Needs: Wing player, Power forward, 3 point shooting
Picks: 8, 38
Stan Van Gundy is working to rebuild this Pistons team. Unfortunately for him, arguably his second best player, Greg Monroe, has stated a desire to play elsewhere. If Monroe does, indeed, make good on his promise to leave, Detroit will have to build around Andre Drummond – a player that has grown by leaps and bounds since leaving UCONN – and their point guards, Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings. Now, it’s widely expected that the Pistons will attempt to deal Jennings in order to upgrade their roster. Van Gundy had a ton of success during his time in Orlando by utilizing Dwight Howard in the post and surrounding him with shooters at the other four positions. It would make sense for him to look to build something similar in Detroit around Drummond. Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are a start in terms of shooters, but there needs to be more pieces added to the team if they want to become contenders.
Luckily for Van Gundy, with the 8th pick in the draft, the Pistons will have a chance to land a quality player that could speed up the rebuilding process. If intriguing shooting guard Mario Hezonja is still available, the Croatian wing might be the ideal fit for this roster. He’s also newly acquired front office executive Arm Tellum’s former client, so no one knows him better. If he’s off the board, as expected, Trey Lyles, Devin Booker, and Sam Dekker all become options. It’s unlikely, but if Detroit wants to stick with a two big man approach like what they had with Drummond and Monroe, they could select Myles Turner and let him play as a power forward who could not only score on the post, but faceup and complement Drummond. Basically, Detroit could go in a lot of different directions. When a roster is as shallow in regards to talent as Detroit is right now, making a good choice is imparitive.
Needs: A pure point guard, center
Picks: 11, 43
The absolute worst kept secret in the NBA right now is that Indiana has lost faith in Roy Hibbert. Last season was a rough one for the Pacers, as Paul George missed much of the year. In his absence, Indiana expected Hibbert to step up and lead the team. In response, he had the worst season since his rookie year. With the league moving toward a tendency to play small ball, Indiana sees a chance to move on from the huge, hulking Hibbert and replace him with a more athletic center. Team president Larry Bird has publicly gone on record fawning over Willie Cauley-Stein, a post player capable of defending not only in the paint, but also on the perimeter. The thinking is that the Pacers want to speed up their attack and Hibbert doesn’t allow them to do that. At this point, it’s likely they look to trade him, and that’s one half of the equation for improving this team this offseason. If they can find a team willing to deal for Hibbert, they should be able to turn him into a quality asset. The number 11 pick also should give them options. As much as the Pacers want to upgrade the center position, the point guard position is in the most need of an upgrade. George Hill is a quality guard, but he isn’t a pure point guard and that limits how their offense. It seems as though Indiana is hoping for Cauley-Stein to fall to them, but he will most likely be off the board by the time Indiana picks. However, they will have an opportunity to grab a point guard. Cameron Payne has been flying up draft boards and the Pacers could scoop him up just outside the top ten and nobody would scratch their head. Payne looked really good leading Murray State last season, and Indiana could benefit immediately by bringing him in to run their offense.
Needs: Shooting guard, Center, Rebounding
Picks: 17, 46
Milwaukee has pieces in place to build around. Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best young players in all of basketball. He’s a near-seven foot wing player with incredible length who makes plays on both ends of the court. Add to him former rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams and last year’s pick, Jabari Parker who will be back from a devastating season-ending injury, and you have a trifecta that Milwaukee is very excited about. Giannis and Parker can both play either forward spot, but this leads them to a problem with their roster. If a team is going to play two forwards that aren’t great rebounders, there becomes a need for a center that can clean the glass on a consistent basis. The Bucks don’t have that. Larry Sanders is out of the league now and Zaza Pachulia is not a starting caliber center. He’s a good backup, but when he starts they don’t have a lot of rebounding, scoring, or shot blocking on the block. Milwaukee almost has to go with a post player with their 17th pick. In that area, Frank Kaminsky, Bobby Portis, and Montrezl Harrell could all be available. If they can land a quality post player in the draft to play alongside Carter-Williams, Giannis, and Parker, then the focus turns to trying to move some dead salary in order to gain financial flexibility. OJ Mayo and Ersan Ilyasova have value, but they make a lot more than their worth to this team. If Milwaukee can shed their salary, their squad could be ready to build a playoff contender.
Needs: Defensive wing or Power Forward
The Bulls are a good team. The biggest key for them moving forward in order to remain good is bringing back Jimmy Butler and having Derrick Rose remain healthy. Who knows if Derrick Rose will ever be able to regain the form that led him to become league MVP. If he can, the Bulls can match what Cleveland has to offer. It’s important though, that Jimmy Butler remains in town. Butler is a dominant wing defender who has raised his offensive game and become one of the better guards in the league. Their guards aren’t their only strength though. Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, and Joakim Noah form a nice trio of post players that all play a little bit different styles. By having all three, coach Hoiberg will have some different ways to attack opposing teams. The good news is that they have the pieces to be a contender next season. That’s important because they don’t have a lot of fire power to improve the team before next season. The 22nd pick has limited value for them. There are a number of big men available in that area, but in addition to their trio of post players, Chicago also has Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott on the roster. This means that they will likely look for a guard or wing player in the draft. Justin Anderson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would be a fantastic fit for the team. However, they could also select Rashad Vaughn, Norman Powell, or even Tyus Jones. Any of those three guards could fit in well with the team coming off the bench.
Needs: Shooting guard
Picks: 24, 53
Quick question, can a team draft a trainer in the NBA draft? Cleveland may want to ask the league that question. LeBron James is an all-time great, but his supporting cast has fallen apart this offseason. Kevin Love was injured in the Boston series after getting tangled up with Kelly Olynyk. Then, Kyrie Irving went down with a knee injury in the Finals. Cleveland has enough talent to win championships when everybody is healthy. James, Love, and Irving are a power packed trio. Injuries have put Cleveland in a tough situation this season, though. Now, Kevin Love has to decide if he wants to come back to Cleveland next season. Chemistry may not be right between Love and LeBron and therefore his salary may be better off spent pn other players. If Love opts not to return, Cleveland will have delivered Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for ten cents on the dollar. If Love does return, however, Cleveland will need to figure out how to make the pieces fit togetherb etter than they have and should be in position to contend for a return trip to the Finals. So, besides health and a Kevin Love return, how does Cleveland improve? With the 24th pick, Cleveland has to take the best player available. They will likely be looking at the same guards Chicago is, UNLV freshman marksman Rashad Vaugn makes a lot of sense. The team could also look for a point guard to spell Kyrie and replace him when he’s injured. There should be solid value at the position available at their pick with a group consisting of Delon Wright, Jerian Grant, and Terry Rozier all potentially available. Matthew Dellavadova has proven to be a tough, inpirational leader, but he’s not the answer as the long term back up to Kyrie. Cleveland has the pieces in place to win a title, it’s more a matter of keeping the pieces together and adding pieces that complement that group. If they do that, they’ll remain contenders. If not, LeBron James will have to carry a bigger load than what’s ideal.