Real Second Option

The Warriors season is off to a disappointing start and the lack of consistent scoring around Steph Curry is central to Golden State’s issues. While the Warriors have looked better in recent weeks they still haven’t gotten consistent scoring production out of their supporting cast. It’s clear that this isn’t a championship-caliber team. However, the Warriors have plenty of tradable assets and could make a big splash at the deadline. The Warriors need to take advantage of Curry’s prime and shake up the roster. Making a move to give him a true co-star would move the Warriors closer to contention. The Warriors’ primary target should be Pascal Siakam as he is the best player available and would help Golden State’s size and defense problems.

Houston Rockets: Build Off the Improved Culture

The hiring of Head Coach Ime Udoka and the off-season acquisitions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks transformed the Rockets’ culture. This improved culture is paired with the 2nd ranked defense this season compared to 29th last season. The Rockets have also jumped up in the standings and are now competing for a playoff spot after being 15th in the Western Conference last season. These changes have also resulted in Alperen Sengun having a breakout season. In 2024 the Rockets have to build off what they started this season and further develop their young core. The Rockets could gain valuable playoff experience if this success continues. Adding veterans that can co-exist with Houston’s young core similar to VanVleet and Brooks is an intriguing possibility in the off-season.

Los Angeles Clippers: Prove It

As time progressed the James Harden trade has worked well for the Clippers including a recent nine-game win streak. Furthermore, Kawhi Leonard has been playing at an elite level on both ends once again. On paper the Clippers should be competing for a title. However, they still need to prove it to me. In the Kawhi and Paul George era, the Clippers have seen minimal playoff success making just one Western Conference finals in four seasons. Despite their success so far the Clippers need to prove they can stay healthy and coexist in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Lakers: Continue to Show Up When It Matters

The Lakers are currently on a skid after winning the In-Season Tournament and might improve their roster at the trade deadline. If the Lakers upgrade their roster look for them to target a shot-creator or floor spacer. This type of move would certainly increase the Lakers’ upside. However, last year’s playoff success, incredible experience, and defense gives me confidence the Lakers will be fine with or without a move. If no move is made then inserting Austin Reaves into the starting lineup would help many of the Lakers’ offensive issues. However, in the biggest moments this core is typically at its best. Regardless of seeding the Lakers are a dangerous playoff matchup and a legitimate contender.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Keep Standing Out

For the past few seasons, the Thunder have been a model organization and the perfect example of how to build success organically. Recently the Thunder have also stood out as a surprise team while playing an extremely entertaining basketball brand. Oklahoma City’s incredible collection of young talent and future draft assets paired with their already impressive success gives them the league’s brightest future. The Thunder are currently 2nd seed in the Western Conference and could be a dangerous playoff squad. It’s possible the Thunder cash in their plethora of draft picks to land a star such as Lauri Markkanen in hopes of further solidifying themselves as a contender. However, it’s equally possible that OKC stays patient and still makes a run in the West. Regardless, I’m excited to see what the Thunder have in store this year and they will keep shocking the league.

Memphis Grizzlies: Upgrade Wing Defense

With Ja Morant returning the Grizzlies are attempting to turn their season around and make a playoff push. To do this the Grizzlies need to address their main roster flaw, the lack of wing defenders. Memphis currently has a revolving door of mediocre wing defenders. This problem will surely get exposed in the playoffs. To build a true contender around Morant you need better wing defense and depth. If the Grizzlies can’t find a wing for the right price at the deadline they must spend big in the off-season.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Make Some Noise in the Playoffs

The Timberwolves have been one of the best stories this season and currently sit atop the Western Conference. With their lack of experience in the playoffs, translating this elite play remains a question. Minnesota’s top-ranked defense will likely translate and their elite size makes them a difficult matchup. It’s unclear if the Timberwolves can win a title this year however with the star power of Anthony Edwards and elite defense they at least have a shot to represent the West in the finals. Ultimately, developing playoff experience with this core and proving this success is sustainable are great goals for this year.

New Orleans Pelicans: Make the Zion Decision

With the recent news of Zion Williamson’s contract being non-guaranteed in the final three years due to games played and body fat percentage contract clauses, time might be running out for Zion in New Orleans. Similarly, Zion doesn’t look like his normal dominant self this season. Given Zion’s incredible talent and upside the Pelicans should do everything possible to make this experience work. However, it’s possible the Pelicans have already exercised all options with Zion and it could be time to move on. Ultimately this feels like the last chance for Zion to remain with the team and this year we will likely see the Pelicans make a final decision on him.

Portland Trail-Blazers: Sell High On Jerami Grant

During the off-season, the Trail-Blazers signed Jerami Grant to a massive 5-year 160 million dollar contract. After Damian Lillard requested a trade and was subsequently dealt to the Bucks it was clear Grant didn’t fit Portland’s timeline. Grant’s skill set as a two-way wing holds a ton of value on the open market. He would be a hot commodity for several playoff teams if made available. For Portland, cashing in on Grant’s value at the deadline makes a ton of sense. The Blazers could land intriguing young talent and first-round picks in return. That would be perfect for the franchise’s rebuild and youth movement.

Phoenix Suns: Get The Big Three On The Court Together

The Suns are one of the most disappointing teams this season and are currently outside the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns’ roster problems run deep, however the lack of court time with their new big three is the biggest concern. The Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal trio have played just one full game together. Beal has dealt with separate ankle and back injuries which has caused him to play in only six games this season. Despite their slow start and obvious roster flaws, the Suns will be a playoff team based on their star talent alone. However, if the big three don’t get the necessary court time to develop on-court chemistry Phoenix won’t be legit contenders and will likely lose in the first round. Even with Beal the Suns’ status as contenders should be questioned due to poor depth and a lack of playmaking. Ultimately the Suns have a lot to prove in 2024.

Sacramento Kings: Chase a Star To Compete for the Title

Listen, I love watching the Kings and am extremely bullish on the De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis duo. However, given the Kings’ defensive concerns and the ultra-competitive Western Conference, it’s time for a roster upgrade to truly compete. Realistic targets at the deadline include Jerami Grant and Pascal Siakam. Alternatively, the Kings could wait until the off-season to chase a star. Ultimately, the price and fit have to be good enough for the Kings to make a move. Perhaps The Kings don’t need a trade and this core with star development from Keegan Murray win a title one day. However, exploring landing two-way players like the ones listed or whoever else is available and capitalizing on your title chances now is a great goal.

San Antonio Spurs: Get a Playmaker for Wemby

The Spurs deserve more criticism for their handling of Victor Wembanyama’s rookie season. While they didn’t have to be good his first year they have several questionable decisions. Jeremy Sochan is a player with high upside and an intriguing fit for Wembanyama, however he is not a point guard but rather a great secondary playmaker akin to Draymond Green. Furthermore, Tre Jones’ minutes’ reduction is curious as he is their only natural playmaker. The Spurs could have targeted a young point guard with playmaking skills to pair with Wemby in the off-season; not going that route is understandable. However, further mismanaging the guard playing next to him is unacceptable. The Spurs can fix this at the trade deadline or more likely during the draft. However, if this continues to be an issue there needs to be a real conversation about how the Spurs are developing Wemby.

Utah Jazz: Find a Franchise Cornerstone

The Jazz have a plethora of first-round picks and are perfectly set up for the future. Recent Lauri Markkanen trade rumors have indicated Danny Ainge is eyeing even more first-round picks. However, this only tells me the Jazz don’t view him as a franchise cornerstone despite Lauri being an all-star-level player. Ultimately, it’s unlikely a deal for Lauri will get done due to this high asking price. The goal of pick stacking is of course to get a young franchise cornerstone. While many are skeptical about how good the 2024 draft class is finding a player like this is still very possible, especially when considering Utah’s likely high pick and Ainge’s incredible draft history.


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