By Matt Moore and Zach Harper
With the NBA Draft on Thursday, each team will be looking to improve, even in this, the weakest of classes. But with a draft devoid of starpower, filling specific needs becomes more of an option. What are those needs?
Here's a breakdown of each team's needs going into the draft, along with some options for filling those needs.
Charlotte Bobcats, No. 4
Team Needs: Talent, superstar performance, low-post scoring, consistent center
Overview: Charlotte can do whatever they want here. They just need the best player available. In reality, the Bobcats could also do with not doing too well in this draft, making sure they don't take a great player who would make them just good enough to miss out on next year's draft. Anything they get that keeps their future open is good.
Candidates: Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett
Orlando Magic, No. 2, No. 51
Team Needs: Scoring, versatility, low-post scorer, combo guard
Overview: Like Charlotte, Orlando basically needs the best player available. They're still early in their rebuilding efforts. There isn't a bad pick for them at the top of the draft. Even with Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris, they have options at those positions. They really can't go wrong here.
Candidates: Ben McLemore, Nerlens Noel, Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo
Washington Wizards, No. 3, No. 54
Team Needs: Floor-spacer, perimeter defender, consistent bench big
Overview: The Wizards are set at point guard with John Wall and shooting guard with Bradley Beal. They could use a shooter three, however, and definitely could use a future center whom they can believe in beyond Kevin Seraphin.
Candidates: Otto Porter, Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Anthony Bennett
Atlanta Hawks, No. 17, No. 18, No. 47, No. 50
Team Needs: Rebounding, wing versatility, shooter depth.
Overview: The Hawks are looking at the very real possibility of losing Josh Smith in free agency (and being fine with that). If he goes, that opens up a huge hole on the wing, and as a rebounder. They need someone versatile and strong, and those kinds of guys are hard to find. With Zaza Pachulia also possibly being let go, they're going to need size to pair with Al Horford as well.
Candidates: Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, Tony Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, Shabazz Muhammad
Miami Heat, no picks available
Team Needs: Nothing.
Overview: Seriously. They won the title, have shooters, rebounders, backup point guards and the best player on the planet. They're good.
Candidates: Solomon Hill, Livio Jean-Charles, James Ennis, Colton Iverson
Toronto Raptors, no picks available
Team Needs: Point-guard depth, shooters, playmaking, versatility, low-post scoring, center depth.
Overview: The Raptors are reportedly looking to worm their way into a draft pick through trade, and as you can see, they need it. There's not a position on the roster they don't need either depth or an upgrade at. Low-post scoring might be their most immediate need, though.
Candidates: Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, Tony Mitchell, Ricky Ledo, Tony Snell, C.J. Leslie
Philadelphia 76ers, No. 11, No. 35, No. 42
Team Needs: Low-post scoring, wing depth, backup point guard
Overview: The Sixers need someone to produce scoring inside in a big way. They need muscle and skill there. They have shooters but not many slashers and need a younger backup to Jrue Holiday if they can address it in the second round.
Candidates: Steven Adams, Alex Len, Shabazz Muhammad, Pierre Jackson, Tony Snell, Glen Rice Jr.
Boston Celtics, No. 16
Team Needs: Point-guard depth, rebounding, low-post scoring.
Overview: With Rajon Rondo out during the playoffs, their point-guard play was a mess. They need someone to manage the floor and let Avery Bradley play more in his comfort zone. They also need rebounding help as it continues to be an issue, and Jared Sullinger's back is a legitimate question mark.
Candidates: Shane Larkin, Michael Carter-Williams, Kelly Olynyk, Gorgui Dieng, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum
Brooklyn Nets, No. 22
Team Needs: Rebounding, power forward, stretch forwards, wing versatility, shooters.
Overview: Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans ain't gonna cut it. The Nets need bigs, and they need them in a big way. They need rebounders to pair with Brook Lopez, who struggles in that regard, and they also need stretch fours to space the floor. They could also use more depth on the wing.
Candidates: Gorgui Dieng, Rudy Gobert, Sergey Karasev, Reggie Bullock, Kelly Olynyk, Jeff Withey, Tony Mitchell
New York Knicks, No. 24
Team Needs: Point-guard depth, playmaking, versatility, low-post scoring.
Overview: New York could wind up losing both of its backup point guards, but they're also in a great spot to get one. They need another playmaker (as in passer, not shooter, J.R.) and could, of course, use low-post scoring. (Who doesn't?) A combo-guard would work fine in this situation as well.
Candidates: Dennis Schroeder, Lorenzo Brown, Ricky Ledo, Jamaal Franklin
Cleveland Cavaliers, No. 1, No. 19, No. 31, No. 33
Team Needs: Small forward, versatility, true center, secondary playmaker.
Overview: The Cavaliers are reportedly looking for a big man to pair with Tristan Thompson, but they have serious needs all over. Most notably, they need a wing defensive upgrade to pair with Dion Waiters. A complementary playmaker would be nice, but they can wait till their mid-first pick or the second round for that.
Candidates: Otto Porter, Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Erick Green, Glen Rice Jr., Nerlens Noel
Detroit Pistons, No. 8, No. 37, No. 56
Team Needs: Small forward, versatility, pure point guard.
Overview: Best talent available is an option here, given that it's not a 4 or a 5. They desperately need to fill their small-forward position after trading Tayshaun Prince, though, so that might be the play here.
Candidates: Otto Porter, Shabazz Muhammad, C.J. McCollum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Giannis Adetokunbo, Sergey Karasev, Anthony Bennett
Milwaukee Bucks, No. 15, No. 43
Team Needs: Pure point guard, wing versatility
Overview: Either Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings or both will be gone in free agency, so they're going to have to take a guard here. It's almost certain, and it's actually kind of a boon, given their options in this spot. Some wing depth might not be bad, either.
Candidates: Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin, Shabazz Muhammad, Giannis Adetokunbo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, C.J. McCollum
Chicago Bulls, No. 20, No.49
Team Needs: Rebounders, size, shooter depth, playmakers, pure point guard.
Overview: Losing Omer Asik hurt, and they wound up having to scrape by with Nazr Mohammed, who's not exactly a spring chicken anymore. They could really use some help with rebounding, but also some backourt size would help considering Nate Robinson's defensive limitations, should they re-sign him.
Candidates: Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Lucas Noguiera, Tony Mitchell, Jeff Withey, Gorgui Dieng
Indiana Pacers, No. 23, No. 53
Team Needs: Shooters, point-guard depth, power-forward depth, playmakers.
Overview: They just need guys to space the floor. They could use point-guard depth, but it's not imperative, and a more consistent backup power forward would be great. They're pretty well set, though.
Candidates: Allen Crabbe, Jamaal Franklin, Tony Snell, Ricky Ledo, Isaiah Canaan
Phoenix Suns, No. 5, No. 30, No. 57
Team Needs: Everything. There isn't a single thing on this team that isn't replaceable or in need.
Overview: The Suns need absolutely everything. I'm not sure you can point to one part of their existing roster and say, “This guy is a building block moving forward,” and that's including Goran Dragic. The team needs talent, and they need superstar talent. Ideally, they'll be in position to pilfer one of the top players from the exciting 2014 NBA Draft class, but for now, they should simply take the best player available when they pick at No. 5 on Thursday. They'll also have the 30th pick in the draft, too.
Candidates: Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore, Alex Len, Anthony Bennett, Glen Rice Jr., Tim Hardaway Jr., Ricky Ledo, Tony Mitchell, Tony Snell, Reggie Bullock
Sacramento Kings, No. 7, No. 36
Team Needs: Playmaking guard, rebounding big man, shot blocker
Overview: There's a lot of individual talent on the Kings, but there isn't a whole lot of direction. That could get settled with Pete D'Alessandro shaping the future of the Kings moving forward. For now, they could use someone directing them on the basketball court. While Isaiah Thomas is a really nice gem from the very end of the 2011 draft class, he's not a guy who gets everybody involved. They could really use a playmaker at point guard to set up the weapons that they have out there. There are other needs, but that's the most pressing.
Candidates: Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. McCollum, Trey Burke
Los Angeles Lakers, No. 48
Team Needs: Outside shooters, wing scorers, defensive big man
Overview: Without Kobe Bryant on the court, the Lakers didn't have many options for perimeter scoring last year. Since we don't know if the Lakers will have Bryant at their disposal right away and we know their bench is anemic, grabbing anybody with No. 48 who can come in and even give them 15 minutes a night would be huge. They could always attempt to move into the first round, but more than likely they'll just hope for a second-round gem, like they got with Robert Sacre or Darius Morris or Devin Ebanks or Derrick Caracter. They might need some luck here.
Candidates: Trevor Mbakwe, Alex Abrines, Phil Pressey, Myck Kabongo, Ray McCallum, Nemanja Nedovic, Deshaun Thomas, James Ennis, B.J. Young, Andre Roberson
Golden State Warriors, no picks available
Team Needs: Backup point guard, post scorer
Overview: The Warriors don't have a single pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. So unless they want to trade or buy their way in, they probably just have to look toward retaining their own free agents or signing new ones.
Candidates: Mike Muscala, Erick Green, Pierre Jackson
Los Angeles Clippers, No. 25
Team Needs: Defensive big man, playmaking wing
Overview: The Clippers need guys on the wing who can make plays without possessing an AARP card, and they need guys who can help Blake Griffin protect the basket. There are plenty of options for both situations at No. 25, but we'll probably be looking at more of a project with this pick than someone who will come in right away and start helping out the Clippers.
Candidates: Ricky Ledo, Jeff Withey, Rudy Gobert, Allen Crabbe, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glen Rice Jr., Lucas Nogueira, Reggie Bullock
Minnesota Timberwolves: No. 9, No. 26, No. 52, No. 59
Team Needs: 3-point shooter, playmaking wing players, defensive big man
Overview: This team was almost historically bad from 3-point range this past season and still had arguably the worst 3-point shooting season in NBA history when you factor in volume. It's possible they'll lose Nikola Pekovic in free agency if they don't want to match a big offer for him, but they need to concentrate on adding quality wings who can shoot and make plays off the dribble. With two picks in the first round, they have two chances to do this if they decide not to go big with one of their picks.
Candidates: C.J. McCollum, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Cody Zeller, Allen Crabbe, Ricky Ledo, Tim Hardaway Jr., Jeff Withey, Rudy Gobert, Lucas Nogueira, Reggie Bullock
Portland Trail Blazers, No. 10, No. 39, No. 40, No. 45
Team Needs: Anything and everything on the bench, outside shooters, defensive playmakers, rebounding big man
Overview: The Trail Blazers had a solid starting lineup last year but absolutely no bench to count on. They could use a lot of depth at all positions, and this draft gives them a perfect chance to improve their depth inside. If there is a lightning-rod wing player like C.J. McCollum available at No. 10, then they'll probably go that route. Otherwise, look for the Blazers to bring in some size to compete with Meyers Leonard for minutes and replace J.J. Hickson, who is a free agent.
Candidates: C.J. McCollum, Cody Zeller, Steven Adams, Mason Plumlee
Utah Jazz, No. 14, No. 21, No. 46
Team Needs: playmaking point guard, wing scorer
Overview: The Utah Jazz still haven't found a proper point guard to replace Deron Williams, and it could be the only real thing keeping them from becoming a definite playoff team. They could use scoring on the wings, but they do have players like Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks, who could develop there. Point guard is the most pressing issue for them, and they need to start figuring it out.
Candidates: Dennis Schroeder, Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin
Denver Nuggets, No. 27
Team Needs: Post scorer, defensive wing man, outside shooters, people who can make free throws
Overview: This team struggled to stretch the floor with shooters, and they didn't have many guys who shot consistently from the free-throw line. As much as they could use a big man who can contribute right away, they probably won't get that in this draft at No. 27. I say go for the shooters available and start stretching the floor for that talented roster.
Candidates: Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Allen Crabbe, Glen Rice Jr., Alex Abrines, Tony Snell, Jamaal Franklin
Oklahoma City Thunder, No. 12, No. 29, No. 32
Team Needs: Post scorer, creative shooting guard
Overview: The Thunder don't need much, but they could use depth inside (they don't really want to play Hasheem Thabeet, right?) and someone on the wing, just in case Kevin Martin doesn't stay with the team long term. With both the Nos. 12 and 29 picks in the draft, they have lots of ways that they could go with adding depth to their roster in this draft. Expect Sam Presti to wow us with his decision-making here.
Candidates: Steven Adams, Kelly Olynyk, Cody Zeller, Shabazz Muhammad, Mason Plumlee, Jeff Withey, Allan Crabbe, Alex Abrines, Mike Muscala, Archie Goodwin
New Orleans Pelicans, No. 6
Team Needs: Scoring big man, playmaking wing player, point guard
Overview: The playmaking wing player could end up being a healthy Eric Gordon if the team hangs onto him during the offseason. His scoring ability on some healthy legs could make a big difference in their attack. While Robin Lopez had a nice season, the team could use more of a fluid scorer inside. With Al-Farouq Aminu's impending free agency, an all-around wing could be a priority here, but they still need to stockpile talent. Greivis Vasquez was great for them last season, but an upgrade at point guard isn't out of the question, either, considering Vasquez was a saloon door on defense.
Candidates: Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, Alex Len, C.J. McCollum
Dallas Mavericks, No. 13, No. 44
Team Needs: Rebounding big man, wing scorer, playmaking point guard
Overview: The Mavericks are in a weird position. They need to shed salary to go after a big-time free agent like Dwight Howard, but they could also use some depth in case he's not coming to Dallas. The Mavericks are both trying to shed salary and stockpile assets at the same time. If they end up keeping the pick, they could use a big man next to Dirk Nowitzki or a point guard to supplant the issues that they had with Darren Collison last season.
Candidates: Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin, Dennis Schroeder, Lucas Nogueira, Kelly Olynyk, Mason Plumlee, Sergey Karasev, Shabazz Muhammad
Houston Rockets: No. 34
Team Needs: European player to stash in Europe for cap clearing purposes
Overview: The Houston Rockets are dying to either get rid of their draft pick for future considerations or stash a player in Europe who won't count against the cap. They don't have a pick until No. 34, but they could move Thomas Robinson in a trade to acquire a first-round pick, clear cap space and stash a future asset for their roster.
Candidates: Sergey Karasev, Dennis Schroeder, Lucas Nogueira, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Alex Abrines, Nemanja Nedovic
Memphis Grizzlies, No. 42, No. 55, No. 60
Team Needs: Outside shooting, wing scorers, backup center
Overview: The Grizzlies don't have any first-round picks, but they do own Nos. 41, 55 and 60. They're just looking for one of these guys to stick and provide them with some kind of outside shooting and scoring punch off the bench. They're going to have to get pretty creative, but they can probably try to add a rotation player for next year and maybe stash a couple of guys in Europe.
Candidates: Pierre Jackson, James Ennis, Tony Snell, Livio-Jean Charles, Alex Abrines, Archie Goodwin, Erick Green
San Antonio Spurs, No. 28, No. 58
Team Needs: Big man to replace Tiago Splitter(?), backup point guard, scoring wing player
Overview: Who is going to be the sleeper the Spurs seemingly pull out and turn into an instant rotation player next season? I'm not sure any team has a better track record with the draft than the Spurs, and it almost seems silly, thanks to their scouting department, to believe they won't be able to find a rotation player who can contribute right away. They could use insurance for the possible departure of Splitter and they could also use a backup point guard for Tony Parker.
Candidates: Isaiah Canaan, Nate Wolters, Gorgui Dieng, Lucas Nogueira, Mike Muscala