Picks: 28, 30, 43, 60
It’s true that Carlos Boozer’s awful performance in the playoffs left them with no shot of beating the Heat, but their most pressing need was exposed even more. This team needs a better shooting guard, a real running mate for Derrick Rose, if they’re going to win a ring in the next few years, as the reigning MVP simply can’t handle taking 30 shots a night. Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer combined to average just 10.6 points per game during the regular season. They may have won 62 games, but they’re nowhere near perfect.
GM Gar Forman will make a hard push for free agent sniper J.R. Smith. If they can’t manage a trade for J.J. Redick, who they were very interested in this past offseason, they should also consider free agent shooting guards Jamal Crawford, Aaron Afflalo, Michael Redd and Jason Richardson, each of whom would be a major upgrade over Bogans. Still, they should consider a wide array of guards with their two late first round picks.
C.J. Watson performed admirably as Rose’s backup, but he probably isn’t the best long-term fit off the bench, meaning they will consider point guards as well. Combo guards Charles Jenkins, Nolan Smith and Reggie Jackson would all be good fits in the backcourt, though they’ll likely have their sights set on Providence sharp shooter Marshon Brooks, the explosive, versatile scorer that they could use off the pine. Georgia Tech’s Iman Shumpert, with his ideal size (6-6/221), extraordinary athleticism (42” vertical) and defensive tenacity (2.7 steals) would also be a great fit.
Needs: PG. SG, SF, C
Picks: 1, 4, 32, 54
The Cavs are broken but are not beyond repair, as suggested by their incredible fortune in the lottery. Power forward is the only position they’re truly solid at, with promising 22-year old J.J. Hickson (13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds) and the reliable Antawn Jamison (18 points and 6.7 rebounds) in the fold, but they could stand to upgrade every other position on the floor. Despite the excellent production that they got from the trio of Baron Davis, Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson at the PG position, none stand out, like Hickson does, as a potential long-term starter.
Another good sign for Cavs fans is their relentless activity: they’ve already attempted to acquire Rudy Gay, Richard Hamilton, and the second overall pick. They’re expected to take Kyrie Irving with the top pick, but it’s no secret that they also covet Arizona combo forward Derrick Williams, who they know would be an impact player right out of the gate and would be a nice fit next to Hickson and Varejao in the frontcourt.
It will certainly be interesting to see which route the Cavs take, as it might be more sensible for them to take Williams first in order to fill the more pressing need at SF while allowing them more flexibility in terms of being able to choose between a point guard or a big man with the fourth pick. I would not be surprised if they went with Williams and Brandon Knight, or Williams and Enes Kanter, or Williams and Jonas Valanciunas. They will also consider Kemba Walker at #4 if they pass on Irving. If they do select Irving, it would likely get much more complicated, as one of their point guards would have to go, and they would be under more pressure to hit a home run with the #4 pick, having not yet filled a major need.
The Cavs’ pursuit of Gay and Hamilton suggests that they are really in the market for a wing, but all will not be lost if they miss out on one with their two first round picks. The 32nd pick will also be pivotal for them, especially if a highly skilled, NBA-ready scorer such as JaJuan Johnson should slip to them. They should also consider versatile role players Chandler Parsons and Malcolm Lee, both of whom have unique skill sets that could add some color to the Cavs roster. They will be forced to scout potential second rounders more thoroughly than anyone, because the players they select will essentially be guaranteed playing time.
Needs: PG, SF, C
Picks: 8, 33
Another disastrous season under John Kuester has the Pistons reevaluating, yet again, just where the team is headed. Franchise combo guard Rodney Stuckey regressed somewhat after improving noticeably in his second and third years, and people are starting to realize that he probably isn’t a true point guard. Neither Ben Gordon nor Charlie Villanueva took steps toward living up to their ridiculous contracts, and with franchise mainstay Tayshaun Prince’s contract set to expire, they have a big hole at small forward.
The lone bright spot for the Pistons in 2011 was the growth of rookie big man Greg Monroe, who achieved a spectacular PER of 18.07 and still has great upside. Monroe’s gradual improvement throughout the season might have management so excited that they’ll heavily target another big man with the 8th pick in the hope of forming a venerable low post combo, the likes of which there are only a couple in the league today. Jonas Valanciunas and Tristan Thompson would both be great fits next to Monroe, but there’s no doubting that Bismack Biyombo, who’s very similar to Pistons legend Ben Wallace, would be a perfect match.
San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard would also work well at the swing, possessing the toughness and versatility that the Pistons have always been so fond of. Swingmen Kyle Singler and Travis Leslie should also get looks from Detroit in the second round, while Norris Cole would be a great value as a potential rotation guard.
Needs: PG, SG, PF
Picks: 15, 42
Coming off a successful 2010-11 campaign in which they made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and played the East’s top-seeded Bulls hard in the first round, the Pacers can take a deep breath when it comes to the draft this year. They also have $23 million in cap space with just three roster spots to fill, meaning this team has nearly as much potential as any other Eastern Conference team this offseason.
Content with their point guard, small forward and center as they continue to alter their make up, expect the Pacers to target the best player available unless they fall in love with a particular power forward. Expect for them to contact David West over the summer despite his injury, as well as savvy vets Jason Richardson and Caron Butler.
The Pacers have been searching for a solid shooting guard since Reggie Miller left, and Paul George, despite looking like a small forward, played so well as a rookie that they’ll have to fit him in the lineup somehow in the next year or two. Regardless, they will still look for help at SG and PF, while considering backups for Collison with T.J. Ford coming off the books. They will definitely nab Jimmer if he’s available, but otherwise look for them to target a tougher big man such as Markieff Morris. Among likely second rounders, Cory Joseph could be a solid long-term backup for Collison, while Fresno State PF/C Greg Smith could be the aggressive center they need off the bench.
Needs: PG, SG, SF
The basketball world was rocked when a source revealed that the Bucks are willing to listen to offers for franchise PG Brandon Jennings. But then again, should we be so surprised? Jennings has been an enigma ever since his days at Oak Hill, and it’s very hard to predict how his career will develop. The 21-year old PG had a great rookie campaign in which he scored 55 points in a game and nearly led the Bucks past the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs without All-NBA Third Team center Andrew Bogut, though he shot a disgraceful 37.1% from the floor. In his sophomore year he regressed, failing to improve his shot selection while watching his assists average drop from 5.7 per game to 4.8.
Looking past his ability to occasionally take over a game, Jennings is the type of player who probably should not have started every game his rookie year, as he’s naturally a poor decision maker who can, though, compensate with his speed, athleticism and natural talent. Milwaukee may have had enough of his inexcusably poor game management techniques, however; the Bucks finished last in the league in scoring and assists.
Nearly every offseason move the Bucks made in 2010 proved to be terrible. Corey Maggette, who’s on the books for $21 million over the next two years, averaged just 12 points, his lowest output since 2002. John Salmons, whom the Bucks re-signed for four years at $32 million, averaged just 14 points in 35 minutes after averaging 19.9 points in 30 games with the Bucks in 2010. Drew Gooden put up 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds and played just 35 games. The lone good thing to come out of that tumultuous offseason was drafting Larry Sanders, who should be a very effective shot blocker for years to come.
The Bucks looked to have a very bright future after pushing Atlanta to seven games in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, but last year’s offseason might have set them back a couple years. This is still a very strong defensive team, though, so expect them to pass on the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Chris Singleton and Bismack Biyombo if they’re available late in the lottery. They need scorers, and Colorado’s Alec Burks would be a perfect fit. Burks is a slasher with a very mature offensive game: he knows how to get to the stripe, and when his jumper catches up, he could potentially be a solid second or third option. If Burks if off the board, Jimmer or Jordan Hamilton would be a nice consolation prize.