Team Needs: SG, C
Two years ago, Jamal Crawford was a borderline pariah that no team wanted any part of. Crawford had never made the playoffs before arriving in Atlanta in 2009, having garnered a reputation as a black hole that could never buy into any team’s system.
With his contract set to expire, the Hawks are probably wondering how they’ll manage without him. After deservedly taking home Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2009-10 and following it up with a solid 2010-11 campaign, Crawford is now held as one of the league’s best bench players.
The Hawks have thus far declined to offer Crawford an extension, and neither side appears to have become more agreeable than they were a couple months ago. The Hawks are not the most efficient scoring club, relying heavily on an isolation offense that happens to highlight Crawford’s strengths. The acquisition of Kirk Hinrich certainly helped them on the other side of the ball, but if Crawford were to leave, the offense would undoubtably be affected.
Finding a complementary scorer won’t be their only priority. Two-time All-Star center Al Horford has asked Hawks management to try to find a legit center to play next to him, as he’s slightly undersized for the position and feels that he cannot exercise his true potential if he’s pigeonholed as the man in the middle.
With just one pick, a mid second rounder, the Hawks will have to address the need for another scoring guard and potential starting center through trades, with $57.5 million owed to just Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Horford, Hinrich and Marvin Williams this year. Williams and Hinrich are the only ones that they would likely be willing to part with, and it will be exceptionally hard to deal either. They would be foolish to view that second round pick as useless, however; Andrew Goudelock, David Lighty or could provide immediate help.
Needs: PG, SF, C
Picks: 9, 19, 39
Few teams are as porous as the Bobcats, who not only have two distinct positions to fill (SF and C), but are not even satisfied with their strongest positions. The organization’s love/hate relationship with D.J. Augustin continues despite his respectable PER of 15.97 (better than Conley, Wall, Jennings and Holiday). Stephen Jackson is getting old, and Gerald Henderson hasn’t yet proven that he can be a starter in the league. Gerald Wallace’s mid-season departure left a gaping hole at SF, and even after signing that lucrative 5-year deal and posting an excellent PER of 18.25, Tyrus Thomas started just two games at PF. Don’t even bother wondering who their center is.
This team is a mess, but their cap space is bright: Charlotte can look forward to losing Joel Przybilla ($7.4 million) and Morris Peterson ($6.6 million) to free agency, and they have three valuable draft picks, including two in the top 20. They would be wise to target Wilson Chandler and possibly Greg Oden in free agency, though their mindset in signing players will be decided by the direction that they take in the draft.
Charlotte will have a huge decision when their turn comes at #9, as they could have the opportunity to grab a raw but potential-laden bigman (Tristan Thompson, Donatas Motiejunas, Bismack Biyombo) to team with Tyrus Thomas for the future, though it might be wise to target an impact wing player who also has considerable potential. Alec Burks and Kawhi Leonard would be excellent options, and Marcus Morris could be a great fit with the versatility to play either forward position at the next level. Considering how shallow they are at the swing, and seeing as only three teams hit fewer three-pointers last season, it would make sense to target a shooter at 19, such as Jordan Hamilton, Klay Thompson or Marshon Brooks
Needs: PG, C
Immediately after LeBron announced that he was joining the Heat, the biggest question concerning the NBA’s new hit franchise became, "Can they bring in enough surrounding talent?" The Heat are one of the three best defensive teams in the league, but LeBron, Wade and Bosh are the only ones that can reliably create offense for themselves. Mike Miller, whom they spent most of their remaining money on, has been a bust, and Haslem and Anthony are fairly one-dimensional defensive presences.
Of the players that could conceivably be available with the 31st overall pick, Duke combo guard Nolan Smith could be the perfect fit. Smith is quick, can play both guard positions, boasts tremendous experience, has a high basketball IQ, but most importantly, he can score from anywhere. Smith is great at getting to his spots, his jumper is very refined, and he’s very crafty. He’s exactly what the Heat need, and there’s a good chance he’ll slip to them. Shelvin Mack could provide a spark offensively off the bench as well.
Needs: SG, SF, PF
Unless they can miraculously coerce another team into taking on one of their many ludicrously overpaid, over-the-hill players, the Magic won’t be making any big moves this offseason. Arguably the most cash-strapped team in the league, the Magic are set to give $19.3 million to Gilbert Arenas (PER of 10.82, 51st among point guards) and $10.2 million to Hedo Turkoglu (PER of 13.5, 26th among small forwards). This team has virtually no wiggle room, and having just one mid second round pick doesn’t help their cause.
With both Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson coming off the books next season, look for the Magic to target a big man with their pick, especially considering the good chance of Dwight Howard leaving in 2012 as well. Jordan Williams, Keith Benson and Greg Smith would be the best fits, and all would benefit from at least one year with Dwight.
Needs: SG, SF. PF
Picks: 6, 18, 34
Of all this summer’s restricted free agents, gauging what might happen with Wizards SG Nick Young is arguably the hardest. Young broke out in 2011 playing next to John Wall, averaging 17.4 points while shooting the three-ball much more efficiently than any of his fellow Wizards. The USC product would appear to be the perfect running mate for Wall, but his mediocre defense and poor rebounding are giving the Wizards pause. Jordan Crawford came on stronger than any rookie in the last month of the season, but as a high-volume shooter who gives up size almost every night, he might be seen more as a sixth man.
Even if the Wizards re-sign Young, they’ll still have a hole on the wing and could stand to find a replacement for Blatche, who might be the league’s biggest black hole on offense and one of the worst defenders; Enes Kanter would work ideally in supplanting him, however he’s highly unlikely to last until the #6 pick. Kawhi Leonard and Jan Vesely appear to be their most likely options at this point.
Another player said to be high on the Wizards list is Tristan Thompson. Thompson would give the team a young, energetic 4 with great length, athleticism and solid defensive capabilities. He’s been tearing up the workout circuit and moving up on teams lists lately.
The team could also look at Jonas Valanciunas as a long term potential pick at center. Whether Ernie Grunfeld has the job security to weather a possible PR nightmare if Valanciunas is taken 6th and doesn’t come over after 2-3 years (due to his contract situation) is another issue. There’s a growing sentiment that he may ultimately pull out this year’s draft.
The Wizards might also consider Chris Singleton, who would be a great fit as their wing defender/occasional three-point shooter, a la Bruce Bowen, for the next 10 years. Problem is, Singleton is expected to go somewhere right in between 6 and 18, meaning they would be reaching for him with the 6th pick, but he probably won’t last until 18. Tobias Harris and Jordan Hamilton would also be good options with their second pick.
The Wizards are blessed with great cap space this year (about $17 million) with all the major pieces in place, but they’ll need to be frugal with their extra dough; they could have enough money to sign a complementary piece to Wall, but this doesn’t look to be the year. They would be better off waiting until 2012 when they can take a shot at someone like Kevin Love, Eric Gordon or Danilo Gallinari, with the understanding that they have no shot at Williams, Paul or Howard.