New York Knicks
Needs: Three point shooting, offensive creators
Picks: 9, 37
The Knicks are in a position where they need to ensure that they are able to surround Kristaps Porzingis with enough talent to turn the franchise’s fortunes around. They were able to get a lot of production from Enes Kanter playing beside Porzingis, but they need to shore up their backcourt and wing positions. They are one of the worst three point shooting teams, and that limits what they are able to do offensively. Tim Hardaway Jr. is able to provide them some scoring from the perimeter, but he isn’t especially efficient in doing so. Part of that is the fact that the point guard position has been unstable, but they’re hoping that Emmanuel Mudiay can man that position moving forward. If they believe that to be the case, look for them to grab someone like Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, but the more likely scenario has them grabbing one of the draft’s top three point guards in Trae Young, Collin Sexton, or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. By grabbing one of those guards, they might be able to get better looks for their other players and increase their overall efficiency. It won’t fix all of their issues, but it would be a start for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.
Needs: Power forward, three point shooting
Picks: 10, 26, 38, 39, 56, 60
The 76ers biggest need (other than a web filter to keep front office staff and their family members from accessing Twitter) is currently three point shooting. Despite the outside shooting struggles of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, the Sixers were a good outside shooting team. However, a lot of that was due to J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli, both of whom may not be back next season due to their impending free agency. For that reason, Philly will likely prioritize finding shooters to surround Simmons and Embiid with so that their stars have room to operate offensively. They will also want to find a backup center to hedge their bets against any future Embiid injuries. In the draft, some of their top options include Mikal Bridges of Villanova or Miles Bridges of Michigan State. Either of those two would be good fits next to what the Sixers have in place currently. In addition to a number of draft picks this year, Philadelphia also has around 50 million in cap space when factoring in their draft holds, meaning they could potentially enter the bidding for free agents such as LeBron James, Paul George, and Julius Randle. If they are able to turn that cap space into a difference maker or a couple high quality players, this could be a team ready to take another giant step forward next season.
Boston is in better shape than any team not residing in the Bay area of California. They have star players, young players, young star players, and a ton of draft capital in future years. There isn’t much they need other than for their roster to stay healthy. They were robbed of year one of Gordon Hayward this past season and Kyrie Irving went down with an injury late. Despite that, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier all stepped up and played extremely well down the stretch. There’s a chance that Boston is unable to retain Smart, who is a free agent, but even if they lose him, this is a team that is built to be a powerhouse for years to come. In terms of this offseason, Boston’s primary concern will likely be to resolve Smart’s free agency and resign him. There is a chance that they mortgage their future draft capital in order to trade up in this year’s draft or for another established player. However, Boston projects to be in outstanding shape moving forward regardless of what they do this offseason. This is a team that doesn’t have a lot of needs, and what they do need will likely be fulfilled by the returning Hayward. It’s hard to say who they will target late in the draft, but it’s likely they don’t pay much attention to position or need and instead decide to take somebody that falls unexpectedly and simply look to add talent to an already stacked roster. In terms of free agency, don’t expect much beyond a possible deal to return Smart, as the team is already over the cap for next season. At 27 the team could be looking at a player such as youngster combo Anfernee Simons to groom for the future or Euro wing Dzanen Musa to potentially stash.
Needs: Scoring, Talent in general
Picks: 29, 40, 45
Brooklyn is still clearly in their rebuilding phase and there’s no secret about that. This is a team that is still at least 3 years away from being a relevant team in the conference. Right now, the franchise’s goal should be to acquire and develop young talent while they work to shed bad contracts. While looking to acquire this talent, Brooklyn needs to find young players that are skilled scorers. The Nets were second to last in the entire league in field goal percentage last year, if they can’t score the basketball, they aren’t good enough defensively to win games. Unfortunately, the Nets are still paying for their ill-conceived trades from years ago, meaning they won’t draft until 29th in this year’s draft. That makes it difficult to add a high level player via the draft, meaning it’s that much more important for them to focus on player development. While Brooklyn does project to have approximately 15 million in cap space, it may not be wise to hand out new deals unless they are short term. By doing this, they can save their cap space until Allen Crabbe and Timofey Mozgov come off their books after 2019. At that point, hopefully they’ll have developed their young talent and be able to potentially add two max players to the roster and make their push back to relevance.
Needs: Power forward, small forward
Coming off a season in which they won the conference in the regular season, Toronto should be in a good position moving forward. However, there is some uncertainty surrounding the franchise and their direction going forward. With Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas accounting for around 96 million dollars, the Raptors will have no cap space to improve their team. Similar to the Hawks from earlier this decade, the Raptors seem to be a team that finds success in the regular season, but falter in the playoffs. This has led to speculation that the team might explore moves such as trading DeRozan in order to change things up. While it’s far from set in stone they will move him, with no cap space, few tradable assets, and no draft picks this year, their options for improving their team are extremely limited. They could potentially look to use their midlevel exception to sign a forward to bolster their lineup. While Ibaka has played well for them and increased his range to space the court for them, they could benefit from adding depth and versatility to the front line.