Needs: Scoring, Talent
Picks: 7, 22
The Bulls are a team in the middle of a transition. Not long ago they tried to build a team around Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo. When that didn’t work, they opted to blow it all up. Now, as a result, there isn’t much they don’t need to improve their roster. Power forward is a relative strength for them, but they need pieces all over the roster. The rebuild in the Windy City will continue with the 7th overall pick this year. With that pick, the Bulls might be able to land a player such as Trae Young, Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter, Mikal Bridges, or perhaps even Michael Porter Jr.. If the Bulls land one of those players, they will still need additional talent, but they will be a step closer. The Bulls took more shots per game than any other team in the association but were 26th in scoring. It’s pretty clear that the Bulls need a presence in their lineup that can create scoring opportunities not only for himself, but others as well. The Bulls will also have a significant amount of money to spend in free agency. They project to have just short of 40 million, which could net them either one near max player, or potentially a couple of second tier free agents. How they decide to spend that money this offseason will go a long way in determining not only the direction of the franchise, but also how quick of a turnaround the franchise will experience. Among the options on the free agent market are Marcus Smart, Mario Hezonja, and Nerlens Noel, and that’s assuming they strike out with the top tier free agents as is expected.
Needs: LeBron James, Guards
Obviously Cleveland made their way back to the Finals this season, but their season wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. The Kyrie Irving trade caused a minor roster implosion that led to a bunch of new faces joining LeBron in Cleveland. With the midseason roster upheaval the team struggled at times, finishing 4th in the conference. If Cleveland wants to keep their streak of representing the Eastern conference in the Finals intact, they obviously need to find a way to resign LeBron and ensure he returns to the team. In order for that to happen, Cleveland’s front office needs to make sure that there’s enough talent on the roster to entice James to return. For that to happen, Cleveland would be best served by improving their guard play. They lack the cap space to add a difference maker at the position, but could improve it via the draft, in which they hold the 8th pick, the one consolation of their dreadful Kyrie Irving trade. Depending on how the picks fall, Trae Young, Collin Sexton, or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could all be options for the Cavs. Could landing Young, a prospect that has drawn Curry comparisons, help to entice LeBron to stick around? Perhaps. Then again LeBron may not have the time to wait for him to reach his potential. George Hill is a stop gap measure for the Cavs and J.R Smith is, as game one of the Finals showed, is no longer somebody you want to truly count on. Kyle Korver, in addition to being at the end of his career, is a defensive liability. So, if Cleveland wants to hold on to LeBron, they must improve their backcourt. If they lose out on LeBron, this is a team that could go from "penthouse to outhouse": perennial Finals team to one of the weaker teams in the association, and obviously they want to avoid that scenario.
Milwaukee, as currently constructed, will go as far as Giannis Antetokounmpo takes them, and that’s a problem. The young, Greek phenom is outstanding, but he needs some help to get the team to the next level. The biggest weakness the roster has is up front with their big men. The team has the guards to have a really dangerous team, but Thon Maker is still developing, has a tendency to make mental mistakes, and is still fighting to become more consistent. That may come in time, but the team would benefit from bolstering that part of the lineup. Jabari Parker’s injury issues have certainly hurt, but he has deficiencies that prevent him from providing everything Milwaukee needs from their frontcourt. Milwaukee’s draft pick this season doesn’t put them in a great position to fill this need, as there simply aren’t many players in that range that will fix Milwaukee’s rebounding woes. Instead, expect Milwaukee to take the best available player in order to give themselves options moving forward.
Needs: Three point shooting
Picks: 23, 50
Don’t look now, but the Pacers may be on the verge of taking a significant step forward. After turning Paul George into Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, they were viewed as overachievers this year for going 48-34. Oladipo’s improvement played a big role in that, but this is a team that has a good group of young players. Oladipo obviously is one of them, but Myles Turner and Sabonis are both talented young bigs that are both versatile and on team friendly contracts. Between the three of them, the Pacers have a nice core to build around. The biggest weakness the team had last season was their outside shooting. As a team they shot a high percentage, but they were 26th in threes attempted, and that’s not ideal for a team in today’s NBA. If they could simply add one or two players that are able and willing to stretch defenses, it could have a profound impact on the team as a whole by creating additional opportunities for Oladipo, Turner, and Sabonis. With the 23rd pick, the Pacers will have plenty of options, including Troy Brown of Oregon, or Donte DiVincenzo or Jalen Brunson of Villanova. Then, on top of that, they will also have money to spend in free agency. The amount available will depend upon what happens with the player and team options. Among the decisions that will have to be made are team options on Al Jefferson and Lance Stephenson and a player option for Thad Young.
Needs: PG, SG, SF
Despite being the best team in its conference to miss the playoffs, Detroit is in a bad position moving forward. They’ll have a new coach next season, and it will be that coach’s job to find a way to make a team built around Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond work. Outside of those two players, the team is very thin and is overpaying for players such as Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer, and Langston Galloway (all of whom are under contract for the next two seasons). To make things worse, the Pistons have no cap space to make improvements to their roster and their only draft pick falls in the second round. They have very few tradable assets remaining after the move to get Griffin, as well. Because of all of this, the Pistons likely have no choice but to take a step back in the next season or two. Detroit fans won’t want to hear this after coming off back-to-back seasons without a playoff spot, but the team might be wise to start rebuilding. There are simply too many deadweight contracts on the ledger for them to be able to move enough of them to be able to make significant improvements to the roster they currently have in place.