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#pounditSaturday, March 2, 2024

Each NBA team’s biggest draft need

Deandre Ayton

The NBA Draft order has been determined, and teams are already hard at work putting together their big boards and formulating their plans. Some teams don’t pick until the second round, or even at all, but they still have to do their due diligence just in case something changes and a trade is made.

With that in mind, here are the biggest needs for all 30 NBA teams in the upcoming draft.

Atlanta Hawks — Interior scoring

Like a number of teams, the Hawks really had no one reliable that they could go down low to for high-percentage points. Pretty much anyone with some size and scoring ability would fit the bill for them. That said, they struggled so much last season and have so many needs that pretty much anyone would work, particularly if Dennis Schroder departs.

Boston Celtics — Versatile forwards

The Celtics are in a great spot in that there’s no gaping need they simply must address, especially since getting Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back next year will be like new offseason additions. They can arguably get away with drafting the best player available at No. 27. If not, another athletic piece in the frontcourt to complement the likes of Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris would be a sound idea.

Brooklyn Nets — Best player available

Basketball’s version of purgatory, the Nets pick 29th, which simply isn’t a good enough spot to get anything they need. They lack a franchise player unless you’re still a big believer in D’Angelo Russell being one, and they simply don’t have a lot of guys they can rely on long-term. Thus, they should really just settle for the best player on their board and hope it works out until they finally get a decent first-round pick again. That Celtics trade is still hurting them.

Charlotte Hornets — Forwards

Kemba Walker is a great player if the Hornets hang onto him, though point guard would immediately be a huge need if they opted to trade him. In the meantime, the Hornets need help at the forward position. They really lacked a good option behind Walker, though Dwight Howard and Nic Batum are decent.

Chicago Bulls — Perimeter options

As long as he stays healthy, Zach LaVine looks like a solid player. The Bulls also have last year’s lottery pick Lauri Markkanen, who looks like he has a bright future ahead of him. The Bulls are pretty bereft of everything else, though, and can’t really go wrong no matter what direction they go. A floor general and a scoring winger would both fit neatly into the team’s rebuild.

Cleveland Cavaliers — Upside, a potential LeBron replacement

The Cavaliers are in a weird spot because so much of what they do will be dependent on what LeBron James chooses to do, and we won’t have that answer ahead of the draft. So really, they could justify pretty much any choice at No. 8, be it a high-upside player, an interior force, or an outside shooter. No matter what James does, someone who can make an instant impact would be more ideal than a project. This is a team built to win now with James and will need excitement and a new franchise cornerstone if he leaves.

Dallas Mavericks — A skilled, young big man

Though raw, Dennis Smith Jr. looks to be the real deal and a potential franchise point guard. Harrison Barnes looks well entrenched on the wing. It’s not a great sign when the only interior player with a double-digit scoring average is Dirk Nowitzki, who’s on the tail-end of his career. He won’t be around forever, and it’s vital that the Mavericks find a long-term option down low, as they’re thin there right now. Judging by their free agent targets, they seem to know it.

Denver Nuggets — A creative guard

The Nuggets dealt Emmanuel Mudiay to New York, leaving them with a bit of a hole at the point guard position. It may be tricky to find one at No. 14 in the draft, but it’s certainly the direction they should be looking in, as Devin Harris isn’t much of a permanent solution. Yes, Jamal Murray is back there, but he’s more adept at scoring; a player who creates for others could help Denver take the next step into the playoffs.

Detroit Pistons — Perimeter help

Not a great year for the Pistons to not have a first rounder as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. With Griffin and Andre Drummond, they’re set in the low post, but thin elsewhere. Reggie Jackson’s injury left them with a hole at point guard, and they could use some perimeter scoring as well, but it’s probably not going to come via the draft this year.

Golden State Warriors — Versatile athletic depth

The Warriors don’t really need anything. Frontcourt depth is always nice for them if they can get it, but Golden State has a particular type that they don’t shy away from. A good, versatile athlete who can play multiple positions, fit into the team’s philosophy, and score will simply augment the roster if such a fit is sitting around when they make their selections.

See more on Page 2

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