Every NBA Team's Biggest Draft Need Entering 2016

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2016

Every NBA Team's Biggest Draft Need Entering 2016

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2016 NBA draft may not be taking place for nearly six months, but it's never too soon to begin preparing for the selection process. 

    Bottom-feeding teams are already starting to gain traction in the race for the best lottery odds, and they've universally seen numerous pressing needs emerge. But even the contenders have weaknesses that can be addressed during the offseason. It's not as if their front offices are spending every waking moment preparing for the campaign still in progress. 

    Not every one of these needs will be addressed during the draft. Some teams won't have legitimate options available to them when they're on the clock, forcing them to turn to free agency or the trade market. 

    But if there's a way to improve the area in question, it's certainly worth doing.

Atlanta Hawks: Rebounding Help

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    Focusing on the wings is certainly possible, given that's the biggest weakness in the Atlanta Hawks' starting five. Kent Bazemore is playing on an expiring deal, and losing him would turn a partial hole into a glaring one during the 2016 offseason. 

    However, re-signing Bazemore should be able to assuage the Hawks' wing wound. It still wouldn't do anything to turn this team into a decent rebounding outfit. 

    Acquiring Tiago Splitter this past summer was supposed to help Al Horford, Paul Millsap and the rest of the Hawks clean the glass with greater effectiveness. But the mentality of the team—eschewing offensive rebounds in favor of transition defense, and getting out for fast-break opportunities on the other end—has still been too much to overcome. 

    Atlanta has grabbed only 20.1 percent of the available rebounds on the offensive end, putting them ahead of just the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans. On the other side, they've produced a defensive rebounding percentage of 74, which is ahead of only the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. 

    That combination is highly problematic, and it must be addressed. 

Boston Celtics: Frontcourt Help

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    The Boston Celtics are in quite the enviable position, making definitive strides toward the top of the Eastern Conference with a young roster while still in possession of what should end up being a strong lottery pick. Thanks to the Brooklyn Nets, they'll be set up to add a top-notch rookie talent to a roster already loaded with contributors who aren't going anywhere. 

    Finding another backcourt piece shouldn't be a priority. Not with Isaiah Thomas suddenly playing like an All-Star and the young combination of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley still under contract. With Jae Crowder breaking out, small forward isn't a position of need, either. 

    The biggest positions are where we must turn, even though Boston already lays claim to a number of serviceable options. Even if Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller and David Lee all leave in free agency, head coach Brad Stevens will still have enough bigs at his disposal. 

    But are any stars? Are any capable of serving as true stretch bigs in a system that desires shooting ability from everyone on the court? 

    Probably not. And that's what needs to change if Boston is to make the proverbial leap. 

Brooklyn Nets: A Steal

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    If the Boston Celtics are in an enviable position, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in a pickle. 

    Thanks to some ill-advised deals in recent years, this Eastern Conference bottom-feeder won't be making a selection until the second round of the 2016 NBA draft. Even if it ends up winning the lottery, it owes its first-round pick to the C's. 

    And it's not like free agency will bring about major improvements. Joe Johnson's albatross of a contract will finally be coming off the books, but the Nets don't figure to be a top-tier destination for the biggest names. Their reputation has been sullied by the futility of the last few seasons, and the incumbent pieces aren't attractive enough to trump the other marquee landing spots. 

    If the Nets are to turn their fortunes around, they'll need to find a major steal in the second round. We're talking about unearthing a Draymond Green-level gem, not just finding a cheap rookie who can play major minutes during his first foray into the world of NBA basketball. 

Charlotte Hornets: Wing Depth

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    Jeremy Lamb has improved during his first season with the Charlotte Hornets, but he's still such a negative on defense that his offensive contributions are rendered far less valuable. P.J. Hairston hasn't shown anything that would indicate he's a long-term rotation member, and Troy Daniels can't do much more than stroke the occasional three-pointer. 

    Even when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is healthy and able to join Nicolas Batum on the wings, there isn't enough depth for this rising franchise. Acquiring another capable shooting guard or small forward is a must during the 2016 NBA draft—preferably one who can help space out the court while taking offensive pressure off Batum. 

    And that's assuming Batum re-signs with his new organization. If he flees for another location once his contract expires, the need to find a high-quality wing becomes even more dire. 

    Of course, if he stays, the future becomes brighter in Charlotte. Once injuries stop ravaging this team, the Hornets should be able to throw out a five-man unit composed of Kemba Walker, Batum, Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Kaminsky and Al Jefferson

    Add in some depth, and you're looking at a potential contender. 

Chicago Bulls: Point Guard

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    It's time. 

    Though double vision is a legitimate excuse for the struggles Derrick Rose has endured this season, it's not like he's been a positive presence for the Chicago Bulls over the last few years. The injuries just keep piling up, and he's been one of the least valuable players in the NBA during the 2015-16 campaign.

    According to total points added (TPA, which is explained throughout this article), only Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay and Ty Lawson are on pace to be worse. 

    But even if you hold out hope that Rose will return to an All-Star level, the Bulls still need a point guard to back him up. Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks are tough enough solutions for the present, but having them as the primary reserves going forward will produce an untenable situation in the Chicago backcourt. 

    If Rose is doomed to play at this level for the rest of his professional career, the Bulls desperately need to find a new point guard. If he's not, the need isn't quite as dramatic, but it still exists. 

    Either way, Chicago has to look at the floor generals in this draft class. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: Small Forward Depth

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    LeBron James won't always be able to handle such a heavy workload. 

    Though he may seem inhuman, James will inevitably fall prey to Father Time as his career progresses. Especially without a strong jumper, he's dependent on the athleticism that will eventually erode along with his physical frame. And while he's skilled enough to remain effective, he certainly won't be able to play so many minutes on a regular basis. 

    James just celebrated his 31st birthday, and he's already spent far more time on the court than most players his age. Between suiting up in the Association as a teenager, extending his seasons to the NBA Finals on so many occasions and playing for Team USA, he's accumulated plenty of mileage.

    His minutes per game have already declined each of the past three campaigns, and that trend should only continue. However, James Jones and Richard Jefferson won't always be there to serve as his backups, and it's not as if they've been too effective in 2015-16.

    Finding someone who can shoulder a larger burden will help extend James' career while keeping him more effective in the present.

Dallas Mavericks: Frontcourt Help

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    In 2015-16, the Dallas Mavericks' big men will be just fine. 

    Dirk Nowitzki has rebounded nicely after appearing to decline, and he's now proving that old age might not ever affect him for a prolonged period. Even though he's 37 years old, he's knocking down 45.9 percent of his shots from the field, 38.8 percent of his three-point attempts and 89.3 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe. 

    Meanwhile, Zaza Pachulia has been a revelation after the DeAndre Jordan saga almost left the Mavs without a legitimate center. Throwing up double-doubles with impressive regularity, the 31-year-old big man has made himself a fan favorite in yet another city. 

    But neither player is a long-term solution for Dallas.

    Pachulia won't be able to produce numbers like this forever, and we're drawing nearer to Nowitzki's eventual retirement from the NBA. Making matters worse, the Mavericks don't have any internal replacement options, as Dwight Powell, JaVale McGee, Satnam Singh, Salah Mejri and Charlie Villanueva aren't likely to keep them in the Western Conference playoff picture. 

    It's time to acquire the future starters. 

Denver Nuggets: Best Player Available

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    The Denver Nuggets are rebuilding the right way. 

    Even though they're sinking toward the bottom of the Western Conference, they're acquiring young talents, holding onto valuable veterans and giving their key pieces time to develop on the court. It doesn't matter that Emmanuel Mudiay has been one of the worst rotation members in the NBA during his rookie season, because he's getting a chance to work on his game during a campaign in which development and identity-building are the only real goals. 

    Despite their overall futility, the Nuggets seem to have keepers at every position. Mudiay remains the future at the 1, while Gary Harris, Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton, Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic, Kenneth Faried, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nikola Jokic all appear to be important pieces. Strange as it may seem, there's no glaring need in the Mile High City. 

    Fortunately, that should allow the Nuggets to draft whomever is at the top of their board. Only a center would create serious complications, as it would necessitate the Nuggets parting with one of their many capable bigs. 

Detroit Pistons: More Floor-Spacers

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    The version of Stan Van Gundy who coaches the Detroit Pistons has to be thankful for the version of Stan Van Gundy who makes personnel decisions for the Detroit Pistons. That synergistic relationship allows the team to acquire all the shooters it can. 

    With Andre Drummond holding down the fort in the paint, this team is working to master the one-in, four-out strategy that worked so well with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic a few years back. The more shooters, the better, because they space out the court for a center who just happens to be one of the league's most dominant offensive rebounders. 

    Right now, the starting five works just fine for Detroit. But as soon as the backups are forced to enter the game, everything goes awry. There's simply not enough talent, and the players who are expected to space out the court have trouble filling that role. 

    Changing that is the top offseason priority, which means the main focus in the 2016 NBA draft must be acquiring a deadly sniper, regardless of which position he plays. 

    Thus far in 2015-16, the Pistons rank No. 13 in made triples and No. 24 in three-point percentage. But according to HoopsStats.com, the bench is shooting even worse from beyond the arc.

Golden State Warriors: Best Player Available

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    The Golden State Warriors don't figure to have any pressing needs next offseason, as long as they manage to re-sign Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to long-term extensions. If that's the case, the only players who might not return are Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark and James Michael McAdoo. 

    Especially now that Speights has regressed, playing like one of the NBA's worst rotation members, none of those losses would impact the current defending champions too much. Most are replaceable, especially with Kevon Looney likely recovered from hip surgery and ready to begin his de facto rookie season. 

    The Warriors have the luxury of boasting a nearly complete roster, which allows them to select whichever player they desire most. There's no need to fill a hole at any one position, and they can shoot for the stars, attempting to acquire another draft-day gem.

    Just imagine if they found another Draymond Green. 

Houston Rockets: Wing Depth

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    The Houston Rockets may have a terrific set of starters on the wings—James Harden continues to serve as one of the league's best 2-guards, and Trevor Ariza will eventually figure out how to knock down shots again—but the backups just aren't anything special. 

    For whatever reason, the team staunchly refuses to give K.J. McDaniels and his potentially infectious defensive energy a spot in the rotation. Sam Dekker is recovering from back surgery. Corey Brewer's prorated TPA of minus-131.04 leaves him as one of the league's 20 least valuable players. 

    And at shooting guard, the situation doesn't improve by much. 

    Jason Terry is a solid contributor, but he's also 38 years old and doesn't have that many more years left in the NBA. Marcus Thornton, on the other hand, is just 28 but remains too much of a defensive liability to carve out a larger role. 

    Changes are necessary going forward, especially with both backup 2s working on expiring deals for the remaining portion of 2015-16. 

Indiana Pacers: Wing Depth

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    If the Indiana Pacers hope to reassert themselves as mainstays atop the Eastern Conference standings, it'll be rather difficult to do so with Chase Budinger, Solomon Hill and Glenn Robinson III serving as the primary backups at small forward. 

    Sure, the team can shift players around to make sure there are solid options. C.J. Miles is in the midst of a breakout season, and Paul George is perfectly capable of abandoning his new role as a power forward in order to suit up at the 3. 

    But that's still not enough.

    If injuries strike, the Pacers would be far too reliant on lackluster options at one of the league's most important spots in the lineup. Plus, Budinger and Hill will both be free agents next summer, which could potentially leave Indiana in even more dire straits. 

    The Pacers have other needs—a strong backup point guard and another offensive threat in a non-small-ball frontcourt would be nice. But neither desire should trump the actual necessity of landing another capable 3. 

Los Angeles Clippers: Best Player Available

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    Stop me if you've heard this one before. 

    The putridity of the bench is holding the Los Angeles Clippers back, as this offseason's big additions aren't doing much to help out the incumbent starters. Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith were supposed to turn around the fortunes of the second unit in the Staples Center, but that hasn't exactly happened. 

    According to HoopsStats.com, the Clippers bench currently ranks No. 24 in offensive efficiency and No. 19 in defensive efficiency, which makes for a troublesome combination. That's not going to change going forward, with the Clippers just about capped out and only seeing Smith, Luc Mbah a Moute, Jamal Crawford and Pablo Prigioni coming off the books.

    Even declining Stephenson's team option won't make much of a difference during a summer in which so many organizations will have immense spending power. 

    If LAC is ever going to take the next step while working with the current core, it needs to hit on one of its draft picks. C.J. Wilcox and Branden Dawson could still grow into difference-makers, but the Clippers must make the most of their selections in 2016, no matter what position they're looking to draft. 

Los Angeles Lakers: Best Player Available

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    The other Los Angeles team can adopt a similar strategy, but for entirely different reasons. 

    While the Clippers will be picking near the end of the first round and hoping to acquire a prominent piece for the bench, the Lakers will be selecting near the top of the board, looking to add another star to their squad. As long as they "earn" one of the first three picks, they'll avoid handing over their selection to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

    What do they need? How about everything? 

    Without Kobe Bryant, who will be retiring at the end of this season, the Lakers will have a huge personality void to fill. But they'll also be working without any established stars, relying on Roy Hibbert, Nick Young, Lou Williams and plenty of young players to turn around the fortunes of this downtrodden franchise. 

    Even with Jordan Clarkson and D'Angelo Russell showing promise at the guard spots, drafting a stud backcourt member shouldn't be off limits. Even if Julius Randle suddenly blossoms into an All-Star-caliber power forward, the organization shouldn't hesitate to take another 4. 

    Randle views Draymond Green as "a great role model for me," per Harrison Faigen of LakersSBN. But even seeing the Kentucky product turn into a carbon copy of the Golden State standout shouldn't change the Lakers' view of this selection process.

    Right now, they desperately need talent. It's as simple as that. 

Memphis Grizzlies: Shooters

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    Until the Memphis Grizzlies catch up stylistically, they're going to have trouble competing with the top teams in the Western Conference. The grit-and-grind mentality simply hasn't been enough in 2015-16, as this organization still staunchly refuses to shoot many three-pointers. 

    Only the Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves have drained fewer shots from beyond the arc during the current campaign. In fact, the Grizzlies have made just 192 triples during their first 35 outings—only 51 more than Stephen Curry has knocked down by himself in four fewer appearances. But perhaps even more problematically, Memphis has connected on its long-range attempts at a 31.7 percent clip, one that puts them ahead of only the Nets. 

    It's not only that the Grizzlies don't try taking many treys; it's that the roster isn't composed of players who can actually hit them. 

    They've tried to change this in years past by trading for Jeff Green and drafting Jordan Adams, but nothing has worked. Now, it's back to the well one more time, because the 2016 NBA draft has to provide a dynamic sharpshooter if Memphis is to justify keeping the core together for another go-round. 

Miami Heat: Frontcourt Depth

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    The Miami Heat's starting five has the potential to be among the best in the NBA. Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside have had trouble achieving success at the same time thus far, but we've seen flashes of their immense upside during some outings. 

    On the bench, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Gerald Green have all shown upside as well. But you might notice that all of those players line up at smaller positions. 

    Right now, having the second unit's frontcourt get by with Josh McRoberts, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Andersen is perfectly fine. However, that won't be the case for long.

    McRoberts, who will soon celebrate his 29th birthday, is the youngest of the bunch. Andersen is already 37, and Stoudemire is a 33-year-old who has seen injuries pile up. None of them has long-term futures as key contributors for the Heat, unless Pat Riley is suddenly going to be content with his team failing to remain competitive. 

    Finding a younger contributor is vital.

Milwaukee Bucks: Point Guard

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    The Milwaukee Bucks may have plummeted in the Eastern Conference standings this year, but they're still brimming over with talent. With Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton, O.J. Mayo, John Henson and Greg Monroe, they're set up for success at four of the five spots in a traditional NBA lineup. 

    Unfortunately, the one lagging behind happens to be point guard. 

    Moving Brandon Knight has already emerged as a major mistake, especially because Michael Carter-Williams has continued to trend in the wrong direction. Though he may fit in with the Bucks' defensive mentality—at least the one that carried them to success in 2014-15—and has long arms, his offensive game has been definitively detrimental. 

    But it gets worse.

    According to TPA (prorated to a full season), every floor general on the Milwaukee roster has been a negative in 2015-16: 

    • Michael Carter-Williams: minus-49.77 (minus-29.81 in 2014-15)
    • Jerryd Bayless: minus-22.76 (minus-87.52 in 2014-15)
    • Greivis Vasquez: minus-95.93 (minus-42.34 in 2014-15)
    • Tyler Ennis: minus-43.85 (minus-54.27 in 2014-15)

    That's...not good. And if the Bucks hope to rebound from this miserable campaign, it has to change. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: Power Forward

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    Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    The Minnesota Timberwolves are another rebuilding team that doesn't have any glaring holes in the lineup. 

    At point guard, Ricky Rubio has played solid basketball throughout the 2015-16 campaign, despite his jumper completely abandoning him. Tyus Jones also has potential, and Zach LaVine could learn to become more effective at the position. 

    The wings are loaded with talent, given the presences of LaVine, Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad. Center is also under control, as Karl-Anthony Towns is already arguably the best player on the roster, while Gorgui Dieng and Nikola Pekovic are certainly capable backups. 

    Power forward contains the only question mark, and it'll grow larger when Kevin Garnett retires and opens up an even more significant void at the position. Adreian Payne and Nemanja Bjelica have potential, but neither should emerge as a top-tier starter on a competitive squad. 

    The Wolves would certainly be justified if they went for the best-player-available strategy, but the 4 sits far enough behind the other spots in the lineup that it should become the top priority. 

New Orleans Pelicans: A Star

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    "With Anthony Davis signed for the next six seasons, now is the time to find a Robin to his Batman," Adam Spinella wrote for BBallBreakdown.com in early December. "This could be Dell Demps' chance to build a legitimate contender for several years, not just a top-ten team. Things may not be going according to plan in New Orleans. But plans change."

    Not much has changed between early December and early 2016. Even as the New Orleans Pelicans grow healthier, they've dug themselves too deep a hole in the Western Conference, and it would be far more advantageous to compete in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes than to serve as a sacrificial playoff lamb to either the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder. 

    The Pelicans have a number of tangible needs. 

    They must find a small forward who's capable of spacing out the court for Davis and the other bigs on the NOLA roster. They have to figure out the point guard rotation, even if it's as simple as continuing to wait for Jrue Holiday to get healthy. They have to find the right frontcourt complement for Davis, because it's not Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca. 

    But the biggest priority is acquiring another star player, whether that's Ben Simmons, Dragan Bender or someone else in the 2016 NBA draft. Davis alone can't carry the Pelicans in an era of the Association that necessitates multiple stars on the most competitive squads. 

New York Knicks: Point Guard

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    Thanks to Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks may have found a star to pair with Carmelo Anthony. With those two thriving while Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Langston Galloway and others fill important roles, the team is set up rather nicely for the future. 

    However, there's still a glaring hole at point guard, which is especially important as the Knicks seem to move further away from the Triangle offense. 

    Jose Calderon is getting a bit of a bad rap this year. He's certainly not a glamorous player and remains a defensive liability, but his shooting—48.3 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from downtown and 89.3 percent at the stripe—is strong enough that he's maintained a positive overall value. 

    However, Calderon still isn't a long-term answer at the 1. Already 34 years old, he's devoid of the upside the Knicks need at the smallest position on the court. 

    Jerian Grant could eventually take over, despite looking overmatched on both ends during his rookie campaign. But even if the first-year floor general does become the long-term starter, the Knicks will need a top-tier backup if they hope to become anything more than a team destined for one first-round exit after another. 

Oklahoma City Thunder: Whatever Kevin Durant Wants

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder's only goal during the 2016 offseason has to be keeping Kevin Durant

    If he flees to another location, whether it's the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors or anyone else, the Thunder will take a major step in the wrong direction. Worse still, they won't be able to recover from the loss for years, because it's impossible to replace a player of Durant's caliber. 

    Remember when LeBron James expressed his support for Shabazz Napier, and the Miami Heat ended up drafting the Connecticut point guard in an attempt to keep the superstar in South Beach? It didn't actually work for Miami, but that's the same strategy OKC must now employ with Durant. 

    If he wants a player, go get him. 

Orlando Magic: Best Player Available

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    The Orlando Magic don't have any pressing needs. 

    Elfrid Payton has struggled to improve at point guard, but he's still brimming over with potential and fits the defensive mentality of this up-and-coming squad. The same is true of Victor Oladipo, who has looked good in his new role as a bench spark plug while Evan Fournier starts. 

    At the forward positions, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Channing Frye, Andrew Nicholson and Mario Hezonja form a potent rotation, and they'll only get better as they continue to gain NBA experience. Frye will eventually start declining, but he's a solid veteran mentor for the younger contributors. 

    And finally, Nikola Vucevic is perfectly capable of holding down the fort at center. He may be a bit of a liability on defense, but his ability to score in the half-court set makes him quite valuable to a team that doesn't have many established options. 

    Fournier is a free agent this next offseason, which means acquiring another wing player could become a priority. But the Magic should be able to keep him, which means they're not looking at any gaping holes in the lineup. Just as they've seemed to do for a while now, drafting the best player available is perfectly reasonable. 

Philadelphia 76ers: Ending the Tanking

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    The Philadelphia 76ers can't be bad forever, and they're finally set up to make a major breakthrough in 2016-17. 

    Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will still be in place, and they'll potentially be joined by Dario Saric, who has said he plans on joining the Sixers for the next season. Even if Joel Embiid never regains his health, that already puts the Sixers in much better position. 

    The draft will also provide some sorely needed assistance. 

    Not only will the Sixers have their own first-round pick, which should come right near (or at) the top of the draft-day proceedings, but they could also gain access to a few other selections. They'll snatch away the Los Angeles Lakers' pick if the Purple and Gold can't hold one of the top three choices. They'll grab the Miami Heat's if it falls outside of the top 10. And they'll earn the Oklahoma City Thunder's if it's outside the top 15.

    In all likelihood, the Sixers should have their own pick and the Heat's, with an outside chance of commandeering the Lakers' first-round asset. That's a strong haul, and it should allow Philadelphia to add some star power to positions that don't routinely see 7-footers lining up. 

    This franchise can't afford to go the draft-and-stash route or select someone who will spend the entire year recovering from a devastating injury.

    It's time to compete. 

Phoenix Suns: Center

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    The Tyson Chandler signing has been an unmitigated disaster for the Phoenix Suns, who have quickly transformed from a Western Conference playoff hopeful into an absolute dumpster fire that could be joining the tanking game a bit too late. 

    Beleaguered by injuries and the minutes he's racked up throughout his NBA career, the 33-year-old center has averaged just 5.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting an uncharacteristically low 50.5 percent from the field. His player efficiency rating of 12 is on pace to be the worst mark of his career, and he's even struggling to assert himself as a game-changing defensive presence. 

    Meanwhile, Alex Len hasn't been much more effective. The young center doesn't bring enough offense to the proverbial table, and that's problematic for a team that has to throw way too much scoring responsibility to its backcourt. 

    Despite using the No. 5 pick of the 2013 NBA draft on Len, the Suns need to bite the bullet and go big once again in 2016. 

Portland Trail Blazers: Frontcourt Help

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    "With one of the most underwhelming front lines in basketball, the Portland Trail Blazers should already be scouting Jakob Poeltl," Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman wrote while giving the Utah Utes center to Rip City in his latest 2016 mock draft, which was published in early December.

    Since then, the Blazers have seen their frontcourt take small steps in the right direction. 

    Mason Plumlee has continued to serve as a strong interior defender—an important role on a team with arguably the most porous starting guard combination the NBA has to offer. Meanwhile, Meyers Leonard has returned from his dislocated shoulder and begun to knock down some jumpers. But the rest of the bigs have continued to struggle immensely. 

    Adding more talent at either power forward or center is a pressing need, especially with C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe both blossoming into capable players at shooting guard and small forward. In the Western Conference, a team must go through a gauntlet of deadly big men on almost any given night, and in their current state, the Blazers simply aren't equipped to handle the rigors of the NBA schedule. 

Sacramento Kings: Shooting Guard

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    Is it time to give up on Ben McLemore?

    During his age-22 season, the Kansas product hasn't done much more than provide the occasional boost from outside the three-point arc. Though he's shooting 40 percent from downtown, he's averaging only 7.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists while producing a 9.6 PER and playing below-average defense. 

    Meanwhile, it's not as if Marco Belinelli has been much better. The former San Antonio Spur's defense has been so atrocious that it's tough justifying his spot in the rotation, even if he's been a minor asset on the offensive end. 

    The Kings are set at point guard with Darren Collison and a resurgent Rajon Rondo, as long as the latter doesn't depart after his one-year contract is over. The frontcourt, meanwhile, is quite strong with DeMarcus Cousins, Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein and Rudy Gay. 

    But unless this team finds a shooting guard who can help space out the floor without serving as a liability in other facets of the game, it'll have trouble reaching its full potential. 

San Antonio Spurs: Whatever They Want

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    The San Antonio Spurs just aren't fair. 

    Sometimes it seems as if every player they touch during the NBA draft inevitably turns into gold. 

    Kawhi Leonard has developed into a legitimate MVP candidate with a serious case to be called one of the league's five best individuals. Kyle Anderson, slow of foot as he may be, has become a positive on the defensive end. Boban Marjanovic has turned into an Internet sensation with his giant hands, creativity and soft shooting touch. 

    Frankly, the Spurs could probably draw a name out of a hat during the 2016 NBA draft and then watch as he develops into a potential All-Star. 

    Given the completeness of this team and the seeming infallibility of the front office, we're not even going to try telling the Spurs what they need. They're fully aware of whatever weaknesses exist and will inevitably solve them en route to another deep postseason run. 

Toronto Raptors: Stretch 4

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    As soon as the Toronto Raptors land a legitimate stretch 4, they'll have a shot at becoming a true contender in the Eastern Conference. Jonas Valanciunas is a solid option at center, but his game requires a frontcourt mate who can draw defensive attention and help space out the court so the Lithuanian big man has room to operate from the blocks. 

    Luis Scola, who happens to be on the final year of his contract, simply isn't going to cut it, and the Anthony Bennett experiment has clearly failed. Further development from Patrick Patterson is a possibility, as is making a move to acquire a stretchy power forward already thriving in the NBA—cough, Ryan Anderson, cough—or picking one up in free agency next summer. 

    But the Raptors still need a young option, and the draft is the best place to acquire one. 

    The team doesn't need a two-way standout. It just needs a player who can knock down some threes, filling a specific role as the rest of his teammates pick up the slack. And it also helps that the Raptors have the rights to the less favorable of the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks' first-round picks, both of which should come well within the first 14 selections. 

Utah Jazz: Offense

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    Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

    The Utah Jazz find themselves in an interesting spot, as their roster makeup points toward one distinct identity while the actual production indicates another. 

    This team was built to thrive on the defensive end of the floor, and it did during the 2014-15 campaign. During the second half of the season, no unit was more suffocating than this one. But in 2015-16, that hasn't been the case—partially because of Rudy Gobert's sprained knee. 

    Thus far, the Jazz actually rank No. 12 in offensive rating and No. 16 in defensive rating, which was just about impossible to predict. The development of Derrick Favors has been crucial, as has the improved shooting of Trey Burke. 

    But when Gobert returns, the defense should improve drastically while the spacing on the scoring end grows a bit more iffy. Though that's ultimately a positive, it does force the Jazz to look at adding more offensive weapons this coming offseason—as long as the team still intends to plan around Gobert (which it should). 

    Ideally, Utah upgrades at point guard. Even when Dante Exum returns from his torn ACL, it will need a stronger option than Burke to play alongside or spell the Australian floor general. 

    But in reality, the Jazz should be content to snatch up whichever offensive talent falls to them in the draft. 

Washington Wizards: Backcourt Depth

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    During the 2016 offseason, the Washington Wizards will lose nearly all of their guards. Though Bradley Beal will likely sign a contract extension, Jared Dudley, Alan Anderson, Ramon Sessions, Gary Neal, Garrett Temple, Jarell Eddie and Nene are all set to hit the free-agency market, which leaves quite a few yawning chasms in the depth chart. 

    Before the Wizards sign anyone—though still assuming Beal inks a new deal—here's what the depth chart would look like at each of the backcourt slots: 

     Point GuardShooting Guard
    StarterJohn WallBradley Beal
    Primary Backup[None][None]
    Secondary Backup[None][None]

    Even if Washington does re-sign some of the current backups, that won't be enough. 

    Isn't it slightly disconcerting that Sessions (16.1) is the only one with a PER above the league-average mark of 15, or that Dudley (0.6) is the only one with a box plus/minus that indicates he's more valuable than an average contributor?

    Washington has plenty to focus on as it attempts to diagnose what went so wrong during the opening portion of the 2015-16 campaign. But moving forward, acquiring another capable guard has to be the top priority. 

    Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

    All stats, unless otherwise indicated, are from Basketball-Reference.com or Adam's own databases and are current heading into games on Jan. 4.


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