Needs: Scoring, Shooting, Center
Picks: 1, 32, 35
The Magic have one of the worst rosters in the entire association. They struggle to score the basketball from all three levels, rarely get to the free throw line and they complement that with being a poor defensive team as well. They have a lot of holes to fill and while they have the first pick in the draft, there is no reason to believe that Orlando will be in contention for anything in the next few years. With Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, the team has a pair of guards that they can build around. They also have Franz Wagner who will be looking to build off of a strong rookie campaign. Now they need to add a piece that will help galvanize those pieces. The presumptive favorite at this point is Auburn’s Jabari Smith (pictured). He’s a good scorer, but struggles to create for himself and needs a lot of help creating his opportunities, so if Orlando goes with him, they will be signaling that they have a lot of faith in their guards to create those opportunities. They could instead look at either Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero who would slide into a frontcourt position and make it less imperative to bring back Mo Bamba, who has struggled to stay healthy and have an impact for them. They also have the 32nd and 35th picks, which they could look to package to move up and grab a first round pick that would allow them control of their pick for 4 years before he enters restricted free agency. The salary cap is set at 122 million and the Magic have just under 85 million on the books. And that’s not even including the 22.7 million dollar qualifying offer for Bamba. Orlando would be wise to retract the offer and use the money elsewhere. Orlando needs to build this roster from the ground up. If they try to skips steps in order to jump into contention, they will find themselves just elongating their rebuild.
Needs: Shooting, rebounding, Bradley Beal resolution
Washington has one major question that will dictate their offseason more than any other: will they keep Bradley Beal? There has been speculation for years now that they may move him. He alone isn’t enough to make that team truly competitive, but they’ve been unable to put the pieces around him that would make the team a contender. So they could opt to trade him and start over. They could absolutely get a haul for an electrifying scorer in his prime. If they opt to keep him, the tenth pick needs to be somebody that can step in and raise the team’s floor immediately. Recent picks Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, and Corey Kispert have failed to do that. Washington could look to select AJ Griffin of Duke, Tari Eason of LSU, Ochai Agbaji of Kansas, Nikola Jovic of Serbia, TyTy Washington of Kentucky, or depending on how the draft shakes out. If the team decides to move off of Beal, they could find themselves with additional picks and will look to collect as much young talent as possible. Washington is up against the salary cap right now, but moving Beal would potentially open up some cap space and most of the cap is taken up by Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. If Washington does decide to do a hard reset this offseason, that will be a very real option for them.
Picks: 13, 15, 45
The Hornets are a fun young team that score the ball extremely well. They struggle defensively, and a lot of that is because they lack the interior presence to cover up some of their mistakes. They could look to sign somebody like Jusuf Nurkic to give themselves a bruising presence down low, but there isn’t a dominant defensive big available to them in free agency. They also have the 13th and 15th picks in this year’s draft which could net them a couple of upside, potential future impact players such as Memphis’ Jalen Duren, Duke’s Mark Williams, Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan, or France’s Ousmane Dieng. Or they could look to get creative. They could call up Indiana and offer a package of picks and maybe Gordon Hayward in a package that would net them Myles Turner. A player like Turner that can protect the rim on defense and space the court offensively would be a perfect fit alongside LaMelo Ball. They will need to also decide what to do with Miles Bridges. He’s been a solid contributor for them, but he is in line for a major payday, and they’ll have to decide if he is worth as much to them as what he will command on the free agent market. If they let him walk, they will have a hole to fill in their lineup, but if they resign him, they could hamper their financial situation and a cheaper option could be had in the draft with a guy like Tari Eason if he falls to them. The Hornets will also need to hire a coach this offseason, as they elected not to bring back James Borrego. This is a team that could be on the cusp of joining the upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams, but they will need to have a solid offseason in order to make that a reality.
Needs: Secondary scorer
Picks: 16, 44
The Hawks took an unexpected step back this season, falling to 9th in the conference. They have what seems to be their core in place, but there are enough whispers of discontent surrounding John Collins to believe that the team could explore moving him. Or they could look to move Clint Capela since they have Okyeka Okongwu, who appears ready to step into his role. Or they could look to move Danilo Gallinari and his expiring contract. Or, they could opt to view last season as the aberration and run it back and hope for better results. None of those scenarios are off the table this offseason, which means it’s hard to predict not only what the Hawks will do, but even what they will look to accomplish on draft night when they hold the 16th pick. The G-League’s Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy, and MarJon Beauchamp could be options, as could Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley, or Michigan St’s Max Christie. If they can find a secondary scorer to pair with Trae Young, it would go a long way towards helping the team gain some needed balance and put less pressure on Young to create so much of the team’s offense. They will likely look to do that through the draft, but they do have the mid-level exception with which to add a dedicated scorer if they can land one. Look for the Hawks to be value shoppers in free agency as they have some roster spots to fill, especially if they opt not to make a splashy trade. If they can become more dynamic and less predictable, the Hawks could jump back up to being a top five team in the conference next season.
Needs: Point guard, shooting guard
Picks: 27, 55 (forfeited)
The Heat finished as the top team in the East and fell in game 7 of the conference finals. They are a solid, well-rounded team, but they aren’t a team that can afford to just stand pat this offseason if they want to remain a top contender. They brought in Kyle Lowry, but he didn’t play up to expectations and they may need to find the future replacement for him. Tyler Herro was outstanding for them this season, but they had to rely on major minutes from Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin as Duncan Robinson fell out of the rotation. For that reason, Miami would be wise to attempt to add a combo guard this offseason that can help address those issues in both the short term and the long term. The Heat always find themselves in the middle of rumors because of their aggressive nature and penchant for looking to bring in big names, but it’s unlikely that they make major moves this offseason, and instead look to make smaller moves to enhance the team instead of making wholesale changes. They have the midlevel exception and with the team’s reputation, the Miami nightlife, and Florida’s lack of state income tax, it’s likely they can land an impact player in free agency. They also hold the 27th pick in the draft, which will likely net them a project player, but some options include Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin, Arizona’s Dalen Terry, Nebraska’s Bryce McGowans, Tennessee’s Kennedy Chandler, Michigan’s Caleb Houstan, or even Mississippi State’s [Player: Iverson Molinar. Expect the Heat to be connected to big names like Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Julius Randle, and D’Angelo Russell, but the odds of them adding a player of that caliber are relatively low this offseason. As a side note, the Heat would have had the 55th pick in this year’s draft, but like Milwaukee, had to forfeit it as punishment for negotiating with Lowry prior to the official start of the free agent negotiating period last offseason. A tough blow with such a deep second round.