Christmas is a time of giving, but everyone’s always thinking about the presents. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old. The kid inside you always has a knack for thinking about gift-giving. In the NBA, these teams are never going to hand out gifts to another team, but you can still dream. You can fully expect that every team in the league has thought about their dream scenario.
Those dreams can come true sometimes if you dream hard enough. In this case, it would be if the package was good enough. If we took a look into each team's Christmas list, we would find one dream present on their list. These players would be every team’s dream target.
Atlanta Hawks - Pascal Siakam
The Hawks nearly made the NBA Finals last year with their current regime. If the team wants to win their first championship since the days of Bob Pettit, the team needs a third superstar player. The combination of Trae Young and John Collins is pretty good, but the small forward position has been lacking star problems and that is where Siakam can slide in easily.
Siakam has been forced to play center in Toronto, which has hampered his overall numbers. When he was the third-best player in Toronto in 2019, the Raptors won a championship. He would be the missing piece to get Atlanta their first championship since 1958 at the cost of De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, or Cam Reddish and future first-round picks.
Boston Celtics - Jonas Valanciunas
The Celtics are in a weird spot. Are they competing or not? The combination of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is enough to keep the team above .500, but this is the Celtics. They aren’t a type of franchise that is satisfied with just making the playoffs. They wanted to win the championship but fell short of making the NBA Finals in three of their four appearances in recent history.
Robert Williams recently signed an extension with the Celtics to remain with the team for the long term, but Valanciunas is a better overall player. Valanciunas is averaging 18.8 points and 12.1 rebounds. He would give the team a better overall offensive center by doubling Williams’ production. Not to mention, Valanciunas is 30 pounds bigger, which would give the team a bigger presence in the middle.
Brooklyn Nets - Kyrie Irving
The Nets can’t really afford to take on a new salary because they are paying three superstars. However, one of those superstars hasn’t taken the court this season because he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, this isn’t a hot take on whether Irving should get the vaccine or not. It’s his body and his choice to get the vaccine, but his choices are financially hurting the team as a business and the Nets’ overall play.
Even without Irving, the Nets are the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets nearly made the NBA Finals last year, pushing the Bucks to a seven-game series. If Irving came back, maybe Brooklyn could be a true championship contender. Instead, they are just a couple of games above the competition.
Charlotte Hornets - Myles Turner
The Hornets are one of the best offensive teams in the entire league. LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, and Terry Rozier are pretty solid players. Miles Bridges could be an All-Star. If you are Charlotte and not used to contend, you need to take advantage and go all-in when you can. This is one of those years where the team needs to make the necessary adjustments at the deadline and risk the future.
PJ Washington is a young, promising player, but Myles Turner is a true NBA veteran. Turner is leading the league in blocks. He is potentially the best rim protector in the league. Adding Turner solidifies this lineup as one of the best overall units. That would allow Mason Plumlee to play off the bench, which is a role better suited for his talents.
Chicago Bulls - Jerami Grant
The Bulls were linked as a suitor for Kevin Love if the Cavaliers can reach a buyout agreement with the former All-Star. With Patrick Williams out until the spring, the power forward position has a hole. With that said, Javontae Green has been holding the fort down and could be a contender for the Slam Dunk Contest this year. However, if you could make an upgrade, wouldn’t you take the chance?
The Bulls are contending for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Detroit Pistons are going to be sellers at the deadline, especially with an affordable contract for Grant at stake. Grant can play power forward and is averaging 19.1 points and 4.7 rebounds this season. Adding him to the best scoring duo in the league in Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan could help Chicago make the NBA Finals for the first time since 1998.
Cleveland Cavaliers - CJ McCollum
With Collin Sexton ailing, the former lottery pick has become even more expendable. After last year, Sexton looked like he was on track to getting a $100 million contract. Now, there are concerns about his future. Either way, he is 22 years old coming off a season where he averaged 24.3 points per game. He remains a top prospect in the trade market.
If the Trail Blazers finally give up on CJ McCollum, this is a trade meant for each other. The Cavaliers are hovering around the playoff picture. The frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen is solid. Darius Garland is a real point guard in this league. The Cavs just need some extra offense and McCollum can provide that.
Dallas Mavericks - Kemba Walker
Luka Doncic is the starting point guard in town, but what about an upgrade at the backup spot? Walker is playing on a cheap $10 million salary. While the Mavericks do have Jalen Brunson on the roster, Walker is an upgrade and could thrive in Dallas.
For example, Walker would have complete control over the offense. When Walker played in Charlotte, he was the main option. It was his team and his shot choice. If Walker played on the second unit, he would have the autonomy to shoot whatever he wanted. Walker can’t handle playing with superstars on the court at the same time, which is why being a sixth man in Dallas could help the team make a deep playoff run.
Denver Nuggets - Kevin Love
Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green have done an average job of balancing each other, but Love would give the team depth. Love can provide backup minutes at this point in his career. Gordon and Green have had to alternate at the positions this season. What Love provides differently is that he can still hit shots from outside.
When Jamal Murray comes back, Monte Morris will switch back to a backup role. Having Morris and Love lead the second unit would allow the team to stretch the floor. If you throw Jokic in that mix, you have three legitimate shooters on the floor that can provide inside and outside opportunities.
Detroit Pistons - 2022 No. 1 Overall Pick
Cade Cunningham is going to be a good player one day. Asking Cunningham to average 20 points and eight assists in his first season is asking too much, especially when you are surrounded by inept players. The Pistons are not a good team and have a long road ahead of them. However, the contracts for Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk will be off the books in the next few years. By that time, the team can start spending money on superstars.
The only way the Pistons will compete is if they have a young core. Cunningham, Killian Hayes, and Chet Holmgren would make a young foundational core. However, the only way the Pistons are going to get the Gonzaga star is if the Pistons land the No. 1 overall pick.
Golden State Warriors - Karl-Anthony Towns
Getting Towns last year seems like a possibility, but the team didn’t trade their future assets. The Timberwolves are competing for a playoff spot, so they aren’t likely to land Towns now. With that said, you can dream and the Timberwolves aren't running away into the playoffs. Based on their history, they could easily fall out of the playoff picture and tear it all down.
Steph Curry is an MVP candidate. Klay Thompson is coming back at some point this offseason. Draymond Green looks like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The Warriors are tied with the Suns for the best record in the league. This feels like the Warriors are back to contending for a championship. Towns would guarantee the ring if he joined this group.
Houston Rockets - 2022 No. 1 Overall Pick
Jalen Green had an impossible task when he entered the league. He had to replace James Harden. Granted, Harden was traded long ago last year, but the Rockets are not used to losing. A double-digit losing streak proved that the Rockets are really young. “Prized” offseason acquisition Daniel Thies hardly plays. The Rockets are tearing this thing down.
With the ample amount of first-round picks in the future, thanks to Brooklyn, the future could be bright. John Wall’s money is off the books next year, regardless of whether he is traded or not. Green and Holmgren or Paolo Banchero would be a solid young core to build within the next few years.
Indiana Pacers - Jaylen Brown
The Pacers have the talent to compete on paper when well-rested but aren’t. Something is going to have to give at the trade deadline. The Celtics are in the same boat. A package that involved Malcolm Brogdon and/or Myles Turner would make a competitive team in Boston. A duo of Brown and Domantas Sabonis could be good enough to make the playoffs.
The Pacers realistically have one All-Star on the team, while the rest are either borderline starters or backups getting paid to play like starters. Caris LeVert and Brown could be a solid scoring duo, which gives promise, but the Pacers are stuck in purgatory right now. Brown would make the team relevant.
Los Angeles Clippers - John Wall
You can look at Wall’s stats from last season and deem them as garbage time numbers on a bad Rockets team. You can also see that Wall is healthy for the first time in his career. Since Wall hasn’t played this season, he is certainly well-rested.
The Clippers are a surprise team this year. Paul George is playing like an MVP. If there is a sliver of a chance that Kawhi Leonard comes back this year, the team needs to be prepared. Eric Bledsoe and Reggie Jackson have held the fort down in the backcourt. However, imagine adding Wall to the mix. The Clippers would have the depth to compete again.
Los Angeles Lakers - Damian Lillard
The key title in this piece is “dream” target. When the Trail Blazers switched coaches, speculation swirled around Lillard’s future. Now, he is playing one of his worst stretches in his career and could be a deadline acquisition.
With the Lakers, the experiment of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook isn’t working. Westbrook is not fitting in with his new group. Lillard could potentially save the Lakers’ season and his legacy as a player that can’t make the NBA Finals.
Memphis Grizzlies - Jerami Grant
The injury to Ja Morant is a giant blow to the Grizzlies, who were in contention for competing for a playoff spot. Morant could come back at some point this season, but it’s going to be tough to tell where the team is at when that comes. If the Grizzlies looked at competing for this year and next, the team could look into making a pitch for Jerami Grant.
If Morant was playing, you could move Desmond Bane to the backup spot and move Dillon Brooks to shooting guard. Grant can play small forward as Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams are holding down the fort in the frontcourt. The clock is ticking on an extension for Morant and Brooks, so if the team wanted to compete for this year and next, Grant could fit into this rotation nicely.
Miami Heat - John Wall
For similar reasons as the Clippers, Wall would be a potent backup option. When the Heat made the Finals in 2020, Goran Dragic was the leader of the second unit. Wall could do that same job and make a run with the Heat.
Right now, Tyler Herro is the team’s backup point guard and shooting guard. What if Herro played more off the ball? He is having a borderline All-Star season and is making a push towards Sixth Man of the Year. Wall makes Herro and the entire organization better running the backup point position.
Milwaukee Bucks - Christian Wood
Brook Lopez changed his game, so he could play more small ball. If you are Milwaukee and trying to upgrade your team, Christian Wood is the better option. The Bucks have the talent to run it back but need to make another deal with the Rockets to help win a title (last year the team traded for PJ Tucker).
Wood shoots about 34% from three-point range but is also averaging 16 points and 11.2 rebounds each night. If Wood wasn’t playing on the Rockets, his numbers would be lower, but you can’t deny that Wood is playing at a high level on a bad team. Adding Wood to the Bucks could help Milwaukee repeat as champions.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Ben Simmons
The Timberwolves are competing. Yes, you read that right. If Minnesota wants to make a splash on a true second superstar, they should find a way to finalize a trade for Ben Simmons. For starters, Patrick Beverley is not a true starting point guard anymore, but that’s okay. Beverley would flourish off the bench with the second unit. Adding Simmons would give the Timberwolves a boost offensively and defensively.
Simmons and Karl-Anthony Towns could work. Not to mention, the team has a true scoring option in Anthony Edwards. Simmons could succeed in setting up these players and playing strong defense. Minnesota has the draft capital to make this move too. With D’Angelo Russell’s contract to match, Philadelphia could come out victorious in this move as well.
New Orleans Pelicans - 2022 No. 1 Overall Pick
When the Pelicans landed Zion Williamson, it felt like the team was going to find a way to move on from Anthony Davis. Instead, the team has missed the playoffs. Brandon Ingram is a former All-Star. Willamson is an All-Star when he is healthy. Jonas Valanciunas is having a career season. There are pieces on this team that make them interesting.
With that said, Williamson is not going to lift the 6-18 Pelicans out of the gutter. The best move for the future of the franchise is to tank, even though they can’t technically do that. If the Pelicans land the No. 1 overall pick, either Holmgren or Banchero is a good fit with this team. With the pieces in place, the Pelicans could go from bottom to top in one year if they land the No. 1 overall pick.
New York Knicks - Russell Westbrook
The Knicks recently removed Kemba Walker from the rotation. Alec Burks has the team playing solid, but solid isn’t going to win a title. The Knicks remain one of the worst third-quarter teams in the league. They lack energy and Russell Westbrook can provide plenty of that.
When Westbrook was on the market, the Knicks were rumored to be a contender. Instead, the Lakers lured him away. The Knicks had to settle with Evan Fournier. The Lakers need three-point shooting and Fournier can provide that. The Knicks could take on Westbrook’s contract if Fournier was moved with other pieces. Westbrook and Julius Randle could work. Besides, doesn’t Westbrook seem like a player Tom Thibodeau would love?
Oklahoma City Thunder - Ben Simmons
Eventually, the Thunder are going to have to start adding pieces. The team has money to spend and Simmons could be the first investment. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a better shooting guard. He would thrive with a point guard running the show. We saw it work with Chris Paul, so this backcourt could be a true contender for the future.
Orlando Magic - 2022 No. 1 Overall Pick
The Magic are going to contend for the worst record in the league this year. Their 5-18 record right now provides that evidence. After pawning off Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon at the deadline last year, the team was able to recoup some draft capital. Now, it’s time to let the pieces grow, but that comes at a cost of losing games.
Wendell Carter Jr. appears to finally be healthy and could be a starting-caliber center in the league. Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs are enjoying successful rookie seasons. Adding a player of Holmgren, Banchero, or Jabari Smith could put the Magic on the same trajectory as the Suns down the road. Two to three years from now, the Magic could add superstars if they land the No. 1 pick this year.
Philadelphia 76ers - Damian Lillard
The 76ers thought last year was going to be the first time the team made the NBA Finals since 2001. Instead, the team was bounced by the Hawks and Ben Simmons was talked about in the offseason being traded. Now, the team is a struggling .500 team missing a key superstar player. While Simmons has offensive deficiencies, he brought more than scoring to the team and it’s showing now.
The 76ers have the MVP runner-up in Joel Embiid, a very good player in Tobias Harris, and a surrounding cast that could make another run at the NBA Finals. It’s missing a star and the trade that makes the most sense for both teams is a Simmons-Damian Lillard swap. Lillard would take pressure off of Embiid offensively and give the team the best inside-outside threat in the entire NBA.
Phoenix Suns - Harrison Barnes
The Suns are 18-3 and own a 17-game winning streak, so there isn’t much more you can do to make a team better. With that said, if there was a way that the Suns could add at the deadline, a perfect fit for the team would be Harrison Barnes. Now, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton are bonafide starters. What about Jae Crowder?
Barnes has experience playing as a power forward dating back to his time in Golden State and Dallas. Barnes is currently playing as the starting small forward in Sacramento but could be moved to solidify the starting lineup in Phoenix. Barnes is averaging 19.0 points and shooting 39.8% from the three-point range. Maybe, Barnes is the missing link to getting the Suns their first championship in franchise history.
Portland Trail Blazers - Domantas Sabonis
In a realm that Portland believes they are contenders, then they need to add one more superstar. Robert Covington isn’t getting the job done the way you would hope. Jusef Nurkic is a solid starting center, but not a star either. The true dream in Portland would be to add an All-Star big with their starting backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Sabonis is a league leader in double-doubles. He can score, rebound, and pass. He is a more modern-day Kevin Love than the actual Kevin Love still playing in the league. Lillard, McCollum, and Sabonis could be legitimate starting big three that could propel Portland out of the first round and more.
Sacramento Kings - Ben Simmons
The Kings need to seriously consider tearing everything down. De’Aaron Fox can play shooting guard. With his contract, the Kings could move Fox in exchange for a true All-Star. Fox is getting paid like one of the best players in the league but has yet to make an All-Star appearance. This would give the franchise and Simmons a truly fresh start.
Realistically, the Kings have no future right now. What top free agent is going to Sacramento by choice these days? The team is going to have to find talent through the trade market and Simmons has been sitting there since June.
San Antonio Spurs - 2022 No. 1 Overall Pick
It’s been a long time since the Spurs have been mentioned in the lottery. With the trajectory of the organization, it’s a real possibility in 2022. The Spurs are 6-13 with a likelihood of finishing outside the playoff picture. Dejounte Murray appears to be the only untouchable player on the roster.
The team is sorta stuck in the middle. They are not necessarily young, but not old either. There is no clear superstar on the team. The Spurs haven’t owned a No. 1 overall pick since Tim Duncan. It might be time for the Spurs to get lucky, so they can rebuild their franchise to what it once was.
Toronto Raptors - Myles Turner
As previously mentioned, the Raptors have been using Pascal Siakam as their starting center. Siakam is better suited as a small or power forward with his skill set. If the Raptors believe this core can compete, and it has shown they can compete at times, then why not make the sexy acquisition before the deadline?
Fred VanVleet is playing like a top guard in the league. OG Anunoby and Siakam are strong starting forwards. Scottie Barnes looks like the potential Rookie of the Year. A rim protector is what the Raptors need and they could go back to playing like the tough, defensive-oriented franchise that made the NBA Finals in 2019. Add Turner to the defensive-minded arsenal of Nick Nurse and the Raptors could be back in the playoff fold.
Utah Jazz - Russell Westbrook
The Jazz is a top-4 team in the Western Conference right now. The team was the No. 1 seed a year ago. However, like the 76ers, they showed they need one extra piece. That missing piece could be Russell Westbrook. The combination of Westbrook, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert have more potential of working than the current regiment of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook.
Westbrook thrives with penetrating and getting to open shooters. With Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson on the roster, there’s potential for points on the board. That goes the same with the pick and roll opportunities with Gobert. It would cost Conley, but that could benefit the Lakers too. In the end, adding Westbrook gives the Jazz their best shot of making the NBA Finals for the first time since 1998.
Washington Wizards - Pascal Siakam
The Wizards are shocking the NBA landscape by playing for a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. It appears that building around Bradley Beal was a smart decision. Kyle Kuzma is one of the best role players in the league, while Spencer Dinwiddie has impressed so far. Montrezl Harrell is making a run at being an All-Star and winning Sixth Man of the Year for the second time.
At small forward, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is having a strong season, but he is more of a shooting guard. If the Wizards could make a deal for Siakam, that would allow him to play his natural position with Caldwell-Pope coming off the bench to play an offensive geared role with the second unit. If the Wizards believe their time is now, then make a move. After all, the team hasn’t played in the Conference or NBA Finals since 1979.