- What's your team need ahead of the 2018 NBA draft? We have you covered. The Front Office breaks down needs, draft picks and free agents for all 30 teams.
The NBA draft is less than a week away, and all 30 teams have hunkered down to make final preparations. The last rounds of prospect workouts and interviews are ongoing, trade conversations are beginning to get serious, and rumors are flying. After weeks of gathering intel and an entire season spent studying the player pool, The Crossover’s Front Office has broken down needs and key information to keep in mind for every team going into draft night.
For up-to-date projections for all 60 picks, see our most recent mock draft. The Crossover also has full positional breakdowns and scouting reports for the top available guards, wings and bigs. Our final Top 100 rankings will be released on Monday.
Without further ado, here's a comprehensive breakdown of all 30 teams heading into the 2018 NBA draft.
Draft Picks: 3, 19, 30, 34
Needs: Star talent, structural flexibility
Key Free Agents: Dewayne Dedmon (player option), Mike Muscala (player option)
The Hawks are positioning themselves for an extended rebuild under Travis Schlenk and have don’t have a ton of salary tied up in the long run. John Collins is the only young piece they have attachment to. Entering the draft with four of the first 34 selections in hand puts Atlanta in position to be movers. Given the Hawks have the picks and potentially more tham $30 million in cap space, they could sensibly absorb another team’s unwanted contract to try and move up from 19 to land a second lottery pick if it’s an advantageous trade. Incumbent guard Dennis Schröder is known to be unsettled, but he’s owed $46.5 million through 2021, which has made him difficult to deal thus far. Expect them to be very active in trade conversations.
There’s significant buzz around the league that the Hawks have interest in Trae Young. That makes sense given Schlenk came to Atlanta from Golden State, where the Warriors built a title-winning team around a similarly-skilled guard in Stephen Curry. If the Hawks are able to move down within a handful of slots from No. 3 in an advantageous deal, Young could be their target. If they stay put, Jaren Jackson would make a terrific fit with Collins in the frontcourt. Don’t expect Atlanta to roster all four rookies next year, whether there’s a trade or they opt to stash an international prospect at 30 or 34. This is a team with a lot of options.
Draft Picks: 27
Needs: Backcourt depth
Key free agents: Marcus Smart (restricted), Aron Baynes, Greg Monroe
While they have no need to do anything drastic, keep in mind that the Celtics have the pieces to make a move up from 27 if they choose. They could have four first-rounders in next year’s draft: their own, the Clippers’ pick (lottery protected), the Grizzlies’ pick (protected 1–8) and the more favorable of the Kings and Sixers’ picks (unless it’s first overall). The Celtics will enter restricted free agency with Marcus Smart this summer and Terry Rozier next year, but Boston’s workouts with first-round caliber players have focused mostly on backcourt players, with Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Okogie and Grayson Allen all potentially in consideration at No. 27. The Celtics are also said to be high on Jalen Brunson as well as projected second-round forward Kenrich Williams. Finding a guard that can step into minutes when the Celtics are eventually forced to move on from one of their guards makes sense at that spot.
Draft Picks: 29, 40, 45
Needs: Long-term assets
Key Free Agents: Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas (restricted), Joe Harris
The wreckage from the infamous Boston trade has almost been cleared up, as Brooklyn finally gets its own first-round picks back starting in 2019. This has been a patient rebuild. The Nets have a large scouting staff and have brought in a ton of prospects to invest in and develop it, NBA readiness aside. They’ve been shrewd about adding future selections in the past and have invested in athletic players with length under Sean Marks (Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen) when they do draft. The Nets have decisions to make on Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas and Joe Harris, who are all hitting free agency.
There have been rumors that the Nets would like to move up in the draft from No. 29, and they do have the cap space to eat another team’s bad contract in order to do it. In any case, Brooklyn may not roster three rookies and could look to stash a prospect overseas with one of their second-round picks or make them available to other teams. They’re justified in going with the best available prospect regardless of position at 29, but can be opportunistic as necessary.
Draft Picks: 11, 55
Needs: Youth injection
Key Free Agents: Michael Carter-Williams
With James Borrego replacing Steve Clifford as coach, Charlotte presently returns all of its key pieces going into its first offseason with GM Mitch Kupchak running the show. There hasn’t been much chatter about what the Hornets are aiming to due beyond theoretical Kemba Walker trades as the star guard enters the final year of his deal, but it stands to reason that they’ll explore every option with their current players, given there won’t be much room to operate with free agents. This is a veteran-heavy rotation that could be in the playoff picture if healthy, and given that, Charlotte may be wise looking for the best prospect available at their spot in the first round.
There may not be a clear NBA-ready prospect available at No. 11, but Mikal or Miles Bridges could be options if the Hornets want someone closer to filling out their rotation. The more sensible move is taking the long view and investing in a younger player like Kevin Knox or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, both of whom would have some time to develop as Charlotte figures out which players to keep around. It’s far too early to give up on Malik Monk, which makes a pass-first, defensive-minded player like Gilgeous-Alexander a quality option. Teams view the 18-year-old Knox as someone with intriguing long-term upside. Either route would make sense, and Collin Sexton could also be available here, though his fit with Monk is tenuous from a defensive standpoint. If the Hornets opt for a point guard, it’s fair to think Walker could be on the move sooner rather than later.
Draft Picks: 7, 22
Needs: Center, wing
Key Free Agents: Zach LaVine (restricted), David Nwaba (restricted), Noah Vonleh (restricted)
After assembling a better-than-expected group of young players led by 2017 first-rounder Lauri Markkanen, Chicago sits in an interesting position at No. 7. The Bulls could potentially leverage that pick via trade, with a number of teams said to be interested in moving into the lottery and Trae Young and Michael Porter potentially available at their spot. Moving upward in the draft appears more difficult given that most rival teams believe that the Bulls are the franchise that promised Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison at No. 22, which barring unforeseen circumstances would take that pick off the table as a chip.
The Bulls’ clearest positional need is a center to eventually take the reins from Robin Lopez, with Wendell Carter likely to be available as a sensible option. If Mo Bamba were to fall, he’d be in the mix as well. The Bulls’ medical staff conducted their own physical on Porter, and Chicago is viewed by some around the league as a team that would be willing to take a gamble on him. Despite Kris Dunn’s presence, Trae Young worked out for the Bulls and would be an intriguing direction to take given the need for a creative playmaker. Kevin Knox could also be in consideration here.
Draft Picks: 8
Needs: Best player available, point guard
Key Free Agents: LeBron James (player option), Rodney Hood (restricted), Jeff Green
Given the obvious uncertainty surrounding what LeBron James will do, Cleveland is operating from an unusually difficult position with Brooklyn’s pick at No. 8. Do they try to use the pick as a trade chip to improve the team and appease James? Do they move down and try to turn it into multiple selections and inject more youth into an aging roster? The least drastic and most logical move is just to stay put and select whoever they deem the top prospect, securing value whether they rebuild or keep trying to contend.
The Cavs have a clear need for improved point guard play, and should Trae Young be available at No. 8, they’d likely take the plunge despite the fact he didn’t work out for them. Collin Sexton could also be an option if Young is off the board. The most NBA-ready prospect likely to be available there is Wendell Carter, who offers a remarkably high floor and strong skill level and can be a long-term answer at center. It’s also worth noting that Michigan State’s Miles Bridges should be on the board and is represented by James’s agent, Rich Paul, who also reps Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith. Cleveland’s decision on draft night will be indicative of their long-term thinking and is worth monitoring closely.
Draft Picks: 5, 34, 54
Needs: Wings, center
Key Free Agents: Dirk Nowitzki (team option), Wesley Matthews (player option), Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, Doug McDermott (restricted)
The prevailing thought around the league is that Dallas is itching to be competitive again, which owner Mark Cuban has alluded to publicly. The Mavericks are armed with cap space and have only Dennis Smith, last year’s first-rounder, tied up beyond 2020. They could end up moving down in the first round if it can net them an experienced player they like. Expect Dallas to get an audience with big-name free agents, including DeMarcus Cousins. There are rumors circulating that the Mavericks aren’t as high on Mohamed Bamba at No. 5, which makes sense given the possibility of bringing in an established, productive player at center to jump-start the team.
Luka Doncic, the most NBA-ready player in the draft, is a logical target for Dallas but appears unlikely to be available. The Mavericks are also a possible destination for Michael Porter, who would pair nicely with Harrison Barnes and presents a potentially large reward if he can stay healthy. They’ve done their due diligence working out all the top prospects save for the point guards, and should be able to come away with a player they like if they stay put. Dallas will also be able to grab a good player at No. 34, where there are still certain to be quality prospects on the board based on the depth of this class, particularly on the perimeter.
Draft Picks: 14, 43, 58
Needs: Ballhandling, small forward, cap relief
Key Free Agents: Nikola Jokic (team option), Wilson Chandler (player option), Will Barton, Darrell Arthur (player option), Devin Harris
Denver continues to push forward with its young core after narrowly missing the playoffs, and is coming up on a potential big-money extension for Nikola Jokic. There are rumors that the Nuggets could look to use No. 14 to move off of an expiring contract, namely Kenneth Faried, and trade down in the draft while opening up cap space. It’s a viable path if there’s no one they love at that spot.
Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Jokic are the Nuggets’ key building blocks, three skilled young players who fit together nicely. Denver could look to grab a ball-handler who can allow Murray to spend more time running off screens, where he can do a lot of damage, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would fit that criteria if he gets to them. Given Will Barton might be gone and that Wilson Chandler hasn’t given them much, addressing the small forward spot also makes sense, particularly if Miles Bridges slips to them at 14. In the second round, the Nuggets will likely look to stash at least one of their two picks and have a track record of investing in European talent.
Draft Picks: 42
Needs: Perimeter help
Key Free Agents: Anthony Tolliver, Jameer Nelson, James Ennis
The Pistons have just their second-rounder following the Blake Griffin trade. With their entire core returning under contract, Detroit’s biggest need is on the wing, which they can ideally address at No. 42. A bigger, defensive-minded two-guard or versatile three-man would make for a reasonable flier, depending on which players fall to them. Hopes are still high for Luke Kennard, last year’s first-rounder, and Stanley Johnson also returns but has underwhelmed. Detroit should be able to immediately roster whoever they pick at 42.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Draft Picks: 28
Needs: Wing depth
Key Free Agents: Kevin Durant (player option), Patrick McCaw (restricted), David West, Nick Young, Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee
Given their top-heavy salary structure and need to pay their stars, the Warriors seriously value the draft as a means of investing in inexpensive talent and ideally rounding out their rotation. Given the success of Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell, both under contract for next season, the presence of 2016 first-rounder Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw’s upcoming restricted free agency, expect Golden State to focus on the perimeter and draft a wing or bigger guard at No. 28.
Some of the players in the mix at that spot who fit with the Warriors nicely include Josh Okogie and Grayson Allen, athletic guards who can play with and without the ball and shoot the three. Creighton’s Khyri Thomas is another experienced player who could be a fit, given he wouldn’t be tasked with much offensive creation. And after buying into the second round last year for Jordan Bell, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Golden State acquire another pick later in the draft to add another young prospect.
Draft Picks: 46
Needs: Shooting, defensive versatility
Key Free Agents: Chris Paul, Clint Capela (restricted), Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green, Luc Mbah a Moute, Joe Johnson
The Rockets’ primary focus this offseason will be keeping the band together (and/or courting LeBron), and there are several key pieces to figure out as they build next year’s team. Given the nature of that process, Houston has to maintain flexibility above all else. Their style of play enables them to zero in on specific types of role players, with an emphasis on three-point shooting, defensive versatility and high IQ in their role players. There could be an experienced college prospect at 46 who fits the mold, or they could look to stash a player overseas or on a two-way deal and keep a roster spot open.
Draft Picks: 23, 50
Needs: Point guard, wing depth
Key Free Agents: Thaddeus Young (player option), Lance Stephenson (team option), Trevor Booker, Cory Joseph (player option), Glenn Robinson III
After investing in the frontcourt in last year’s draft, the Pacers have worked out primarily perimeter guys for No. 23. Indiana can build on a strong season by adding the right role player to the mix at that spot, whether it’s finding a young point guard as Darren Collison enters a contract year or an extra wing player to help take defensive responsibility off of Victor Oladipo. He and Myles Turner should be viewed as the Pacers’ best long-term pieces, and finding the right role players to complement them is imperative.
Indiana worked out Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Okogie, Bruce Brown and Jalen Brunson in addition to Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa and Ohio State’s Keita Bates-Diop, all of whom could be on the board at 23, plus a wide range of players projected into their range at 50, mostly frontcourt types. For the Pacers, getting more athletic and adding shooters (ideally both traits will be present in whoever they draft) seems to be an emphasis. Finding another glue guy who can rebound or a second perimeter player could be good directions for Indiana, who have the benefit of a quality G League program in nearby Fort Wayne if they choose to take a developmental flier or offer a two-way deal at 50.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Draft Picks: 12, 13
Key Free Agents: DeAndre Jordan (player option), Avery Bradley, Austin Rivers (player option), Milos Teodosic (player option), Wesley Johnson
Operating with consecutive late-lottery picks in hand and widely known to be exploring trade options, the Clippers are one of the more interesting teams in the draft. Given that they don’t want to blow things up and that Doc Rivers typically doesn’t lean on rookies, it seems like L.A. is very serious about trying to find the right deal, whether it’s to get higher in the lottery or drop back to turn one of the picks into something more immediately useful (or future assets). So although the Clippers may not have much cap space, there’s some flexibility in terms of draft movement. They’ll have a good chunk of their rotation returning depending on what DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley do in free agency.
If the Clippers move up, there’s a known level of interest in Michael Porter. Top exec Lawrence Frank attended his pro day, and if L.A. is somehow able to get up high enough in the draft, he could be a target. Otherwise, the best option for them is probably taking big swings with those picks and hoping to uncover a long-term starting caliber player, with Lonnie Walker and either Collin Sexton or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander probably the top realistic options. If the Clippers feel Jordan is on the way out, Robert Williams could be a long-term fit within his role.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Draft Picks: 25, 47
Needs: Shooting, financial flexibility
Key free agents: Brook Lopez, Isaiah Thomas, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Julius Randle (restricted)
It’s safe to say the Lakers will at least be in the mix to sign LeBron James and Paul George, and they presently have less than $40 million on the books for next season and can be serious players in free agency regardless. The only blight on their cap sheet is Luol Deng’s contract, which runs them $18 million each of the next two years for a player with next-to-no utility at this stage of his career. There have been a lot of rumors surrounding what they’ll do in the draft, with some chatter about them trying to move up from No. 25.
Multiple league sources believe the Lakers are the team that guaranteed Maryland’s Kevin Huerter at No. 25, but consensus seems to be he won’t fall that far. It’s possible that if they do move up, they could be targeting him and looking to get into the teens. It’s still possible they choose to move off of No. 25 if Huerter is indeed off the table, and in that case, they could try and package it with Deng’s contract to maximize their cap space and maintain absolute peak flexibility. It’s unlikely the Lakers are beholden to much of anything as they await free agency.
Draft Picks: 4, 32
Needs: Immediate help, shooting, wing depth
Key Free Agents: Tyreke Evans
Grizzlies owner Robert Pera’s comments about returning to 50-plus wins next season raised some eyebrows, but it’s certainly clear that Memphis has no intention of going full-tank again, with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol still effective at this stage of their respective careers. Rumors have come out that Memphis is looking to deal the No. 4 pick and potentially move down in the draft, with Chandler Parsons’s albatross of a contract the caveat for a team hoping to select a top-five talent.
If the Grizzlies stay put, they’re seen as a highly viable destination for Luka Doncic, who is ready to play in the NBA and would likely start for them from day one next to Conley. It’s a realistic possibility he falls to them, with neither the Kings nor the Hawks completely sold at this point. But given that Memphis is a notoriously cheap team and that Parsons, who’s injury prone and past his prime, is owed more than $49 million through 2020, trying to deal him and selecting lower in the draft seems like a decision that’s eminently possible. There is no quick path for Memphis to return to the top of the West, but it appears they’ll try to get back in the thick of things.
Draft Picks: None
Key Free Agents: Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington
The Heat have had their share of success uncovering second-rounders and undrafted free agents, fitting them into their culture and developing them into real role players, with backcourt mainstays Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson chief examples. Look for Miami to try and move into the second round if there’s a prospect they covet, and expect them to be aggressive immediately after the draft in targeting under-the-radar players. The Heat have no cap space given that nearly all their rotation players will return under contract, and there was chatter last season about Hassan Whiteside being unsettled, but it’s unclear if they have much leverage to deal him.
Draft Picks: 17
Needs: Guard depth, shooting
Key Free Agents: Jabari Parker (restricted), Marshall Plumlee (restricted)
It’s uncertain what will happen with Jabari Parker this summer, but otherwise the Bucks are set to bring back the rest of their rotation. Parker has had a difficult couple of years in Milwaukee and heads into restricted free agency with the Bucks able to match any offer. However, doing so could put them in a difficult place financially.
The Bucks are believed to be looking primarily at perimeter players with their first-round selection and could use another ball-handler. Given that Giannis Antetokounmpo spends so much time playing on the ball, Milwaukee has favored dual-combo guard lineups alongside him. Players like Jerome Robinson, Grayson Allen and Troy Brown could all make sense at No. 17. There’s also a chance Robert Williams, who’s viewed as a lottery talent, falls to their spot and could be a tempting gamble.
Draft Picks: 20, 48
Key Free Agents: Jamal Crawford, Derrick Rose, Nemanja Bjelica
With Andrew Wiggins’s max extension kicking in this summer, the Wolves are particularly strapped to add talent through free agency unless they’re able to move a contract, with Gorgui Dieng’s deal the most expendable but potentially difficult to move. It’s fair to guess Minnesota could try and dangle the No. 20 pick and shed salary. Tom Thibodeau is notorious for his aversion to playing rookies, and after the Wolves drafted Justin Patton last year and got no immediate returns, it’s easy to reason that they could try and extract extra value out of their pick this year.
If Minnesota keeps the pick, finding an experienced prospect that can contribute immediately seems paramount. Tough-minded players like Donte DiVincenzo, Grayson Allen and Bruce Brown have all worked out for them and are guys who could pick up some backcourt minutes immediately. Owning No. 48 gives them another opportunity to take a flier, or stash a prospect if they prefer not to roster two rookies.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Draft Picks: 51
Needs: 3-and-D wings
Key Free Agents: DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark
New Orleans has just the No. 51 pick after trading with Chicago for Nikola Mirotic, and hopes to keep DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in place after last season’s successful run. The Pelicans are thin at small forward and favored three-guard lineups at times last season. Targeting an experienced, versatile wing like Devon Hall or Kenrich Williams at their spot could be prudent.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Draft Picks: 9, 36
Needs: Wing, playmaking
Key Free Agents: Enes Kanter (player option), Kyle O’Quinn (player option), Michael Beasley
The Knicks have done a fairly good job reorienting their team dating back to last year’s draft and should be able to augment their core with both of this year’s selections. They’ve begun utilizing Frank Ntilikina off the ball more often and could use a playmaker to help spark the offense and distribute, with Kristaps Porzingis recovering from his ACL injury but still the long-term centerpiece. The Knicks likely won’t have prime financial flexibility until the summer of 2020, and the next two years are pivotal in establishing some type of direction and figuring out who else matters beyond Porzingis.
New York has real interest in Trae Young, but it seems unlikely he falls to them at No. 9. If they’re married to the idea of a playmaker, Collin Sexton makes sense. They also have a need on the wing and are said to be high on Mikal Bridges, with Kevin Knox also a viable option, albeit one that will take longer to develop. If Wendell Carter were to fall to 9, they’d be justified in taking another big. There should be a variety of good options available at No. 36, as well.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Draft Picks: 53, 57
Needs: Depth, Shooting
Key Free Agents: Paul George (player option), Carmelo Anthony (early termination option), Corey Brewer, Jerami Grant
With two late second-round selections, the Thunder have some flexibility to gamble on upside types without taking on much risk. Maintaining roster flexibility is key, with Russell Westbrook’s max contract kicking in and a need to keep cap space open to try and re-sign Paul George. OKC is generally unafraid to throw darts, and in terms of immediate help, it could use frontcourt depth and a backup guard. It’s possible they use these picks to draft players for two-way deals or stash opportunities.
Draft Picks: 6, 35, 41
Needs: Big man, point guard
Key Free Agents: Aaron Gordon (restricted), Mario Hezonja
As it stands, Orlando isn’t tied down to much of anything on the roster long-term beyond last year’s first-rounder Jonathan Isaac. They’re in an intriguing spot at No. 6, where they’re sure to have intrigiung options. Jeff Weltman and John Hammond are known to favor drafting based off of athleticism, length and physical potential, and working to develop ball skills down the road. Keep in mind they hired a defensive-minded coach in Steve Clifford.
There’s a chance Mohamed Bamba falls to the Magic at No. 6, and he seems like the ideal choice in all respects given what we know about Orlando’s draft history. He’d be a viable long-term defensive anchor. In the less-likely case Jaren Jackson falls to them, the same principles would apply. Wendell Carter also feels like a perfect fit for Steve Clifford. The Magic have brought in Trae Young and interviewed Michael Porter, but neither player appears to be a perfect fit with their infrastructure and draft tendencies. Orlando can go a variety of directions here, and will be able to nab another solid player or stash someone overseas with their two second-rounders.
Draft Picks: 10, 26, 38, 39, 56, 60
Needs: Shooting, defensive versatility
Key Free Agents: JJ Redick, T.J. McConnell (team option), Marco Belinelli, Ersan Ilyasova, Amir Johnson
The Sixers will remain under the microscope this offseason, as they have yet to replace Bryan Colangelo, are expected to make a play for LeBron James, and have four veterans, most importantly J.J. Redick, hitting free agency. There are a lot of rumors about Philadelphia trying to move up in the draft from No. 10, but it’s unclear who they could target that would be a great fit with their core pieces. As it stands, they have one-tenth of the entire draft in their possession, and are likely to move off of some of their second-round selections and look to stash players overseas or sign them to two-way contracts.
Philadelphia is believed to be targeting wing help if they stay put at No. 10, with Mikal Bridges’s shooting and defensive versatility seeming like a perfect fit. If their current roster model is any indication, the Sixers need athletes who can play in the open court alongside Ben Simmons, space the floor and defend on the perimeter. They could also use another perimeter scorer like Lonnie Walker, who can be developed as another backcourt weapon. There should also be a number of quality guards on the board at No. 26.
Draft Picks: 1, 16, 31, 59
Needs: Center, point guard
Key Free Agents: Elfrid Payton (restricted), Alex Len
It would be a shock if the Suns went in a direction other than Deandre Ayton with the first pick, which makes sense given their hole at center, the presence of Tyson Chandler as a mentor, and at least one young player present at every other position. Word is the Suns have also explored ways to acquire another pick later in the lottery, potentially packaging Nos. 16 and 31 with a player to try and target a guard or a wing. Phoenix has enough pieces on the table to get creative on draft night. They also have Milwaukee’s protected 2019 first-rounder and Miami’s 2021 first-rounder in hand as bargaining chips.
Were Phoenix to keep No. 16, an upside play like Zhaire Smith or a guard like Aaron Holiday (who they’ve now brought in twice) or Jerome Robinson could make sense, with Elfrid Payton’s restricted free agency still to play out. They don’t seem likely to roster three rookies next year given how much youth is already on the roster, so it seems unlikely Phoenix uses all their picks. There are likely to be viable stash options on the board at 31 and 59.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Draft Picks: 24
Needs: Perimeter defense
Key free agents: Jusuf Nurkic (restricted), Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier (restricted)
Victims of their own rampant spending, Portland is want for options at the moment unless they choose to trade one of their stars, with C.J. McCollum perhaps more movable than Damian Lillard, but neither an easy player to part with. The financial situation gets hairier when you consider that Jusuf Nurkic will be a restricted free agent this summer. They can and should look to find a role player who can help immediately, and ideally someone who can provide improved perimeter defense. Given that the Blazers don’t have a G League team, nor do they place much value on having young talent in the pipeline, it’s likely whoever they draft ends up on the roster.
Thankfully, there are a variety of players who fit that bill who could be on the board at 24: Donte DiVincenzo, De’Anthony Melton, Josh Okogie and Bruce Brown would all be nice options given their ability to pair with either Lillard or McCollum, provide some defensive cover and ideally make some open threes away from the ball. Portland should also explore dealing this pick to shed salary, but given it’s this far down in the first round, that situation is more difficult to imagine taking place.
Draft Picks: 2, 37
Needs: Best player available
Key Free Agents: Iman Shumpert (player option), Kosta Koufos (player option), Garrett Temple (player option)
No team has been more confusing to figure out in the lead-up to draft week than Sacramento. Whether that’s by their own design, or instead their front office’s noted indecisiveness is a fair debate. While Marvin Bagley looks like the most likely choice at No. 2, it’s still possible the Kings settle on Luka Doncic, who would be able to start for them immediately, or take a risk on Michael Porter, who they are known to have real interest in despite his health situation. That being said, it’s more likely they trade down to draft him, and the Kings have been looking into trading down from their current spot to increase their return.
The fit between Doncic and De’Aaron Fox wouldn’t be perfect, but assuming Deandre Ayton is off the board, he’d provide the most immediate help and biggest boost of energy for the franchise. Bagley’s productivity and high motor are attractive, as is Porter’s ability to score from the perimeter, but you can’t help but wonder if Sacramento is overthinking this pick. We’ll find out on draft night.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Draft Picks: 18, 49
Needs: Wing, athleticism
Key Free Agents: Rudy Gay (player option), Danny Green (player option), Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson (restricted), Davis Bertans (restricted)
If the Spurs feel they have a real shot at LeBron, their roster will look much different next year, but those odds seem slim at this point. Given that much of their wing rotation could head elsewhere, Manu Ginobili could retire, and that they’re tied up long-term with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, San Antonio should look to get more versatile on the perimeter and find another prospect with room for growth at No. 18.
One name that comes to mind at that spot is Troy Brown, who’s unselfish, can do a bit of everything and defend multiple positions. Unfortunately, his key weakness is shooting the three-ball. If Zhaire Smith falls to them, he’d be a worthwhile project who would particularly benefit from the Spurs’ strong player development staff. Adding a skilled guard who can shoot the three like Kevin Huerter or Jerome Robinson would also make sense. And should Robert Williams somehow slip to them, he’d likely offer too much talent to pass up.
Draft Picks: None
Key Free Agents: Fred Van Vleet
The Raptors don’t own a draft pick, but are willing to buy a second-rounder if there’s a player available that they like. It’s unclear if they’ll be able to keep Fred Van Vleet and it’s possible Toronto shakes up its roster this summer via trade, which leaves a number of directions possible in the draft. This is an opportunistic front office, and it won’t be a surprise if they take action on draft night and move into the second round.
Draft Picks: 21, 52
Needs: Wing depth, shooting
Key Free Agents: Derrick Favors, Dante Exum (restricted)
After hitting the jackpot with Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz can set about finding him a long-term backcourt partner with the No. 21 pick. They tend to favor unselfish, defensive-minded role players, and will be in great position for another playoff run next season as Mitchell continues to emerge.
The Jazz are said to have significant interest in Kevin Huerter, who could be a good partner for both Mitchell and Ricky Rubio in the backcourt and is a lethal three-point shooter and quality passer. Other options in this range could include Donte DiVincenzo, Grayson Allen and Jerome Robinson. Utah seems focused on the perimeter here given the lack of great frontcourt talent in their range.
Draft Picks: 15, 44
Needs: Long-term center, Perimeter depth
Key Free Agents: Mike Scott, Ramon Sessions
With their pick falling just outside the lottery, expect the Wizards to pounce on a player they like if any of the top talents fall to them. Given that they’re in win-now mode, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see Washington dangle this pick, potentially to create cap relief if they can find anyone willing to eat Ian Mahinmi’s hefty contract. Given that their entire rotation is coming back and John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are all signed for the long haul, this year’s draft is a good opportunity for Washington to draft young and find a player that they can develop to fit around their stars down the line.
The Wizards don’t necessarily need someone to contribute right away, and if they stay at No. 15, names like Zhaire Smith, Lonnie Walker and Miles Bridges could be available and fit nicely with what they need long-term. While Robert Williams and Mitchell Robinson could be intriguing big men to develop, head coach Scott Brooks tends to favor players who play with consistent energy, and both have their questionmarks. They could look to draft a readymade backup guard like Devonte’ Graham or a younger big man with their second draft pick.