The 2021 NBA season is upon us, with pre-season well underway. NBA teams have made big moves across the league as they look to improve their rosters with the hopes of competing for an NBA championship. Whether that means this season or the near future, trades help shape the roster for franchise success.
Every NBA team has a wishlist of players that fit into their system, some feasible and others not. To narrow the list down, there is one player for each team that will help a team make major moves towards their goals if they can acquire him. Here is the best target for every NBA team this season.
Atlanta Hawks: T.J. Warren
The Atlanta Hawks have a very strong squad in the East this season with the signings of Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Trae Young is an All-Star and Clint Capela can defend the rim and play exceptional defense, while John Collins is an active big man with a ton of upside. As good as Atlanta's starting lineup is, they need depth. T.J. Warren exploded onto the scene during "The Bubble," and his offense was truly shocking to watch. The Hawks can make the playoffs this season and a guy like Warren could help them become a top-4 team in the East.
Boston Celtics: Myles Turner
The Boston Celtics signed Tristan Thompson in free agency which was a great pickup. He is an active rebounder and rim protector who plays hard every night. The only problem is that he is offensively inept, something Myles Turner isn't. Turner can space the floor and also score inside, making him an excellent option for Boston to have a dynamic duo at the center position to complete Boston's excellent rotation.
Brooklyn Nets: James Harden
Brooklyn have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, so James Harden would complete the most unstoppable offensive trio in NBA history. Harden wants out of Houston and Brooklyn has the best possible trade package for the Rockets. As of right now, Brooklyn are really good but James Harden would almost guarantee a Finals berth for the Nets. Brooklyn should go all-in on James Harden since they have Durant and Irving; because The Beard is one of the top five talents in the world right now.
Charlotte Hornets: Lonzo Ball
LaMelo Ball already looks like a star in pre-season, so the Hornets finally have a promising start to a season. The signing of Gordon Hayward was questionable, but he's an All-Star player when healthy. Lonzo Ball isn't a star, but his potential is very interesting. Pairing him with his younger brother would mean more people paying attention to the Hornets and more notoriety. Charlotte won't be competing in the playoffs this season, so at the least Lonzo can bring some media attention and excitement.
Chicago Bulls: Kyle Lowry
Chicago is enduring a confusing spell right now because Zach LaVine is their best player among other talents whose ceilings are questionable. To boost the amount of young talent on their roster, Kyle Lowry can be an attainable target for Chicago. He is a 2-way veteran who has the leadership ability to be an impactful player for a young team. He showed what he can do during his Finals run with the Raptors and Chicago need to surround LaVine with the veteran talent to help the Bulls sneak into the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Mikal Bridges
Cleveland should rebuild at all costs because they will be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the foreseeable future. Cleveland fans have gotten used to it, and it doesn't look like LeBron James will ever come back. To bolster their rebuild plans, Suns forward Mikal Bridges is a perfect addition to the squad. He can play inside and out and has the potential to be a dominant two-way player. Cleveland need to find the right talent so Bridges is a massive option for them.
Dallas Mavericks: Andre Drummond
The Dallas Mavericks should do everything possible to add talent around superstar Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Andre Drummond isn't a star player in today's NBA, but he's a dominant defensive player who would form a twin-towers duo with Porzingis that gives opponents fits. Dallas can have a strong base to add shooters around Doncic because Drummond can get a cheaper contract in the coming seasons due to his lack of interest around the league.
Denver Nuggets: C.J. McCollum
The Denver Nuggets have everything except a third star, something McCollum addresses immediately. Denver has been looking for an upgrade over Gary Harris for a while because he is a good two-way player but not an offensive star. McCollum is a beast at creating his own shot and that means more impact alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Denver did very well to reach the Western Conference Finals last season, and McCollum could help them repeat that again in 2021.
Detroit Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie
Many fans might not realize but Spencer Dinwiddie was a Detroit Piston not too long ago. He hardly played although he has arrived as a legitimate starter in the NBA and also a star. Dinwiddie is quite a talent as he is very explosive, has great dribbling skills, and can score the ball at the rim. Detroit are somewhere in the middle between rebuilding and making the playoffs, so Dinwiddie helps them close the gap and maybe enter the postseason with a chance to continue improving.
Golden State Warriors: John Collins
The Golden State Warriors suffered the worst news of the off-season when Klay Thompson suffered a season-ending injury. On the bright side, they have Stephen Curry and star prospect James Wiseman to help keep the Warriors afloat. John Collins just looks like a Warriors player because he plays hard and is very good on offense. A lineup with Draymond Green and John Collins is very formidable and could make Golden State a playoff team this season without their second Splash Brother.
Houston Rockets: Caris LeVert
The Houston Rockets are losing James Harden, and it is only a matter of time before they come to terms with this and pull the trigger on a trade. Finding the best trade package is the best course of action for the Rockets because John Wall and Christian Wood are very talented players in the starting lineup. Caris LeVert is a budding star in the league who had a tremendous season last year. LeVert could help spearhead the quick Rockets rebuild and he would form a dynamic duo with star point guard John Wall.
Indiana Pacers: Kevin Love
The Indiana Pacers have Domantas Sabonis and they are looking to offload Myles Turner who isn't growing as they expected him to. Pairing Sabonis with a sharpshooter like Kevin Love means Indiana will make the playoffs in the East with a star duo in the paint and capable players such as Malcolm Brogdon and possibly Victor Oladipo on the wing. The Pacers are a consistent team and they deserve credit for that, but Kevin Love could take them to the next level.
Los Angeles Clippers: Derrick Rose
The Los Angeles Clippers haven't had the best off-season by losing Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers. They also signed Marcus Morris to one of the worst contracts in recent memory and also Paul George to a $190-million extension after his poor season in 2020. At the very least, acquiring former MVP Derrick Rose gives the Clippers a capable scorer and playmaker to help lighten the load on Kawhi and Paul George. This Clippers season is championship or bust, so they need to go all-in.
Los Angeles Lakers: DeMar DeRozan
The rich get richer, as the Los Angeles Lakers had the best off-season by far. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have a lot more help this season, but DeMar DeRozan would take them over the top as a potential Dynasty. DeRozan isn't an All-Star anymore since he plays in the Western Conference, but he very well could become one again by playing alongside the Lakers superstars. DeRozan deserves better than a dysfunctional Spurs team right now, and the Lakers could use his services to guarantee a title repeat.
Memphis Grizzlies: Harrison Barnes
The Memphis Grizzlies are fortunate to have Ja Morant on the squad because he is a rare point guard with exceptional passing ability. They also have Jaren Jackson Jr, a modern big man who can defend and hit outside shots. Harrison Barnes is a very capable wing player who can defend and shoot, completing a strong trio that can help Memphis make the playoffs. The deeper in the postseason the Grizzlies go, the better Ja Morant will be at leading a franchise and being a star he is destined to become.
Miami Heat: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Miami Heat are the team with the most momentum entering the 2021 season in the East. They gave Jimmy Butler, who proved he is a top-10 player in the NBA last season, and a veteran locker room spearheaded by Goran Dragic and Eric Spoelstra. If Miami give up their entire core group of Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Andre Iguodala; they might be able to acquire the MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis with Jimmy Butler and All-Star Bam Adebayo means Miami will be in the Finals yet again, with a chance to face the Lakers in a highly anticipated rematch.
Milwaukee Bucks: Evan Fournier
The Milwaukee Bucks messed up the Bogdan Bogdanovic situation badly, so their wing position is still up for grabs. In a perfect world, Evan Fournier is the perfect player for the Bucks. He can space the floor next to Khris Middleton and gives Milwaukee a third guy who can create his own offense. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a top-3 player in the game, but he needs more shooting around him to help his team become successful. Fournier, Middleton, Holiday, and Brook Lopez completes a very strong lineup around Giannis that should see the Bucks in the Finals.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Aaron Gordon
For Minnesota, the game plan is simple. Build on the very talented roster they have and continue building around Karl-Anthony Towns. D'Angelo Russell was a massive addition and so was the draft signing of Anthony Edwards. Malik Beasley was signed to a massive contract meaning Minnesota know where they are going as a team. Aaron Gordon will fit like a puzzle with buddies Towns and Russell, and the Timberwolves will finally have the roster to make the playoffs now and in the future.
New Orleans Pelicans: Duncan Robinson
The New Orleans Pelicans have Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, meaning they need to surround those two young stars with knockdown shooters. Duncan Robinson is one of the best shooters in the entire NBA after knocking down 45.2% of his threes last season. Robinson will find plenty of looks playing alongside Williamson and Ingram who will begin attracting double teams in 2021. The Pelicans need to play as if they are pushing for a deep playoff run because Zion and Ingram are that good, and Robinson will certainly help.
New York Knicks: Lou Williams
The New York Knicks situation is a hard one to try and fix. They have a ton of pieces that don't fit together and no direction from management. What they do have is Julius Randle, a capable scorer and rebounder, and Obi Toppin a high-flying powerful player. One thing they lack is scoring prowess from the perimeter, something Lou Williams does better than anybody from the bench. Sweet Lou is still going strong and can be a scoring machine for the Knicks who can field a decent starting five if they acquire him.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Rudy Gobert
The Thunder almost destroyed James Harden's legacy last season by almost defeating the Rockets in 7 games in the first round of the postseason. They enter 2021 without their leader Chris Paul and without Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, or Dennis Schroder. The Thunder franchise are basically rebuilding off of first-round picks and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, so they need talent. Rudy Gobert is a defensive menace who defends the rim better than any other center in the NBA right now, and he could be the All-Star OKC needs long-term.
Orlando Magic: Victor Oladipo
The Orlando Magic could use Victor Oladipo's scoring and playmaking because they need more than Markelle Fultz to progress past the first round of the playoffs. Orlando have Nikola Vucevic as their star player, and Oladipo adds a second star to help Orlando get buckets when their offense stagnates. Oladipo committed his future to Indiana but the Pacers should cut their losses and try to get Aaron Gordon from Orlando.
Philadelphia 76ers: Mike Conley Jr.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a very good team thanks to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The only problem is that they prefer playing Simmons at point guard, which means they lack enough shooting from the perimeter. Michael Conley Jr had a down year in 2020 but he's still capable of running the show at the point guard position better than most. He defends well, sets teammates up, and can score when he needs to. Conley can feed the ball to Embiid and help Simmons with playmaking while bringing more veteran leadership to Doc Rivers' locker room.
Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric
Phoenix made one of the best moves of the off-season by acquiring Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. Paul and Booker make up one of the best duos in the league and Phoenix have earned themselves a playoff spot as a result. Deandre Ayton is a budding star as well, and a player like Dario Saric could create a top-5 team in the West if they can convince him to re-sign. Chris Paul is one of the best playmakers of all-time in recent memory, and he can get the team back together for a run at the Western Conference crown Finals if Saric can start alongside Ayton and Jae Crowder in the frontcourt.
Portland Trail Blazers: Kevin Huerter
The Portland Trail Blazers have a legitimate superstar with Damian Lillard and some strong win-now pieces such as Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic. Adding a very effective and long wing player like Kevin Huerter boosts Portland's depth while also giving a scoring option to relieve Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Huerter has a ton of potential as a wing player so Portland should pull the trigger on Huerter as soon as possible.
Sacramento Kings: Michael Porter Jr.
The Kings have some exciting young talent on the roster including Marvin Bagley III and DeAaron Fox, so a player of Michael Porter's talents means Sacramento are right in the mix for the 7th or 8th seed in the West again. Porter Jr is still very raw and has plenty of work to do on a mental and physical level, but he's an All-Star in the making and could possibly be more than that. The Kings need to stockpile the best possible young talent in the NBA to help Fox's growth, and the Kings could be much better than people anticipate very soon.
San Antonio Spurs: Kyle Kuzma
The San Antonio Spurs are going nowhere, meaning young stars should be the goal for the franchise. Derrick White and Dejounte Murray are talented young pieces that seem to be doing well with the Spurs, meaning Kyle Kuzma could be the next piece to complete a talented trio. The Spurs should do everything possible to stockpile young players and a guy like Kuzma can come in and take the shots he wants as he improves his game. Whatever is left of Greg Popovich's career should be spent on building the right attitude of the young players, something Kuzma can benefit from.
Toronto Raptors: LaMarcus Aldridge
The Toronto Raptors have a solid base intact with Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam on the roster. However, they need more pieces. They lost Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency, and have a chance to replace them with an All-Star like LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge isn't the All-NBA performer he was with Portland, but he's an 18-20 PPG scorer who makes Toronto tougher to defend. Siakam can't be the only star offensive player on the team, so Aldridge can come in and relieve pressure off of him instantly.
Utah Jazz: Blake Griffin
The Utah Jazz have Donovan Mitchell, which means they have a franchise star on the roster. The Jazz should go all-in and Blake Griffin is the absolute perfect player for them. Griffin has shown he can play off a star when he was with Chris Paul in Los Angeles, and his skill set is invaluable for a team looking to make noise in the West. Griffin is a very capable rebounder and scorer, and his duo with Mitchell makes the Jazz one of the better teams in the conference if they can acquire him.
Washington Wizards: Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Washington Wizards have Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, which might be the best backcourt in the NBA right now. Davis Bertans is a perfect stretch four and Thomas Bryant can hold down the middle. A guy like Tim Hardaway Jr can come in, light it up, and feed off of Westbrook and Beal. The Dallas Mavericks will hate to lose a shooter like Hardaway Jr, but Washington can certainly hope that they can strike a deal with Washington to get a shooter of Hardaway's caliber to play off of Westbrook and Beal.