NBA Draft 2014: Team-by-Team Needs and Predictions

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJune 16, 2014

NBA Draft 2014: Team-by-Team Needs and Predictions

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    Every NBA team has holes. And the NBA draft is an opportunity to fill them for relatively cheap. 

    A number of the weaker teams obviously have more than one need. For each team, I prioritized their needs from biggest to smallest.

    I also threw out a few names who could be available targets in each team's draft range. 

    And we're only talking about teams with a 2014 pick.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Biggest Need: Frontcourt talent

    Secondary Need: Rim protection

    With Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, the Cleveland Cavaliers rely so heavily on low-percentage offense from the backcourt. 

    Luol Deng appears to be on his way out of Cleveland, while Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao both lack go-to offensive skill sets. 

    And between Thompson and Varejao, neither blocked more than 0.6 shots per game. The Cavs could certainly use a rim protector in the middle. 

    That's why a healthy Joel Embiid would be a perfect fit in the lineup as a post scorer and monster defensive presence. And that's who the Cavaliers will likely go with if his back fully checks out. 

    If not, chances are Cleveland looks at Andrew Wiggins, who offers big-time offensive upside to go with lockdown, versatile defense.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Biggest Need: Talent

    The Milwaukee Bucks should not be drafting to fill a specific positional need. This roster needs an injection of talent at every position, point guard to center. 

    If the Bucks feel that Australian point guard Dante Exum is the top talent available, that's the guy they gotta take. Nobody's presence on this roster should hold enough weight to force the Bucks to pass on the best available talent.

    Milwaukee finished No. 28 in points per game and No. 25 in points given up. 

    If Joel Embiid is healthy and on the board, I'd imagine that's who they'll go with to anchor this team moving forward. If not, Jabari Parker gives them an immediate offensive boost and a fitting complement to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

    Biggest Need: Go-to offensive option

    Secndary Need: Wing defense

    With Michael Carter-Williams initiating the offense and Nerlens Noel now in position to finish, the Philadelphia 76ers need a guy who can generate his own offense in between. 

    The Sixers also gave up 109.9 points a game this year, the most in the NBA. Adding a defensive ball-stopper on the wing wouldn't hurt, either. 

    They could get two in one with Andrew Wiggins, who's got explosive offensive upside and elite defensive potential.

    And I think they'll get him, whether they trade up or sit tight at No. 3.

Orlando Magic

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Biggest Need: Playmaking

    Secondary Need: Frontcourt athleticism 

    Jameer Nelson just isn't as threatening as he used to be at the point. And Victor Oladipo will always be more of a 2-guard than a facilitator. 

    The Orlando Magic need a playmaking weapon in the backcourt—a guy who can create easy scoring opportunities with his speed and elusiveness off the dribble. 

    Dante Exum makes too much sense at No. 4, unless you're not sold on his resume. But he's got the potential to become one of the most dynamic playmakers in the game when you take into account his 6'6" size, effortless athleticism and crafty handle.

    Orlando could also use a shot of athleticism up front, where Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson play under the rim. And Nikola Vucevic isn't exactly a leaper. 

    Michigan State's Adreian Payne wouldn't be a bad option with Orlando's second first-round pick at No. 12.

Utah Jazz

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    Biggest Need: Offensive weapon

    Secondary Need: Athleticism 

    Only one team scored fewer points per game last year than the Utah Jazz. And there's a possibility Gordon Hayward won't be back.

    The Jazz need to add some type of offensive weapon—someone they can actually feed the ball to and expect a high-percentage look. 

    At No. 5 overall, I like Indiana's Noah Vonleh, who at 6'9.5" with a 7'4" wingspan and soft touch, has the ability to create his own shot in the post with a number of go-to moves. Not only is Vonleh a guy you can feed, but he's also got the ability to stretch the floor and knock down threes as a target off the ball. 

    Adding athleticism is something they might want to think about at No. 23 overall, particularly in the backcourt. P.J. Hairston of the Texas Legends (D-League) would give them a physical yet explosive athlete who can generate offense on demand.

Boston Celtics

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    Biggest Need: Talent

    Secondary Need: More talent

    Extra Need: Frontcourt athleticism

    Forget about positions—the Boston Celtics need building blocks, no matter what shape or form they come in. This franchise must take the best player available at No. 6 and No. 17. 

    They're in the early stages of a major rebuilding project. Nobody on the roster has established himself as an untouchable franchise cornerstone for the future. Not even Rajon Rondo, who'll be entering the final year of his contract. 

    It wouldn't hurt to try to get more athletic up front, either. Between Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics might want to target an explosive leaper like Aaron Gordon who can elevate over the rim for easy buckets.

    “He’s (Gordon) plenty big to play (power forward) and he’s athletic enough to play (small forward),”  Celtics' general manager Danny Ainge told Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Talent

    Secondary Need: Defense

    Extra Need: Playmaking

    The most valuable asset on the Lakers is turning 36 years old in August. This team needs to add the top talent on the board, whether he's a big man, wing or guard. 

    But the Lakers also finished No. 29 in the NBA in points given up per game. If possible, they might want to target a prospect they can squeeze a little bit of defense out of. 

    And if the Lakers really had their way, their man at No. 7 would be able to create plays and scoring chances, specifically in the backcourt, where they lack a long-term answer at point guard. 

    Dante Exum, the 6'6" scoring playmaker and defensive blanket, would be ideal for Los Angeles. But chances are he's gone by No. 7. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, a two-way terror in the backcourt, would also make plenty of sense here. My guess is the Lakers end up with Smart, whose sharp competitive edge should earn Kobe Bryant's approval.

Sacramento Kings

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Biggest Need: Shooting

    Secondary Need: Floor general 

    The Sacramento Kings ranked No. 28 in the NBA in three-pointers made and three-point percentage last season. And it's just tough to go on many winning streaks without consistent shooting.

    Adding a shooter to spread the floor should ultimately give Sacramento's ball-dominant scorers more space to operate as well. 

    The Kings should have plenty to choose from at No. 8, whether it's Michigan's Nik Stauskas or Creighton's Doug McDermott. I think they'd go with Stauskas if these were the top-two targets—he could probably start for this team as a rookie, given his size, reliable shooting and high IQ. 

    But the Kings could also use a floor general. Depending on what 5'9", 25-year-old Isaiah Thomas commands on the restricted free-agent market, the Kings might be smart to let him walk and draft a guy like Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton, who, at 6'4" and 20 years old, packs a little more two-way upside. 

    At this point, based on buzz and who they've been working out, I'm guessing the Kings are looking strongly at Stauskas, McDermott, Payton and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.

Charlotte Hornets

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    Biggest Need: Wing offense

    Secondary Need: Shooting

    The Charlotte Hornets could really use a scorer in between Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson, where Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist just aren't dangerous enough.

    But it's going to be tough to find a new go-to guy at No. 9 overall. Still, consistent offense, regardless of what form it comes in, should hold value in Charlotte's lineup, considering this team shot 44.2 percent from the field last year. 

    Doug McDermott offers consistent offense, having shot at least 40 percent from downtown and averaged at least 22 points per game in each of his past three seasons. If McDermott's gone, they should look at Michigan's Nik Stauskas, who connected on 44 percent of his three-pointers in back-to-back years. 

    Kidd-Gilchrist has hit three three-pointers in two seasons in Charlotte. Henderson never finished a season above 35 percent from downtown. 

    The Hornets need someone to consistently knock down shots for them in the half court. My guess is it's either going to be McDermott or Stauskas.

Denver Nuggets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Offensive firepower in backcourt 

    Secondary Need: Backcourt athleticism

    Extra Need: Go-to option in frontcourt

    There's an upgrade to be made at the 2-guard spot in Denver, where Randy Foye appears to be one of the lower-end starters in the league. 

    And at 6'3" with a 5'11" point guard in Ty Lawson, the Nuggets' backcourt could stand to get a little bigger and more athletic. 

    I like Zach LaVine from UCLA, who is a sensational athlete standing 6'6" and can handle the ball, shoot and generate offense from the perimeter. 

    Denver could also use an option to go to for half-court points down low. I wouldn't be surprised if the Nuggets went with 6'11" Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic, easily the No. 2 center in this year's draft, and a guy who can pick up buckets and points in the paint in a variety of ways. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Talent

    Secondary Need: Shooting

    Extra Need: Athleticism

    A Kevin Love trade will likely mean taking back draft picks and young, untapped talent. And that means taking a step back as an organization. 

    With a mini-rebuild probably coming, the Minnesota Timberwolves should be looking to stockpile assets and sort them out after acquiring them. At No. 13, the Wolves just have to come away with the most valuable asset possible, no matter what position he plays. 

    However, an asset with a jump shot would be extra nice. The Wolves ranked No. 26 in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last year. 

    And it wouldn't hurt to add some athleticism. Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic—this is a team that plays mostly under the rim, which might explain its 44.4 percent field-goal percentage despite possessing a weapon at practically every position in the lineup. 

    UCLA's Zach LaVine, Michigan's Nik Stauskas, Michigan State's Gary Harris and Adreian Payne all look like solid candidates for the Wolves at No. 13.

Phoenix Suns

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Talent

    Secondary Need: Frontcourt offense

    Despite the promising season the Phoenix Suns are coming off of, they could still use an immediate upgrade at the 3, 4 and 5 positions. 

    The Morris twins, Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker are all nice players, but none are franchise cornerstones. 

    The Suns have three picks in this year's first round. With one of the first two, they should really look to add another weapon in the frontcourt. Kentucky's James Young should be an option on the wing, Michigan State's Adreian Payne should be one at the 4, and Bosnia's Jusuf Nurkic should be considered at center.

    However, if the Suns believe the top talent on the board at No. 14 is a 2-guard, it would be tough to argue passing. That could mean Michigan State's Gary Harris or UCLA's Zach LaVine. Phoenix might lose Eric Bledsoe in free agency or a trade, while Gerald Green should be able to slide to the 3 if necessary. 

    Either way, the bench could use an upgrade and extra weapon, regardless of position.

Atlanta Hawks

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Offense on the wing 

    Atlanta's 2-guards and small forwards under contract in 2014-15 include Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and DeMarre Carroll. The Hawks need a more potent offensive scorer in the middle of this lineup. 

    Duke's Rodney Hood has the size, versatility and shot-making ability to fill an immediate need. Kentucky's James Young is another guy who can give them a much-needed punch from the wing. Even N.C. State's T.J. Warren would be an ideal fit, given his ability to get himself buckets from every spot on the floor. 

Chicago Bulls

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    Biggest Need: Shot-making

    Secondary Need: Backcourt relief 

    The Chicago Bulls ranked No. 30 in the NBA in points per game and field-goal percentage. It's no secret what this team needs. 

    With the first of its two first-round picks, Chicago should be targeting an offensive weapon—a guy who can create offense or finish it, whether it's at the 2, 3, 4 or 5 position. 

    Duke's Rodney Hood, Michigan State's Gary Harris, Kentucky's James Young and UCLA's Zach LaVine will likely all be considered at No. 16. 

    But with Derrick Rose coming off of his second season-ending knee surgery and Kirk Hinrich entering free agency, the Bulls should also look at adding another point guard for relief. This is more of a secondary need, but with strong options like Syracuse's Tyler Ennis, Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton or Connecticut's Shabazz Napier all possibly available, Chicago might want to pull the trigger with one of its two picks.

Toronto Raptors

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    Biggest Need: Frontcourt versatility

    Secondary Need: Point guard relief 

    At the 3 and 4 positions, the Toronto Raptors have a number of one-dimensional players. 

    At small forward, the Raptors have shoot-first, low-percentage scorers in Terrence Ross and John Salmons. Off the bench, they've got a three-point specialist in Steve Novak. Amir Johnson plays the 4 as an interior-oriented big man. 

    The Raptors could use a player who offers some offensive versatility—a guy who can play inside or out and ultimately complement what's around him regardless of who it is. 

    I love how UCLA's Kyle Anderson would fit, given his 6'9" size, handle, unteachable passing instincts and shooting and rebounding ability. 

    The Raptors might also want to be on the lookout for a point guard in case Kyle Lowry commands too much money in free agency. Canadian Tyler Ennis would obviously work well, as would Louisiana Lafayette's Elfrid Payton.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Biggest Need: Bench scoring

    Secondary Need: Backup point guard

    If Reggie Jackson moves into the Oklahoma City Thunder's starting lineup (Derek Fisher retiring, Thabo Sefolosha a free agent), the top-scoring bench threat becomes Jeremy Lamb, who's followed by Steven Adams and Perry Jones. And that's just not good enough for a team playing for a title.

    The Thunder have two first-round picks. At No. 21, the primary goal should be to find a guy who can provide a punch of offense immediately. North Carolina State's T.J. Warren comes to mind as a solid option.

    But Oklahoma City has another specific need to fill. With Russell Westbrook and Jackson, two shoot-first ball-handlers, the Thunder could use a true backup point guard. Oklahoma City has finished in the bottom six of the NBA in turnovers for three straight years. Connecticut's Shabazz Napier could be a sneaky pickup late, given his ability to score and facilitate—two needs of Oklahoma City's off the bench.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Biggest Need: Offense on the wing

    Secondary Need: Three-point shooting

    You can't miss the hole in the Memphis Grizzlies lineup. Tony Allen, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince—no wonder the Grizzlies ranked No. 27 in the NBA in points per game. 

    They've got strong cornerstones at the 1, 4 and 5, but Memphis needs another offensive weapon. 

    No obvious answer on the board at No. 22? The Grizzlies should favor a shooter—they ranked dead last in the league in three-pointers made per game. 

    P.J. Hairston of the Texas Legends (D-League) makes the most sense as a perimeter-scoring specialist.

Houston Rockets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Stretch 4

    Secondary Need: Depth

    The Houston Rockets would really benefit from a three-point shooting power forward to help space the floor for the team's ball-dominant scorers. 

    A stretch 4 seems like the ideal complement to Dwight Howard, who does all of his work in the paint. And it keeps the lane clear for James Harden and Jeremy Lin to drive. 

    Houston's projected starting 4, Terrence Jones, shot just 31-of-101 from downtown this past season. 

    Michigan State's Adreian Payne would be ideal, though it would take a serious slide down the board for him to be available. 

    With no stretch 4s to choose from, the Rockets should just be looking for depth behind Harden, Chandler Parsons and Howard. Because their second unit really lacks firepower. I like UCLA's Jordan Adams or Wichita State's Cleanthony Early as potential fits.

Miami Heat

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Biggest Need: Playmaking

    Secondary Need: Depth

    Extra Need: Rebounding

    Mario Chalmers' playoff implosion reminded us how badly the Miami Heat could use an upgrade at point guard. It just might be tough to find one at No. 26, though Connecticut's Shabazz Napier, a projected mid- to late first-rounder, would seem ideal. 

    Otherwise, the Heat should be looking at the best player available in hopes of improving their bench. Although Miami might want to seek out a rebounder like Michigan's Mitch McGary or Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes—the Heat finished dead last in the NBA in offensive and defensive rebounding this year.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Biggest Need: Frontcourt depth

    Secondary Need: Backup point guard

    If Glen Davis opts out, the Los Angeles Clippers won't have a backup for Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. They should be looking for an immediate contributor at the 4 or 5 position, though it might be tough to find one this late. 

    Michigan's Mitch McGary would be atop my list. Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy noted that some executives believe he might have promise in the 20s. I wouldn't be shocked if the Clippers were that team.

    But if no big man is available, the Clippers should want to target a replacement for Darren Collison, who's expected to opt out of his deal, per Chris Haynes of Comcast SportsNet.

    Connecticut's Shabazz Napier would be a steal this late. Otherwise, Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic could be a sneaky late-round pickup.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Biggest Need: Wing, frontcourt depth

    At No. 30 overall, the San Antonio Spurs probably won't be expecting to add a rotation player for 2015 to their championship roster.

    But they could use some depth up front, especially if Boris Diaw leaves in free agency. With Diaw and Matt Bonner potentially gone, the Spurs would be missing a backup 3, 4 and 5. 

    Michigan's Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, Wichita State's Cleanthony Early and Switzerland's Clint Capela are all suitable targets late in Round 1.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Biggest Need: Physical interior presence 

    At this point, Dirk Nowitzki is more of a finesse forward than a power forward. And Samuel Dalembert is getting up there in age. The Dallas Mavericks could use a physical presence inside as a scorer and rebounder on the low block. 

    The Mavericks finished No. 26 in the NBA in rebounding last season. They've got two picks in the second round, and Michigan's Mitch McGary, Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, Switzerland's Clint Capela, UNLV's Khem Birch, Florida's Patric Young, LSU's Johnny O'Bryant all work as strong backup 4s and 5s.

Detroit Pistons

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    Biggest Need: Shooting

    The Detroit Pistons ranked No. 29 in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season. Brandon Jennings, Will Bynum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rodney Stuckey and Josh Smith each shot below 34 percent from downtown. 

    Considering the Pistons start three frontcourt players who work mostly inside the arc, they desperately need some shooters to help stretch the floor. 

    Washington's C.J. Wilcox should be a no-brainer target with their only second-round pick. Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie and Missouri's Jabari Brown wouldn't be bad options, either.

Washington Wizards

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    Biggest Need: Talent

    Secondary Need: Frontcourt help

    There's too much uncertainty with regard to the roster for the Washington Wizards to be looking to fill a need with a second-round pick.

    They'll be thinking best prospect available at No. 46, with the hope that he's a big man or wing. Connecticut's DeAndre Daniels or Baylor's Isaiah Austin come to mind as solid second-round options for a team looking for wing or frontcourt offense.

Indiana Pacers

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    Biggest Need: Offense

    The Indiana Pacers have one pick in this draft, and it's late in the second round. They have to be looking at the top prospect available, and preferably one capable of putting the ball in the hole. 

    The Pacers ranked No. 24 in the NBA in points per game, a number that's not going to translate to wins deep in the playoffs. 

    Late-round options for Indiana include Arizona State's Jahii Carson, a lightning-quick playmaker who can generate offense on demand. Or Syracuse's C.J. Fair, a refined shot-maker and scorer with the game slowed down.