Team Needs: Northwest Division
Needs: SG/SF, C
Picks: 9, 26, 52
The Timberwolves possess two first round picks this year, including the 9th overall pick. Their most pressing and obvious need being somebody on the wing. They tried out Brandon Roy last year and it didn't work out. It's likely Andrei Kirilenko will exercise his option to come back, but he doesn't give them a go-to scorer on the wing. Ricky Rubio gives them a quality young point guard and Kevin Love is a talented power forward that can score inside or out, but they need to complement those two pieces with an outside scorer to fulfill the promise of this team. Nikola Pekovic filled the center position for them extremely well the past few seasons, but he is a free agent and if Minnesota wants to keep him it would most likely involve overpaying for his services. It's difficult enough to build a winning team in Minnesota (not exactly a premier free agent destination) without having to overpay to keep the talent you have in place.
With that said, it would make a lot of sense if Minnesota targeted Alex Len, Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, or Steven Adams to fill the spot next to Kevin Love down low. Sure, the wing positions are arguably a bigger need for them, but it's also a need that would be much easier to fill late in the first round with pick 26. One other thing they may consider is a trade. With two first round picks and Derrick Williams they could potentially make some moves on or before draft night. I don't expect it to happen, but with teams at the top of the draft making it known that they are open to a trade, the Timberwolves could attempt to move up to select either Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore to fill their needs. At 9, a scorer like CJ McCollum or Kentavious Caldwell Pope appear to be possibilities.
Needs: C, Depth
Picks: 10, 39, 40, 45
The Trailblazers have some younger players to build around. They have the reigning rookie of the year starting at point guard for them in Damian Lillard. Behind Lillard they also have Eric Maynor, so the point guard position is pretty much set. Add to that Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum, two of the more underrated players in the association, and of course LaMarcus Aldridge and there is little reason for this team to be as bad as it has been. They have pieces, so if they can find the right coach and stay injury free they could turn it around pretty quickly. They do, however, have an obvious need at center. They've played free agent J.J. Hickson major minutes there and drafted Meyers Leonard to play center, but like Minnesota, they could really use a jolt at that position. They likely will target many of the same players as their division-mates, Minnesota, including Len, Olynyk, and Adams. If they can find a quality big to pair with Aldridge it will only be a matter of health/coaching for this team, as they'll have the pieces to get to the playoffs. Owner Paul Allen attended a KCP workout and his name has been linked to the sophomore SG, making him a possibility as well to platoon alongside Matthews.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Needs: C, SG, Backup PG
Picks: 12, 29, 32
Seems odd that the Thunder would have such a high draft pick this season, picking 12th, but that's one of the benefits of trading James Harden. They'll have two picks, the 12th and their original pick, 29th. Not to beat a dead horse, but this team really needs a center to enhance an already stellar team. Yes, Kendrick Perkins is a quality player when it comes to defense and rebounding, but he struggles to contribute anything offensively aside from physicality. There's a reason there was speculation that the Thunder would amnesty him, but paying a player to go away just doesn't quite fit the Oklahoma City style. So, like Portland and Minnesota, they will certainly consider the likes of Len, Adams, and Olynyk with their top pick. Len would obviously require a trade up. They may also opt to try and fill the gap left by losing Harden as Kevin Martin simply wasn't the same player Harden was and it showed this season. However, they might be better served attempting to find another point guard. Yes, they have Russell Westbrook who really puts this team over the top, but when he went down, the team crumbled. It was extremely telling that Kevin Durant took over a lot of the point guard duties in the absence of Westbrook. OKC would be wise to look at somebody such as Michael Carter Williams or Dennis Schroeder. The beautiful thing about Westbrook is that because of his style of play, Scott Brooks could slide him over to the shooting guard position at times and create minutes for the rookie without having to reach just to find a player that can play in the post. The 12th pick is right in the range for both point guards. CJ McCollum is another possibility as the team would love to have a Steph Curry spreading the floor alongside Westbrook and Durant.
Needs: PG, C
Picks: 14, 21, 46
The Jazz, having young wing players Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks along with a stable of post players including Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, are a team with some decent pieces. They need to figure out how hard they want to push to bring back Al Jefferson and/or Paul Millsap. Regardless of their situation with Jefferson and Millsap, they need to look at upgrading their point guard play as well as add depth at the shooting guard and small forward position. This isn't a team built around a star player any more, but they do have a fair amount of all around talent. With that being said, Utah is in a position with picks 14 and 21 where in this draft they can target or take the best possible player regardless of position, making them a real wildcard in this draft. Sure, they'd like to find a star in this draft, but that's easier said than done in the middle of the first round, so they will have to find somebody that they can develop in their system and who will become a contributor by the time this team is ready to contend. Shane Larkin is a player that has been linked to them. It's beginning to look more and more like he won;t be there at their 21st pick. Some other players to keep an eye on are Shabazz Muhammad, Giannis Adetokoubo, Lucas Nogueira, and Gorgui Dieng. Each of these players will likely be in play between the 14th and 21st picks. It's unlikely the Jazz would look to package the two picks to move up and instead will likely want to grab two players that can develop into role players and/or starters for the franchise moving forward.
Needs: SF, PG
Honestly, I hate assigning "needs" for the Nuggets. This is a team full of very good players at each position and the only major free agent they could lose would be Andre Iguodala. This team's only two true needs would be a new general manager and head coach. They had the executive of the year and coach of the year and made the bone-headed moves to let Masai Ujiri bolt for Toronto without at least making a competitive offer and giving George Karl his walking papers. They could use a small forward in case Iguodala decides to sign elsewhere and Danillo Gallinari doesn't recover fully from last season's injury. They could also use a point guard because they are used to throwing two very different point guards at their opponents to keep the defense off balance. Ty Lawson will no doubt continue to be the lead guard, but Andre Miller is getting up there in age. They could look to find an eventual replacement for him. Nate Wolters could be a player they target at #27 if they're looking for a floor general. There may not be a more difficult team to predict in this draft than Denver simply because they have talent in place, a new lead executive, a new coach, and pick very late in the first round which all comes together to make predicting not only who they'll pick, but what they'll be looking for very difficult. Some of the best available talents there when their pick comes up could be Tony Mitchell , Glen Rice Jr, or Allen Crabbe.
Thunder need a backup PG? Ever heard of a guy named Reggie Jackson? A lottery caliber PG is about the last thing the Thunder need, waste of pick and waste of talent because he would never play.
Fill the gap left by Harden/Martin? His name is Jeremy Lamb.
If Thunder pick anything other than a Center in the lottery I'm moving to another state.
apparently the timberwolves dont have pekovic or greg steimsma on their roster. the timberwolves dont need a center, they need players on the wing, and depth.
i swear this guy doesnt look at rosters when making these. budinger was a great pickup for them, and i understand he and pek is are restricted FAs, but theres zero chance minny lets either of them walk.
Reggie Jackson is a good player but he's not a PG. He's not a good ball distributor and he even struggles to get the team into their offense.
Jeremy Lamb MIGHT be the answer for James Harden, but it's foolish to bank everything on him absolutely being that guy. Besides, a little competition never hurt anyone.
I agree that they need to take a center. Kendrick Perkins is the worst offensive center in the league and that's not hyperbole. I don't like the idea of taking Kelly Olynyk though. That seems like an overreaction to Perk's deficiencies. Alex Len, Steven Adams, Gorgui Dieng, Mason Plumlee would all give the Thunder what they need: solid defense and someone who can at least finish put backs, alley-oops, and dump offs.
If a team offers him a max deal (and we all know teams get a little crazy over centers) I think they'll let him walk.
Oklahoma City Thunder needs a C they got Lamb n Jackson for there back up guards
- Pekovic's contract already expired. Stiemmsma will probably not get the starting gig. If they overpay for Pek (which it's likely), then SG is the most important need.
- Why would Utah need a C? Ever heard of Favors or Kanter?
- There's no way in hell the Thunder spend the lotto pick on a SG. They have Lamb in case they don't resign Martin.
I agree that OKC goes with a big man, unless a scenario presents itself where Adams, Olynyk, and Gobert are all off the board by the 12th pick. If that goes down its still Win-Win for OKC as they will probably decide to go with the best player available regardless of position - a move of which could potentially reap an even bigger dividend of value at their pick. If the trio of bigs are gone by the 11th pick, that leaves a total of 8 other prospects off the board as well. The other 8 prospects will almost undoubtedly include McLemore, Noel, Porter, Burke, Oladipo, Bennett and Len (Len is also a big but has zero chance of dropping to them). That leaves 1 more prospect gone before they pick and gives them a choice between atleast 3 of the following 4 players: Zeller, KCP, Bazz, and McCollum - all of who are players OKC would love to add to an already promising young core. However, I ultimately believe the trio of bigs (Olynyk etc.) will not all be picked up in the top 11 and they will choose whoever is left of that group because the middle is their most glaring weakness. They were especially horrible on the bench in the middle even giving PT to 'Shaqtin-a-fool regular Hasheem Thabeet who need not play another minute in the NBA for atleast a very long time. Even a project like Gobert is an upgrade on Thabeet, and if you look at their pickups in the past few drafts (Jackson- PG, Lamb - SG, Jones III- SF/PF), the middle would seem to be the next tune up in line. I personally would love to see a player like McCollum (which isnt likely) or Bazz fall to them and give them some much needed scoring punch off the bench especially if K-Mart bolts (which is likely) and added insurance incase of any hitches in Lamb's development. Also, OKC has a great track record at developing young perimiter players, and a not so good track record developing project bigs (Aldrich, Sene, Swift, Orton etc.). Either way the young and the rich get richer and improve.
Mm has to over pay for the big peck! no one wants to play in mn...Gotta keep the team relevant... there are a ton of sg/sf in the 20s. So they talking maybe if a big stud actually falls in the 9th spot..big maybe.... but it's easy to see them go sg crazy in this draft...all the talk here locally is flip is moving up..packaging everything and seeing who bites.
I could see Minnesota trading away Williams for a wing and drafting Ryan Kelly at 52.