2016 NBA Draft: Every Team’s Biggest Need
The 2016 NBA Draft is just around the corner, leaving precious little time for NBA teams to gauge combine performances and conduct interviews before they decide on their draft choices.
Shifting stock and team needs could change the current landscape of the draft, which could have some teams inside the lottery trying to get out, and others on the outside trying to get in.
A lot can happen over the next month, but come June 23rd, all 30 NBA teams will be doing what they can to get a little bit better.
To see what kind of thought process some of these teams could undertake, let’s take a look at each team’s biggest need:
Atlanta Hawks – SG
Atlanta has a ton of question marks, as they don’t appear to be too smitten with Jeff Teague at the point, Kent Bazemore is arguably not fit to be a consistent starter and Al Horford could leave in free agency.
They have Dennis Shroder behind Teague and Horford could still return, though, so the bigger red flag is the regression (and age) of Kyle Korver, and whether or not the team believes Bazemore can continue to hold up as a starter. Getting a go-to scorer in general would help this team’s offensive lulls greatly and could increase the versatility of the lineup as a whole.
Picking at the 21st spot, the Hawks could target someone like Timothe Luwaua, who can score, shoot outside and has the length to defend. His ability to play the two or three spot enhances his value.
Brooklyn Nets – PG
The Nets have a lot of work to do, as they could really shoot for upgrades at all three of their wings spots. They seem content with big men Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young for now, so it’s likely they try to improve at the point, shooting guard or small forward position.
Considering Jarrett Jack shredded his knee last year and was merely average when healthy, the Nets really should aim higher at the point guard position this year.
The bummer, of course, is that they don’t own a first round draft pick at the moment. They could target the position in free agency (Rajon Rondo could make some sense), or they could find a way to trade back in and land a high profile prospect. If not, setting their sights on second round prospects like Isaiah Taylor or Gary Payton II with their 55th overall pick could make some sense.
Boston Celtics – C
Boston is already pretty well built and truth be told, their biggest weakness is a lack of a go-to scorer. However, the main position they don’t have a high impact player is obviously center.
Boston’s rotations don’t really allow their best big men to maximize their roles, but they also just don’t have a game-changer on their roster that can be a monster at the five. They’re in a solid spot with the 16th pick, and that could be a good spot to target talented big men like Skal Libissiere or Brice Johnson. Both guys are big and athletic and could provide a nice defensive presence.
If the Celtics want a more versatile, offensive-minded big, they could shift their focus to Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, who has a fluid jumper and should be able to effectively play the four or the five at the next level.
Charlotte Hornets – SG
Charlotte has several impending free agents that could end up shaking up their plans, but assuming they bring back Jeremy Lin and Nicolas Batum and also get a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist back, they should be in a nice spot.
That would leave one clear need: an offensive go-to shooting guard. They just do not have a reliable outside shooter at the position, as Courtney Lee is a stop-gap guy that is better known for his defense, MKG can’t shoot and Lin is more of a combo guard.
Getting a talented two guard that can play both ways and develop into a starter would be great for the Hornets, who as they stand are already a rising playoff team. They don’t pick until #22 in the first round, but could still take a look at players like Dejounte Murray or Denzel Valentine, should they slide a bit.
Chicago Bulls – C
The Bulls could quickly turn into a mess down low, as both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are currently scheduled to hit free agency. There is talk about the team holding onto Noah, but after Chicago missed the playoffs this past season, an aging Gasol may jet for an opportunity to chase a title elsewhere.
Needless to say, the Bulls lack quality young talent at center and could be in the market for some when they look to play the 14th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Utah’s Jakon Poeltl stands out as the best true center prospect, while Chicago could also like the versatility of a Henry Ellenson or the upside of a Deyonta Davis.
Cleveland Cavaliers – BPA
Cleveland is our first team to take the “best player available” approach, but seeing as they don’t currently have a draft pick, that strategy may not matter.
They have a ton of cash invested in their starting lineup, so they clearly are not focused on acquiring much young talent, although it wouldn’t be a bad move to somehow get into the draft to land a young player they could stash overseas for a few years.
Dallas Mavericks – C
Chandler Parsons’ possible departure could open up a pretty big hole at small forward, but Zaza Pachulia fading down the stretch last year showed once again how badly Dallas needs a center.
They could very well look to attack this need in free agency, especially considering they don’t pick until the 46 mark in round two. There are still some interesting big bodies available around that point, however, putting the likes of Ante Zizic, Zhou Qi and Petr Cornelie on their radar.
Denver Nuggets – PF
Denver has a lot of interesting young talent, but one spot that has question marks is power forward. Wilson Chandler may not be the same guy after missing a year due to a hip issue, while Kenneth Faried has exposed himself as an over-paid defensive liability.
If Denver is smart, they’ll look long and hard at how to improve at the four spot, and consider grabbing someone who can either defend at a high level or at least provide some range on their jumper.
Giving that they have three first round picks (7, 15 and 19), it’s tough to think the Nuggets can’t land at least one impact player in the 2016 NBA Draft. Their best bet to land the power forward they covet comes at the 7th pick, where they could hope Dragan Bender falls into their graps. Bender is an immensely high upside big man in the mold of Kristaps Porzingis, however, so they’re likely looking more at solid two-way Gonzaga alum, Domantas Sabonis.
Detroit Pistons – BPA
Detroit is another team that does not have a glaring weakness at any one position and looks to be trending upward after making the playoffs this year. They need to hold onto star center Andre Drummond, but otherwise just need to land the best player available to help fill out their roster.
Picking initially at the 18th spot in round one, Detroit certainly could land an impact player that could help out at the point or on the wing as another shooter. Malik Beasley would be a gem if he can slide that far, as he’d give the team an outstanding scoring presence off the bench, while Dejounte Murray could be a fun combo guard to come off the bench behind Reggie Jackson, as well.
Golden State Warriors – BPA
The Dubs seem all set, but they actually could lose several guys to free agency this summer. One big guy likely headed out the door is center Festus Ezeli, who is expected to get paid big money to start somewhere else.
That should have the Dubs looking at some young talent down low, where someone like Australia’s Thon Maker could make a good deal of sense. Golden State is also a fast-moving offensive team that is always in need of shooters, so they could also have an eye on the future and aim for an outside scorer like Michigan’s Caris LeVert.
Houston Rockets – PG
The Rockets would maybe be wise to just slide James Harden over to point guard and be done with it, but as it stands, they could still aim for an upgrade over the offensively challenged Patrick Beverley.
Bev could still be fine, but Jason Terry is his only direct backup at the moment and Houston could at the very least use some depth. Some are also worrying about replacing a likely departing Dwight Howard, but with so many versatile big men, the Rockets could actually be fine there.
Instead, they should look for a point guard to groom when they use their first pick at the 37th spot in round two. N.C. State’s Antony Barber is one guy to consider, as he has terrific size and athleticism for the position. Tyler Ulis and Demetrius Jackson don’t have the same size, but are both immensely talented and could provide the offensive touch that Beverley lacks.
Indiana Pacers – PG
George Hill defends at a high level and can hit outside jumpers, but he doesn’t do a whole lot else and is fairly erratic. Indiana looks set just about everywhere, but they could be ready to move on at the point. That could lead them to sign a free agent like Mike Conley, or they could attack the position in the draft.
With the 20th pick in round one, the Pacers will probably add another wing scorer or beef up their interior defense. However, if they opt for another young point guard, they could take a look at Dejounte Murray. He lacks strength and may not be fully ready to man the point, but he offers good size and athleticism and has immense potential as a pure scorer.
Los Angeles Clippers – SF
Los Angeles seems content sitting on their current roster, so we shouldn’t expect a big fire sale involving CP3 and Blake Griffin just yet. Because of that, the Clips should be interested in adding depth they feel can work off the bench, or even supplant Jeff Green in the starting lineup.
L.A. has constantly struggled to put forth a complete starting unit, and that’s because the small forward position continues to disappoint. There are a plethora of capable small forwards in this draft, with Taurean Prince looking like the best bet when the Clippers first draft at the 25 spot in the first round.
The Baylor product is long and athletic, and could be an instant defensive presence. He even can hit the outside shot, so he could be the perfect bench defender or even an eventual starter.
Los Angeles Lakers – SF
The Lakers are picking early so they surely have their sights set on either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. That’s good, considering small forward is 100% their weak link right now and both guys would fill that need.
There is also some chatter about L.A. moving Roy Hibbert and starting over at center, but that shouldn’t correlate with their decision-making process with the #2 pick in the draft. If they don’t trade down, they’re instantly improving with Ingram or Simmons.
Memphis Grizzlies – SG
Memphis just needs more offense, plain and simple. The potential departure of Mike Conley in free agency would certainly open up a huge hole at the point, but assuming the Grizz can keep their franchise point guard, they’re going to want to accrue some offense at the two spot.
All they have right now is aging commodities or guys that aren’t reliable on offense. They need a shot in the arm to help move their offense a long, and at the 17th spot in round one, they stand a decent chance at finding it. Malachi Richardson probably stands out the most as a guy who can score and hit the outside shot. He doesn’t really fit their defensive mold at first glance, but that’s kind of the point.
Miami Heat – PF
Chris Bosh may never play again due to blood clots, and even if he does, it’s possible he has another issue or is limited on the court from here on out. Miami has nothing else behind him at the four spot, so they need to start thinking ahead.
The bad news is Miami does not currently have a 2016 NBA Draft choice, so Pat Riley would have to work some magic to get into this year’s draft. Even a second round slot could do the trick, as guys like Jared Uthoff and Perry Ellis both provide some offensive ability, yet should be on draft boards very late.
Minnesota Timberwolves – BPA
Minnesota is very young but they really look like they have all of the necessary pieces to start vying for a playoff spot as early as next season. The main question is if they believe Ricky Rubio is their answer at point guard and after him, what they want to do with Zach Lavine.
They could easily trade Rubio for assets and slide Lavine to the point, or they could keep Rubio and start Lavine at the two and Andrew Wiggins at the three.
Depending on what they do, they’re just going to grab a nice young talent that can contribute to what they’re already building. The crazy thing is they pick 5th overall, so no matter where they go, they can land a really nice prospect. That should leave them rolling with the best player available, which will likely be Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray. Both guys can effectively play the one or two, which naturally would give them a ton of options going forward.
Dragan Bender sliding to them could also shake things up, as he could be a nightmare pairing (in a good way) with Karl-Anthony Towns down the road.
Milwaukee Bucks – BPA
Milwaukee is another team sort of in limbo, as the plan is to slide Giannis Antetokounmpo over to point guard full-time. If that is successful, Milwaukee’s constant problems at the point are resolved, and then they can begin putting their other starters into new roles.
Ideally, that move puts Jabari Parker in at the three spot OR allows them to trade away ineffective interior defender Greg Monroe. All of this could open the door to a new small forward or power forward, but more than likely has them looking at Utah center Jakob Poeltl.
A fantastic two-way player, Poeltl would immediately improve their inside defense and could allow the rest of their starting unit increased versatility.
New Orleans Pelicans – SF
New Orleans was severely banged up last year, and it prompted them to rethink what they want to do. They could hit the reset button and hope everyone stays healthy, or they could keep Anthony Davis and blow the rest of the roster up.
For now we should expect something in the middle, as the Pelicans have plenty of options with the 6th overall pick in June’s draft, as well as two more selections in round two.
Their biggest need is going to be help on the perimeter, as they need to surround The Brow with players that can create offense and score themselves. Starting at the 6th spot, Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray make the most sense. Getting one of those guys really frees them up at either guard spot and could open the flood gates to some big trades.
New York Knicks – PG
Jose Calderon cannot defend or create effectively anymore, and the Knicks know they need to move on and upgrade at point guard. They already signed Tony Wroten for next year, but that can’t be their big move, as he turns the ball over too much and also appears to have a broken jumper.
The sad thing is Phil Jackson and co. currently do not own a pick in this year’s draft, so they may have to move some players around to get back in the mix. Calderon, Jerian Grant, Arron Afflalo, Kevin Seraphin and Kyle O’Quinn are just a few names to consider hitting the trading block.
Oklahoma City Thunder – SG
This summer is all about keeping Kevin Durant, so if he’s gone, OKC will obviously also need to address the small forward position. For now, though, they should operate as if they’re filling their biggest need, which currently is shooting guard.
The Thunder have struggled to find consistency at this position ever since James Harden left and the likes of Dion Waiters and Randy Foye just don’t look like the answer.
Unfortunately OKC doesn’t currently have a pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, so they’d have to swing a trade if they wanted to improve specifically on June 23rd.
Orlando Magic – BPA
Orlando is another young team jam-packed with talent and after hiring a stable head coach in Frank Vogel, they may not need a huge splash to improve going into next year.
That being said, as talented and versatile as they are, they do lack a go-to scorer with a killer instinct. I’m not sure they can find the guy they need with the 11th overall pick, but they can definitely grab the best player available.
That figures to be either Furkan Korkmaz or Deyonta Davis. Korkmaz fits what they do well and is a fantastic offensive talent, but Davis brings a defensive edge their interior tends to lack. Both would be great additions, while it remains possible the Magic could try to trade the pick for a more proven player.
Philadelphia 76ers – BPA
Philly needs all the help they can get, and picking first overall, they’re likely to get it. They have needs everywhere except down low, really, but it’s tough to see them passing up Ben Simmons.
Simmons can play either the three or the four, and outside of a shaky jump shot, looks ready to battle at the highest level right now.
Point guard is also a problem with Ish Smith possible hitting free agency, but luckily the Sixers have two more picks in the first round. They could target someone like Dejounte Murray if he slides far enough, or they could package those picks to try to land a reliable veteran in a trade.
Phoenix Suns – SF
Phoenix could go in a number of directions and quite arguably should probably trade either Eric Bledsoe or Brandon Knight ahead of next season. Devin Booker developed rather quickly and should start at the two spot, and there is just no need for two scoring point guards on the same team.
Making a big trade like that could open the door for Phoenix to do a number of things, but one great move would be to upgrade small forward. T.J. Warren is too one-dimensional and P.J. Tucker does little else other than defend, so the Suns could be in the market for a more complete player at the three spot. If they try to target that type of player in the draft, they could look at Furkan Korkmanz or Denzel Valentine with the 13th overall selection.
The Suns could also try to trade away Tyson Chandler, which would allow Alex Len to start at center, full-time. Whether they do so or not, they probably won’t want to pass on big man Dragan Bender, who they are likely to pluck off the board with the 4th overall pick.
Portland Trail Blazers – PF
Portland still hasn’t really made up for the loss of big man LaMarcus Aldridge, as hard as they’ve tried via some talented small ball players. They could use a more traditional big man to slide in at the four spot, but it’s going to be tough to find one without a pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
They could always swing a trade to ship off one of their own prospects for a change to get someone they like more, but for now they don’t have any options inside the draft.
San Antonio Spurs – BPA
San Antonio is known for trading or stashing picks, which probably means they’ll select someone with the 29th overall pick that we’ve never heard of, and then we’ll never hear of them again.
That, or they actually look at some players they could use, as they certainly are aging in a lot of spots and could even potentially lose some guys to retirement. Foreign players are their bread and butter, so late in round one they could have their eyes on someone like Guerschon Yabusele. It’d be a classic Spurs-ian pick, as he doesn’t really fit in anyone’s box due to a lack of ideal size, but is a tremendous player down on the block.
Sacramento Kings – SG
The Kings can go to work at either guard spot this summer, especially if they let Rajon Rondo walk (as they probably should). Point guard could head up their list of needs, but with both Darren Collison and Seth Curry on the roster, it could take a backseat to shooting guard.
Sacramento truly hasn’t had an answer at the two spot in years and should finally try to get it right when they use their 8th overall pick on June 23rd. There they should be able to find either Jaylen Brown or Jamal Murray, both of which can score and provide nice size and athleticism. Murray can even man the point, which could provide the tiebreaker, should they both be available at that point.
Toronto Raptors – PF
DeMar DeRozan could and very well may jet in free agency this summer, but the bigger concern for the Raptors is power forward. They have a litany of bodies, but not a single reliable impact player at the position.
That should have them looking for some help at the four spot and if they choose to spend their 9th overall pick on a big man, they could come away with a solid addition. Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis jumps off the board as the best fit, while Henry Ellenson out of Marquette makes sense if the team wants to stretch the floor offensively. Sabonis is much more fundamentally sound and would give them a banger that can rebound, score and defend, however.
Utah Jazz – PG
Dante Exum should return at full strength next year and Shelvin Mack was okay in spots last year, but point guard has been a problem area for the Jazz ever since Deron Williams left.
Utah would be best served playing it safe and adding a talented point guard to the mix. They should have a good crack at one with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and for now Dejounte Murray looks like their best bet. They need all the offense they can get, while Murray has the size and athleticism to man the two spot if needed, as well.
Washington Wizards – SF
Washington failed to make the playoffs this year, but still seems like a playoff team when at full strength. Scott Brooks takes over a talented roster that truly is missing maybe one more impact player.
Although the Wiz have several solid small forward options, they don’t have a single player at the position that has completely locked it down at that spot. Unfortunately at this point they’ll have to try to get better in free agency or from within, as they will not be heading into the draft with any picks unless they make some moves.
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