Early Look at What Each Lottery Team Will Need from the NBA Draft
Though it's early in the process, every team's needs will be more-or-less the same as today by the time the 2013 NBA draft rolls around.
Teams will have to prioritize their needs when deciding how to attack this draft.
I've addressed the immediate needs, and for some teams, their secondary needs as well. I've also suggested some names that each general manager should be targeting.
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Need: Best Player Available
The Charlotte Bobcats have too many needs to prioritize one over the other. They should select whoever they feel is the top prospect on the board, regardless of who's currently on the roster.
Nobody in Charlotte's lineup should have an effect on the team's draft strategy. The team shouldn't pass on a prospect because he plays the same position as Kemba Walker or Gerald Henderson—the Bobcats need the most valuable asset available, regardless.
They'll likely be choosing between guys like Nerlens Noel, Marcus Smart, Ben McLemore, Anthony Bennett, Michael Carter-Williams or Trey Burke with a top-three pick. These are the players with the most upside.
Personally, I'd go with Noel, but feeling hesitant about drafting a player with a torn ACL is understandable. The Bobcats need to ignore the current roster, look at who's available and choose who they believe will be the best overall player.
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Need: Floor General
The Jameer Nelson era is coming to an end. It's time for Orlando to find a new lead guard.
They've already got talent on the wings with Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Maurice "Moe" Harkless, while Nikola Vucevic has really looked promising at the center position.
If I'm the Orlando Magic, I'm looking at three names first and foremost: Marcus Smart, Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams.
I'd also throw Ben McLemore's name in there if Orlando believes he's the top prospect on the board.
But in terms of needs, a new floor general stands out.
Ultimately, both Smart and Burke present the best risk-to-reward ratio at the position, and either one of them would result in a solid draft grade.
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Need: Offensive Weapon
The Phoenix Suns have one of the least intimidating rosters in the NBA.
Their best offensive player is Goran Dragic right now, which pretty much sums up why they're one of the worst teams in the league.
Unfortunately for the Suns, there aren't many big-time scorers in this draft.
Phoenix should be targeting Ben McLemore, Marcus Smart and Anthony Bennett because of their ability to put points on the board.
Shooting guards, combo-guards, combo-forwards—the position doesn't matter. The Suns need the best offensive player on the board. Dragic and Kendall Marshall are probably going to keep Phoenix from targeting a pure point guard like Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams, but Smart will be a target for his ability to play off the ball.
McLemore would give them a shot-maker, and Bennett would give them an explosive, versatile athlete up front.
But whoever they choose, it will have to be someone who's capable of generating offense.
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Need: Frontcourt Upgrade
The Cleveland Cavaliers' frontcourt is weighing this team down.
Anderson Varejao has only played in 81 games over the last three seasons. Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Marreese Speights and Tyler Zeller are not starting-caliber options.
The Cavaliers get no easy buckets, forcing their guards to shoulder most of the load. And teams whose top-two scoring options both shoot 45 percent or less are going to have trouble getting consistent offensive production.
Nerlens Noel would give them the top center prospect in the field, and someone for Kyrie Irving to work with, particularly in the pick-and-roll game, to get some easier half-court buckets.
Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter and Alex Len should also be considered options because of their ability to generate offense, either on the wing or in the paint.
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Immediate Need: Scoring Wing
Secondary Need: Floor General
After trading away Tayshaun Price, the Pistons desperately need someone who can generate offense from the wing. They've got about four third-string small forwards on the roster.
But Detroit will face the same problem this draft as everybody else. There aren't many scoring wings in the class worthy of a top-five pick. Detroit would really have to reach and take a chance if this is the direction they want to go in.
Anthony Bennett, Otto Porter and maybe even Shabazz Muhammad would be options at the wing.
They could also try and fill a secondary need, which would be the point guard position. Brandon Knight has excelled playing off the ball and struggled at times as the primary decision-maker.
Marcus Smart would be ideal here; he could share the basketball with Brandon Knight the way James Harden and Jeremy Lin do in Houston.
Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams would also be obvious options here if the team is looking for a new floor general.
New Orleans Hornets
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Immediate Need: Two-Way Center
Secondary Need: Offensive-minded Wing
Plan C: Point Guard
This roster could look a whole lot different depending on how they handle the Eric Gordon situation. But as of now, the Hornets could really use a more threatening center on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, they don't get enough easy baskets inside. But they don't want to sacrifice defense for offense. They need a seven-footer who can score and protect the rim.
Targets should be Nerlens Noel, Alex Len and Cody Zeller to improve the team's floor balance offensively and anchor the paint on defense.
If New Orleans decides they don't love any of the center options, their secondary need is at the wing position. Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter would give them some inside-outside offensive production they don't currently get from Al-Farouq Aminu.
And if they were looking to decrease Greivis Vasquez's workload, Trey Burke, Marcus Smart and Michael Carter-Williams will all be options who offer higher ceilings.
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Need: Floor General
The Sacramento Kings need a floor general. Isaiah Thomas can stay, but not as the team's primary ball-handler and decision-maker.
This particular lineup needs a floor general to take over the offense and put the ball where it needs to be.
The Kings should be targeting both Marcus Smart and Trey Burke's leadership at whatever pick the lottery gives them. Their maturity will give this lineup a sense of credibility it doesn't currently have.
Sacramento can't afford to screw this draft up after taking Jimmer Fredette and Thomas Robinson in back-to-back years. Both Smart and Burke are safe options who both fit a need.
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Immediate Need: Offensive-Minded Wing
Secondary Need: Above-the-Rim Center
Like most teams drafting in the lottery, the Wizards are missing a wing who can create his own offense.
A team's point guard, especially if he's young, should rarely be the primary scoring option, which John Wall currently is.
And like most teams looking for a wing, they'll start with Anthony Bennett and Otto Porter, but they should also be targeting Michigan's Glenn Robinson III.
Robinson is a dynamite athlete with loads of long-term potential and would be a reliable finishing target for Wall in the half court or transition. Shabazz Muhammad fits the bill as well, but I'm not sure he possesses Robinson's long-term upside.
The Wizards could also use a center, who unlike Nene Hilario and Emeka Okafor, can play above the rim to give them some easier baskets and better paint protection.
Alex Len, Cody Zeller and Mason Plumlee should all be options here as well for filling the need as an offensive-minded wing.
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Need: Athletic Wing
The Timberwolves are missing a guy who can get his own points and execute offense at the 2 and 3 spots.
They're also lacking athleticism at these positions. Guys like Victor Oladipo, Glenn Robinson III and Shabazz Muhammad would all be able to create easier scoring opportunities for this lineup.
Minnesota could also use backcourt athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea is an awfully vulnerable first line of defense.
Moving up to grab Oladipo could be an option Minnesota explores.
Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors)
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Need: Above-the-Rim Center
Oklahoma City doesn't have many needs, but an above-the-rim center wouldn't hurt on either side of the ball.
Kendrick Perkin's is a physical interior defender, but I'm not sure he could jump over a puddle. Offensively, guys like Alex Len, Cody Zeller and Mason Plumlee would be able to give Russell Westbrook a glowing target for easier buckets.
Instead of the Thunder relying so heavily on Kevin Durant and Westbrook to generate perimeter offense, an above-the-rim big man would take some of the pressure off its stars in the half court.
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Immediate Need: Scoring Guard
Secondary Need: Interior Offense
The Philadelphia 76ers don't have a starting-caliber shooting guard to provide them with a consistent scoring presence.
Nick Young's low-percentage game is better suited in a sixth-man role, and Evan Turner is more of a 3.
Unfortunately, there won't be many exciting options where Philadelphia is slated to pick. Shabazz Muhammad seems like a fit, as does Victor Oladipo, but it's possible neither will be available at the back-end of the lottery.
Plan B should be to find a center who can provide them with a low-post scoring option. Andrew Bynum's future is far from certain, while Thaddeus Young and Arnett Moultrie aren't exactly big men you'd feature in an offense.
Cody Zeller, Alex Len and Kelly Olynyk should all be targeted by Philadelphia; however their strategy might change depending on what they choose to do with Bynum.
Portland Trail Blazers
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Need: Offensive Firepower off the Bench
Portland doesn't have that scorer who can come off the bench and ignite the offense when it gets stagnant.
They've got at least one solid player at every position, yet lack depth behind each starter.
C.J. McCollum and his prolific scoring repertoire would be a solid option off the bench. He'd be able to light up the scoreboard or play behind Damian Lillard as the backup and secondary ball-handler.
Jamaal Franklin would also be an option late in the lottery because of his unique versatility as a scorer, playmaker and defender. He'd give this lineup flexibility with his ability to play and guard multiple positions, not to mention the elite athleticism he brings to the table.
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Immediate Need: Interior Scorer
Secondary Need: Point Guard
The Mavericks don't even have a center under contract in 2013-14, after Mark Cuban decided to fill the roster with one- and two-year contracts.
Any one of the top centers should be a target, including Alex Len, Cody Zeller, Kelly Olynyk and Mason Plumlee. Len has the most upside, while Plumlee is the safest bet. Zeller and Olynyk are both the most skilled, but have some physical question marks they'll have to answer.
The next option is finding an eventual replacement for Darren Collison, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Michael Carter-Williams could be available this late and would be an enticing option, considering his upside as a 6'6'' point guard.
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Immediate Need: Point Guard
Secondary Need: Top Guard Available
This roster could look completely different in a few months with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap both impending free agents.
Either way, the Utah Jazz have one of the least promising backcourts in the NBA, with a point guard tandem that shouldn't be expected to carry a team to the playoffs. Sorry, Mo Williams and Jamaal Tinsley, but this has become a "brokedown" point guard's league.
Utah should be looking to land either Trey Burke or Michael Carter-Williams, but there's a good chance that neither will be available this late.
C.J. McCollum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jamaal Franklin should also be options late in the lottery.
The Jazz have another pick coming later in the draft, so it's possible they grab a point guard there.