Going into the new year, each team will be looking to attain goals that will be vital to their success. Some teams need more help than others but let’s take a look at one New Years resolution for each team from the Eastern Conference.
NBA New Year’s Resolutions: Eastern Conference
Resolution – Find a solid second option next to Dennis Schroder
The Atlanta Hawks have been in the playoff picture for the past 10 years. But since the departure of Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, they have the worst record in the league. Schroder is the only bright spot on the team at nearly 20 points and 8 assists per game. In order to turn things around the Atlanta Hawks need to find someone that can step up as a solid second option. Look for Taurean Prince to develop more and more into that type of player.
Resolution – Win the Eastern Conference
With the additions of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics had high hopes for this season. When Hayward went down, however, there were concerns about how far this team could go. Even with the horrific injury, the Celtics are the top team in the east going into the new year. At this point, it is “win it all or bust” for the Celtics. Let’s see if they can stop the reign of King James in the East.
Resolution – Improve considerably in points allowed per game
The Brooklyn Nets have been less than impressive for two seasons. And this season has not been much different. Offensively, the team actually is not all that bad averaging just over 107 points per game. The issue is the defensive side of the ball. In points allowed per game, the Nets are ranked 28th in the league allowing just over 110 points. The Nets need to focus on defensive efficiency if they have any desire of competing night in and night out.
Resolution – Win more on the road
The Charlotte Hornets are tied for 11th in the East. They are not in the playoff picture this season in large part because of the disappointing play on the road. Winning just 2 out of 14 games the Hornets must win more on the road in order to be a competitive force in the east. The drastic difference in play at home versus on the road could be due to the difference in Dwight Howard. Averaging nearly 3 fewer points and 3 fewer rebounds per game on the road versus at home, Howard must play better in order for this resolution to come true.
Resolution – Improve offensively
The Chicago Bulls had a tough off-season. Losing Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade resulted in the Bulls essentially needing to rebuild. In terms of points per game allowed the Bulls are around the middle of the pack. Their real weakness is scoring the basketball. Averaging just under 100 points per game the Bulls are 28th in the league in that category. They need to find a consistent scorer that can help to produce offensively.
Resolution – Trade Brooklyn’s first round pick for a star
LeBron James has been excellent this season. However, he is eventually going to slow down. With his option to leave Cleveland this offseason the Cavaliers need to make a move in order to convince him to stay. With Brooklyn’s first round pick, acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade, the Cavaliers have the ability to go after stars like DeMarcus Cousins or Paul George before the trade deadline. In order to keep James happy, the Cavaliers are going to need to make some big convincing moves. Watch for the Cavs to move that pick to win now, instead of preparing for the future.
Resolution – Get out of the first round
The Detriot Pistons have been excellent this season and are 4th in the east. The drastic change for the Pistons can be attributed to the great play of Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris, as well the addition of Avery Bradley. Harris is averaging just over 2 points per game more than the previous season but what is more impressive is his over 10 percent jump in 3 point percentage. The Pistons have not won a playoff series since the 2007-2008 season. Let’s see if they can instill the same winning culture we saw throughout the early 2000’s.
Resolution – More production out of bench players
Victor Oladipo has been outstanding this season and is making a great case for the most improved player. The issue for the Indiana Pacers is when he and the other starters leave the floor. The Pacers are ranked 22nd in the league in bench points per game at just under 31 points. The Pacers will need more production out of their second unit if they want to remain in the playoff picture.
Resolution – More production out of Hassan Whiteside
After just barely missing out on the playoffs last year the Miami Heat did all they could to go after stars such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward in the offseason. Coming up empty handed meant they needed their current unit to produce. The disappointing thing for the Heat at this time is the production of Whiteside. His averages are down in points, rebounds, and blocks compared to last year. Look for Whiteside to have an awakening of sorts and bring his numbers back up to what they used to be.
Resolution – Improve three-point shooting
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been incredible this season and is absolutely in the running for MVP. As great as Antetokounmpo is he is limited on the offensive end with the lack of outside shooting. In order for Antetokounmpo to continue to be effective his teammates around him will need to improve their three-point percentages to open up driving lanes. The Bucks rank 26th in three-point percentage and eventually that will catch up to them.
Resolution – Surround Kristaps Porzingis with talent
In this league, there is not a single player that can win on their own. As special as Porzingis is the Knicks need to find players to surround him with. Whether it be before the trade deadline or this coming offseason the Knicks need to act fast as Porzingis is a free agent in 2020. The Knicks do not want to let go of such a once in a lifetime player.
Resolution – Limit points in the paint
The Orlando Magic allow the 27th most points per game. Nearly half of the points scored on the Magic come in the paint at 48.4 points per game. You are not going to win very many games allowing that many easy points. Look for the Magic to pack in the middle and force teams to shoot more outside shots.
Resolution – Keep Joel Embiid healthy
Embiid is one of the most captivating young big men in this league. At 24 points and 11 rebounds per game, Embiid is a superstar in the making. Injuries and time restrictions have hindered his ability to solidify himself has a superstar in this league. In 2018 the 76ers must keep Embiid healthy to help along the development of Ben Simmons and the other young players on the team.
Resolution – Don’t let Kyle Lowry disappear in the playoffs
In the 2016-2017 regular season, Lowry averaged 22.4 points per game. Come playoff time his numbers dropped all the way down to 15.8 points per game. Not all players have the “clutch gene” or have the confidence to live up to their potential. The Raptors need Lowry to show up in the playoffs if they have any shot at beating any of the tops teams in the east.
The combination of Wall and Beal is among the best backcourts in the league. The pair has never made it to the eastern conference finals. Acquiring a star big man is what the Wizards need to put them over to the top and be true competitors on the east. DeMarcus Cousins has been in trade conversations. Look for the Wizards to make a move at trading for him.
2018 is bound to be an exciting year. It will be interesting to see which teams make changes and which teams struggle to get better.
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