Santa Claus is on his way. Soon, all of that thoughtful gift wrapping will be left in pieces on the living room floor, and — hopefully — everyone gets what they wanted.
But what if the old dude in the red suit left presents under the trees of the teams occupying this week’s NBA Power Rankings? Their general managers would be oh so grateful.
So, to embrace the holiday spirit, we’ve envisioned the perfect gifts for the teams selected by our rankings panel. For some clubs, the joy may come at a later date, but it’ll be worth the wait.
And yes, we’ve included the Bottom Five on our gift wish list. They haven’t been naughty at all. They’ve been rebuilding responsibly by letting young players learn on the job.
We wish happiness and good health for all 30 teams — as well as you and yours, dear reader.
On to the rankings …
Records and statistics are through Dec. 22
The Top 10
1. Phoenix Suns (25-5, Last week: 2): This may feel like a copout, but what do you get the NBA’s best team that has everything with the Point God, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, a proven supporting cast and one of the league’s best coaches in Monty Williams? Answer: Nothing. You just wish they stay healthy.
2. Golden State Warriors (25-6, LW: 1): They have two presents that will require more waiting before they can unwrap them — Klay Thompson and James Wiseman, who are both working their way back from injuries.
3. Brooklyn Nets (21-9, LW: 3): James Harden returns just in time for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers. What a treat for the Nets and basketball fans who’ll be watching hoops all day on Saturday.
4. Utah Jazz (21-9, LW: 4): Here’s a “Don’t open ’til trade deadline” present — an upgrade at the wing spot with someone like, oh, Jerami Grant.
5. Chicago Bulls (19-10, LW: 7): Just for the good of the franchise and fan base, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen patch up their rift and finally hug it out.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-13, LW: 8): Their young talent (Darius Garland, Evan Mobley) has been showing out, but here’s hoping the Kevin Love comeback continues.
7. Memphis Grizzlies (19-13, LW: 6): Winning with Ja Morant again. Pretty certain this will happen sooner rather than later.
8. Milwaukee Bucks (20-13, LW: 5): More Jordan Nwora viral moments, please.
9. Miami Heat (19-13, LW: 9): Duncan Robinson’s 3-point percentage (currently at 34.6) begins to progress to the mean and his career 40-percent clip.
10t. Los Angeles Clippers (17-15, LW: 10): They get great news — Kawhi Leonard will return from knee surgery much earlier than expected.
10t. Denver Nuggets (15-15, LW: Not ranked): They get great news — Jamal Murray will return from knee surgery much earlier than expected.
FALLING DOWN: None.
The Bottom Five
Again, there are no lumps of coal in these stockings. This group has already had to endure some rough patches this season. Below are wishes for things that will help these teams proceed down a path toward long-term success.
30. Detroit Pistons (5-25, Last week: 30): Flip the aforementioned Grant for future assets (if the opportunity to make a great deal arises).
29. Orlando Magic (7-25, LW: 29): Here’s hoping that, by season’s end, they know they successfully hit on both lottery picks in Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.
28. Oklahoma City Thunder (11-19, LW: 26t): They’ve won three straight, beating the Clippers, Grlzzlies and Nuggets. All they need is a strong work ethic from their young roster and patience from fans.
27. Houston Rockets (10-22, LW: 26t): The John Wall situation is finally resolved with both sides benefitting.
26. New Orleans Pelicans (11-21, LW: 28): They get great news — Zion Williamson will return from his foot injury much earlier than expected.
MOVING UP: Portland Trail Blazers (13-19, LW: 27).