Wizards, Mavericks, Raptors need to make some changes


This is an excerpt from Ben Golliver’s NBA Post Up Weekly Newsletter. Sign up Get the latest news and commentary from #NBATwitter and R/NBA every Monday, the best and the best jinks.

Even the functional NBA franchises have work to do this week as New Year’s Resolutions take place.

The defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, must find a way to win again away from home. The hot Brooklyn Nets must do everything in their power to keep Kyrie Irving focused on basketball. And the Memphis Grizzlies should consider toning down their trash talk until they’re ready to back it up in high-profile matchups.

Of course, there are other teams that a little self-improvement will not save. The Chicago Bulls have an expensive, underperforming veteran core that needs to be broken down, and the Los Angeles Lakers are dealing with an impatient LeBron. A new season of James, an injured Anthony Davis and unfulfilled expectations. Beyond these glaring failures are his three teams facing existential crises that demand action in 2023, to prevent the current predicament from getting any worse.

Buckner: For wizards going nowhere, it may be time to accept defeat.

No need to chop up words. Washington is the most aimless team in the league, and in home attendance he ranks 30th and makes very few appearances on national television. Despite the recent upswing, the Wizards are well on their way into his five-game losing streak season and have made little valuable progress assembling a young core for the future. Thanks to a staggering streak of first-round picks, the Wizards have one of the most unimpressive collections of under-25 talent in the NBA.

Re-signing Bradley Beal last summer provided some stability, but how the franchise can get its money’s worth on a five-year, $251 million deal Unknown. The duo of Beal and Kristaps Porzingis have delivered a below-average offense, and Washington now faces a decision to pay or trade Kyle Kuzma.

Given their existing salary commitments, lack of prospects and difficulty attracting premier free agents, the Wizards have limited options to improve their fortunes in life. The best way for them to get out of this penance-like mediocrity is to get so bad that they repeatedly draft in the lottery’s good range. This year should mean moving Kuzma before the trade deadline and closing Beal and Porzingis in March or early April, rather than chasing pointless play-in berths. This summer, Washington will seriously examine the beer trade market, hoping to find an ambitious candidate willing to take over the remaining contract. You can lower your rank next year like this. This is exactly what they need.

The franchise’s most successful era since its 1970s heyday was four straight draft highs for John Wall (1st in 2010), Beal (3rd in 2012) and Otto Porter (3rd in 2013). Remember what the pick made possible. The time is long past for Washington to undertake this type of multi-year assault again.

The Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki enjoyed a fruitful 21-year marriage that produced a gorgeous bronze statue in downtown Dallas honoring the 2011 title and future Hall of Famers. As Luka Doncic added his name next to Nowitzki in the franchise record book, in his modern NBA, a lasting marriage takes on a mutually beneficial “partnership” between a franchise and a superstar. It is important to remember that you have been superseded.

Indeed, 23-year-old Doncic exists in the second generation of the player empowerment era. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony, and most of the notable players in the years between Nowitzki’s prime and Doncic’s rise , jumped from one team to another. Organize your team according to your personal interests. Recent history suggests that if a player with abilities like Doncic is not in contention for the title, Greener Meadows would rather spend his 13 long years trying to win a ring like Nowitzki. suggests that you are much more likely to ask for The Mavericks are starting to pick up steam this year, but they don’t seem to be taking the world by storm.

How Luka Doncic broke his own record and made NBA history

Dallas’ advance to the 2022 Western Conference Finals is both a gift and a curse. The Mavericks have proven they can perform at a high level with Doncic as their lone star, but they have also raised expectations for the foreseeable future. Just like his Cleveland Cavaliers, who made it to the 2007 Finals thanks to 22-year-old James, the Mavericks will need to prevent any faltering or stalling in the postseason ahead. Otherwise, Doncic may start weighing his own “decisions”.

This summer was an inauspicious start to Dallas’ new reality. Jalen Brunson left with nothing left and the next top talent was Christian Wood. This is the first season of his Doncic’s $207 million supermax extension, but time is of the essence. Think: Jayson Tatum, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell all do better with Three and D Wings and a limited heavyweight who mostly acts as Rob Doncic He also has great sidekicks and supporting talents at his disposal. target.

The Mavericks shouldn’t be paralyzed by the bad memories of their ill-fated blockbuster deal with Porzingis, who was meant to be Doncic’s second option before the pairing fell through. They’ll have to make flashy upgrades this summer like the Milwaukee Bucks traded Drew Holiday for his 2020 season. Otherwise, you risk a vulture befalling Doncic in the not too distant future.

The Raptors entered this season in enviable positions: They’re two All-Stars in Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, Scotty Barnes’ 2022 Rookie of the Year, a salary cap seat without a nasty deal, And boasted all future first-round picks. Used in trading. Unfortunately, Toronto is one of the NBA’s biggest disappointments, falling below .500 after raising expectations on his 48-win season last year.

It’s time to pivot. Toronto has amassed a deep collection of versatile wings and forwards, but the goal of creating an interchangeable, high-energy defense that overwhelms opponents has consistently fallen short. They are underperforming, ranked 29th in 3-point percentage and have been severely short on organizers since the departure of Kyle Lowry in 2021. Coach Nick Nurse has spent a lot of time with Siakam, VanVleet and OG Anunoby this season.

LeBron James’ patience is waning as Lakers fall behind in the standings

Pursuing a tanking strategy would require a fire sale at the trade deadline. It’s a radical approach that’s out of character for Raptors president Masai Ujiri. Instead, Toronto should aim to rebalance its roster by trading one of its many forwards for another backcourt creator to lighten the load on VanVleet. While we can continue to pursue our vision of building an athletic and tiring roster through the years, we must admit that we need better ballhandlers and more reliable shooters for our long-term plans to take shape. Hmm.

With the exception of Barnes, Ujiri, an aspiring point forward with significant upsides who has struggled in his second season, should consider offers to everyone else on his roster. also includes Siakam. Because his two-way game suits almost any competitor.

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