Needs: Everything except point guard
Picks: 1, 33
If you’re the Cavaliers, the best part about this draft is that it seems to be near impossible to screw it up the way they did last season by picking Anthony Bennett first overall. Last season may have featured a less than stellar draft class that had no sure fire all-stars, but the Cavs reached with their pick and probably outsmarted themselves. In this year’s draft, that may be difficult to do. To me, it’s reminiscent of the 1984 draft. In 1984, the Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick. Sure, they passed up Michael Jordan, but they got a transcendent talent and were happy with their pick. The second pick in that draft was Sam Bowie, who had all the tools and talent you could ask for in a 7-foot frame, but was ultimately derailed by injuries that were revealed in college. This year, Cleveland should get a fantastic talent to help build up the franchise alongside Irving. They may not end up with the top talent from the draft, but there is no excuse for not grabbing somebody that will have a major impact on the team’s fortunes. Essentially, the Cavs have a choice between uber-athletic Andrew Wiggins, pro-ready combo forward Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid, a raw center with tons of upside but a back injury that may give medical staff’s pause. It’s difficult to know at this point which way the Cavs will go, but any one of these players could be an all-star for years to come. With such a bare bones roster, it is important that they find a player that can help them both in the short-term and long-term. They will have money to spend on free agents to bolster their lineup, but it looks as though the foundation of their roster will be Irving and whoever they select in this draft.
Picks: 2, 31, 36, 48
Out of all of the teams in the NBA, if I was an NBA general manager, I would want to have the set of picks belonging to the Milwaukee Bucks. In most drafts there seems to be a drop off between the 1st and 2nd picks, but this year there really isn’t. The Cavs get the pick of the litter of the Parker/Wiggins/Embiid trio, but the Bucks will get to choose between the two that are left and will also have two very early second round picks in a draft that should see some very good players slide to round two. Second round picks may not get guaranteed contracts, but early second round picks typically have a good shot at making a team (especially with this Bucks roster) and the team can lock them up on team friendly contracts. The best players on their roster are Brandon Knight, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. While those are all players that can play a role on a team, they need a talent infusion in the worst way. Milwaukee is going to look to build for the future in this draft. Wiggins/Parker/Embiid will be a franchise centerpiece while in the second round they could potentially add a player that could produce for them such as DeAndre Daniels, Nick Johnson, Mitch McGary, or even Giannis’s brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo. If, down the road, the Bucks are able to turn the team into a contender, we will likely look back at this draft as what started the turnaround for them.
Needs: Small forward, Guard depth, backup power forward (if Boozer is amnestied)
Picks: 16, 19, 49
The Bulls have struggled as Derrick Rose has been unable to stay healthy. They traded Luol Deng last season, and there is a very real possibility that Carlos Boozer ends up being amnestied this summer. That leaves them with a roster built around Joakim Noah, the ailing Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson. They will also look to sign a major free agent if the opportunity arises. As for the draft, they have two mid-round picks with which to bolster their lineup. They could go a number of ways with this pick depending on who is still available. With Nikola Mirotic expected to come to the league this upcoming season their options are pretty open. They could certainly use some shooting. If James Young, PJ Hairston, or Rodney Hood were to be available it could bolster their team’s play on the perimeter and lessen the loss of Deng. Cleanthony Early would be a solid pick as he would be able to play alongside Gibson and Mirotic as a combo forward. Unfortunately for the Bulls, there is no guarantee that Rose ever returns to his MVP form and so they could look to hedge their bets with a player like Shabazz Napier or Tyler Ennis. They may also consider taking a flyer on one of the Euro prospects with hopes of stashing him overseas for a couple of seasons. If they choose that route Dario Saric, and Jusuf Nurkic come into play. The Bulls will have an opportunity to bolster the roster, but ultimately will go as far as Rose and Noah can take them while their young players develop around them.
Needs: Shooting, ball handling, better lottery luck
The Pistons would benefit greatly by finding some additional shooters and ball handlers this offseason. Stan Van Gundy’s best teams tend to have shooters with size that surround quality bigs. They have the bigs in place as Andre Drummond has blossomed and Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent. However, they lack the shooters that Van Gundy usually looks to surround his bigs with. Josh Smith has the size Van Gundy likes but is an inconsistent shooter. There is a chance the Pistons look to dangle him in trade discussions since he could bring back something valuable in return. Guys with his size, athleticism, and shot blocking ability along with developed ball skills are always a desirable around the league. Then there is the issue of ball handling. Brandon Jennings is a score first point guard which provides them with a spark offensively, but Jennings sometimes struggles to make plays for others. The problem with that is that the Pistons players outside of Jennings don’t excel at creating for themselves. This offseason the team should look to find a player who is a willing ball mover and lock down defender to play in the back court. With the 38th pick in the draft it’s unlikely they land a rookie capable of significantly helping them right away as most of the players expected to be available have skills that heavily overlap with the talent already on the roster. Detroit will have to hope that they can find someone on the free agent market that can help turn the individual talent into a collective team.
Needs: Backup center
The Pacers are one of the best teams in the league, even if their play at the end of the season made it seem like that wasn’t the case. They really don’t have a lot of holes in their roster. There is a chance Lance Stephenson leaves the team this summer, which would leave a hole that Evan Turner may or may not be able to fill. Should they bring "Born Ready" back, any roster moves they make will be aimed at providing additional depth, especially at center. Roy Hibbert’s struggles were highly publicized, but the Pacers evidently saw a weakness in their front court before that. They made the ill-fated Andrew Bynum signing because they wanted an upgrade over Ian Mahinmi. The draft appears to be of little consequence for them this year as they don’t pick until the 4th to last pick. Without any kind of significant cap space to speak of, it appears that next year’s Pacers team will very much resemble last season’s.