Needs: Talent in general
Picks: 3, 19, 30, 34
Atlanta has, quite possibly, the least talented roster from top to bottom in the entire NBA. Their roster is currently constructed around Dennis Schroeder. However, Atlanta is in a rebuild and they know it, and this offseason should be step one to getting the team back on track. They have the third overall pick, which should net them a cornerstone on which to build their roster. Deandre Ayton has become a virtual lock to go first in recent weeks, but they will be able to choose from whomever remains after Sacramento’s pick between: Marvin Bagley, Mohamed Bamba, Luka Doncic, or Jaren Jackson Jr.. Jackson (pictured) offers possibly the greatest potential to impact both ends of the floor, but arguably the greatest risk as well as he is the least consistent at this point. Then, with pick 19 they should have the opportunity to add another piece that should be able to find a role on the team. The draft isn’t their only recourse for adding talent to their roster either, though. Prior to adding their draft picks, they are looking at around 30 million dollars in cap space. Obviously, the draft will cut into that, but Atlanta’s draft situation could be rather fluid. They could opt to use their draft capital to move around in order to add the talent that the roster is so desperately in need of. Because of where Atlanta is as a franchise right now, it’s difficult to peg exactly what they plan to do this offseason because it isn’t about filling needs for them, it’s about adding pieces to build around. Even beyond the draft and free agency, there has been talk that Schroeder might potentially be involved in a trade. He has made it abundantly clear that he isn’t enjoying playing for a struggling Hawks team, so they could opt to move him. If the organization opts to do so, combining him with the 19th overall pick could present the Hawks with some nice options.
Needs: 3 point shooting, rebounding
Picks: 6, 35, 41
Orlando was near the bottom of the league in both outside shooting and rebounding this past season, and both of those are likely areas they will be looking to improve upon this offseason. That all begins with the 6th pick. While unlikely, Luka Doncic could potentially end up in Orlando if he slides, but a more likely option could be Michael Porter from Missouri. He would be a big small forward that could provide outside scoring as well as help out on the boards. He would also be able to fill the hole in the lineup between Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Another interesting option is Villanova’s Mikal Bridges who is older but provides a lot of shooting potential. The Magic are in a position where they will likely have to achieve most of their improvement through the draft as their salary cap situation is a bit murky. Because of Gordon’s 7.2 million dollar qualifying offer almost assuredly taking up most of the cap room, the Magic will have to be picky about where they spend their money in free agency. The Magic will need to not only find players that can knock down outside shots and rebound, but also must find players that can fit alongside the pieces they already have in place.
Needs: Power Forward, Center
Picks: 11, 55
Charlotte is in a weird position as a franchise right now. When you look at where they rank in the league in most of the important statistical categories, they find themselves in the middle of the league, except for when it comes to shooting percentages. They are in a position where their roster is good enough to win some games each year without bottoming out, but not good enough to be a true competitor. This year, they failed to even make the playoffs. Kemba Walker is clearly their best player and franchise cornerstone. However, despite their best attempts, they’ve been unable to surround him with a roster that makes them contenders. With Walker on an extremely affordable deal through next season, Charlotte needs to decide what they want to do. Being over the cap and without a pick in the top 10, it is unlikely Charlotte can get over the hump in the next few seasons without a drastic shakeup. They could look to trade Kemba in a deal that would allow them to also send out one or two of their oversized contracts and start the rebuild in full. If, however, they decide to keep Walker, they should look to enhance their frontcourt. Dwight Howard had a good season in which he averaged a double-double, but he’s 32 and likely will fall off quickly. They have Frank Kaminsky, but he is limited in what he can do and the power forwards on the roster don’t complement his skill set very well. So in the draft look for the Hornets to opt to take somebody that can slide into their frontcourt and either get buckets to complement Kemba’s scoring, or can rebound and block shots to complement Kaminsky. Some interesting options for them with pick 11 include Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Kentucky or Robert Williams of Texas A&M.
Picks: 15, 44
Washington’s biggest issue at the moment deals with their team chemistry. For the last few seasons it was clear that John Wall and Bradley Beal lacked the chemistry that any team would want from their top two players. This season, Wall missed half of the season, and comments made during the time he missed, particularly from center Marcin Gortat, sowed even more discord in the locker room. Luckily for the Wizards, they only have four players under contract after next season in Wall, Beal, Otto Porter, and Ian Mahinimi (with Kelly Oubre’s qualifying option there as well). Because of this, they should be able to put together a team that can get along. However, with just that handful of players, they are on the hook for 108 million dollars. Because of the lack of funds available to them over the next few years, they will have to make the most out of their draft picks and look to find a difference maker willing to sign for one of their exceptions this offseason. The team has a large hole at the center position that needs to be filled. Gortat’s contract ends after next season and the aging center is coming off a disappointing season. Robert Williams, while undersized for the position, could be a suitable replacement and would fit well in an offense in which Wall can find him for easy baskets. However, if Williams is off the board the crop of big men this year offers very little around the Wizards’ pick, so they most likely would opt for the best available player and figure it out later. Some options that they may consider include Miles Bridges of Michigan State, Kevin Huerter of Maryland, or they may even reach for a player like Mitchell Robinson.
Needs: Go-to scorer
Miami overachieved this season, earning themselves the 6th seed in the East. The impressive thing is that they did it with Goran Dragic leading the way while Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside, the next two top leading scorers on the roster, missed significant time. Dwyane Wade came back to the Heat, but he isn’t the Wade the Miami faithful are used to from years ago. If Miami is going to build towards the future, they need to find somebody capable of scoring in bunches. Dragic is a capable scorer, but he will need help. Whiteside is best as a rim protector and rebounder, and the players around those two play their roles beautifully, which is a nod to just how well the coaching staff is doing with a roster that, at least on paper, is limited. The difficulty the front office has moving forward is that they are over the salary cap and thus will have difficulty drawing in top tier free agents. To make matters worse, they don’t have a draft pick this season. The flipside, however, is that Miami can still use exceptions to add players this offseason and is the type of destination (due to Miami’s good reputation among players and the lack of state income tax) that can make the team enticing for mid level players. Will Barton could find himself a target of the Heat, and if Miami wants to try to catch lightning in a bottle, they could potentially look to team Dragic with a former running buddy from Phoenix in Isaiah Thomas. Thomas very well could find himself taking a short term deal while he proves he’s fully healthy again.