The NBA has never been more fun. Three-point bombing, higher-than-ever talent, a global player pool and the best product in professional sports. But it’s far from perfect. We’ve pinpointed five resolutions we want to see in 2024 that can improve the game on and off the court.
We’re not sure who will come out on top, but the coastal teams in Miami, New York and L.A. are primed for a heat check. Between the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, we hope at least half of them push their chips to the middle of the table for a star. Every team mentioned could use a star of varying levels. But these five teams should be in the hunt, as all are on the cusp of real contention, except for Brooklyn. But with potentially Zach LaVine, Zion Williamson, Donovan Mitchell, Dejounte Murray and others available, we could see the legacy teams like the Knicks and Lakers break into the upper echelon of the NBA.
It was Zion Williamson until the OnlyFans girls and soda bottles. Then it was Ja Morant before the gun flashing on Instagram Live. Now, it was supposed to be Victor Wembanyama before he started off slow (for his and everyone else’s standards) and shot horribly. So who is the face of the NBA once LeBron James (38), Kevin Durant (35) and Steph Curry (35) hang it up? Our money is on Anthony Edwards, who possesses the five-level scoring and swaggy moxie to take over the league as the stylish next face. Nicola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo will continue doing their part, but the NBA has always had an American face of the brand. Edwards has it all, assuming he continues to avoid further stupid comments on social media.
While these three teams are at very different tiers of hell, all could use a stroke of good luck. The Suns are floundering out of Play-in contention and need a boost. Bradley Beal tweaked his ankle in the first couple of minutes before taking the court this season. The Suns have been depending too much on Devin Booker’s playmaking and Kevin Durant’s health. They need another ancillary player to take a step or Beal to make a speedy and sustained return. The Grizzlies need to re-incorporate Morant as their point of attack, back into the game plan while continuing to trust the other guys to have their turn and bring them back. And the Pistons just need one damn win. Just one.
These three teams are well past their expiration date but hold players who could tilt a dozen teams into an upper echelon. The Hawks can still rebuild around Young, but after trading away John Collins this summer, they are sputtering to under .500. Dejounte Murray, Clint Capela and Saddiq Bey seem the prime candidates to restructure the roster around their scoring guard. The Jazz and Bulls have pieces many contenders want, like Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. It feels like a single domino is waiting to be pushed to set off a chain of trades clearing these three teams’ rosters and resetting their timelines. Imagine Clarkson on the Nuggets, Markkanen on the Knicks or DeRozan on the Lakers.
Adam Silver has lost the plot. It seems easier for the league to legislate political “isms” like guns in the case of Ja Morant and racial slurs in the case of Meyers Leonard. But they seem to have a hell of a time properly disciplining players on cases of physical violence and coercion against women. Leonard can’t find a team after dropping an ethnic slur while game streaming. In 2021, the NBA fined Leonard $50,000 and suspended him for a week. But the residual effects of his name and reputation kept him from a legit return. Meanwhile, Miles Bridges remains in the league after alleged domestic violence against the mother of his two children. (He pleaded no contest to a felony domestic violence charge.) Josh Giddey has been accused of having sex with an underage female. (When asked by the media, he had no comment.) It would benefit the NBA to keep him out of the NBA until the investigation has concluded.