Detroit Pistons
Needs: Wing scoring, talent in general
Picks: 5, 31

The Pistons got a major gut punch on the night of the draft lottery. As the worst team in the league, they had dreams of Victor Wembanyama or at least Scoot Henderson dancing in their heads. Instead, they fell to pick number 5. It’s hard to judge the Pistons because their franchise centerpiece, Cade Cunningham, played only 12 games this season. They had 2022 fifth overall pick Jaden Ivey leading the backcourt, and they have a ton of young big men (James Wiseman, Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III) on the roster. The Pistons need to surround those pieces with as much talent as they can get their hands on. Bojan Bogdanovic was great for them last season, averaging 21.6 points per game, but at 33, he doesn’t align with the team’s timeline, and the Pistons could look to move him. Despite having cap space, it’s unlikely Detroit makes a big splash in free agency as it’s not a great class and they are a few years away from being ready to contend for anything. So it comes down to the draft. At pick 5, Detroit is said to be targeting Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, who would seen to be a great fit with their core. Another interesting option for them would be Kansas’ Gradey Dick, or simply take the best player available. The problem with best player available for them is that they could have a log jam of guards or bigs whose skill sets overlap. Due to dropping to 5, I could even see them looking to trade down. Would teams like New Orleans, Houston, or even Memphis look to swing a deal with Detroit to move up to 5? Detroit needs to acquire as much talent as possible and figure out the fit later, but if they can get a young wing scorer either via the draft, free agency, or trade, they would be wise to take the opportunity.

Indiana  Pacers
Needs: Rebounding, Inside scoring
Picks: 7, 26, 29, 32, 55

The Pacers were surrounded with questions last offseason about whether they would move Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. They held on to them, and it looks as though Turner will be a building block for them moving forward. Hield on the other hand, could be moved this season as he is an expiring contract. With Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, Andrew Nembhard, and even Chris Duarte they would have enough in the back court. I think outside of Wemby to the Spurs, there aren’t many team/prospect fits that seem obvious on draft night, but {Player: Jarace Walker] to the Pacers seems perfect, and word is there’s a great chance this happens. Walker could supply them with some slashing and finishing on offense and could help them with their rebounding issues. He would fit extremely well alongside Turner as well. If Cam Whitmore of Villanova were to slide, I could see him being considered as well. The Pacers probably will look to move some of their later picks. With three picks between 26 and 32, we could see them selling a couple of them off to teams looking to get a late first round pick. However, assuming they keep one or more, they could target Duke’s Dariq Whitehead, UCONN’s {Player: Andre Jackson], or Marquette’s {Player: Olivier Maxence Prosper]. They will also have over 7 million dollars in cap space, and while I don’t expect them to sign a major player in free agency, look for them to possibly use that money to absorb additional salary in trade. Any large deals in the league could look to involve the Pacers as a facilitating partner. An interesting thing to keep an eye on this offseason is the fact that last year the Pacers attempted to Sign Deandre Ayton as a restricted free agent. The Suns matched, but may now be looking to deal him. The Pacers can’t acquire him via trade for one year, but that will expire in mid July, so they could revisit bringing him in.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Needs: Backup guard, wing play, rebounding
Picks: 49

Cleveland’s season came to an extremely disappointing end. Now, they have to figure out how to take that next step. With Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland set to make about 66 million combined in the backcourt, the team can’t afford too much more at the position, but they could really use another reserve guard . If Ricky Rubio can bounce back, maybe he’s the answer, but even if that pans out, the team still has needs on the wings. Caris LeVert is a free agent and Cedi Osman and Isaac Okoro don’t appear to be long term mainstays at the positions. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have their spots in the frontcourt locked down, but the Cavs need some help rebounding, so if they can find that rebounding (especially if they could get it from someone at the wing), it could really help round out their roster. They don’t have many options in the draft at pick 49. At 49, they would be looking at players such as Arkansas’ Jordan Walsh, UCONN’s Adama Sanogo, or Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe. They do have the midlevel exception which they could use to target Jerami Grant (probably a pipe dream), Dillon Brooks, Torrey Craig, or Jalen McDaniels. Cleveland was the four seed this year, so they will be aggressive in trying to stay in contention for a championship moving forward.

Chicago Bulls
Needs: Point guard, three point shooting, center
Picks: 57 (forfeited)

The Bulls were quite possibly the most disappointing team in the association this season. They finished 40-42, but this is a team that just had the cracks in the foundation open up and swallow them whole. Their point guard, Lonzo Ball, may never play again according to some reports. Their center is an unrestricted free agent. DeMar DeRozan is an expiring contract and a player that wants to be on a contender at this stage in his career, and Zach LaVine can’t carry the team by himself. This team is a leading candidate to blow it all up. DeRozan would likely welcome a trade to a team that could give him an opportunity at a ring. LaVine would be difficult to move because of his large contract, but it wouldn’t be impossible. Vucevic could leave during free agency. And even if the Bulls try to bring everybody back, there are too many holes for the team to contend for anything meaningful. The point guard position is too thin behind Ball (and Caruso isn’t the facilitator they need to complement their current roster). The power forward spot falls to Patrick Williams who they need to figure out if he’s a long term part of the team before he gets to restricted free agency after next year. The Bulls don’t have the draft picks to rebuild, and while they could create some marginal cap space, it looks like a multi-year rebuild anyway, so they may decide to rip the band-aid off and get the rebuild started this offseason.

Milwaukee Bucks
Needs: Resign/Replace Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton
Picks: 60

The Bucks were the top team in the league during the regular season, but fell flat in the first round of the playoffs. Now, they have a new coach in Adrian Griffin and will have a couple major questions to answer to see if they can remain one of the elite teams in the association. First is the problem of Brook Lopez being an unrestricted free agent. He’s a vital part of their team. Giannis Antetokounmpo needs a specific type of lineup around him, and Lopez fits it perfectly. He is able to stretch the floor offensively (37.4% from 3) and blocks shots at the rim 2.5 per game). Bobby Portis can supply the same three point shooting, but not the shot blocking. The Bucks could sign a cheap shot blocker, but those options wouldn’t provide the same shooting. Lopez’s blend of those two attributes makes him vital to the Bucks. For that reason, it’s important that they find a way to either bring him back or find a quality replacement. He’s nearing retirement, so if they can start developing his replacement it would go a long way for them, but it would be beneficial to develop his replacement while he’s still on the roster. Khris Middleton has a player option that will be extremely important for them as well. He does a lot of heavy lifting for the team offensively and they can put the ball in his hands late to protect against Giannis’ shooting shortcomings. He wouldn’t get as much per year if he opts out, but by doing so could get a longer deal and more money overall, so it could legitimately go either way. Regardless, the Bucks likely need to retain him if they want to have a chance to win a championship. They aren’t likely to get anything meaningful this year in the draft as they only have the final pick of round two, and if they bring back their two vital free agents, they don’t really have many options to bring in additional players. If they bring their guys back, can they compete for a championship by making small changes to compete under a new coach? That’s their best bet at this point.


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