NBA Draft 2011: Positions Each Team Desperately Needs To Shore Up Through Draft
The NBA draft will be held next Thursday. As different teams evaluate their options, some of them will look to take the best player available. Other teams need specific positional needs and will look to the draft to improve there.
Here are all 30 teams' needs and whether they should look to strengthen them by the draft or not.
The Atlanta Hawks have played Al Horford at center for basically his entire career. While he has handled the role well, he belongs at the power forward slot.
He's a little small for a center, and he can hit mid-range shots. Moving to forward would help get the most out of his abilities and limit the fouls he picks up.
Atlanta does not have a first-round pick after they traded it to Washington in the Kirk Hinrich deal. So they probably will not be able to draft a center who will be starter-worthy right away. Trades or free agency are probably the better routes for that.
The trade that sent away Kendrick Perkins devastated the Boston Celtics. While he had been battling injuries, he was the perfect center for them. He was such an imposing figure on defense and on the boards, and completely represented what the team has been built on the last few years.
As both sides move on, the Celtics are incredibly frail at center. Shaquille O'Neal's retirement leaves Jermaine O'Neal as the lone 5-man in Boston. And that's a scary thought.
The still-active O'Neal will be 33 when the season begins. He has been injury-prone for many years, and that probably won't change with age. He did a solid job as a starter in the playoffs, considering his physical condition and his lack of time on the court in the regular season. But there is no way he can do it for anywhere near 82 games, plus the postseason.
The C's have the 25th pick in the draft. This is not really a position to obtain an impact center. They will probably want an experienced one to help out right away through trades and free agency.
The Charlotte Bobcats have a very spotty roster. They can use an upgrade at every position, but one at the power forward spot is where they really need it.
Boris Diaw played a lot of power forward last season. Putting him there is a stretch as his games is designed for small forward. There really is no true power forward currently in Charlotte, so it is integral to get someone there.
They own the eighth pick in the draft and have a lot of options there. Considering they are not strong at any position, they should look to draft the best player available when they are on the clock. Anyone who can come in and play well out of the gate would be welcomed.
The Chicago Bulls earned the best record in the NBA with limited offensive production at shooting guard. Derrick Rose was able to assuage anything that was lost there for much of the season.
While Kieth Bogans was highly capable on defense, his offensive deficiencies may have hurt the Bulls' chances at getting further in the playoffs. Rose was the only guy who could create his own shot against the Miami Heat, and Bogans was nowhere near doing that himself. A second ball-handler who can score is what is really needed at shooting guard in Chicago.
With both the 28th and 30th picks in the draft, they may find what they need in the group of prospects.
The Cleveland Cavaliers do not particularly have a bright spot at any of their positions. They don't have any stars or anyone poised to become one. Any quality players should be welcomed in Cleveland.
They have the first and fourth picks in the draft. Many people project them to take point guard, Kyrie Irving from Duke No. 1 to at some point replace Baron Davis. That is a good move, considering Davis is no match for many of the point guards in the league long-term. He's getting older and has had issues with staying in shape. Irving has much potential to be on par with his peers in the NBA.
With the fourth pick they will have another opportunity to improve one of their positions. Center Enes Kanter is their selection on a lot of mock drafts.
Being the world champions and all, the Dallas Mavericks are pretty solid at all positions. Backups are what might be looked for this summer by the Mavs.
A reserve for Dirk Nowitzki is what seems to be needed the most. With pick No. 26, there's a chance they can find a guy who can pick up some of the slack at power forward.
Their current makeup worked pretty well, so they do not need to go out of their way to find their man. It's important that they don't overpay for one in free agency or give up too much in a trade for one.
The Denver Nuggets are relatively young at every position in their stating lineup except for the power forward spot. The 33-year-old Kenyon Martin has been a nice physical defensive presence for the Nuggets. He missed a ton of games due to injuries, however. A replacement for the soon-to-be free agent could be searched for this offseason.
There will be a number of names available with the No. 22 pick in the draft. It can certainly net Denver a solid, young power forward.
The Detroit Pistons are another team that has no standout position. Any solid prospect that falls to them in the draft should be considered.
Names like Jonas Valanciunas, Kemba Walker and Donatas Motiejunas could possibly be on the board by the time the Pistons are on the clock at pick No. 8. All of them have potential to be the best player in Detroit at some point.
Andris Biedrins has had back-to-back down seasons for the Golden State Warriors. Injuries and coaching clashes had a lot to do with that. With not knowing what to expect this season, Golden State should look for a replacement or someone to share minutes with him.
Even though there are not a lot of stud centers in this year's draft, they could take a chance on one next week with the 11th pick. They could also look to sign one for cheap as well.
Chuck Hayes started at center for the majority of last season for the Houston Rockets. Brad Miller stepped in a few times as well. Yao Ming's season ended early due to a stress fracture in his ankle.
Hayes is undersized for a center, though he did a great job at holding it down. It wouldn't hurt to have a traditional-sized man in the middle, however. But, Miller is both aging and not starter material, and Yao's return to the court is in serious question.
As stated earlier, there are not a ton of standout centers in the draft. Drafting one with the 14th pick and bringing him along slowly could be an option. They can live with Hayes at center in the meantime, and possibly have the draftee ready later in the season.
The Indiana Pacers played by committee at both the power forward and shooting guard spots last season. The shooting guard position probably needs a slightly better option as their players there were Mike Dunleavy, Paul George and Dahntay Jones.
There are quite a few shooting guards Indiana could find to make their permanent starter at pick No. 15. That's if they do not trust George, who preformed well in the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Clippers seem to be an improvement of the small forward away from being a playoff team. Ryan Gomes, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jamario Moon all provided time as starters last season. But the three of them combined for an average of about 16 points a game. Gomes and Moon are better suited to come off the bench, and Aminu is still a work in progress.
The draft probably is not the way though. They traded their first-round pick to Cleveland, which ended up being No. one, in February and now only have the 37th pick. Most likely, there will not be high talent at small forward that late in the draft. Trades or free agency will probably be their option.
The Los Angeles Lakers have gotten by over the last four seasons with Derek Fisher as the starting point guard. As he moves deeper in into his 30s, his production continues to plummet and he remains a defensive liability. Fisher's familiarity with the triangle offense is what has kept him in the starting unit. But with Phil Jackson's departure and the uncertainty of whether the Lakers will continue to run the notorious offense, they might want to find a younger, more capable lead guard.
The Lakers are one of the few franchises that do not have any first-round picks this year. And they are nowhere near the kind of team that would start a second-round rookie point guard right now. A replacement would certainly have to be found in a trade or in free agency.
The Memphis Grizzlies are rock solid at every position. They showed it in their very surprising playoff run this past season. But the only position they do not appear to have any depth in is center. A sturdy backup for Marc Gasol should be the most searched-for addition to the squad.
Memphis is without a first-rounder, as are several other teams. There is no need to go out and find a bigger-name center through anything other than the draft. They did amazingly with what they have already. Taking a center with the 49th pick should be enough.
The Miami Heat flipped around their starting center all season. Including in the playoffs. Joel Anthony ended up being the concluding option at starting center of the season. Anthony had an efficient postseason and provided defensive hustle, but he is not a guy you want on the floor to begin the game. He is uncoordinated and has a low basketball IQ.
Miami traded their first-rounder to the Bulls. Even if they had that 28th pick, a capable center could not be found. They have very few trading pieces, so expect them to find their man in the middle through free agency.
The Milwaukee Bucks' starting power forwards consisted of Drew Gooden, Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova last season. Gooden and Mbah a Moute are better suited as reserves and Ilyasova is more of a small forward. A true starter at the 4 to pair next to Andrew Bogut might help the Bucks return to the playoffs.
One can certainly be found with the 10th pick in the draft. Tristan Thompson and Marcus Morris would be great additions. They will likely be available when Milwaukee is on the clock.
Wesley Johnson started majority of the Minnesota Timberwolves' games at shooting guard. He had a decent rookie season averaging nine points a game. Despite that, his position is probably the worst on the Wolves' roster.
They have the the No. 2 pick in the draft. With such a high selection, they should look to take the best player available. Most likely it will be Derrick Williams. He plays the same position, small forward, as Minnesota starter Michael Beasley. Obviously there is some conflict there, but given Williams' talent, the Wolves should bring him in and evaluate who they want based on their performance and potential.
Travis Outlaw turned out to be huge waste of money after the New Jersey Nets gave him a $35 million deal last summer. As a frequent starter at small forward, he shot the ball horribly and averaged under 10 points. Sadly he is currently their best option at the position. That is why the Nets should look for a better candidate.
New Jersey sent one of their first-rounders to Utah along with Devin Harris in a trade for Deron Williams back in February. It turned out to be the third selection. That would have put them in a great position, but they're stuck with the Lakers' pick at No. 27. They still have a shot at getting a small forward replacement there though. Kyle Singler and Chandler Parsons are names they could consider.
The mid-season trade of Marcus Thornton promoted Marco Belinelli to starting shooting guard for the New Orleans Hornets. He did a serviceable job, but ultimately he's just a one-dimensional shooter who would be better suited coming off the bench. Bringing in a shooting guard who has multiple skills would be a nice step forward for the Hornets.
New Orleans has no first-rounders, and do not pick until midway into the second round. That isn't the best place to get a starting-worthy 2-guard. Look out for them in free agency and in trades as a result.
Ronny Turiaf and Sheldon Williams both took turns as the starting center for the New York Knicks this past season. Neither are true centers nor starters. Both are short for the position, and don't provide many other attributes other than hustle. A bona fide center who can protect the middle is what the Knicks desperately needed all season.
They own pick No. 17 in the draft. There may be some centers worth taking in that position, but they will probably try to find their guy through free agency.
After a couple of seasons of putting two small forwards next to Dwight Howard, the trade sending away Rashard Lewis resulted in power forward Brandon Bass' emergence as a starter for the Orlando Magic. Bass is more of an energy guy who plays spot minutes. The starting lineup is not his calling.
The Magic will most likely have to find a better option through trades and free agency. Their only pick is late in the second round at No. 53, and the talent available there is minimal.
The Philadelphia 76ers were missing a dirty-work center who can rebound and protect the paint in 2011. Spencer Hawes, who started every game he played in last season, is more of a finesse-type center. His best skills are shooting and passing rather than blocking and cleaning the boards. He's better suited to play off the bench, and the Sixers would benefit greatly from a tough-minded center to send him there.
They own the 16th pick this year. But there will probably be better power forwards available than centers at that position. The Sixers will probably look to draft Markieff Morris or Kenneth Farried to fit into their style of play and possibly replace Elton Brand later on. Philadelphia will definitely look to get their center from the free-agent market or a trade.
The departure of Amar'e Stoudemire last summer really hurt the Phoenix Suns. Channing Frye was the starter at power forward for much of the season. That is not his natural position and it negatively affected the Suns last year. They need an authentic 4-man. It could help them return to the playoffs.
They have a really good chance to get what they need at pick No. 13. A lot of solid power forwards will be available there.
Marcus Camby did the best job a 37-year-old center could do starting for the Portland Trail Blazers last season. Despite his impressive season, Portland should look to bolster the center position. It is in much doubt that Greg Oden will ever be an effective player, so they definitely need another center on the roster for multiple reasons.
With the 21st pick they can draft a good center to pick up some of the slack and possibly become a starter. They may also see what they can get through trades and free agency as well.
Beno Udrih has always been a solid player. He started a lot for the Sacramento Kings last season. However, with this new wave of point guards across the league, he is not on the level of much of his competition. A bench role is probably what's best for him at this time.
They have pick No. 7 and that is a prime position to get a point guard who would be a more than reliable starter.
Antonio McDyess and DeJain Blair started next to Tim Duncan throughout the season for the San Antonio Spurs last season. Blair is more of a backup. McDyess as well, and he may retire soon. A replacement center or power forward to play alongside Duncan is vital for another Spurs playoff run.
San Antonio has a knack for drafting well with late picks. They have the 29th selection this year. A diamond in the rough to pair with Duncan could be found. But they will likely find what they're looking for in other ways.
Every position for the Oklahoma City Thunder is set in stone right now. What they need right now is a big man who can score in the post though. Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka are both incapable of doing that. The Thunder should look for someone of that mold over the summer.
They can find him in the draft. There are a number of post players they can take with the 24th pick. There is no need to overpay through free agency and trades.
Andrea Bargnani is no center. But he often found himself starting there for the Toronto Raptors last season. His skill set is that of a small forward despite standing seven feet. The Raptors have lacked a true center for a while now. And they really need one.
With the fifth pick in the draft, however, Toronto should look to take the best player available. They do not have many bright spots in their roster, and need impact players desperately. A pick that high will certainly land one.
The Utah Jazz are slightly underwhelming at shooting guard. C.J. Miles, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward were their guys there. Not the best options as starters. They need to improve there.
They should not do it with the No. 3 pick though. They need to pick the best available at that level. They own the 12th pick as well, and there will be a lot of good shooting guards to select at that position.
Rashard Lewis did an OK job as a starter for the Washington Wizards once he got there. He was a good veteran presence, but they might want to find a younger option at small forward. That is the direction of every other position on the team.
Having the sixth pick puts them in a good spot to get a youthful, athletic small forward to fit in with their current makeup.