Needs: Guards, Wing Players, Shooters
Picks: 3, 35, 37, 47, 58
Sam Hinkie has been owning the draft lately. That isn’t to say he is hitting home runs each draft, as much as he’s been collecting as many draft picks as humanly possible. He may in fact own some future picks in the MLB, NHL and NFL drafts. The team has a budding superstar in Joel Embiid, if he can stay healthy. So it really wouldn’t make sense for them to select a center such as Towns or Okafor. Hinkie also traded for Dario Saric, knowing he wouldn’t be available to play for the team right away. With Nerlens Noel coming off an impressive rookie campaign to go along with Embiid and Saric, the team has a frontcourt that looks to have a ton of promise moving forward.
With the third pick, the 76ers will presumably have the chance to take either D'Angelo Russell of Ohio St. or Emmanuel Mudiay. Word is they prefer Russell and will take him if he’s there. Either one could fill the hole left by the trade of Michael Carter-Williams. Despite the team being unwilling to use the word, Philly fully embraced the tanking strategy and it would look as though this draft could be the culmination of that strategy (at least I hope it is for the fans’ sakes). If the draft goes according to projections, Philly should have a nice young group of players to build around moving forward. In addition to their Embiid, Noel, Saric, and Russell (or Mudiay), they will also have the chance to grab a couple of early second round picks that will likely have a chance to earn playing time and develop in year one.
New York Knicks
The Knicks team essentially consists of Carmelo Anthony and hope. Exactly how much hope they have right now is questionable, and largely depends on what Knick fan you talk to. The Knicks have Anthony in place as their best player and cap space to add reinforcements. In addition, they’ll have the fourth pick in the draft. A pick that they will need to get right as they don’t have a pick next season. Their pick should land them an excellent building block. Assuming Towns and Okafor go 1, 2, whichever player is left between Philly’s choice of Russell and Mudiay seems to be the most logical selection.
Knicks fans may have been upset the team didn’t land a top 3 pick, but Emmanuel Mudiay could end up the best player from this draft. However, don’t be completely shocked if the Knicks make a surprise pick and go with somebody like Justice Winslow or one of the two Europeans, Mario Hezonja or Kristaps Porzingis. Most teams wouldn’t risk the backlash on taking a chance with such a high pick, but the Knicks are led by Phil Jackson, who doesn’t appear to care about public perception nearly as much as other general managers, and is on a team that is married to the triangle offense, meaning they are looking for fit more than other teams might. The team is in disarray right now and floundering with a roster with easily the least amount of talent in the league. That could change with a good offseason, though. If they are able to land a free agent or two to infuse some talent into the roster, it would go a long way in improving the team’s fortunes.
Needs: Three point shooting, Small forward
Picks: 16, 28, 33, 45
The Celtics find themselves with solid point guard play now that they have a combination of Isaiah Thomas, who played very well after joining the team last season, and Marcus Smart, who projects to become a quality point guard in the league in time. Sure, the Celtics could use an infusion of talent, but Brad Stevens has done a terrific job with this team. With Avery Bradley holding down the opponent’s top perimeter threat, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk developing down low, and draft picks to add to the equation, the Celtics rebuilding plans seem to be on track. Moving on from the Pierce/Rondo/ Allen/ Garnett days could have easily been a long process, but Boston appears to be in pretty good shape moving forward, even if it’s due in large part to a weak Eastern Conference.
With the 16th and 28th picks in the draft, Boston will have some options. It’s important for them to find some outside shooting, as they were towards the bottom of the league last season in that department. They could also look to strengthen their inside presence with one of their picks. If Kelly Oubre is still on the board, they could look to grab him. They took James Young in the first round last year, who shares some of the same skills, but could also play alongside him. Justin Anderson could also be a viable option for them if they elect to go with a wing with their top pick. If they want a big man, they will likely look to grab somebody such as Bobby Portis or Montrezl Harrell.
Toronto has found a combination of players that has really become more than the sum of their parts. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have their flaws, but put together, make one heck of a guard tandem that give opponents fits. Jonas Valanciunas is developing into a top tier center. Their biggest weakness is their lack of quality forwards on the roster. Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross are quality players, but not the type that you expect to see starting for a division champion. With the 20th pick, there’s a chance the Raptors could fill that need. Luckily for Toronto, there are a number of forwards that should still be available that would fit nicely with what they like to do.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a player they like and would be a nice addition, but the lack of shooting when he’s on the court with DeRozan could be a problem. They could also look at a rebounding power forward such as Montrezl Harrell or Kevon Looney. Whatever they do, it looks like they should be in good shape in the Atlantic moving forward, as they are years ahead of their division rivals.
Needs: Talent, youth
Picks: 29, 41
With nearly 46 million dollars committed to the guard tandem of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams for next year and looking to bring back Brook Lopez and Thad Young, the only way the Nets get better this offseason is through trades and the draft. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have any draft picks that are likely to produce a player capable of an immediate impact. This is a team that is in bad shape, and oddly enough, that’s by design. When they put this team together, they gave up draft picks and future financial flexibility in hopes of winning a championship. Obviously, the whole adding aging, overpriced, big name veterens, and completely throwing caution to the wind didn’t pan out and now they are very limited in how they can rebuild this team.
They could look to grab somebody like Tyus Jones or Rashad Vaughn in the draft. However, the most likely way they improve is by trading one of their high priced guards. It’s unlikely they would get much in return for either one, but sometimes an underachieving team just needs to focus on getting out from bad contracts so that they can begin to rebuild and start fresh.