Needs: Shooting guard, backup power forward,
Picks: 6, 50
The Hawks were one of the worse teams in the association last season and had some glaring weaknesses, but they may have solved the biggest ones back in February. And while we didn’t get to see them during the Orlando bubble restart, I believe that Clint Capela should allow them to sure up their interior defense, rebounding, and shot blocking. Capela has career averages of 16.9 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per 36 minutes. With him in the fold, it will allow John Collins to play more to his strengths and, of course, Trae Young will continue to be their star. To take the next step, the Hawks need to find pieces to put around them. Kevin Huerter is a quality piece, but the Hawks could benefit from adding a guard that could be their defensive stopper. Young can be exposed defensively, so adding somebody such as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro (pictured), if they think his shooting shows enough promise, could allow them to slow down opposing guards. Florida State’s wings Patrick Williams, Devin Vassell, could also prove intriguing for them at 6, or Israel’s Deni Avdija if available. They could also look to free agency to bolster their team, but despite having salary cap space, won’t be in contention for top tier free agents and will have to take into account future salary cap uncertainty. If they opt to go that route, they might chase after Minnesota’s Malik Beasley (who was also involved in the Capela trade). He is a restricted free agent, but if the T-wolves go with a guard in the draft, Beasley may find himself expendable.
Needs: Small forward, primary scorer
Picks: 15, 45
The Magic are in a weird place right now. On the one hand, they were able to sneak into the playoffs this past season and stole a game from the Bucks. On the other, they are near the top of the league in terms of salary already accounted for. Because of their success, getting considerably better through the draft this year will require some luck or some maneuvering. The team could go a number of ways in the draft and it’s hard to predict. Some possible options are Aaron Nesmith of Vanderbilt, Saddiq Bey of Villanova, or Jaden McDaniels of Washington. The Magic have a few good pieces: Nikola Vucevic (more on him in a moment), Jonathan Isaac (currently rehabbing a significant knee injury), and Aaron Gordon. The team must decide how to build, or whether to build, around these three. The real question in my mind, is what will Orlando do with Vucevic? There have been rumors of trades surrounding him for a while now, and they have Mo Bamba behind him. If they believe Bamba can become an impact player and starter for them, Vucevic could become expendable, and in a draft that features teams near the top seemingly willing to make deals, Orlando may be able to swing a deal with one to move their center and their pick for a very high pick (and thus shed some salary as well). Golden State would make some sense, but is probably unlikely, but if the draft breaks the right way, Charlotte could be interested as well. Orlando could be a team to watch on draft night despite not currently having a pick in the lottery.
Needs: Bigs, talent
Picks: 3, 32, 56
Charlotte has a serious lack of overall talent on their current roster. Second round surprise Devonte’ Graham stepped up in a big way and became the team’s leading scorer and best player. The team hit on last year’s first round pick as PJ Washington showed himself to be a quality stretch four, but the team still needs to solve their problem in the paint. I’ve believed for a long time that the best strategy in the draft is to take the best available player and figure it out later instead of trying to find the perfect fit. However, in this draft, the best fit and the best player may end up being one and the same. Memphis’ James Wiseman[, like seemingly every other player at the top of this draft, is no sure bet. There is a very real chance that he becomes nothing more than the second coming of Marvin Bagley, but if that’s his floor and that’s all he becomes, it’s still a massive upgrade for the Hornets and should allow them to do much more defensively. He should, at bare minimum, be able to use his athleticism to block shots at the rim. The four leading shot blockers for the Hornets last season were career backup Bismack Biyombo, Washingon, small forward Miles Bridges, and Marvin Williams. The Hornets are said to be very high on Wiseman, so there’s a good chance they take him at their pick.
Washington /> Needs: Rebounding, /> Picks: 9, 37
I love John Wall. When he is healthy, he is one of the top point guards in the league and I will die on that hill. However, he hasn’t been healthy for a while now (he’s played only 73 games since the start of the 2017-2018 season) and his contract is killing the Wizards’ cap situation. This is a team that simply doesn’t have other bad contracts on the books right now, but Wall is making over 40 million a year has them in a spot where it’s hard to improve the team around Bradley Beal. The biggest issues for them are that their defense and rebounding numbers are awful. They were 28th in the league in rebounding and defensive rebounding. They also allowed opposing teams to shoot 48.8% against them last season, including 37.6% from three. Both of those numbers are amongst the worst in the league and will need to improve if the Wizards want to get back to contending. A big part of that is a personnel issue. Starting Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans can stretch the floor and create scoring opportunities, but it’s not without its drawbacks. With the ninth pick, the Wizards could potentially add a player to help them on that end. Some possibilities would include Florida State Seminole Patrick Williams, USC forward Onyeka Okongwu, or even Vernon Carey of Duke if they reach a bit or trade back. Ultimately this team doesn’t have a lot of options, but if they can get a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal leading the attack, it will hide some of those weaknesses. Adding one more complementary player in the draft could help fast track this team back to competing for a playoff spot.
Miami /> Needs: Point guard, power /> Picks: 20
Miami, coming off of a trip to the NBA Finals, is in pretty good shape moving forward. They have some cap space to play with and most of their relevant players returning. Goran Dragic is a free agent and based off of his play in the bubble, I would anticipate them being very interested in bringing him back. If they choose not to, they still have Kendrick Nunn on the roster, but will still need another lead guard to come off the bench. Because of the way they play with Bam Adebayo initiating the offense often, it can give them options on what type of guard they could bring in. If they decide to fill that role through the draft, [Player: Cole Anthony of UNC, Kira Lewis of Alabama, and Tyrese Maxey of Kentucky are likely targets. A problem they faced in the Finals is that they struggled when they went to the bench, playing Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala as their second string power forwards. In some matchups that works, but it became a liability for them against the Lakers. If Pat Riley wants to address that issue, Jerami Grant of the Denver Nuggets could provide the same type of stylistic offensive presence as those two while upping the defensive presence against bigger forwards. Detroit’s Christian Wood could also be a potential target that would fit alongside the roster they already have in place and the culture present in Miami.