Identifying the Biggest Need for Every Team in 2014 NBA Draft
No NBA team is ever perfect.
There are no flawless squads littering the current landscape of the Association, nor can you find any perfect ones throughout the annals of the sport's history. Not even Michael Jordan's 72-win Chicago Bulls managed to fill every single possible hole in the roster.
And if there's no such thing as perfection, then every team has at least one biggest need.
It's just logical.
Given the composition of the team's roster heading into the offseason, as well as the strengths and weaknesses that defined its successes and failures during the 2013-14 season, certain needs trump the others. These are the ones that will lead to the biggest turnarounds, whether discussing the immediate future or the long-term welfare of the franchise in question.
So, how can the teams picking in the 2014 NBA draft take advantage of a loaded class of incoming first-year players and make their rosters that much better?
It's worth noting that you won't see the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks or Portland Trail Blazers appearing in this article. None of them have any selections in the June 26 proceedings, so it's awfully difficult for them to address any needs in that manner.
Atlanta Hawks: A Scoring 2-Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 15, No. 43
With John Jenkins' development coming along far more slowly than expected, the Atlanta Hawks could really use another shooting guard, one who can contribute both now and well into the future.
They should have access to a number of high-quality 2-guards at No. 15, particularly if Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris or Zach LaVine slips just out of the lottery. Any would be an immediate upgrade over Jenkins, allowing Kyle Korver to slide back to his more natural spot at the 3 while Lou Williams functions as a sixth man.
Mike Budenholzer prioritized three-point shooting during his first season in charge of the Hawks, and that's not likely to change during Year 2.
Boston Celtics: A Go-To Scorer
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 6, No. 17
Regardless of position, the Boston Celtics desperately need some offensive improvement.
The C's scored only 102.9 points per 100 possessions during the 2013-14 campaign, a mark that left them beating out only the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers. Obviously, that's not going to cut it.
Rajon Rondo was able to thrive earlier in his career because he was surrounded by tremendous offensive talents, but that's no longer true without Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the lineup. Jeff Green is the No. 1 option, and that's problematic, seeing as he's best served as a tertiary threat.
Until Boston can add a primary scorer, whether by drafting one at No. 6, getting lucky at No. 17 or finding a way to land Kevin Love, the rebuild is going to be a painful process.
Charlotte Hornets: Perimeter Shooting
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 9, No. 24, No. 45
The Charlotte Hornets attempted to shore up their shooting woes during their last season as the Bobcats by completing a midseason trade that brought both Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal to town. But with the former set to hit free agency and the latter failing to make a huge impact, it's time to bring in some reinforcements.
Charlotte barely ever let fly from beyond the arc.
In fact, the team's three-point rate (percentage of shots that came from downtown) was higher than that posted by only three other teams throughout the Association. Additionally, Charlotte finished No. 23 in three-point percentage, making for one brutal combination.
Until that problem is fixed, the Hornets aren't going to be able to make the most of their impressive defense.
Chicago Bulls: A Point Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 16, No. 19, No. 49
The Chicago Bulls have an interesting point guard situation on their hands heading into the 2014 offseason.
With Kirk Hinrich, Jimmer Fredette and D.J. Augustin all hitting free agency, the team is left with only Derrick Rose on the books.
Failing to provide an insurance plan for Rose would be foolish after he's suffered so many season-ending injuries over the past few years. There's no guarantee he returns to form, or that he stays healthy, much as the Windy City faithful would like to believe otherwise.
And even if he is at full strength, it doesn't hurt to have a second competent point guard on the roster with a rookie-scale contract, especially seeing as the offense so often struggles to generate points.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Changing the Direction
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 1, No. 33
The Cleveland Cavaliers' 2013-14 season was a murky haze of controversy and ineffectiveness, and it all started when the team drafted Anthony Bennett at No. 1. From there, in-fighting and losing drew more headlines than quality basketball, though the team was looking up at the end of the year.
Nailing the No. 1 pick is the biggest need. There's no way around that.
That's far more important than filling any specific roster hole, even the gaping one at small forward that has existed ever since LeBron James left for the Miami Heat. Whether it's Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, Cleveland must hit a home run with this draft pick, leaving no doubt that the fortunes of the franchise have turned around.
Especially in a draft class this good, the Cavs can't afford even the slightest mistake.
Dallas Mavericks: Depth on the Wings
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 34, No. 51
The Dallas Mavericks don't have a high enough draft pick to land a future starter, unless they get supremely lucky during the second round. But given the depth of this draft class, it's absolutely possible to add rotation members.
While the Mavs are stacked with point guard depth and still have access to a number of big men, they're severely lacking on the wings. Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Devin Harris are all hitting free agency, and they're aging even if they do end up returning to Dallas.
It's time for some fresh blood on the perimeter.
Fortunately, the Mavs are actually happy with their No. 34 pick, as Eddie Sefko explains for The Dallas Morning News:
But I did have a conversation with Donnie Nelson recently and he said that the 34th overall pick is a good place to be for two reasons -- there's a group of players starting around pick No. 25 and stretching into the mid-to-late 30s that all could go anywhere in that area. So you might get a player at 34 that could easily have gone 26th. Also, second-round money is non-guaranteed, meaning it won't eat into any free-agent cash the Mavericks have to spend.
Denver Nuggets: Shooting Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 11, No. 41, No. 56
There's no doubt about this one, though the Denver Nuggets could also use a bit more offensive creativity in the frontcourt.
Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson are locked in at point guard. Danilo Gallinari will be returning at small forward, as will Wilson Chandler and Quincy Miller. Kenneth Faried is the guaranteed starter at power forward, and there's all kinds of depth at center between Timofey Mozgov, J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee.
This is a deep team. One of the deepest in the Association, despite the fact that injuries kept them from making a real playoff run in 2013-14.
But shooting guard is still problematic. Randy Foye is a nice stopgap player, and Evan Fournier has a good bit of upside, but it's easily the worst position on the depth chart.
If Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Zach LaVine or James Young are available at No. 11, it would be awfully hard for Denver to pass up all of them.
Detroit Pistons: Stretch 4
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 38
The Detroit Pistons had to give up their lottery pick when the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped from No. 9 to No. 1 and pushed them back one spot. Top-eight protection no longer applied, and the pick was immediately conveyed to the Charlotte Hornets.
Now it's going to be a lot harder to address their needs, seeing as No. 38 is the first time the Pistons get to make a selection, barring any sort of trades.
With that pick, they should be looking to add shooting, primarily out of the frontcourt. Sorry, Josh Smith, but I'm not talking about the type of shooting you do. Fortunately, there are targets, as Jakub Rudnik makes clear for Bleacher Report:
Two senior power forwards in the draft, Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Stanford's Dwight Powell, may be able to fill that void and play a bit right away, should the Pistons go this direction. The 6'9", 220-pound Jefferson shot 36.8 percent from behind the arc last season. Powell made 45.5 percent of his threes as a junior (though that fell to 25.6 percent in his senior season) and stands 6'10". Either could fit in a Van Gundy offense.
Anything to take away from Smoove's three-point exploits, right?
Houston Rockets: Wing Help
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 25, No. 42
Kudos to Troy Daniels for stepping up during the playoffs and knocking down a huge three-pointer to seal an important victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, but let's take a step back and think about what that means.
Troy Daniels was playing crunch-time minutes in a playoff game. Yes, the same Troy Daniels who went undrafted and spent only five games in the Association prior to the postseason because he was too busy knocking down triples in the D-League.
There's a reason Houston traded for Jordan Hamilton during the middle of the season, and that's because it desperately needed help on the wings. Last year, it was Hamilton, Daniels, Omri Casspi and Francisco Garcia coming off the bench, but now Hamilton is an unrestricted free agent and neither Casspi nor Garcia are guaranteed to come back.
Help is sorely needed.
Indiana Pacers: An Immediate Contributor
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 57
The Indiana Pacers were let down by their bench once more, and now they have to wait until the 57th pick of the NBA draft in order to address it.
Honestly, it doesn't matter what position the Pacers try to shore up. Each one could use some significant help, seeing as the second unit was completely ineffective and Luis Scola—one of the few keepers—is clearly starting to enter an age-forced decline.
This is not the time to use a draft-and-stash pick. It's not the time to gamble on long-term potential.
Indiana must take advantage of its title window—one that could slam shut if Lance Stephenson isn't brought back—and draft the most NBA-ready player it can find, no matter what position he's going to play in the NBA.
Los Angeles Clippers: Frontcourt Help
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 28
The Los Angeles Clippers boast Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the frontcourt, which is obviously an amazing combination, one that ranks right up near the top of the league. But what happens when one of them needs to take a breather?
During the 2013-14 season, the Clippers could either play small ball or use Glen Davis (after he was acquired), Byron Mullens (before he was traded), Antawn Jamison (before he was traded) or Ryan Hollins.
Hardly an appealing set of options, and now it's even worse.
Hollins is an unrestricted free agent, and Davis has a player option for little more than $1 million, one he's in no way guaranteed to pick up.
If LAC doesn't add a big man during the draft, it's foolish.
Los Angeles Lakers: A Superstar
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 7
The Los Angeles Lakers don't have any one need, as the entire roster needs to be retooled.
Let's not forget the team could go into the offseason with only Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre on the roster, assuming it uses the stretch provision on Steve Nash and allows Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly to walk. On top of that, Kobe has two years left in his NBA career, so it's not like shooting guard is off limits.
Even though the Lake Show is drafting at No. 7 and won't have access to Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins, finding a star is the top priority. It could be Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart or someone else entirely, so long as that player is going to become the next face of the storied franchise.
The Mamba can't represent this team forever.
Memphis Grizzlies: Shooting
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 22
Doesn't it seem like this is always a need for the Memphis Grizzlies?
Acquiring Mike Miller before the season started and adding Courtney Lee while it was in progress helped, but the Grizz still struggled to make much of an impact from downtown. And by "much," I mean "any."
Here's the bottom five of the leaderboard for three-pointers made:
- Chicago Bulls, 508
- Detroit Pistons, 507
- Sacramento Kings, 491
- New Orleans Pelicans, 486
- Memphis Grizzlies, 405
Obviously, that needs to change. When opponents aren't even remotely scared of a team beating them from the perimeter, it makes it quite a bit easier to slow down the interior scorers.
Miami Heat: Who Knows?
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 26, No. 55
The Miami Heat are one of the rare teams who can exclusively adopt the "best player available" strategy.
Because we have absolutely no idea what the roster is going to look like. Maybe LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will all be back. Maybe only LeBron leaves. Maybe each member of the Big Three reneges on previous statements and departs for a new location.
Your guess is as good as mine.
And until there's some clarity, it's literally impossible to have any idea what Miami's needs during the draft actually look like. So the answer is simple.
Just take the guy highest on the board.
Milwaukee Bucks: Offense
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 2, No. 31, No. 36, No. 48
During the 2013-14 season, the Milwaukee Bucks simply didn't understand how to score the ball efficiently. Only the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers managed to average fewer points per possessions, and that's not a good group of offenses to be paired with.
The team struggled when it came to effective field-goal percentage (No. 27 in the league), turnover percentage (No. 22) and getting to the free-throw line (No. 17), which is a pretty brutal combination. At least they grabbed a high percentage of the available offensive rebounds?
With the No. 2 pick, the Bucks simply have to address their offense. While all three of the elite prospects can help out, Jabari Parker is the one who fills this need to the greatest extent.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 2-Way Wing Presence
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 13, No. 40, No. 44, No. 53
The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't very good at scoring from the perimeter, nor do they boast a particularly impressive defense. And many of the problems stem from a lackluster crop of wing players, especially because Shabazz Muhammad failed to make much of an impact during his rookie season.
Sure, Rick Adelman deserves blame for inadequately handling the team's first-round pick, but that's the primary need even if Muhammad suddenly blossoms.
Kevin Martin is a shooting specialist at this advanced stage of his career, and relying on Chase Budinger is rather foolish due to his injury risk. Beyond that, the team boasts a collection of limited players, none of whom can make a sizable impact on both ends of the floor.
Fortunately for the 'Wolves, there are players who can (name any of the elite 2-guards) in this class, at least one of whom should be available at the end of the lottery.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Backup Point Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 21, No. 29
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a deep roster littered with stars and players with plenty of upside, but they're a bit lacking when it comes to quality backcourt options.
Russell Westbrook is one of the best point guards in the league, and Reggie Jackson spent the 2013-14 season establishing himself as a solid scoring option who can line up at either the 1 or the 2. But if he's going to start next year—which he should—who's going to be the backup point guard?
It won't be Derek Fisher, who is set to retire this offseason. It's probably not going to be Mustafa Shakur, either.
OKC either needs to add a point guard in free agency or the draft, and there should be quite a few intriguing options floating around in the 20s.
Shabazz Napier, anyone?
Orlando Magic: A Franchise Point Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 4, No. 12
Ah, the difference that 17 spots can make in the NBA draft.
The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly aren't hoping to land a franchise point guard at No. 21, but the Orlando Magic have high hopes they can at No. 4. It would be a complete shock if they took anyone other than Dante Exum, the mysterious and large floor general from Australia.
After all, there's talent at every other position.
Victor Oladipo has shooting guard covered, and it would be best for his career if he settled in at the 2 rather than trying to take over the point. Tobias Harris, Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn and Nikola Vucevic all have the other spots under control.
There's no franchise point guard, though, and Jameer Nelson will eventually have to hand over the reins.
Philadelphia 76ers: Elite Talent
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 3, No. 10, No. 32, No. 39, No. 47, No. 52, No. 54
It doesn't really matter what positions the Philadelphia 76ers draft.
Michael Carter-Williams is big enough that the Sixers can surely get away with a lineup that features two point guards. Nerlens Noel is a true center, but he can line up at the 4 quite easily.
The world is Philadelphia's oyster during the draft-day proceedings.
Andrew Wiggins would be the ideal pick at No. 3, but the biggest need is moving up and getting a third lottery pick. At the very least, the Sixers should be able to spring back up into the 20s, given all of their second-round picks.
There's no need to add seven rookies to next year's roster—eight, if you count Noel.
Package, package, package.
Phoenix Suns: A Star
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 14, No. 18, No. 27, No. 50
I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks. Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired.
That's Ryan McDonough, general manager of the Phoenix Suns, speaking to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper. The quote came back in December, but it's not like the success of the 2013-14 campaign is going to change the GM's view.
There's no reason for the Suns to use three first-round draft picks when the roster is already looking quite solid for next year's go-round.
It's far better to package them, move up and take a potential star. Ideally one who can play on the wing.
Sacramento Kings: Rim Protection
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 8
"But it's not just blocking shots where the Kings could use help. They also need to get better at simply affecting them," writes Bleacher Report's Sim Risso. "Opponents shot 62.6 percent within five feet of the rim against the Kings. That ranked 29th of the league's 30 teams. Only the Timberwolves were worse."
Obviously, that's a big need.
Question is, can the Sacramento Kings capably fill it with the No. 8 pick?
In order to do so, they'd need to cross their fingers—and probably their toes, for good measure—hoping desperately that Noah Vonleh is still on the board. And if he's gone, Aaron Gordon should be the option.
But if both players are already swept off the board, then the Kings should look to address their shooting woes and utter lack of quality perimeter defense.
San Antonio Spurs: A Big Man
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 30, No. 58, No. 60
It's rare that the San Antonio Spurs actually "need" anything, but they could find themselves in that exact situation once the NBA Finals draw to a close.
Let's say Tim Duncan chooses to retire. All of a sudden, the Spurs are left with only Tiago Splitter and Jeff Ayres in the depth chart at power forward and center. The rest of the current bench mob is eligible for free agency, and there's no guarantee any or all of them return.
San Antonio will likely remedy this during free agency, but it wouldn't hurt to pick up a high-upside body in the latest part of the first round.
Then again, let's just all agree not to doubt whatever San Antonio decides to do with any of its picks.
Toronto Raptors: Address Point Guard
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 20, No. 37, No. 59
Re-signing Kyle Lowry is likely to be the No. 1 priority during the offseason, but the Toronto Raptors will still have to provide depth behind him.
After all, Greivis Vasquez is hitting the open market as a restricted free agent, and his price could rise higher than general manager Masai Ujiri is willing to pay if a team out there gets truly desperate for help at the league's most visible position.
And beyond that, there aren't great options.
Dwight Buycks could be brought back on a minimum contract, but he's not exactly the type of a backup point guard that a playoff team hopes to have on the roster. Nando de Colo is a restricted free agent, and Julyan Stone is, well, Julyan Stone.
At No. 20, the Raptors are in prime position to take a floor general. Ideally, they can pick between Elfrid Payton and Shabazz Napier, though there's an outside chance Tyler Ennis plummets on draft day and falls into their laps.
Utah Jazz: Find a Way to Trade Down
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 5, No. 23, No. 35
The Utah Jazz, strange as it may sound for a team picking at No. 5 without getting there via trade, don't need to acquire any more star power right now.
Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward (if he's re-signed) and Derrick Favors can provide that, as can Enes Kanter and Alec Burks if they break out during the 2014-15 season. What this team needs is depth and more quality options at each and every position.
Selecting at No. 5 is going to produce a player who interferes with one of the high-upside starters. That's obviously one of the better problems a team can have, but it's still not entirely a positive. Trading back at least allows Utah to pick up even more assets.
The decision is pretty clear, so long as the right scenario presents itself on June 26.
Washington Wizards: Backup Point Guard
- John Wall
- Andre Miller
- Garrett Temple
Picks in 2014 NBA Draft: No. 46
At the end of the 2013-14 season, the Washington Wizards' point guard depth chart read as follows, per Rotoworld.com:
Wall isn't going anywhere. He's an unquestioned stud who's only getting better and could assert himself as the unquestioned No. 1 floor general in the Eastern Conference during the 2014-15 campaign. But beyond him...
Andre Miller is on the books for $4.625 million next year, but his contract is only partially guaranteed. The Wizards could cut him to save all but $2 million and use that toward pursuing more promising free agents. As for Temple, he simply shouldn't be a backup point guard on a playoff team.
Even though Washington doesn't pick until late in the second round, there are experienced floor generals who should be available. Jordan Clarkson, Deonte Burton, Russ Smith and Jahii Carson should all be heavily considered.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all stats come from Basketball-Reference.com.