Hard truths for the hardwood: It's NBA New Year's resolution SZN

The new year is fast approaching, and some NBA players, teams and figures are in desperate need of the reset button.

Here are several suggested resolutions as the calendar prepares to flip to 2019:

Denver Nuggets: Get Isaiah Thomas healthy and keep him that way

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It sounds simple enough, but Thomas has been snakebitten since playing through a hip injury for the Boston Celtics during the 2016-17 season and playoffs.

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo illustration)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo illustration)

He believed he was in line for a max contract. Instead he was shipped off to Cleveland and then to the Lakers before settling with Denver on a one-year deal last offseason. It’s hard to even fathom what he was able to accomplish at his height when he was healthy, but with how fast the NBA moves, he’s now an afterthought in the big picture.

Assuming he can get back on the floor in Denver, adding some scoring punch and playing alongside Nikola Jokic will be the main priorities. It seems unlikely he’ll reach the heights of when he was among the league’s most feared scorers, but just getting on the floor and being a reasonable facsimile of his former self would be good to see.

To those fawning over Luka Doncic at the expense of other rookies: stop faulting the youngsters and enjoy all the talent

It’s hard to talk about any rookies this season without mentioning Doncic, who’s surprised many after dominating overseas. The praise has been so heavy that other outstanding rookies have been criticized in some instances for not living up to Doncic’s standards. Trae Young was traded for him and has to wear that comparison for his career.

Deandre Ayton is putting up numbers on a bad Phoenix team that wouldn’t win games even if Doncic was in a Suns jersey, but hears the criticism nonetheless. Ditto for Marvin Bagley. And don’t you dare mention Jaren Jackson’s name as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate.

It’s all about Doncic, and while the praise is warranted, these rookies have been standouts in their own ways and don’t need to be used as tools in the “Doncic is great” parade the media has jumped on.

A market correction was necessary because some of the doubts about Doncic were unfounded and the stereotypes unfair.

Let’s just make sure it’s not a market overreaction in the meantime.

Donovan Mitchell could use a little help to ease his scoring burden. (Getty)
Donovan Mitchell could use a little help to ease his scoring burden. (Getty)

Utah Jazz: acquire a second scorer for Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell isn’t going through a sophomore slump — not in the traditional sense. He burst onto the scene last season as an aggressive scorer on a supremely defensive-minded team that shocked the world in beating the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

But now teams are loading up to stop Mitchell, and he’s appearing to feel the pressure as the Jazz have stumbled out of the gate. Another primary scorer would make his life so much easier and allow him to be more efficient while picking his spots, so the game can come to him as opposed to Mitchell chasing it.

He’s a phenomenal talent and the Jazz have shot makers but not the best collection of shot creators. His progression from young star to bona fide superstar would be greatly aided with a little help.

Oklahoma City Thunder: keep Paul George heavily featured

There were more than a few of us who wondered if George was emotionally bullied into staying with Oklahoma City when all signs pointed to him departing for sunnier skies and a partnership with LeBron James in Los Angeles. But his second year with Russell Westbrook has gone much better than anyone’s expected. He’s a terror on defense, and even Westbrook’s effort and attention to detail have improved, perhaps with George’s influence.

George is scoring at such a rate it harkens back to his days with Indiana where he would start off so strong, prompting MVP talk, before eventually falling off. This time around, his performances are elevating as the season continues. Oklahoma City’s defense is near the top of the league, and George has to take credit for that change.

The criticism in the moment was warranted given what we thought we knew. But credit should be given with the same energy considering the evidence and body of work George has put forth.

Ben Simmons: develop a jump shot

The 76ers won’t go anywhere until they figure out this conundrum. And the Celtics will continue to bully them when it counts because they have the antidote for Simmons’ most pronounced weakness.

The rivalry many believed was developing is turning more and more into Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, or Tom and Jerry. We know how that matchup ends, and to date, we know how a Celtics-Sixers game will finish.

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