Brian Patrick

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Eastern Conference Draft Needs

Friday, June 16, 2017

The number one pick is in the East again, this time going to Boston, and the likely selection of Markelle Fultz. As usual, the lottery also includes Philadelphia, back in the number three spot after having the top pick last year. Teams like Milwaukee will look to add the next piece to help them continue to rise, and teams like Indiana and Miami will be hoping to find someone to help them rise again.



Atlanta Hawks

Picks: Round 1 – No. 19; Round 2 – No. 31, 60

Needs: Big man, perimeter shooting, back-up point guard

The Hawks are continuing to go through a transformation from the team that won 60 games just a couple of seasons ago. Kyle Korver, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford are all gone, and Paul Millsap has a player option for next season. On top of that, Dwight Howard isn’t quite the player he used to be, and the Hawks could use some help in the frontcourt. The Hawks should be in a good position to grab one of the top three big men in this draft, though all are young and raw. Jarrett Allen is likely to be gone by number 19, but a player like Justin Patton, a seven-footer who runs the floor well, or Ike Anigbogu, a potential high-level rim protector, should be available. They could also look at a guy like John Collins, whose game is probably more similar to Horford than the new style of NBA big, or Bam Adebayo, the strong, athletic Kentucky freshman. With the first pick of the second round, the Hawks could try and address the potential loss of Millsap with a player like Caleb Swanigan or Ivan Rabb. If they want to point guard spot, they could have options like Derrick White or Edmond Sumner, or a combo guard like Frank Jackson.



Boston Celtics

Picks: Round 1 – No. 1 Round 2 – No. 37, 53, 56

Needs: Perimeter shooting, rim protector

Boston’s deal with Brooklyn for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from 2013 is the gift that keeps on giving, and this year, it gives the Celtics the top pick in the draft after winning the Eastern Conference. As the playoffs showed though, Boston still isn’t ready to compete with Cleveland, so more moves will need to be made. In terms of value, there is a really only one option at number one, Markelle Fultz, an athletic, scoring point guard with good size and the ability to break down defenses. With a guard rotation of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, and an emerging Terry Rozier, Fultz may not be the best fit, but his talent is too great to pass up, and the Celtics should choose him and deal with the roster later. Another good idea would be to try and deal the pick to move down, plus get another player or two ready to help them right now match-up better with Cleveland. If for some reason they decided to pass on Fultz at one, the only other option that may make sense would be Josh Jackson, though I’d still lean heavily to Fultz. In the second round, at number 37, the Celtics can look to add some shooting/scoring from the wing with guys like Dwayne Bacon, Josh Hart, or Dillon Brooks. They can also look to add a young rim protector if a guy like Tony Bradley or Bam Adebayo falls this far. Near the end of the draft, the Celtics can look for their next Abdel Nader, who has flourished in the D-League and could find himself with the Celtics next season. One name to watch for is Charles Cooke, or possibly Notre Dame wing VJ Beachem.



Brooklyn Nets

Picks: Round 1 – No. 22, 27; Round 2: No. 57

Needs: Wing scorers; stretch four; rim protector/back-up big man

It’s certainly not the top pick in the draft, which Brooklyn owed to Boston, but the Nets do have two picks in the 20’s, which should allow them to add some more talent, even if not likely enough to make them a playoff team yet. Caris LeVert impressed once he was healthy enough to play, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is more a defensive stopper than complete player, and the Nets could use some help on the wings. Also, while Brook Lopez suddenly became a three-point shooter last year, the Nets could use a forward paired with him who can also stretch the floor, and this draft is full of them. They could hope that a stretch four like TJ Leaf, Kyle Kuzma, or Tyler Lydon, DJ Wilson is available, or they could look at any of the potential back-up bigs available, like Ike Anigbogu, Harry Giles, or Bam Adebayo. Another name tied to the Nets has been Anzejs Pasecniks, a seven-footer for Latvia who plays in Spain, though he is likely not NBA-ready. An interesting option to consider near the end of first round is Semi Ojeleye, a versatile forward who can defend.



Charlotte Hornets

Picks: Round 1 – No. 11; Round 2- No. 41

Needs: Perimeter shooting; rim protector; backcourt depth

The Hornets will have some interesting options once we are out of the top ten, especially if they are looking to add to their backcourt. The first option is Duke guard Luke Kennard, a long-range shooter who also showed some ability to create off the dribble. Another option is Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell, an undersized, but fast shooting guard, who can score in a variety of ways and provides some intensity on defense. If they opt to look for a rim protector, Jarrett Allen could be a possibility. Another name to watch for is North Carolina forward Justin Jackson, an improved shooter with good size on the wing. There is also the possibility that one of the top five point guards makes it to number 11, likely either Frank Ntilikina or Dennis Smith. If that happens, it may be tough for Charlotte to pass them up. There will be a good variety of backcourt players available at number 41, especially if looking for a back-up point guard. Guys like Frank Mason, Monte Morris, Edmond Sumner, or Derrick White, could be available, or they can look to add at the shooting guard spot with Josh Hart, Tyler Dorsey, Sindarius Thornwell, or PJ Dozier.



Chicago Bulls

Picks: Round 1 – No. 16; Round 2 – No. 38

Needs: Bench scoring; stretch four; rim protector

The Bulls were able to bring Dwyane Wade home to Chicago last year, though the season was full of ups and downs. Wade now has a player option, and star Jimmy Butler has been, at times, rumored to be unhappy. The Bulls will also need to decide whether to bring back Rajon Rondo, whose salary for next year is non-guaranteed, and have potential restricted free agents in Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio, neither who would likely to be missed if signed by someone else to a substantial offer. While Robin Lopez played admirably at the center spot, the Bulls could use a more athletic big man who is more of a rim protector, and the hopes are that a player like Jarrett Allen or Justin Patton is available. They could also look to add a power forward who can stretch the floor, with TJ Leaf being a possibility. Another name to watch for is Justin Jackson, who has great size for the small forward spot, and is an improved shooter. In the second round, the Bulls could look to add some scoring off the bench with any of the combo guards or wings available, namely, Frank Jackson, PJ Dozier, or Derrick White, or a good defensive shooting guard like Josh Hart or Sindarius Thornwell.



Cleveland Cavaliers

Picks: None

Needs: Bench depth

After a third straight finals appearance, but a second loss to Golden State in that time, the Cavaliers will need to make adjustments in the offseason to deal with Golden State’s acquisition of Kevin Durant last summer. The bench was also often outplayed, and you may see Cleveland try to find their way into the second round if there is a player they really like, but with no picks as of now, it will likely come down to trades and free agency.



Detroit Pistons

Picks: Round 1 – No. 12

Needs: Wing scorers; backcourt depth

Detroit is still looking to make their way back to the playoffs, though the draft hasn’t been much help lately. After a good rookie season, Stanley Johnson took a step backwards last year, often looking lost on the floor, and Henry Ellenson has yet to show what he can do as a versatile power forward. Also, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can be a restricted free agent this summer, and there is a chance someone may make an offer to big for Detroit to want to match.  The Pistons could look to add some scoring punch to the shooting guard spot with players like Luke Kennard or Donovan Mitchell, or possibly even reach for a player like Justin Jackson. The other option would be to try and secure another stretch four, if they see someone like Lauri Markkanen fall to them.



Indiana Pacers

Picks: Round 1 – No. 18; Round 2 – No. 47

Needs: Point guard; perimeter shooting, stretch four

The Pacers added more talent last offseason with Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and Jeff Teague, but it still wasn’t enough to avoid an early playoff exit, and now the Pacers need to worry about the last season of Paul George’s contract. Teague is now a free agent, but there likely won’t be any point guards available, within value, at 18, so the Pacers could look to add a stretch four, with guys like TJ Leaf or Kyle Kuzma possibilities. They could also look to add a big with upside, like John Collins, Bam Adebayo, or Justin Patton. They can find some help at the point guard spot at 47, with players like Monte Morris or Frank Mason, or combo guards like Tyler Dorsey or PJ Dozier. If they look for a stretch four in the second round, Alec Peters could be available, as well as players like Jonathan Motley or Cam Oliver.



Miami Heat

Picks: Round 1- No. 14

Needs: Frontcourt depth; long-range shooting

It was a rough season for the Heat, though they just missed out on the playoffs. There is really a need for depth at every position, especially the front court, where back-up Willie Reed is expected to test free agency. The Heat could look to add a young big like Jarrett Allen or Justin Patton to back-up Hassan Whiteside, or they could look to add some scoring punch in the backcourt if a player like Donovan Mitchell drops to them. They could also look at a wing like Justin Jackson if they want to add some shooting to the small forward spot.



Milwaukee Bucks

Picks: Round 1 – No. 17; Round 2 – No. 48

Needs: Athletic big man/rim protector; bench scoring

The Bucks took another step forward this season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo becoming one of the league’s top stat-stuffers, but there are still some key pieces missing to elevate them into the top half of the Eastern Conference. At number 17, the Bucks could look to add a potential rim protector in Justin Patton or Jarrett Allen, if available, or since they have hit big with risks before in the draft, roll the dice one more time and take Harry Giles. They could look to shore up the shooting guard spot, where they ended up playing Tony Snell, with a young shooter like Terrance Ferguson, who spent a year playing pro ball in Australia. The Bucks hit big in the second round last year with Malcolm Brogdon, though at 48, they may not find something similar. Still, potential scorers off the bench like Dwayne Bacon, Jarron Blossomgame, or Dillon Brooks.



New York Knicks

Picks: Round 1: No. 8; Round 2: No. 44

Needs: Build around Porzingis; find someone excited to run the triangle offense

Though Derrick Rose wants to come back to New York, he was a disaster for the Knicks last season, and if Phil Jackson makes one smart move this year, it would be to say no. At number 8, the Knicks should have a shot at one of the top five point guards, likely Dennis Smith, Jr. or Frank Ntilikina, though adding Ntilikina won’t help them for a couple of years. One other option would be to find a good long-range shooter for the triangle, and there could be a chance Malik Monk will be available. In the middle of the second round, the Knicks could still find some point guard help if Derrick White or Edmond Sumner is available, or they could add some bench scoring with a guy like Dwayne Bacon, Jarron Blossomgame, or Damyean Dotson.  



Orlando Magic

Picks: Round 1 – No. 6, 25; Round 2 – No. 33, 35

Needs: Depth; scoring

New General Manager John Hammond will try to get the Magic back on track, as they have a decent collection of young players, but still missing that one guy who can take them to another level. The big name to watch for at number six is Jonathan Isaac, 6’10 forward with a lot of potential on both sides of the ball. They could also look to add some shooting and jump at Malik Monk, who should fare better than Mario Hezonja has. At 25, the Magic could look to add a stretch four, with guys like DJ Wilson, Tyler Lydon, or Semi Ojeleye all possibilities. With two more picks in the first five of the second round, Orlando could add some quality players, with some likely first-round values dropping. A tough wing like Wesley Iwundu could be a possibility, as is Josh Hart. They could look to shore up the backcourt with some combo guards like Frank Jackson, PJ Dozier, or Derrick White.



Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: Round 1 – No. 3; Round 2: No. 36, 39, 46, 50

Needs: Possible point guard, other than Simmons; perimeter shooting; starter-quality wings

After finally getting the number one pick last year, the Sixers picked Ben Simmons, and then saw him be the latest draft pick to miss his first season. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid seemed to be worth the wait, but he then got hurt again. Now, with the number three pick, Philadelphia could add another major piece of the puzzle, though there is still plenty of unknown in the two spots above them. Ideally, the Sixers could add Josh Jackson, if he gets past the Lakers, or if not, Jayson Tatum, a young but polished wing scorer. If the Lakers were to take Jackson at two, then the possibility is there for the Sixers to take Lonzo Ball, but I’m sure that only happens if they decide to not use Simmons at the point. As usual, the Sixers have a slew of second-round picks, and I’m sure they will try to deal at least one of them. With two picks in the 30’s, the Sixers could add some more help in the backcourt, with Villanova’s Josh Hart a strong possibility, if available, or they could look at combo guards like PJ Dozier or Frank Jackson. A forward who can stretch the floor is another option, with the hopes that a player like Tyler Lydon, Semi Ojeleye, or even Caleb Swanigan can fall to them.



Toronto Raptors

Picks: Round 1 – No. 23

Needs: Stretch four; bench scoring

With Patrick Patterson, Serge Ibaka, and PJ Tucker all free agents, the Raptors could look to add one of the many stretch fours available in this draft, with possibilities like Kyle Kuzma, DJ Wilson, and TJ Leaf. They could also look for some scoring pop off the bench with wings like Terrance Ferguson or Justin Jackson. One last possibility is a back-up big like they had in Bismack Biyombo, with a young, raw player like Ike Anigbogu, Bam Adebayo, or Tony Bradley all likely to be available.



Washington Wizards

Picks: Round 1- No. 52

Needs: Top talent they can get in the late second round

Another season with no first-round pick for Washington, who started to impress in the second half of last season, with the backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal amongst the top in the league. One thing the Wizards can look for is a back-up to John Wall, with senior leaders like Monte Morris or Frank Mason possibly available. 

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