NBA draft 2013: Needs for all 30 teams
One of the bubbling themes in advance of Thursday’s draft is that it lacks a feeling of consensus, as the debates around the top spots continue to rage.
That sentiment only increases as you go down the board: this year’s draft has an extraordinarily wide variety of meanings to its various participants. Hope is a year-in, year-out constant, but the feeling is more pronounced this year with so many teams making changes to ownership, management and their coaching staffs. On the flip side, Thursday is essentially an afterthought for a number of teams: the six without first-round picks, those with veteran-dominated rotations returning next season and those with massive payrolls eager to avoid any additional salary. Somewhere in between are a number of teams hoping to pluck a nice rotation player this week before turning their full roster-shaping attention (and cap space) to the July free-agency period.
With those differing goals in mind, here’s a rundown of the league’s 30 teams, their respective roster needs and whether they might hope to address those needs on Thursday.
Atlanta Hawks | First-round picks: No. 17, No. 18
Needs: Wings, interior depth
Reading the tea leaves can be tricky when it comes to a team with a new coach in former San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer and a GM, Danny Ferry, who has so thoroughly cleaned house in less than a year. Conventional wisdom suggests that Josh Smith walks and Jeff Teague is kept in the fold, leaving Atlanta with a core of Al Horford, Lou Williams and Teague to build around. Rumors have linked Atlanta to Shabazz Muhammad and that makes a bit of sense, even if the no-pass, all-shoot UCLA product who may or may not know how old he is by now comes off like the anti-Spur. Muhammad is ready to play rotation minutes, and that will be a necessity from one or both of the Hawks’ first-round selections. Reggie Bullock, a shooter with good size, might be an even more logical fit. Rudy Gobert or Gorgui Dieng could make sense as a hole-plugger in a bare (for now) frontcourt rotation.
Boston Celtics | First-round pick: No. 16
Needs: Hope, a time machine forward or backward (either way!), Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce replacements (gulp)
You can open your eyes now, it’s safe to come out. The Doc Rivers saga officially ended Tuesday, when the Clippers officially announced the longtime Celtics coach has a new home in Los Angeles. Garnett and Pierce have been the subject of trade rumors for months and either or both could find themselves in new duds next season. Even if the All-Star duo can’t find greener pastures, Danny Ainge has reached the point where his long-term planning now revolves around Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley. Boston could well find itself in a position to select from the glut of big men projected to go between 10 and 20, a group that should include Steven Adams, Cody Zeller and Kelly Olynyk. Upside guys like Tony Mitchell or Giannis Adetokunbo could appeal to Ainge’s gambling instinct. Muhammad, once seen as a top-five prospect, would figure to be an option as a value play should he last until to 16.
Brooklyn Nets | First-round pick: No. 22
Needs: Quality bench contributors, preferably in the frontcourt
The Nets are who we thought they were… and will continue to be who we think they are for at least the next few seasons, thanks to a bloated salary cap figure that includes big-dollar, long-term deals for Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace. All of those obligations put Brooklyn deep into the luxury tax and necessitate a focus on winning now; this group would seem to have no patience for projects. An upperclassmen big man to fill minutes behind Lopez makes a lot of sense. Brooklyn did well to add Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson as affordable rotation players last summer and a similar effort should be the focus of their strategy again this offseason.
Charlotte Bobcats | First-round pick: No. 4
Needs: Absolutely everything
The talent pool is so shallow in Charlotte that it doesn’t even qualify as a puddle. The upshot of lacking good players is total freedom on draft night. Redundancy is not a problem! The Bobcats are assured of a nice player at No. 4, even if none of the available options will have an immediate transformational impact on the NBA’s saddest sack. The thought of a Ben McLemore/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wing combination is probably the most tantalizing, but a reliable two-way guy in Victor Oladipo or a centerpiece in Alex Len would work too. The real excitement starts this time next year, as the Bobcats gear up for their rebranding as the Hornets and the top of the 2014 draft promises to deliver the type of franchise-changing talent Charlotte desperately needs.
Chicago Bulls | First-round pick: No. 20
Needs: A reserve shooting guard or center
The Bulls’ 2013-14 story will be determined by how well former No. 1 pick Derrick Rose handles the transition from his one-and-done season at Rehabilitation University. His return will complete a core group that has proven it can keep up with anyone and everyone around the league over the last few years. With Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, Chicago has most of the difficult bases covered. Their offseason activity will entail keeping — or replacing — the likes of Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed. It’s hard to see anyone who will be available at 20 carving out a meaningful role in Year 1 on this roster. Chicago ranked No. 21 in three-point shooting percentage last season, so Best Available Shooter could be an appealing route.