New Year’s Resolutions: Western Conference
The year 2020 has just begun and people are making their resolutions. It’s time for a fresh start, to get better at something and improve their lives. Let’s take a look at each team in the West and see one specific area where they could improve.
*Note – Stats and numbers as of Saturday, Jan 4th
Dallas Mavericks (22-12, 6th in West) Resolution: Win at home The Mavericks are off to a good start this season behind the “Wonder Boy” Luka Doncic. However, they could be doing even better if they protected their home court, which is an absolute must if they’re going to make some noise. They have a better record on the road (12-5) than they do at home (10-7).
Denver Nuggets (24-10, 2nd in West) Resolution: Find consistent minutes for Michael Porter Jr The Nuggets are a really good team and you could say they are stacked, which makes this easier said than done. However, Porter was a steal in the draft despite injury issues and when healthy, he’s shown a lot of promise. Denver is 8-3 when he plays at least 10 minutes and 3-1 when he scores at least 10 points. In his last 4 games, he’s making 74.3 percent of his shots for 15.5 points in 19.8 minutes per game.
Golden State Warriors (9-27, 15th in West) Resolution: Tank I know, it seems like an ugly resolution, but hear me out. They’re at the bottom of the West. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are both out. Draymond Green ain’t playing well without them. Kevin Durant is gone. The best thing for them to do is develop their youth while getting a top pick that they can either use on a top prospect or use in a trade for a star and come out next year healthy as a top team again.
Houston Rockets (24-11, 3rd in West) Resolution: Start and finish strong The Rockets are one of the best teams in the league, but they could be even better if they came out strong and finished strong. In their 11 losses, they have a -5 point differential in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, meaning they keep it close. However, they’re a total of -112 in the 1st and 4th quarters.
L.A. Clippers (25-12, 4th in West) Resolution: Get Paul George and Kawhi Leonard healthy and playing together The Clippers are still a title contender but no one knows what they really have as their two stars have only played together half the time. They’re 14-4 in the 18 games they’ve seen the court together and 11-8 in the 19 games where at least one didn’t play.
L.A. Lakers (28-7, 1st in West) Resolution: Finish strong and make free throws Shout out to fellow OTG writer Karin on this one and as amazing as she is, I let her pick two resolutions. The first is to finish strong. In their 7 losses, they have a -34 point differential in the 4th quarter. Also, they need to make their free throws. As a team they rank 14th in free throws attempted and they should be a lot better than 5th worst in free throw percentage.
Memphis Grizzlies (14-22, 11th in West) Resolution: Reduce turnovers and fouls Despite ranking 11th in the conference, the Grizzlies are still in the race to make the playoffs. Something that would really help them is a drastic improvement from having the 5th most turnovers and 8th most fouls per game.
Minnesota Timberwolves (13-21, 12th in West) Resolution: Make their field goals The Timberwolves are actually a pretty good team, led by All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. However, if they’re going to fight their way into the playoffs, they need to start making their shots. They take the 3rd most field goal attempts per game but have the 2nd worst field goal percentage in the league.
New Orleans Pelicans (11-24, 14th in West) Resolution: Get Zion Williamson healthy and on the court Despite losing All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the future looks bright for the Pelicans. It would look a whole lot brighter with Zion, the number one overall pick in the draft, healthy and playing. He is the new face of their franchise and they’ve shown how much they could use him.
Oklahoma City Thunder (19-15, 7th in West) Resolution: Shoot the rock After stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George left the team in the off season, a lot of people counted them out. They’ve played well and silenced critics as the little team that could. They could do even more if they built up confidence in letting it fly. Despite shooting the 6th best field goal percentage in the NBA, they’ve taken the 3rd fewest shots.
Phoenix Suns (14-21, 10th in West) Resolution: Start strong and realize there’s a 1st quarter The Suns are so much better this season than last but after a great start to the season, they’ve drifted off. A big reason for this is the failure to start games strong. Hello, Phoenix? Yeah, I just want to make sure you’re aware there’s a 1st quarter. They have a -72 point differential in the opening period in their losses.
Portland Trail Blazers (15-21, 9th in West) Resolution: Pass the ball The Blazers have had a disappointing start to the season and a big reason for that is being selfish with the rock. Portland ranks 30th (last) in the league in assists per game. If they could spread the ball around more, they could get some better looks and have more shots go down.
Sacramento Kings (13-22, 13th in West) Resolution: Get De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley healthy and on the court together The Kings, despite being 13th in the West, are still in a battle for a playoff spot. What would really help them is if they could get Fox and Bagley, two of their best players, healthy and out there playing with each other. They’ve only played six games together so far.
San Antonio Spurs (14-19, 8th in West) Resolution: Win on the road The Spurs currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot in the West but there are a lot of games left to play and if they’re going to actually make the postseason, they’ll need to start winning on the road. They’re 10-9 at home and 4-10 away.
Utah Jazz (23-12, 5th in West) Resolution: Win against good teams Despite their record, the Jazz are not as good as they make people think. When you dissect them, you will see one glaring weakness and it’s not pretty. They don’t beat good teams. So far this season, they’re 18-3 when they face teams under .500 and only 5-9 when they face teams that are .500 or better.