Needs: Point guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward
Picks: 1, 24, 26
Philadelphia has approximately all of the money in free agency, as well as three first round picks (including the top pick). With the first pick, it’s likely they select Ben Simmons.They have Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the roster at the moment, but could possibly look to trade one of them in order to secure another high pick or a more established player. Joel Embiid may actually play this year, but I will believe that when I see it. On top of that, Dario Saric should be joining the team. Now, those are all good players, but all of those players are frontcourt players and thus, there are only so many minutes to go around. The team really needs a point guard in the worst possible way, but currently not in position to land one in the draft capable of starting from day one. One problem the 76ers will run into is that it will be very difficult to convince free agents to join the team when Philly has won fewer games the last three years combined (47) than Cleveland, Toronto, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and the Clippers all did this past season. While “The Process” is over, players likely won’t flock to the 76ers, and thus their front office will have to hope that money talks. If they can’t take advantage of their cap space through signings, they could opt to try to absorb players into it via trade from teams looking to create additional cap space. The only downfall to that is with an exploding salary cap, fewer teams will need to go that route this year.
In the draft the Sixers will have their pick of any prospect they want and it’s likely that Ben Simmons is the choice. After that, we could look at who would be available when they select at 24 and 26, but with so many young players on the roster already, I think it’s likely that those two picks get moved, possibly in a package deal, in order for the team to move up in the draft or land a veteran. The Sixers should improve a great deal this offseason, and even though the playoffs are not a realistic possibility next season, they should at least finally win more games than they did the previous season – something they haven’t done since the 2010-2011 season.
Needs: A star, Power forward / Center
Picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58
If Philadelphia has all of the money in free agency, Boston has all of the draft picks. Boston has a whopping 8 draft picks, and there is literally zero chance they add 8 rookies. The Celtics will be wheeling and dealing on draft night in order to build their team the way they want without adding eight rookies to the mix. The third pick is where the draft really starts, since it is widely assumed that Simmons and Ingram go first and second. The third pick, conversely, could go in a number of different directions. They could choose Jaylen Brown, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Dragan Bender, or Jamal Murray. However, there’s always a chance that Boston opts to trade the pick to a team that wants to jump to the top of the draft, most likely to pick up Dunn. It isn’t inconceivable that the Celtics would deal the third pick to Philly in a deal for one of the bigs the 76ers are looking to unload so that they bolster their frontcourt while Philly gets their point guard in Dunn. Whatever happens, the Celtics will play a huge role in dictating how the draft unfolds.
Brad Stevens has worked wonders with a team led by an undersized score-first point guard in Isaiah Thomas, and a frontcourt starring Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson. The Celtics have been craving a star player to insert into a lineup that just finds ways to win. This could be the offseason that sees them land that star since they have all kinds of money and a top 5 pick. It truly is hard to predict what the Celtics will do in order to bolster their roster, but it’s very likely they will look to make a big splash this offseason.
Needs: DeMar DeRozan to come back, PF
Picks: 9, 27
The Raptors got to the conference finals and yet, they still are lucky enough to have a top ten pick on draft night. If the Raptors are able to bring back DeRozan and Biyombo they will have essentially the same team that led them to a 56-26 record last season. With a top 10 pick they can add a player such as Domantas Sabonis, Jakob Poeltl, or Skal Labissiere. There also is a chance, however, that they may be able to snag a player that slides further than expected such as Marquese Chriss. The Raptors might be best served by focusing on retaining DeRozan and replacing Biyombo through the draft. Biyombo had an impressive year last season and was a big part of their playoff run. However, he’s expected to get a huge deal on the open market and Toronto may be better served letting him accept that big deal elsewhere. The Raptors are already a really good team, and adding a bright young prospect could be a boon for the team. If, however, DeRozan heads elsewhere the Raptors will have a void to fill at shooting guard. One of the things to look for on draft night will be to see what Toronto does. If they add a big, it could be a sign that they expect to lose Biyombo. However, if they bring in a guard such as Wade Baldwin or Dejounte Murray it could be a sign that they aren’t optimistic about retaining DeRozan. Toronto’s offseason will be very important to the future of the franchise and the draft should clue us in to how the team plans on approaching such an important offseason.
Brooklyn is in a worse position than any team in the league. They have Brook Lopez and Thad Young to build around, and not much else. They will have some cap room, but they are missing so many pieces that it’s going to be difficult to fill them all and get back to contending. They’re coming off a 21 win season and next season doesn’t offer a ton of optimism. They have the advantage of being in a big market with an owner willing to spend to win, but it has been an uphill battle ever since the Nets mortgaged their future to bring in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for a failed season. In doing so, they gave up all kinds of future unprotected draft picks and that will really hold them back in terms of rebuilding this team. This offseason illustrates that perfectly as they find themselves with only one pick, all the way down at 55 despite finishing with the 3rd worst record. The Nets need to put players around Lopez, and they will have to do it through free agency as they won’t benefit from draft night and outside of Lopez don’t have much in terms of trade bait. The Nets literally need players at every position on the roster, so instead of focusing on a need or two the way most teams will, their focus will come down to who they believe they can land. They can’t afford to miss out on players this year or they risk losing more games than the year before, something they’ve done for the past 4 seasons.
New York Knicks
Needs: Guards, Center
The Knicks have one of the most promising young players in the league in Kristaps Porzingis as well as an established star in Carmelo Anthony. Past that, there aren’t a lot of positives on the roster. They will have room to land a big fish in free agency though, which is big since the Knicks don’t have a single draft pick. The biggest need on this team is pretty clearly the point guard position, and one of the players that has been rumored as a target is Mike Conley Jr. If they could land Conley, it would be ideal for New York as he could distribute the ball to Anthony and Porzingis, making things easier for them, while running the team out there on the court for Jeff Hornacek. The Knicks and Nets have the allure of playing in the large New York market, which could help them when trying to woo free agents, and the Knicks are, in most cases, going to be the more preferred destination of the two as they are closer to competing for a playoff spot. The Knicks could also benefit from adding another center either to start ahead of Robin Lopez or come off the bench behind him. The Knicks may have missed the postseason this year, but if they can land a couple of impact players this offseason, especially if one if a quality point guard, they could surprise people by jumping right back into the playoffs next season.