The Biggest NBA Draft Question Every Team Must Answer

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 15, 2018

The Biggest NBA Draft Question Every Team Must Answer

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    The upcoming 2018 NBA draft will be the latest installment of the Association's biggest educated guessing game.

    But before teams attempt to predict the futures of soon-to-be-millionaire teenagers and 20-somethings, they each must first answer a critical question about their unique situation.

    Should they view prospects based solely on their potential, or do team needs enter the equation? Are they plotting a run at the 2019 title, or are they looking toward the future while building out their roster? Does it make sense to move up, down or even out of this draft?

    Only their respective front offices can decide. Our job here is to identify the most pressing inquiry facing all 30 teams.

Phoenix Suns (Picks 1, 16, 31, 59)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Can they add a second lottery pick?

    In January, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough expressed a desire to accelerate the team's timeline. In April, Devin Booker declared he's "done with not making the playoffs," per AZCentral.com's Scott Bordow.

    As good as Deandre Ayton is—good enough to virtually cement himself as the No. 1 pick—he won't transform the league's worst team into a winner overnight. While Phoenix might focus on finding a difference-maker in free agency, it could also potentially trade for a second early draft pick.

    The Suns, who need a point guard, have reportedly tried to work out Trae Young, according to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman. He views that as "evidence Phoenix is looking to add a second top-10 pick."

    With three additional picks and a handful of prospects, Phoenix seemingly has the artillery to trade up.

Sacramento Kings (Picks 2, 37)

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Will they pass on Luka Doncic?

    Doncic appeared to be a top-two lock until suddenly he wasn't. ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony first reported Doncic could slip past Sacramento, and Wasserman reported he's heard the same.

    It's a startling turn of events, even while conceding there are questions of whether Doncic has the speed and explosiveness for an NBA backcourt. Still, the 19-year-old is a preternatural passer who recently became the EuroLeague's youngest ever MVP and Final Four MVP.

    The Kings need an offensive fulcrum. Only one club ran a less efficient attack this season, and seven had a lower assist percentage than their 55.6.

    Doncic makes a ton of sense—his strengths and weaknesses should fit with De'Aaron Fox's—but there's too much smoke to rule out the Kings grabbing a big like Marvin Bagley III or trading down so another team can snag Doncic at No. 2.

Atlanta Hawks (Picks 3, 19, 30, 34)

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Should John Collins' weaknesses determine direction of No. 3 pick?

    The Hawks' 24-58 record suggests they should opt for the best player available. But with John Collins looking like perhaps the only building block in place so far, Atlanta might want to consider how its first draft choice would fit alongside him.

    Collins isn't known for his defense or outside shooting. The Hawks have to ask themselves if they could build a winning defense around a Collins-Bagley frontcourt or squeeze enough spacing out of a Collins-Mo Bamba tandem.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. seems to offer the snuggest on-paper fit, as his per-40-minute averages included 5.5 blocks and two triples. But if he isn't their highest-rated player when they're on the clock, they'll have a tricky decision to make.

Memphis Grizzlies (Picks 4, 32)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Is Doncic their highest-rated prospect?

    The Grizzlies need an opening-night contributor. They have $78.7 million committed to Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Marc Gasol next season, plus another $83.2 million going their way in 2019-20 if Gasol picks up his player option (a no-brainer).

    Their timeline, payroll and playing style all suggest they might have Doncic atop their draft board. His IQ, playmaking and shooting potential all seemingly make him a near-perfect complement to Conley and Gasol.

    But if that's how Memphis views Doncic, will it sit back and hope he falls to No. 4? Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo hears both the Kings and Hawks might be open to trading down. And if someone is climbing up, there's a decent chance they're doing it for Doncic.

    If he's the Grizzlies' answer, they might have to aggressively give chase.

Dallas Mavericks (Picks 5, 33, 54)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Will they make a move on draft night?

    Dallas is desperate to field a competitive club before Dirk Nowitzki's career comes to an end. That makes the Mavs a potential draft-night mover, although it's tough to tell which direction they'd be targeting.

    Multiple executives told The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor that Dallas is open to moving down for more win-now help. But Woo hears that same desire could push the Mavs up or down, either climbing for an NBA-ready talent like Doncic or sliding back for a plug-and-play rotation piece.

    Staying put doesn't seem like a bad option given the likelihood a potential defensive anchor is available at No. 5, be it Bamba or Jackson. However, those two might require more developmental time than the Mavs want to give.

Orlando Magic (Picks 6, 35, 41)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Do they have to take a lead guard?

    In the past 12 months, Orlando bypassed the opportunity to draft Dennis Smith Jr. as its point guard of the future and abandoned hopes of Elfrid Payton ever becoming that. As a result, the current rotation at the 1 features only D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack, whose 2018-19 salary is non-guaranteed.

    That's reason enough to think the Magic might have to go point guard at No. 6, but there's more to it. The two most important pieces on Orlando's roster are big men Aaron Gordon (assuming he's re-signed) and Jonathan Isaac. Pairing those two with a third big might suffocate what's already a bottom-six offense.

    If Young is still available at No. 6, there shouldn't be much debate. Orlando's offense needs a centerpiece, and he just led the country in points (27.4 per game) and assists (8.7).

    But things get interesting if he's gone. The other perimeter players might be reaches, leaving the Magic to either take the best talent that might not fit or consider trading out of this spot.

Chicago Bulls (Picks 7, 22)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Is glaring wing need worth addressing at No. 7?

    Assuming the Bulls retain Zach LaVine in restricted free agency, they'll have an intriguing young nucleus with him, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Absent from that group—and this roster as a whole—is a difference-making wing.

    Chicago's front office knows this. Executive vice president John Paxson said the club must "look at the wing position," per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, but he added that talent will be the deciding factor.

    This likely hinges on the first six picks. It might be easier to bypass Mikal Bridges if the Bulls think his ceiling is low, but Michael Porter Jr. could be a different story, assuming his medicals check out.

    Before a back injury effectively erased his freshman season, Porter dazzled scouts as a 6'10" three-level scorer and reportedly sat atop Chicago's early draft board last summer, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times

Cleveland Cavaliers (Pick 8)

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Are they drafting for today or tomorrow?

    In case you didn't know, LeBron James can become a free agent this summer. Oh, and ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst has said "anything is possible" with James' free agency. Windhorst even repeated the word "anything" in case it was unclear what he meant.

    So, what do the Cavs do with that information on draft night? Do they separate James' future from this decision? Is that even possible?

    If James stays, Cleveland remains firmly in the championship hunt and presumably requires an impact rookie to help this aging, expensive roster. If he goes, the Cavs could orchestrate a series of cost-cutting moves, sending themselves spiraling down the standings.

    In the latter case, they'd presumably prefer the prospect with the greatest potential, even if he'd require ample amounts of patience.

New York Knicks (Picks 9, 36)

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Biggest Draft Question: Are they still in the market for a point guard?

    The Knicks are rostering three 25-and-under point guards who were all top-10 picks. That shouldn't prevent them from grabbing another lead guard if he's the top prospect on their board.

    Frank Ntilikina, last summer's eighth overall selection, might have a long-term future at shooting guard. Trey Burke was toiling in the G League before New York promoted him, and Emmanuel Mudiay failed to shoot 39 percent in any of his first three NBA seasons.

    There isn't a big enough roadblock to worry about an incoming prospect getting buried.

    With that said, New York shouldn't feel compelled to go any specific direction on draft night. Collin Sexton could work at point guard, but Mikal Bridges would fit along the wing and big man Wendell Carter Jr. could be a great value if he slips to No. 9.

Philadelphia 76ers (Picks 10, 26, 38, 39, 56, 60)

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Biggest Draft Question: Should team needs factor into the No. 10 pick?

    The Sixers have one of the best young cores in basketball. Joel Embiid is already a star, Ben Simmons is right behind, Dario Saric is the consummate glue guy and Markelle Fultz is the ultimate wild card.

    Considering what Philly knows about a group that just broke out with 52 victories, should it use that intel to fill out the roster around it? It sounds like head coach Brett Brown, who's also overseeing the team's basketball operations for now, plans to keep the current construction in mind.

    "In Joel Embiid and in Ben Simmons, you know what you have," Brown said, per Sixers.com's Brian Seltzer. "How do you add to that completely influences how we see the draft."

    It might be safe to expect an emphasis on 2s and 3s, then. Mikal Bridges, Lonnie Walker IV, Miles Bridges and Kevin Knox could all be in the mix at No. 10.

Charlotte Hornets (Picks 11, 55)

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Will Kemba Walker play with the No. 11 pick?

    The Hornets played better than their 36-46 record, as their scoring differential gave them an expected 42-40 mark. But even 42-40 wouldn't cut it when considering this roster cost $117.2 million, hence the possibility Charlotte might move Walker before he hits the open market in 2019.

    If the Hornets hope to win with Walker, then upgrading the forward spots would be the best utilization of this pick. The expected early run on bigs should push the top wings and combo forwards down the board and at least close to Charlotte's range. Mikal Bridges would be ideal, but Miles Bridges or Knox could both fill a void and offer considerable upside.

    If the Hornets are going forward without Walker, they could use this selection on his replacement. Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would both warrant strong consideration, as either is capable of becoming the class' top floor general.

Los Angeles Clippers (Picks 12, 13)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Can they trade up, and should they try it?

    The Clippers are the only team with two lottery picks—Detroit's (from the Blake Griffin deal) and their own. Unsurprisingly, L.A. is also one of the biggest sources of trade buzz, as it's reportedly trying to climb the ladder.

    "The Clippers have made calls to several teams in the top 10, inquiring about the price tags to move up," The Athletic's Michael Scotto reported. "Tobias Harris is a name to keep an eye on in those trade talks. Harris is entering the final year of his contract and will earn $14.8 million."

    Two things to keep in mind.

    First, Harris doesn't seem like a big enough chip to push L.A. much further up the draft board. Even on an expiring contract, there aren't many teams drafting earlier than this with an obvious need for a soon-to-be-26-year-old scorer.

    Second, unless the Clippers jump high enough to get an elite prospect, they seem better off standing pat and collecting two lottery talents. The way most mocks are shaping up, L.A. could be positioned to both upgrade at point guard (with Sexton or Gilgeous-Alexander) or on the wings (Bridges, Knox or Zhaire Smith) and find a replacement for DeAndre Jordan (Robert Williams).

Denver Nuggets (Picks 14, 43, 58)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Is there a bigger need at point guard or forward?

    If not for an overtime loss in the regular-season finale, the Nuggets would've been a playoff team this past season. And that's with prized free-agency addition Paul Millsap having suited up only 38 times.

    Denver has enough talent in place to make this a needs-based selection—once it decides on a primary need. Jamal Murray is a scorer who plays point guard, as his career 2.7 assists per game can attest. Perhaps that puts Gilgeous-Alexander atop the wish list.

    Then again, Will Barton might bolt in free agency, while fellow forwards Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried are unsigned beyond next season. That could put any one of Bridges, Knox or Smith in play at No. 14.

Washington Wizards (Picks 15, 44)

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    Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

    Biggest Draft Question: Will an athletic big man make sense at No. 15?

    John Wall has been around the NBA long enough to know there's no sense in mincing words. The five-time All-Star held no punches during his critique of the Wizards' roster composition, saying the club has "a lot" to address this offseason while identifying an athletic big man as a primary need, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.

    The latter request is logical, since Marcin Gortat is 34 years old and Ian Mahinmi turns 32 in November. It's also a potentially tricky one to fill after draft night, since the Wizards have no cap space and also need to add bench scoring and wing depth.

    With that said, filling that void with the 15th pick is no easy task, either. Unless Williams slips, there might not be a center worth taking there. Wasserman's most recent mock has Williams going 13th and the next center not coming off the board until the 32nd pick (Mitchell Robinson).

Milwaukee Bucks (Pick 17)

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    Biggest Draft Question: How can they maximize the value of their lone selection?

    The Bucks have one shot to get this right, and they can't afford to guess wrong. Not when the clock has started on Giannis Antetokounmpo's countdown to free agency in 2021, and the budget already looks tight before factoring in a possible new contract for 2014 No. 2 pick Jabari Parker.

    Milwaukee needs to upgrade its center spot, improve the supporting cast around Antetokounmpo, bulk up the bench scoring and add more shooting (only three teams made fewer threes). It's impossible to scratch all of those itches in one pick, but this has to deliver on at least one front.

    Mock drafts connect the Bucks to perimeter scorers (Wasserman has Donte DiVincenzo, Givony has Jerome Robinson, The Ringer has Aaron Holiday) or athletic wings (Smith for The Athletic, Troy Brown for CBS). Any would address a need.

    With that said, Milwaukee doesn't have to invest this pick in a prospect. Scotto identified the Bucks as a team that might consider flipping its pick for more immediate help.

San Antonio Spurs (Picks 18, 49)

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    Biggest Draft Question: What's the bigger need—perimeter athleticism or a long-term center?

    With 30-somethings Rudy Gay and Danny Green both holding player options for next season and Kyle Anderson entering restricted free agency, it's tempting to say San Antonio must fortify the wings. Even if the Spurs smooth things over with Kawhi Leonard—which seems increasingly likely—that won't solve all of their perimeter issues.

    Then again, this frontcourt isn't getting any younger. Pau Gasol turns 38 in July, and LaMarcus Aldridge's 33rd birthday follows less than two weeks later. While both players have the skill set to age gracefully, that doesn't make it any easier for them to chase small-ball bigs around the court.

    Luckily, San Antonio should have options to address either area. Smith, DiVincenzo, Brown and Melvin Frazier would all inject explosiveness into the perimeter unit, while Robinson could have the same impact up front.

Minnesota Timberwolves (Picks 20, 48)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Which prospect can earn Tom Thibodeau's trust the fastest?

    The Timberwolves are desperate for depth. They had the league's highest-mileage lineup, least-utilized bench and one of only two teammate trios ranking among the top 20 in minutes per game.

    And the situation could get even worse this summer.

    Their sixth man (Jamal Crawford) and seventh men from the regular season (Nemanja Bjelica) and the playoffs (Derrick Rose) are all headed into free agency. Oh, and there's already at least $110.2 million on the 2018-19 payroll, which will make it tricky to retain those players, let alone add new ones.

    That should make the draft a critical source of relief, but it can only serve as such if Thibodeau trusts the incoming youngsters. He's often kept prospects on a short leash—2016 No. 5 pick Kris Dunn averaged 17.1 minutes as a freshman on a 51-loss team—and he won't be getting the cream of the crop with selections in the latter half of each round.

Utah Jazz (Picks 21, 52)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Should they play it safe or swing for the fences?

    The 2017 draft-night heist of Donovan Mitchell altered the Jazz's trajectory. In less than a year, this has gone from a rebuilder needing to find its post-Gordon Hayward direction to a conference semifinalist that played better than anyone over the final two-and-a-half months of the regular season.

    With a franchise player making rookie money, Utah is one of the few winning clubs with financial flexibility. So, the question becomes how the organization plans to treat its timeline. Will it take the patient route and see what happens if this core grows organically, or will it look for an impact addition who could speed up the process?

    The approach should start to take shape on draft night.

    The more patient the Jazz are, the more likely they might be to take a risk. Brown and Anfernee Simons are loaded with upside, but both will require a lot of work. Guys like Keita Bates-Diop, Kevin Huerter and Chandler Hutchison, meanwhile, might sacrifice some potential but could fill a rotation role next season.

Indiana Pacers (Picks 23, 50)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Is shooting the solitary focus, or should positional needs matter?

    The surprisingly potent Pacers were largely punchless from distance. While they made a respectable 36.9 percent of their threes, they were bottom-six in both long-range makes and attempts.

    Finding gunners is a must, not only to help bolster the volume, but also to widen attacking lanes for leading scorer Victor Oladipo. There should be some elite snipers available at No. 23 (maybe Huerter, DiVincenzo, Simons and/or Dzanan Musa), but Indy must decide whether its on-hand personnel should shift focus to any specific positions.

    The point guard duo of Darren Collison and Cory Joseph is both underwhelming and uncertain for the future, which might make Holiday or Elie Okobo more attractive. Power forward is another question mark with Thaddeus Young possibly eyeing free agency and T.J. Leaf failing to crack the rotation as a rookie. That could put Bates-Diop under consideration at 23 or Omari Spellman in the mix at 50.

Portland Trail Blazers (Pick 24)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Should it be best wing available or best defensive wing available?

    While Portland tied for eighth in defensive efficiency, perimeter point-prevention remains a focus as long as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are occupying the same backcourt. And let's not forget, this defense turned back into a pumpkin come playoff time, rating worse than anyone and making Jrue Holiday look like Michael Jordan.

    However, this selection might not be as simple as grabbing a stopper and calling it a day. Not when the Blazers have struggled mightily to get their guards scoring help. Portland's next-best scorers this past season were restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic and 39.5 percent shooter Al-Farouq Aminu.

    Ideally, the Blazers would leave the draft with a top-tier two-way wing, but how often do those fall to 24? They're more likely looking at a specialist, whether it's scoring (Musa, Huerter, Jerome Robinson), defending (Brown, De'Antony Melton) or three-and-D contributing (Hutchison, Frazier, Khyri Thomas, Jacob Evans).

Los Angeles Lakers (Picks 25, 47)

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Is this pick for their future or their free-agency recruiting?

    The Lakers have been planning for this summer for what feels like forever. Perhaps their patience will soon be rewarded, as oddsmakers have deemed them the favorites in the LeBron sweepstakes, per OddsShark.

    While that hardly guarantees King James and/or another superstar will come to L.A., it at least reaffirms that the Lakers are firmly in this race.

    So, what does that mean for draft night?

    Is it more important to take a prospect with the NBA-ready skills to improve the Lakers' sales pitch and possibly contribute to a 2018-19 playoff run? Or is it worth focusing only on the players in place and grabbing a high-upside rookie who could develop alongside them?

    Mitchell Robinson would be a fascinating risk/reward pick, but there are also safer options if the Lakers prefer that approach.

Boston Celtics (Pick 27)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Will they move up for a big man?

    The Celtics have high-level options in the backcourt and along the wings for the near- and long-term future. The center spot is a different story with Al Horford having just celebrated his 32nd birthday and Aron Baynes entering unrestricted free agency.

    With a bevy of young players and future picks, Boston seemingly boasts the necessary assets to move up from the 27th slot. Sources told Sporting News' Sean Deveney the Celtics have "expressed interest in Bamba," a prospect who won't slip out of the top five and could go as early as No. 3.

    That's a long way up the ladder, and one likely to require sacrificing Jaylen Brown or Terry Rozier, possibly as part of a bigger package. The cost is steep, but the front office might think the payoff could be higher.

    Boston already led the Association in defensive efficiency this past season, and it would only grow more terrifying with Bamba and his 7'10" wingspan manning the middle.

Golden State Warriors (Pick 28)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Does this choice need to produce a 2018-19 rotation player?

    With three titles in four years, the Warriors wouldn't seem to be in dire need of depth. In fact, they've spent their past two first-round picks on medically red-flagged prospects, Damian Jones and Kevon Looney, who made 15 combined appearances during their respective rookie seasons.

    But this summer seems different.

    Golden State appeared drained at times this past season, in part because the roster ran light on reliable options. Once head coach Steve Kerr went to his reserves, he was faced with too many bigs and not nearly enough perimeter scoring or shooting.

    The taxpayer's mid-level exception will help address that imbalance, but this selection likely needs to as well.

    "We had a lot of vets this year," Kerr told ESPN's Zach Lowe on The Lowe Post podcast. "I think you'll see more youth and energy to help us get through all that."

Brooklyn Nets (Picks 29, 40, 45)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Should they prioritize high ceilings or high floors?

    Still paying for the sins of the previous front office, the Nets won't make their first selection until the 29th pick. At that point, is it worth gambling on a risk/reward prospect, or should Brooklyn focus on players with the best odds of becoming a rotation player?

    Mock drafters can't decide.

    Wasserman has Brooklyn taking Evans, a plug-and-play three-and-D wing who appears light on upside. Givony tabs Hutchison, a 22-year-old scorer with four years of college ball under his belt. Woo predicts Okobo, a 20-year-old lanky scoring point guard who's still developing as a passer. And Scotto says Jarred Vanderbilt, a 19-year-old who only played 14 games at Kentucky due to injuries.

    If Brooklyn is feeling lucky, it could consider taking a shot at Vanderbilt, Simons (fifth-year prep player), Mitchell Robinson (sat out college season) or Hamidou Diallo (elite athlete who struggled at Kentucky). But given this roster's overall lack of talent, the Nets might prefer prospects with better odds of sticking at this level.

Detroit Pistons (Pick 42)

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    Biggest Draft Question: How bold do they want to be?

    While the Stan Van Gundy-led Pistons proved daring on the trade market, they weren't the same risk-takers on draft night. And once you couple Luke Kennard's forgettable freshman effort with the apparent stagnation of Stanley Johnson and Henry Ellenson, you wonder if the new regime should be more willing to gamble.

    Now, there might be a limit on how bold Detroit can get with only the 42nd selection in hand. But the prospects in that range tend to fall closer to the extremes—all upside or precious little of it.

    Given the Pistons' dearth of young, exciting talent, it'll be tempting to lock in on upside. That mindset might lead them to Diallo, Trevon Duval or Kostas Antetokounmpo. But depth is another concern, and there isn't much money to address it. Jevon Carter, Devonte' Graham, Shake Milton and Kevin Hervey are all upperclassmen capable of making a quick transition to the NBA.

Houston Rockets (Pick 46)

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    Biggest Draft Question: Will the player taken 46th be on next season's roster?

    This season's Rockets broke through in a big way, following a 65-win campaign with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. They'll soon get the receipt for that success.

    Regardless of whether they land a free-agent whale, this summer will be pricey. Chris Paul, Clint Capela (restricted), Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute and Gerald Green are all heading into free agency. With $77.6 million already on next season's books, the cash pool will dry up quickly.

    That may keep the 46th pick away from Space City in 2018-19.

    The Rockets might not want a mid-second-rounder taking up cap space. If they need to dump salary quickly for any reason (cough, LeBron, cough, Paul George), they might need this pick or the prospect selected with it to sweeten a trade. And it's possible Houston goes the draft-and-stash route for the third straight year, with Issuf Sanon, Isaac Bonga or Rodions Kurucs among the possibilities.

New Orleans Pelicans (Pick 51)

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Do they think DeMarcus Cousins is staying?

    As risky as it might be to pay Boogie big bucks after his Achilles injury, that remains the likeliest outcome of his free agency. Anthony Davis wants Cousins back, head coach Alvin Gentry wants Cousins back and the big fella is also open to returning.

    But it'd help if the Pelicans got a firm grasp on the situation before draft day, since their margin for error is already nonexistent with only the 51st pick in their pocket.

    If Cousins returns to a frontcourt featuring Davis, Nikola Mirotic and Cheick Diallo, there'd be no reason to add another big man to the mix. But if Boogie bolts, then power forward/center ranks close to wings on the priority list.

Oklahoma City Thunder (Picks 53, 57)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Can either pick produce a contributor?

    The Thunder need cheap talent. They're already on the hook for three salaries of $24 million-plus next season, and that's before George's possible return.

    They also need shooting and depth at both backcourt spots. Is finding them with a pair of 50-something picks remotely realistic?

    The odds aren't great.

    During the past five drafts, only one player drafted 53rd or 57th has played an NBA game—Kadeem Allen, last year's 53rd selection, who played 18 games for the Celtics on a two-way contract. But every now and then, someone slips through the cracks—Manu Ginobili and Marcin Gortat were 57th picks—and there should be interesting shooters available late like Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Kenrich Williams.

Miami Heat (No Picks)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Can they trade into this draft?

    The Heat don't own a selection in this draft, which is troubling given how badly this middle-of-the-pack squad could use an injection of young, cheap talent. It's little surprise, then, that a Western Conference executive told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald the Heat seem to have interest in landing a second-rounder.

    But, as Jackson details, it's more complicated than it sounds.

    While second-rounders are often sold on draft night—see: Jordan "Cash Considerations" Bell—Miami is restricted in how it can spend. Because it spent money to ship Josh McRoberts to Dallas last summer, the Heat can't complete a pay-for-pick transaction until the new calendar year begins on July 6.

    There's also the possibility the Heat snag a draft choice in a trade for a current player. Hassan Whiteside looks readily available, although his sagging stats and escalating salary could make it tough to find a trade partner.

Toronto Raptors (No Picks)

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Biggest Draft Question: Are they still trying to contend?

    This feels like a foolish question to ask of a 59-win conference semifinalist.

    And yet, said 59-win conference semifinalist has already made a coaching change and plans to "explore all options" with its roster, per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

    It would be tough to abandon the championship chase when the Raptors are as close as they appear.

    They had this past season's third-best offense and fifth-best defense and were the only top-five team in both. If they want to give new head coach Nick Nurse a chance at contending, they could focus their offseason efforts on any available win-now upgrades and be content sitting out this draft.

    But what if Toronto can't envision a championship ceiling for this group? It has never found a way around LeBron, and more roadblocks could be forming with the Celtics and Sixers trending up. It's possible the Raptors at least think about a teardown, a scenario likely to involve attempts to trade into this draft.

                         

    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are from Basketball Reference or NBA.comSalary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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