Needs: Rebounding, rim-protection
If we’re being honest, Detroit has one of the worst rosters in the NBA right now. Blake Griffin is their highest profile player, and his contract calls for him to make over 75 million over the next couple of seasons. Derrick Rose has had a bit of a resurgence, but will be a free agent after this upcoming season. Beyond that, the Pistons don’t have much. Luke Kennard continues to develop into a quality role player, but the team has very little else. It’s time for them to go into full rebuild mode, but even that is difficult with Griffin taking up such a sizeable amount of room on the salary ledger. So don’t expect the Pistons to try to build through free agency. Instead, they will focus on short term contracts to fill out the roster and building through the draft. Speaking of the draft, they have the 7th pick, and they could go a number of different directions with it. Because they need players at all positions, it will likely be a situation where they select the player they deem the best player available. Among the options they figure to be choosing from include Killian Hayes out of France or Tyrese Haliburton of Iowa St if they want to nab a point guard. Florida State’s Patrick Williams (pictured) is a real possibility as they are said to be extremely high on him and he would offer them a great deal of upside if they can develop him and tap into his potential. Williams has a chance to develop at both forward positions and has a great deal of versatility evoking comparisons to a young Kawhi Leonard.
Needs: Offensive playmaker
Indiana is a strange team. They aren’t a bad three point shooting team, as they were 14th in the league last season, but they basically ignore the three. They were 29th in threes made and dead last in attempts. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, but how can a team that gets so much of its offense inside the arc rank dead last in free throws? Essentially, this shows that they have a thin margin for error when trying to manufacture offense. In the bubble, TJ Warren went off and carried the team. If you believe that’s sustainable for an entire season, or if you think Oladipo coming back will mitigate those issues, then the Pacers may want to look at using their Mid-Level Exception elsewhere. Otherwise, the Pacers may want to try to find another player that can either be a certified bucket-getter or can create easier opportunities for players like Warren, Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis. The Pacers would almost have to do it through a trade or free agency because of their nearly non-existent draft capital for this year. A fun idea, although it admittedly wouldn’t solve their problems, would be to see them trade for the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday who is being shopped. If that happened, Indiana could have the three Holiday brothers all on the same roster.
Needs: Rebounding, shot blocking
Picks: 4, 44
The Bulls have some deficiencies that may not be easy to fix. They are 29th in the league in rebounding and 26th in shot blocking. The reason it isn’t especially easy to fix those issues is that they have Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen as their starting bigs and the team seems to like both of them. Markkanen is not likely to ever be an above-average rebounder or shot blocker and Carter, while a good rebounder, doesn’t project to ever be an above-average shot blocker. The Bulls tried to cover up for this by getting into passing lanes (#1 in the league in steals), but they may have to be creative to resolve these issues if they don’t want to shakeup their starting frontcourt. If Onyeka Okongwu of USC or James Wiseman of Memphis are there when they pick at 4 they might decide it’s worth it to address the issue, otherwise, they may take a long look at someone like Dayton’s Obi Toppin, and hope his athleticism allows them to cover up their interior weaknesses.
Needs: Wings, shooting
Cleveland has spent high draft picks on guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in recent years, and while I’m not convinced either of those players is the long-term answer at lead guard, they absolutely cannot take another point guard at #5 unless they make major adjustments to their roster composition. Just ask David Kahn how taking point guard after point guard works out for you (see: Minnesota’s 2009 draft). The Cavaliers acquired Andre Drummond to hold down the paint and Kevin Love still has a number of years left on his deal, so the Cavs will be focused on finding players that can step out on the wing and make plays. I’m not convinced it will happen, but if Deni Avdija of Israel were to be there for them, he could be an excellent fit. He still needs to develop, so he fits their timeline, and he would be a significant upgrade over Cedi Osman. He would also provide them a boost to their lagging three point shooting, which was 20th in the league last year. Assuming Avdija is off the board, there isn’t a perfect fit for them. Obi Toppin could be the pick, but he wouldn’t provide the shooting they need, Patrick Williams or Auburn’s Isaac Okoro could be defensive aces on the wing for them, but the Cavs also need some help on the offensive end and Williams and Okoro don’t really figure to provide that.
Needs: Someone to convince Giannis to stay
The Bucks are a monster, at least in the regular season. They are just so efficient on offense and Giannis is a matchup nightmare for almost anybody. If you want to say their style isn’t effective enough in the playoffs to win it all I won’t agree with you, but I get it. The thing with them, though, is they have a lot of continuity as they aren’t losing much this offseason. The sad part is that their title aspirations will not be the primary story – that will be what Giannis plans on doing when he enters free agency. There are rumors swirling, particularly surrounding Miami (if you can’t beat them, join them worked out okay for Durant), but Milwaukee will be making a push to get him to stick around. If Giannis leaves in free agency, the Bucks will likely have to blow it all up and start over. If they believe he’s going to leave, they could also look to trade him. For now, though, they will be looking to put the best possible team around him and try to convince him that they are legitimate title contenders. There is a very real chance that Milwaukee is able to convince a good free agent to join for the Mid-Level Exception, even at below market value. If they could convince Danilo Gallinari to come aboard, it could be an excellent fit for them and allow for more space for Giannis to operate. They also have the 24th overall pick, and while there’s no guarantee that the player they get with that pick will have a major impact this year, it could net them somebody such as Jahmius Ramsey of Texas Tech, Kira Lewis of Alabama, Cole Anthony of UNC, or Jaden McDaniels of Washington. Ultimately, this season could determine how relevant the Bucks are moving forward, and that’s all about if they convince Giannis to stick around or not.