16 teams had a chance to contend for an NBA championship this season and just four finalists remain on the road to glory. Here’s what each team eliminated thus far needs to do to make another run next season.
Jazz: Blow it up. It isn’t working. The pair of Donovan Mitchell - Rudy Gobert has run its course. I still think it’s in their interest to keep one or the other, and I think they’re better off building around Gobert. He’s a generational defender who can only do so much with a serious lack of help on perimeter defense. There’s one of two ways I suggest they go about this. The first is to deal Mitchell to Cleveland for a package surrounding Collin Sexton. I think the ideal package would go something like Sexton, Isaac Okoro, #14 overall for Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neal. The Jazz get basically an equal scorer to Mitchell and a young promising defender in Okoro while adding a lottery pick. The other option is to deal Gobert to Phoenix for Deandre Ayton and try to snag Mikal Bridges as well, since Gobert’s defensive impact is basically the equivalent of those two combined.
Bulls: Resign Zach Lavine and get healthy. We didn’t really get a chance to see what this Bulls team was fully capable of. Lonzo Ball’s knee injury is concerning, but he will have plenty of time to heal. The Bulls were 27-13 before Ball got hurt and Demar Derozan was phenomenal in the middle of the season. Run it back and see what happens.
Nuggets: Get healthy. Nikola Jokić had another MVP season and the team barely missed a beat without his co-stars in Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. I think Denver did the right thing in not rushing either of them back too soon. Run it back at full strength and this team is easily title worthy as long as Jokić is there.
Grizzlies: Throw whatever is necessary at the Pelicans for Zion Williamson. The Grizzlies have a sure thing after the near MVP level leap from Ja Morant. However, he’ll need a true co-star to have any chance at winning a title. Jaren Jackson Jr. is a good player but Williamson is in a different realm. It’ll probably take Jaren Jackson Jr., Ziaire Williams, and a handful of draft capital, but a duo of Morant and Williamson has insane untapped potential.
Timberwolves: Trade D’Angelo Russell. Anthony Edwards is a potential superstar who could make the leap just next season. If possible, trade Russell for a dynamic wing and try to sign Jalen Brunson. I think I’ve just seen enough of Russell running the point to think it might be time to move on.
76ers: Desperately try to convince James Harden to lower his salary and trade Tobias Harris. Harden struggled this year in Philly and a 47 million player option is just absurd going forward.
Bucks: Run it back. Get Khris Middleton back and don’t make many changes to the roster and they can easily be title favorites.
Suns: Take a swing on a sign-and-trade for Gobert. It’s becoming more and more likely that Ayton’s time in Phoenix is coming to an end, so it’s in the team’s best interest to try and get an elite defender in a swap for their bigs.
Pelicans: Get Zion back healthy. The Pelicans showed a lot of promise in the playoffs this year, all without their best player. If possible, give Brunson an offer and re-sign Jonas Valančiūnas. A lineup of Brunson - CJ McCollum - Brandon Ingram - Williamson - Valančiūnas is disgusting. They can also be in the mix for Ayton.
Raptors: Trade for Gobert. The Raptors have found an identity in strong defense, and can take it to the next level with Gobert in the paint. The Raptors have a collection of really strong, effective role players and Gobert is a perfect fit. Toronto can go really deep without a sure-fire superstar with the addition of Gobert.
Hawks: Look for defensive depth. The Hawks are phenomenal on offense but can’t guard a parked car. They should try and go after guys like Mo Bamba or Gary Payton II in free agency to help them out on the other end.
Nets: Get healthy and run it back. This team has so much potential that really hasn’t had a chance to click yet. They should also target Mo Bamba for depth at center. Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant all playing well and healthy with a solid bench should be enough to win it all.
Christo Siegel is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Christo by tweeting him at @imchristosiegel.