Picks: 5, 8, 33
The Magic found their new head coach in Jamahl Mosely who comes to them from the Dallas Mavericks. He inherits a roster that has a serious lack of talent. After years of poor drafting, poor roster construction, and poor asset management, the team is at a cross roads. This draft could single-handedly turn the franchise around, as the Magic have two of the top 8 picks in a draft that has some interesting pieces expected to be available in that range, but not necessarily can’t miss prospects. If Orlando hits on both picks, they could fast track this rebuild and be one of the bright young squads of the next decade. At 5, the Magic will likely have the opportunity to pick either Jonathan Kuminga or Florida State’s Scottie Barnes. Either one of those players is capable of playing alongside Jonathan Isaac. Kuminga would likely provide more of a scoring punch while Barnes would offer more playmaking from the forward position. From there, they will have no shortage of options at 8. I would anticipate them looking to add a guard or wing player such as Tennessee’s Keon Johnson, UCONN’s James Bouknight, Arkansas’ Moses Moody, or even Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert. After years of not valuing shooting, they desperately need an injection of shooting on a roster that was the worst shooting team in the league last season. This offseason should be all about building the foundation of a contender. No matter how well the draft goes for the Magic this season, they won’t be contenders next season, so they should focus on letting their young coach develop their young talent and commit to a rebuild with lasting value instead of the approach they’ve taken for years of taking athletes and hoping they mesh together eventually.
Picks: 11, 56, 57
Charlotte made the best of their imbalanced roster last season, relying on their three-headed point guard monster of Terry Rozier, Devonte’ Graham, and LaMelo Ball to lead the way. Hitting on Ball in last year’s draft was a boon for them, and while they likely overpaid for him, Gordon Hayward was really good when he was healthy enough to play. If Charlotte can put together another solid offseason this year, they could find themselves in the playoffs sooner rather than later. They will have to figure out what to do with Graham, who is a restricted free agent. He’s too good to just let walk, but it’s difficult to balance a roster when three of your top four scorers play the same position and are most effective with the ball in their hands. They will also need to make a decision on Malik Monk, who has been disappointing but has shown flashes of good play here and there. The biggest need, however, is in the paint. Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo (both unrestricted free agents) are not the answer in the paint for a solid playoff team and PJ Washington is better suited to playing as a power forward. There aren’t a ton of great options in draft at center where they could target somebody such as Kai Jones of Texas, but they have money to offer to free agents depending on how they handle their pending free agents. They could throw money at a strong rebounding, shot blocking post player such as Richaun Holmes or Nerlens Noel. If they can land a quality big to protect the rim, Hayward can stay relatively healthy, and Ball further develops his game, this team could be back on track as a serious threat to make the playoffs and even potentially win a series.
Needs: Continued momentum, three point shooting
The Wizards were terrible last season…up until they weren’t any more. After a really rough start to the season that saw people speculating about the team dealing away Bradley Beal, they rebounded to not only salvage their season but sneak into the playoffs. If they play the way they did late in the season, they could really make some noise. Sure, they lost in the playoffs to the 76ers, but they showed down the stretch that they are for real. They will also get Thomas Bryant back from injury, which should bolster their frontcourt. Now instead of questions about if they will trade Beal away, the conversation has turned to if they can add the needed pieces around Beal and Westbrook to make a deep playoff run. Due to the enormous contracts of the two stars and Davis Bertans, they will be limited in what they can offer in free agency, but they could go a number of different directions in the draft where they pick 15th. Because of Westbrook’s versatility and unique game, they could look at taking somebody such as Josh Giddey from Australia who may not have the athleticism to guard point guards, but could cross match with Westbrook to create mismatches in the Wizards’ favor. They could also look at Josh Christopher of Arizona St. to give them another wing scorer. If they are concerned about Bryant and his ability to stay healthy they could look to add some depth inside and select Usman Garuba of Spain. The team changed so much as the season progressed that it’s difficult to know what team will show up at the start of next season. If they revert to playing the way they did at the start of last season, no draft pick will fix them, but if they start next season playing like they did to close the season, the team will be primed for a playoff run.
Needs: A secondary scorer, reserve guards
Picks: 20, 48
Atlanta showed out in the playoffs as Trae Young and company sent both Philly and New York home from the playoffs. Obviously, this team relies heavily on Trae, but they have good complementary pieces around him. John Collins is a really talented, fun young player, but he’s best playing off of the spacing and rotations created by others. If the Hawks can find somebody that can create offense for themselves and others to lessen the reliance on Trae, it could potentially be a springboard for the team that takes them all the way to the Finals. It doesn’t even have to come from outside the organization, as Danilo Gallinari has been that guy in the past and Bogdan Bogdanovic was expected to be that type of player. If either of those players become that, look out for the Hawks. However, there’s no guarantee that will happen. So that means they could look to the 20th pick in the draft, where they could choose Tennessee’s Jaden Springer, VCU’s Nah'Shon Hyland, Oregon’s Chris Duarte, or ASU’s Josh Christopher. LSU’s Cameron Thomas would add more shooting, which they obviously value as much as anyone. Any of those players would also help alleviate the fact that the Hawks only have four guards under contract for next year (Young, Kris Dunn, Bogdanovic, and Kevin Huerter). Now, the draft may not even be their only means of adding impact players, as they project to have approximately 19 million in salary cap space to entice a player to sign with them, although that’s not accounting for the restricted free agent status of Collins, who the team will obviously want to keep on board.
Needs: Point guard, Wings, resign Duncan Robinson
The Heat are in an awkward place right now. After advancing all the way to the Finals in the bubble, they now are saddled with the expectation of being a real contender for the championship, but in reality their roster isn’t good enough or deep enough for that to be a likely possibility right now. To make things worse, they don’t have a draft pick in this year’s draft to help get younger and better. They traded this year’s pick away all the way back in 2015. To put in perspective how long ago that was and how well traveled the pick is, the pick has been included in trades that also included the following players: Paul George, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari,Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Saddiq Bey, Mikal Bridges, Danny Granger, Norris Cole, and both of the Dragic brothers. Speaking of the Dragics, Goran has a team option worth over 19 million that is likely to be declined this offseason to allow the team roster flexibility as they try to get back to contender status. This is a team that has a lot of questions to answer in free agency as Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza, Nemanja Bjelica, Udonis Haslem, and Dewayne Dedmon are all unrestricted free agents. On top of that, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn are restricted free agents. Dragic and Andre Iguodala both have team options that are worth a combined 34 million, so Miami could potentially see a lot of roster turnover. They need to keep as many of their important pieces as possible this offseason and look to add depth to the guard and wing positions while they take advantage of their time with Jimmy Butler and their young big man Bam Adebayo. Working in their favor is Miami’s status as a destination city and Florida’s lack of an income tax, making them an attractive option for free agents. They don’t have a lot of cap space to work with (although they do have options to create some) but will need to be creative in allocating their funds if they want to rejoin the rank of contenders.