2007 NBA Draft: Potential Winners/Losers
By Kevin Duffy
Each year after the draft, analysts go over the teams that “won” and “lost” on draft day. But we decided to take it a step further and project what could be. We will take a look at possible picks and trades that could potentially turn each team’s draft into a success, and also go over moves that would turn June 28th into a complete disaster. Check out how your team could score big or bomb on draft day:
Portland Trailblazers (1, 37, 42, 52, 53)
How they can win: Two words- Greg Oden.
[img_assist|nid=3800|title=Greg Oden|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=362]How they can win big: Drafting Oden alone will inevitably give Portland the league’s best draft, but the Blazers also pick 37th, 42nd, 52nd, and 53rd. If they are able to grab a player such as North Carolina SF Reyshawn Terry, Wisconsin SF Alando Tucker, or UCLA SG Aaron Afflalo with early in the second round and take some developmental Euro prospects late, it could turn into a championship building draft for Portland. The team has also expressed interest in trading back into the lottery and drafting Oden’s sidekick: point guard Mike Conley Jr. If Conley is sitting there at #9, there is a chance Portland could put together a trade including Zach Randolph to Chicago for the pick (and a big contract so the money evens out) and come out of the first round with both Oden and Conley.
How they can lose: If the Blazers somehow come out of this draft without Greg Oden. Durant will be great, but there's no justification for taking him with Oden available.
Seattle Supersonics (2, 31, 35)
How they can win: If for whatever reason Portland drafts Kevin Durant, the Sonics would be in the same position as the New Orleans Saints during the 2006 NFL Draft when Reggie Bush unexplicably fell to #2. That is very unlikely to happen because as shaky as Portland’s recent drafts have been; they are not as dumb as the Houston Texans. Even if Seattle has to “settle” for Kevin Durant, the Sonics will be in good position to put together the best draft in the league.
How they can win big: Seattle also has the 31st and 35th picks and will be able to take a point guard such as USC’s Gabe Pruitt, Oregon’s Aaron Brooks, or Nevada’s Ramon Sessions to compete with Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson. The Sonics also could go for Arizona’s Marcus Williams, a swingman who can handle the ball and play point forward at times. The Sonics need frontcourt help and it’s conceivable that a big man such as Duke’s Josh McRoberts or BC’s Sean Williams will be available when they pick in the early second round.
How they can lose: It’s pretty much set in stone that the Sonics are drafting Durant, so the draft will be measured as a success no matter what. Unless they really reach for players at the top of the second round, June 28th will be a day of celebration in Seattle.
Atlanta Hawks (3, 11)
How they can win: The Hawks need to come out of this draft with a point guard. At first, it appeared they would reach to take Mike Conley at #3, but as the draft quickly approaches, it is becoming more apparent that they will draft Al Horford with the 3rd pick and wait until #11 to take a PG, or try to acquire Conley via trade. There are only a few teams in the lottery that would consider taking Conley, so there is a chance that he will be available at #11.
How they can win big: The Hawks could push themselves beyond “winner” if they can finagle a trade for Kobe Bryant. Atlanta certainly has the pieces to make the Lakers a reasonable offer. Packaging Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, plus the #3 pick, and the #11 pick for Bryant and the #19 pick could be beneficial to both teams. The Lakers would be able to rid themselves of the cancerous Bryant and recieve four talented young players in return. LA would have a solid, young core of Johnson, Smith, Lamar Odom, Horford, and either Conley or Crittenton. Is it a fair trade for Bryant? No. But the Lakers may need to move him for what they can get. Atlanta would be instant contenders in the East with a lineup of Acie Law (if he falls to #19), Bryant, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams, and Zaza Pachulia.
How they can lose: It will take a lot for Atlanta to screw up this gift that was dropped upon them at the draft lottery, but they could lose out on a great young forward if they took Conley at #3. If the Hawks end up taking Brandan Wright over Horford, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but the team would certainly turn around faster if they drafted Horford- by far the more NBA-ready of the two.
Memphis Grizzlies (4)
How they can win: Even though they had the worst record in the league, Memphis has some pieces in place. In the Short term Brandan Wright won't add much, but with a team looking to build long term he makes sense. On the negative side, like the rest of the Grizzly frontcourt (Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, Stromile Swift), he is very skinny and unpolished. He is still a few years away from contributing.
How they can win big: If Memphis decides to draft Brandan Wright or Al Horford over Conley; it would be in the position to trade Pau Gasol for a proven veteran PG such as Jason Kidd. Such a trade would turn around the franchise very quickly.
How they can lose: The Grizzlies really lack a PG, and drafting Mike Conley 4th overall is probably best for the club in the short term. But this team needs to look long term and build for the future, Conley is far too unproven and has too many holes and to take him over so many talented forwards.
Boston Celtics (5, 32)
How they can win: Boston would upgrade their roster if they can add an athletic forward such as Brandan Wright to complement the powerful Al Jefferson. If Wright is gone, drafting a player who can step in right away, such as Jeff Green would help. Boston also will be able to grab an value player such as Marcus Williams with the 32nd overall pick.
How they can win big: By not trading for KG. The proposed deal to land KG and pair him with Pierce would have been a quick fix, but it is Boston that was saved by this trade not happening. KG and Pierce would have been all the Celtics had left and they still likely would have struggled to make it out of the East and Boston fans would watch KG grow old in a hurry.
How they can lose: Drafting for the short term instead of taking the best player long term. With Danny Ainge feeling the heat to win now, trading this pick for a veteran as they did last year (Telfair) would be a mistake.
Milwaukee Bucks (6, 56)
How they can win: The Bucks can go any direction with the 6th overall pick. If they decide they are not going to re-sign free agent PG Mo Williams, Milwaukee would be wise to draft Mike Conley. Charlie Villanueva was injured most of the year and Ruben Patterson is better suited for a role off the bench, so a combo forward like Al Thornton, Brandan Wright, or Julian Wright would make perfect sense. Corey Brewer would also fit in nicely as a SF.
How they can win big: If they can bring in a rookie such as Brandon Wright and re-sign Williams, the Bucks will find themselves in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff hunt next year.
How they can lose: If the Bucks pass on Conley and choose to draft a forward, they should be sure they will be able to re-sign Williams or sign a capable lead guard in free agency. Otherwise, Earl Boykins will be the starter when the 07-08 season starts.
Minnesota Timberwolves (7, 41)
How they can win: The T’Wolves have holes everywhere and would upgrade their roster simply by putting a bunch of names in a hat and drawing one. Mike Conley, Brandan Wright, Corey Brewer, Jeff Green, Al Thornton, Yi Jianlian and Julian Wright all would be impactful picks.
How they can win big:
Right now, Minnesota is stuck in limbo. They are a very average veteran team with no way of getting better thanks to Kevin Garnett’s huge contract and the lack of other appealing young players to trade. If the T’Wolves hold onto Garnett, they will be stuck in this situation until he retires. If Minnesota deals their lone wolf, they should finally be able to move forward after a few steps back. If Wright and Conley are both gone, Jeff Green or Al Thornton would each be a nice building block to add. Throw in the 41st pick, where Minnesota may be able to pick up a potential impact player like Dominic McGuire, Ali Traore, or Demetris Nichols, and the T’Wolves can get a huge jumpstart on their rebuilding project.
How they can lose: If the Wolves don’t trade Garnett, it’s not fair to say they “lost” because after all, KG is a Hall of Fame PF. But Minnesota could really end up big losers if they pick a player who is not ready to contribute at #7, such as Yi Jianlian, Julian Wright, or Spencer Hawes, and hold onto KG.
Charlotte Bobcats (8, 22)
How they can win: Charlotte seems obsessed with drafting “winning” college players in the lottery. So far, their strategy has yielded one good player (Emeka Okafor), one emerging starter (Ray Felton), and two players who will never be as good as they were in college (Adam Morrison and Sean May). If the Bobcats abandon that strategy and draft more for upside by taking someone like Brandan Wright, Al Thornton, or Yi Jianlian, it could benefit them a lot more than drafting Joakim Noah. Corey Brewer is the only “winner” that would make sense because he fills a need for a perimeter defender and has a great deal of potential.
How they can win big: You have to figure any player Charlotte takes at #8 will give them a lift, but the Bobcats could make the draft a real success if they can find a gem at #22. Colorado State F/C Jason Smith would give the team some more offense up front, and if Eastern Washington G Rodney Stuckey were to fall to 22nd, he could be a lightning-rod off the bench.
How they can lose: The Bobcats have a tendency to draft way too conservatively. Taking Noah with the 8th pick and someone like Arron Afflalo or Jared Dudley 22nd won’t help Charlotte get to the next level.
Chicago Bulls (9, 49, 51)
How they can win: The Bulls are basically playing with house money at this point. The Bulls netted Tyrus Thomas last year as part of the Eddy Curry trade, and this season they get the Knicks’ 9th overall selection. With that pick, Chicago seems to be targeting either Spencer Hawes or Yi Jianlian, both of whom would give them some kind of offense inside, the one facet that the Bulls are truly lacking in.
How they can win big: The Bulls would be big winners if they were able to acquire Kevin Garnett for the right price. Parting with the 9th pick, Luol Deng, and maybe Tyrus Thomas would be reasonable.
How they can lose: Chicago does not necessarily need Garnett. They have a very talented, young roster and would be foolish to part ways with Ben Gordon, Deng, and Thomas all for KG. It’s logical to trade either Gordon or Deng, but the Bulls shouldn’t deal both of them.
Sacramento Kings (10)
How they can win: Sacramento has just one pick, the 10th overall selection, and will make the most of it by drafting a forward or center to replace the struggling and aging frontcourt of Brad Miller, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Corliss Williamson, and Kenny Thomas. Florida State Al Thornton is the name that is being thrown around the most, and if Florida’s Joakim Noah falls, he would also be a valuable addition.
How they can win big: Even though they need help at PF and C, if Jeff Green is available, he will be tough to pass up. In that scenario, the team would be able to deal Artest for a veteran big man. Green is ready to start from Day 1 and would greatly accelerate the rebuilding process, as would a big man such as Zach Randolph that they could attain in exchange for Artest.
How they can lose: The only way Sacramento’s draft would be deemed a failure is if they drafted a shooting guard- the only position that they have a future with. Drafting Thaddeus or Nick Young that high would be a huge stretch.
Philadelphia 76ers (12, 21, 30, 38)
How they could win: Due to their excessive amount of picks, the Sixers will be able to add some potential at every single position. The Sixers will likely have a shot at either Florida State’s Al Thornton and Washington’s Spencer Hawes with their first pick (12th). Their second selection (21st) will come down to another big man- possibly Duke’s Josh McRoberts or Brazil’s Tiago Splitter. With the last pick in the first round, Philly will hope a talented point guard, such as Oregon’s Aaron Brooks or Nevada’s Ramon Sessions will be on the board. They could go anywhere with their last selection (38th), but likely will continue to attempt to upgrade the frontcourt by drafting Pittsburgh C Aaron Gray, or Purdue PF Carl Landry.
How they could win big: There probably won’t be any takers if Philly tries to trade up for a stud such as Al Horford. The best case scenario on draft night would be for the Sixers to get great value on all their picks. A draft consisting of Thornton, Rodney Stuckey/Acie Law, McRoberts, and Marcus Williams would be an example of that.
How they could lose: The Sixers will be in a precarious situation in the late first round because the best available players will mostly be small forwards/shooting guards, a positions that Philly is more than set at with Andre Iguodala, Rodney Carney, and Kyle Korver. They could end up reaching for big men with those picks, or even worse, draft a swingman that will never get any playing time.
New Orleans Hornets (13, 43)
How they can win: The Hornets are the 13th pick away from being a perennial playoff team. Lucky for them, they have the 13th pick and will be able to get either Joakim Noah, Al Thornton, Julian Wright, Yi Jianlian, Thaddeus Young or Nick Young with that pick. Nick Young, a dynamic athlete and improving shooter, fits the team’s needs the best and would be a terrific addition.
How they can win big: The Hornets will improve no matter who they pick. The real difference next season will be if David West and Peja Stojakovic can stay healthy and Hilton Armstrong and Cedric Simmons can prove they were worthwhile first-round picks in 2006.
How they can lose: If New Orleans drafts a forward such as Julian Wright and then is unable to re-sign Desmond Mason and Devin Brown, there would be a big hole at shooting guard to start the season. That scenario, however, is very unlikely.
LA Clippers (14, 45)
How they can win: Drafting Acie Law or Javaris Crittenton with the 14th pick would fill the big question mark that lingers over the point guard situation in LA.
How they can win big: The Clips should count their blessings if Mike Conley falls to #14 or they are able to trade up to get him without giving up much. Conley would thrive alongside Elton Brand and Corey Maggette.
How they can lose: Los Angeles would be in terrible shape if they came out of the draft without a point guard. Unless Greg Oden falls to #14 or Shaun Livingston’s knee magically heals before June 28th, the Clips should be taking a lead guard with their first pick.
Detroit Pistons (15, 27, 57)
How they can win: If Detroit can come out of the draft with two NBA-ready players, the day will be deemed a success. Considering they pick 15th and 27th, that shouldn’t be a problem. The team apparently loves Rodney Stuckey and will take him if he is there at #15. With the 27th pick, the Pistons would be fortunate to see Josh McRoberts on the board. He would bring an important dynamic to the Pistons frontcourt. That dynamic, of course, is not having any grandchildren.
How they can win big: It appears that Julian Wright could fall into the Pistons’ lap at #15 if Atlanta takes Javaris Crittenton at #11 and New Orleans takes a wing- either Thaddeus Young or Nick Young- at #13. Wright’s length and athleticism would be absolutely terrifying alongside Tayshaun Prince.
How they can lose: If Detroit reaches for McRoberts at #15 and then settles for a guard like Aaron Brooks or Ramon Sessions at #27, the draft would be a major disappointment.
Washington Wizards (16, 47)
How they can win: Drafting Derrick Byers, a versatile shooting guard ready to step in and replace DeShawn Stevenson, would fill a big need for the Wizards. Jason Smith also must be considered because the team lacks a true post scoring threat.
How they can win big: If Thaddeus Young is available when the Wizards pick 16th, it would be very hard to pass up on his talent and athleticism. The combination of Gilbert Arenas, Young, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison would be virtually unguardable.
How they can lose: By trading for Kwame Brown.
New Jersey Nets (17)
How they can win: If New Jersey comes out with a big man that can give them some offense, they will be winners. Jason Smith would be the perfect pick at #17.
How they can win big: If Thaddeus Young, Nick Young, or Derrick Byers is available, the team could grab one of them and then try to move Vince Carter for a post player such as Zach Randolph or Jermaine O’Neal. The Nets would be set on the wing with Richard Jefferson, Antione Wright, and one of the aforementioned draft picks. They would also have a go-to post player, a dimension New Jersey has been missing since Kenyon Martin left.
How they can lose: The Nets wouldn’t be upgrading their roster much if they took a project big man such as Josh McRoberts or Tiago Splitter. Both need work before they can contribute, and given the age of New Jersey’s key players, the window to reach the NBA Finals will not be open much longer.
Golden State (18, 36, 46)
How they can win: The Warriors need frontcourt help as bad as Greg Oden needs Botox. If Jason Smith were available here, the pick should be a no-brainer. If he’s not, the Warriors would still benefit by drafting a small forward because there is the possibility that Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus could leave this offseason via free agency.
How they can win big: The best scenario would be for Golden State to take Smith in the first round and then hope that Syracuse G/F Demetris Nichols is available when they pick in the early second round. Nichols, a long-armed three-point bomber, was made for Don Nelson’s system. He would be a terrific addition regardless of what they do with Barnes and Pietrus.
How they can lose: Golden State would be in a tough spot if they drafted two swingmen, say Spain’s Rudy Fernandez and Nichols, and then were able to re-sign Barnes and Pietrus cheaper than they expected. Golden State would be overloaded at small forward and still very thin up front. They probably would have to engineer a trade for some type of forward or center before the season started.
Los Angeles Lakers (19, 40, 48)
How they can win: If the Lakers are going to trade Kobe Bryant, the best time to do so would be on draft night. Ok, maybe that’s just the most exciting time to do so, but draft picks may play a key role in the trade. If Atlanta is willing to part with Joe Johnson, the #3 pick, and the #11 pick for Bryant and either Kwame Brown or the #19, the Lakers should do it. They might not make the playoffs next year, but it will give them a good, young nucleus, some cap space, and a high draft pick next year. The current Laker squad will never make it past the second round of the playoffs, and Kobe's trade value and prime years are beginning to close.
How they can win big: The best scenario would be for LA to upgrade the talent on their team and make Bryant happy. If LA can draft Rodney Stuckey, a player who would take some of the scoring and ballhandling responsibilities off Kobe’s shoulders, they should do so. Even better, if they can trade Andrew Bynum and even Lamar Odom for Jermaine O’Neal, Los Angeles would come out as big winners.
How they can lose: Drafting another potential pick like Farmar or Bynum wouldn’t serve as a reason for Bryant to remain in LA for another year.
Miami Heat (20, 39)
How they can win: The Heat is aging faster than Robin Williams in Jack. Because of that, Miami will be looking for some young, athletic players who had a lot of college experience and could play right away. Acie Law and Jared Dudley are players who would fit into the system.
How they can win big: If Shaq, Pat Riley, and the rest of the Heat actually took the regular season seriously this time around.
How they can lose: Miami has a maximum of two years to win another title before they have to build a new team around Dwayne Wade. Drafting foreign prospects that can’t get out of their contract or unpolished college players would not help the Heat’s cause.
New York Knicks (23)
How they can win: The Knicks supposedly have promised DePaul SF Wilson Chandler that they will draft him if he is available when they pick. Believe me, he will be. Chandler is very athletic and has a good jumpshot, so needless to say, he has the potential. But Ohio State SG Daequan Cook has more potential and he should be the pick here.
How they can win big: Though the Knicks have only one pick, they would have the first successful draft day in years if they chose Cook in the first round, then traded into the early second-round and picked up Chandler.
How they can lose: By finally announcing that Frederic Weis is joining the team.
Phoenix Suns (24, 29, 59)
How they can win: The Suns will be able to choose a player that fits into their system with both of their first-round picks. Italy’s Marco Belinelli has come up as a likely selection at #24, and at #29 Phoenix could go for Oregon’s Aaron Brooks, a speedy point guard who will be able to keep the Suns running and gunning while Steve Nash rests. If they decide not to take Brooks, BC C Sean Williams would be a valuable addition as a shot-blocker and rebounder. He would also get a lot of easy buckets because of his athleticism, similar to the way Amare Stoudemire scored before he developed a complete offensive game.
How they can win big: By not trading Shawn Marion. Phoenix has been mentioned in the Kobe Bryant rumors, but the Suns don’t need Bryant to succeed. They were a bogus suspension away from beating the Spurs last year and potentially winning the championship. Phoenix was too close not to keep the core of their team together and add complementary pieces through the draft.
How they can lose: Adding players through the draft has been a problem of late for Phoenix. They traded away Luol Deng in 2004, Nate Robinson in 2005, and Rajon Rondo and Sergio Rodriguez in 2006. If the Suns continue to deal away their picks, they won’t be able to add players that can help them win in the future.
Utah Jazz (25, 55)
How they can win: Adding some speed and athleticism to the roster should be Utah’s top priority. The team is said to covet USC PG/SG Gabe Pruitt with the 25th pick. He has tremendous quickness and would be a good change of pace from Deron Williams, Matt Harpring and Gordan Giricek.
How they can win big: Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur are good offensive players, but neither is an imposing shot-blocker on the interior. UMass PF Stephane Lasme would be a nice addition in the late second round.
How they can lose: Utah has a tendency to draft skilled players who may not be the best athletes. Picking a guy like Nevada’s Nick Fazekas in the first round is the last thing the Jazz should do.
Houston Rockets (26)
How they could win: The Rockets desperately need some offensive help for Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Luther Head is a good shooter, but he shouldn’t be serving as the Houston’s third option. UCLA’s Arron Afflalo, Gabe Pruitt, or Rice’s Morris Almond all seem like logical picks.
How they could win big: The team’s biggest weakness is at power forward, and if Josh McRoberts falls to them, his skill set would be a good complement to the hard-nosed play of current Rocket power forward Chuck Hayes.
How they could lose: The team is rumored to be targeting Glen "Big Baby" Davis with their first round pick, but the undersized, vertically challenged tank would be a huge reach at 26.
San Antonio Spurs (28, 33, 58)
How they can win: The Spurs are in great position to upgrade their championship roster. If they can nab Marc Gasol at #28 and Reyshawn Terry at #33, San Antonio can improve on their two weakest postions.
How they can win big: Drafting Terry, a very underrated player with both experience and potential, would be the biggest victory the Spurs could pull of on draft night.
How they can lose: With Bruce Bowen aging and Fabricio Oberto a free agent, San Antonio would be in trouble if they didn’t select players who could replace both of them right away.
Dallas Mavericks (34, 50, 60)
How they can win: Dallas can get a valuable player with the 34th pick. The choice most likely will be a shooting guard such as Aaron Afflalo, Morris Almond, or Marcus Williams. Any of those three would find minutes in Avery Johnson’s rotation.
How they can win big: Dallas doesn’t necessarily need to do anything drastic, such as trade the core of their team for Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, or Jason Kidd. If Mark Cuban can avoid a blow-up and can make wise choices with all his second rounders, draft day will be a success in Dallas.
How they can lose: If they have to play the Golden State Warriors for the rights to all their draft picks.
Orlando Magic (44, 54)
How they can win: Drafting swingmen who can score should be a priority for Orlando. Fresno State’s Dominic McGuire would be a nice pick in the second round.
How they can win big: By acquiring Rashard Lewis in the offseason.
How they can lose: By drafting another undersized 2-guard that can't defend.
Denver Nuggets (No Picks)
How they can win: For the second consecutive year, Denver does not have a draft pick. (They traded the 50th pick after selecting Leon Powe last year to Boston). They are a likely candidate to be involved in basketball’s most common trade- when a team with no interest in drafting 27th overall trades their selection for a future first round pick. If this happens, expect Denver to move in to the end of the first round and grab a shooter such as Arron Afflalo.
How they can win big: The 2007 draft won’t be a big difference maker for Denver. Instead, their progress next year will hinge on the recovery of Kenyon Martin’s bum knee and the gelling of Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.
How they can lose: You can’t lose when you don’t have any picks. That is, unless you are Minnesota and you don’t have any picks for a decade because you illegally signed Joe Smith.
Toronto Raptors (No Picks)
How they can win: Toronto does not have any picks in this year’s draft, and unless there is a center on the board in the late first or early to mid second round that they covet (such as BC’s Sean Williams, Pitt’s Aaron Gray, or Wake Forest’s Kyle Visser), they probably won’t make a trade. If they do, they will likely give up a future first or second round pick, a common scenario on draft day.
How they can win big: By going in a time machine and somehow undoing the high school rule therefore landing Greg Oden instead of Andrea Bargnani as the top pick last year.
How they can lose: By trading away all of their draft picks for next year too.
Cleveland Cavaliers (No Picks)
How they can win: It's going to be a very boring draft for Cavs fans…as Cleveland has no picks. The Cavs need to upgrade LeBron’s supporting cast, but unless they make a big trade (dealing Larry Hughes for a better fit), we will likely be looking at the same Cavs team next year.
How they can win big: By not signing LeBron’s high school teammates Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce, both of whom finished their senior seasons at Akron last spring.
How they can lose: By not improving. If Miami, Detroit, Chicago and New Jersey all make changes to their roster and get better, the Cavs will have a tough time making a repeat finals appearance.
Indiana Pacers (No Picks)
How they can win: Indiana might try to trade into the end of the first round or beginning of the second if a player falls down the board that they like. Don’t be surprised to see them try to acquire a point guard such as Acie Law who would serve as an eventaul replacement for Jamaal Tinsley.
How they can win big: It’s difficult to win big when you don’t have any picks, so this one could be tricky.
How they can lose: The Pacers already lost last season when they passed on Marcus Williams and traded Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson for Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, and Ike Diogu.