’Tis the season to be thankful, and in the spirit of the moment, it’s proper to bring out the good in all 30 NBA teams.
Yes, some might require binoculars to spot their silver linings, while other teams are more obvious with their assets, but everyone has something to like.
The best news for everyone? Normalcy has returned to the NBA season after a pandemic pause, arenas are mostly full, interest is up and there hasn’t been a serious, long-term injury suffered by the league’s stars (fingers crossed on that).
Here’s a two-sentence takeaway on what each of the 30 teams is most thankful for heading into Thanksgiving, and pretty soon, the second month of the season:
Atlanta Hawks: Travis Schlenk has built this team without any major sacrifices and stockpiled enough intriguing young talent to keep or trade. Also: Trae Young is entertaining enough to make State Farm Arena a destination in Atlanta, no easy feat in a notoriously fickle town.
Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are still here, and there’s still belief they’ll become more and more comfortable with each other’s presence, which isn’t totally typical of young teammates reaching for stardom. Also: Al Horford is back home after getting lost in Philly and OKC.
Brooklyn Nets: There are no injury concerns or relapses for Kevin Durant, and he signed an extension. Also: Patty Mills is among the best offseason pickups in the league, a championship-tested player who knows how to work with superstars.
Charlotte Hornets: The Warriors had the chance to draft LaMelo Ball but passed. Also: After splurging on the likes of Bismack Biyombo, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, the Hornets are finally fiscally responsible and wisely didn’t overpay Kemba Walker.
Chicago Bulls: They had the good sense (and fortune) to convince early Kia MVP contender DeMar DeRozan that he’d be better off in the Windy City chill instead of going home to Los Angeles. Also: The early returns on Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso look sharp.
Cleveland Cavaliers: While the rest of the league goes small, the Cavs refused to be copycatters and drafted center Evan Mobley after extending center Jarrett Allen. Also: The ball belongs in Darius Garland’s hands.
Dallas Mavericks: For someone who burns plenty of minutes, Luka Doncic has been spared serious injury. Also: Please applaud the marketing genius who painted the name on the court of everyone who ever played for the Mavericks.
Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic apparently isn’t resting on his MVP laurels, far from it, actually. Also: Jamal Murray will, we understand, return at some point this season.
Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham’s name won’t be etched among the biggest No. 1 Draft busts in NBA history. Also: As long as the Lions are in town, the Pistons won’t be Detroit’s bottom-feeder.
Golden State Warriors: Steph Curry is currently a better version of Steph Curry. Also: Klay Thompson, now back at practice, has two years of pent-up frustration ready to be released soon, likely starting later this month.
Houston Rockets: Hey, it could be a lot worse — just ask the Houston Texans. Also: Jalen Green, every once in a while, drops hints of being special.
Indiana Pacers: Seven guards were taken ahead of Chris Duarte in last summer’s Draft; good thing the Pacers were sitting pretty at 13. Also: While you can change the name to Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Pacers’ place remains the best spot to watch basketball.
LA Clippers: Paul George is raising his game just when the Clippers, without Kawhi Leonard, need him to do so. Also: This franchise boasts the wealthiest owner in American pro sports; maybe you haven’t heard.
LA Lakers: They already won a title with LeBron James; now they’re playing with house money. Also: Anthony Davis is upright.
Memphis Grizzlies: Remind us again who was the prize of the 2019 NBA Draft? Also: For those who live in Memphis, attending a Grizzlies’ game is the best value in the NBA.
Miami Heat: Nobody can find nooks and crannies in the salary cap quite like Heat capologist Andy Elisburg; that’s why Miami, year after year, finds a way to add talent. Also: Philly couldn’t convince Jimmy Butler to stay put.
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis didn’t leave town. Also: Giannis didn’t leave town.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards believes he can contend for the MVP in the near future and who are we to doubt him? Also: They haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs yet.
New Orleans Pelicans: No. 1 picks don’t refuse rookie max contract extensions from the teams that drafted them, so there’s that regarding Zion Williamson’s future. Also: Jonas Valanciunas is still sneaky good as a low-post big man, averaging 19.1 points (shooting a career-high 56.4% from outside) and 12.5 rebounds.
New York Knicks: Knicks fans are still passionate about their team and willing to go over-the-top in response to the smallest signs of progress. Also: Despite the slow start by the Knicks, they remain New York’s favorite basketball team.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a solid building block for the future. Also: There might not be a player with more value, per dollar, than the $1.7 million the Thunder are paying Lu Dort.
Orlando Magic: Cole Anthony is a pure delight — a young point guard coming into his own and a personable fan favorite. Also: Orlando is sitting on a pair of first-rounders after shipping Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, whom they didn’t need anymore.
Philadelphia 76ers: The emergence of Tyrese Maxie is clearly the best, and maybe only good thing, to happen as a result of the Ben Simmons Situation. Also: Joel Embiid still likes playing in Philly, so there’s that.
Phoenix Suns: The hangover from losing the NBA Finals was short-lived with this team; the focus and cohesiveness seem intact. Also: Chris Paul, currently the NBA assists leader, is stretching his prime through yet another year.
Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard wasn’t traded; he’s part of the solution, not the problem. Also: CJ McCollum’s trade value, should the Blazers go that route, remains favorable around the league.
Sacramento Kings: Richaun Holmes (10.6 rebounds) isn’t resting on that contract extension; he remains blue-collar as ever. Also: Harrison Barnes is averaging a career-high 19.3 points and 7.4 rebounds and still can fetch decent return in a trade.
San Antonio Spurs: Gregg Popovich is committed to see this through and evidently will leave one day on his own terms. Also: Dejounte Murray, a defensive pest, is showing he can be counted on when it’s time to get buckets.
Toronto Raptors: Those who said the Raptors were reaching when they drafted Scottie Barnes — where y’all at? Also: Masai Ujiri didn’t jump at other tempting offers last summer and remains true to Canada.
Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert’s defense and rebounding remain top-shelf and contagious as well. Also: Donovan Mitchell is everything you want in a franchise player — talented, committed, personable and community-oriented.
Washington Wizards: GM Tommy Sheppard dumped John Wall and Russell Westbrook and their poisonous contracts for solid players and cap flexibility. Also: The return of Rui Hachimura appears to be near.
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