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NBA Squad Goals

Most teams don’t have a chance at winning it all this year, but they’ve still got reason to go hard for 82 games

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Kevin Durant’s move to the Bay Area is going so seamlessly that he’s already teaming up with Airbnb. And no matter how hard Boston and Toronto try, it’s hard to see any team other than Cleveland coming out of the East (settle down, Cleveland, you’re drunk). Sure, it can be difficult to muster enthusiasm for this season, but all the same, we’re here to encourage you to obliterate your social life and watch basketball nonstop for the next eight months. Your team may not be able to bring home the championship, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for. And after all, Tristan Thompson is dating Khloé Kardashian, so at least there is hope for the Eastern Conference teams to make the Finals. We’ve assigned every team in the NBA a squad goal, beginning today with the bottom half of the league. Consider it an organizational to-do list for the upcoming season.

Well, actually, the Nets should just move on

It’s bleak for you, Nets fans. We won’t sugar coat it. Pray for Linsanity 2.0, but mostly move on. The lottery awaits.

Stay Healthy: Wizards, Pelicans

Bradley Beal is perennially injured and John Wall is coming off of knee surgery, so the Wizards have more to worry about than just their chemistry. Can they even get on the court? Even more alarming, the Pelicans could barely field a team for every game last season. We want more for Anthony Davis.

Get Relevant: Lakers, Kings, Sixers

It’s time for the Sixers and Kings to make news for competency, rather than dysfunction. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the Lakers are looking for their raison d’être in a post–Kobe Bryant world. Here’s hoping D’Angelo Russell deleted Snapchat from his phone.

Stay Relevant: Thunder, Hawks, Heat, Mavs

The Heat are now without bona fide stars. The Mavs’ hopes are hanging on the aged Dirk Nowitzki. The Hawks have been the JV Spurs for two seasons, and it’s time to grow up. All of these teams are facing an identity crisis, but none is more urgent than Oklahoma City’s. Russell Westbrook will be getting his shots, but will they make the playoffs?

Make Some Noise: Jazz, Nuggets, Magic, Suns

These are the teams your NBA Twitter friends will love. There’s a lot of potential and a lot of personality (looking at you, Mario Hezonja), but can they actually get to the playoffs? The Jazz have been lurking on this plateau for awhile. They’ll need Gordon Hayward to be his best self for the team to raise the volume.