NBA Draft Preview- Eastern Conference

With the NBA Finals (along with Cleveland’s torturous championship drought) finally reaching its end, Adam Murray and Andrew Riche of Place To Be Nation’s NBA-Team Podcast are teaming up to provide the great readers of Place To Be Nation a comprehensive preview of the 2016 NBA Draft, which will accompany a podcast preview as we wait for the first pick of the NBA Draft to be announced on Thursday, June 23rd. In this edition, Riche and Adam tackle all 15 teams in the Eastern Conference regarding team needs, pick positions, strategies, and possible good fits.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA HAWKS

PICKS: First Round- 21, Second Round- 44, 54

FREE AGENTS: Al Horford, Kent Bazemore, Kris Humphries, Kirk Hinrich, Mike Scott (restricted), Mike Muscala (restricted)

TEAM NEEDS: Center, Rebounding, Small Forward

ADAM: I don’t know how I am not the only one saying that the alarms should be sounding in Atlanta. Everywhere I have read, the message is that they can retool and still be competitive and that they only have a Horford and Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder problem. But if you look at next year, you have an extended Horford, Bazemore, Schroder or Teague at point guard, and that’s it. Paul Millsap is going to opt out of his final year next summer. Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha, and the non-signee between Schroder and Teague come off the books. Basically, they have their three signings from this year, and that’s it. The Hawks have ignored the draft for many years, considering how they traded away last year’s pick for Tim Hardaway, Jr. and trading 2014 pick Adreian Payne to the Timberwolves in the middle of his rookie year (Good job, however, turning that Payne deal into one of Minnesota’s future first-round picks). Three years ago, through many trades, they got Lucas Nogueira and then dumped him so they could get rid of Lou Williams. So, what can the Hawks hope for here? Anybody. Somebody that will help them “retool” instead of “rebuild.” I’m going to go with a shooter with potential, maybe Syracuse guard Malachi Richardson, UNLV guard Patrick McCaw, or Saint Joseph’s forward DeAndre Bembry. As for a second-round pick:? Louisville big Chinanu Onuaku and a Euro maybe?

ANDREW: It does look on paper like the midnight hour will be close at hand for this incarnation of Mike Budenholzer’s Atlanta Hawks, and after two pretty disappointing sweep-tastic exits in the playoffs thanks to the Cleveland Cavaliers, not too many Hawks fans are left on that bandwagon after a spectacular 2014-15 regular season. Tiago Splitter’s injury damaged their desperate attempt to Band-Aid their rebounding woes from the previous season, but even with Splitter in tow and especially with the potential departure of Horford, rebounding improvement is necessary to make a deeper run. I do think, Adam, you hit it on the head with the potential small forward issues. Sefolosha is not a starter, and Bazemore played over his head as a starter in place of the departed DeMarre Carroll, but Atlanta might not see enough in Bazemore to re-sign him if his salary jumps past $10 million on the open market. I think they will find another “De” name and take DeAndre Bembry to eventually try out the small forward spot. He is a point forward from Saint Joseph’s with a terrific basketball IQ and sneaky athleticism. A lot of those super raw bigs like Thon Maker and Cheick Diallo might be around by pick #21, but if Bazemore departs, do you really want to be forced to rely on Tim Hardaway, Jr.?  Centers usually go higher in the second round, so I expect the Hawks to take a big like UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman or Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy. There are already rumors about Teague being moved, and if so, a young, tough back-up guard at 54, like Wichita State’s Ron Baker, would be a decent choice.

davis_bosny8_sptsBOSTON CELTICS

PICKS: First Round- 3, 16, 23, Second Round- 35, 45, 51, 58

FREE AGENTS: Evan Turner, Amir Johnson (team option), Jonas Jerebko (team option), Jared Sullinger (restricted), Tyler Zelller (restricted)

TEAM NEEDS: Center/Power Forward, Rim Protection, Shooting Guard

Boston was supposed to be rebuilding, then it hired a genius of a coach who overachieved in year two and it gave the team expectations in year three. Well, with the major signing of Amir Johnson — yes, that Amir Johnson, the one that teams were lining up on day one to talk to — the Celtics overachieved again. Now there are “Durant or Butler or Horford or bust” expectations in free agency. It would have been a lot easier with one of the two top picks, but picking third doesn’t hurt, especially in a two-player draft. Everyone’s focused on those top two guys, which lets you focus on the best of everyone else. And in a two-player draft ,there’s no assurance that both will be successes (*cough* Greg Oden, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley *cough*). So why not dangle the No. 3 and see if anyone will bite? If you remember Minnesota flipped OJ. Mayo for Kevin Love in 2008. Now, you know when the Celtics have more than one first-round pick, they’re going to blow one. Fab Melo was picked four years ago, and it’s looking like James Young and R.J. Hunter might be along the same road. And let us not forget they drafted JaJuan Johnson in 2011 and J.R. Giddens in 2008. Sooooooo….. they can afford to take a project (Diallo/Maker) with 23. With the third overall pick, the 7’1″ Croatian Dragan Bender is a possibility, although I am worried about the Tskitishvilli factor. As for picks 23 and 35… *shrug* let’s say Furkan Korkmaz or Timothe Luwawu and one of the falling centers — Zimmerman/Stone/Jones/Bentil — in the early second. As for the other three picks, I expect very little.

ANDREW: Oh, what a tangled web Danny Ainge has woven for the Celtics in this draft. A lot of his moves at the start of the team’s rebuild in 2013 centered around the bevy of picks collected in salary dumps or other trades and the team began to reap the benefits with last year’s draft. They had two first rounders and a high second, but you’re right about Hunter not being at an NBA-level as of right now. Jordan Mickey was a solid pick-up, but rim protection was still a huge issue for the Celtics despite the addition of Amir Johnson and a drive-by appearance by David Lee. They do have a logjam at guard to the point that Avery Bradley might become a value trade asset with a favorable contract and Terry Rozier on the cusp of making the rotation. It seems like Ainge won’t be looking for a ball-handling guard, but Kentucky’s Jamal Murray is a favorite of mine because he can man the two-position playing off Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart. They do have a tough choice at No. 3 because, even though Bender can assist with their inside presence problems, Murray is an attractive piece and, to me, the best shooting guard in this class. With the 16th pick, if they go Murray, size will be needed so don’t be surprised if they get Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis or Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis in case either of them fall there or reaching to take Kansas’ Cheick Diallo or Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere. With that last first-round pick at 23, a foreign stash pick like Timothé Luwawu makes sense, and I expect at least two more of those with their five second-round picks (if they even keep them). I have already heard that Ivica Zubac is on their radar, but I do think Boston will deliberately pick size in the second round. I can actually see them taking two Maryland players in Robert Carter, Jr. and Jake Layman. The 31st pick, however, has proven valuable in the past, so Ainge might find a keeper.

netsBROOKLYN NETS

PICKS: Second Round- 55 

FREE AGENTS: Donald Sloan, Andrea Bargnani, Henry Sims, Shane Larkin (player option), Wayne Ellington (player option), Jarrett Jack (team option)

TEAM NEEDS: Anything, really

ADAM: We’re not here to talk about the Nets’ past; we’re here to talk about their future. They only have one pick at 55. So we’re not going to talk about them potentially getting into the first round. We’re going to focus on the crapshoot of the late second. The Nets need bodies and developmental talent. Therefore, the best case scenario would be a top second-round pick tumbling down due to the trading of picks for international unknowns. Maybe someone like Joel Bolomboy or Maryland center Diamond Stone falls that far, but I think they would be more than happy to get a Caris LaVert or Gary Payton II type of guard. What Brooklyn needs regardless of the spot is someone who can come in and play right away.

ANDREW: The Nets are totally starting over in every category on this team with the possible exception of their front court thanks to the presence of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, who both signed extensions last summer. After that, Brooklyn is in quite the pickle, hiring a new GM in Sean Marks and a new head coach in Kenny Atkinson, but without their lottery pick thanks to the now-infamously-one-sided 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. So they might have to make this 55th pick, usually an experimental throwaway pick, count for something. They actually did a good job drafting forwards last year with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullogh. This year, I would turn to a taller guard and hope for local product Isaiah Whitehead out of Seton Hall or the defensively-minded Caris LeVert from Michigan. Whitehead does make a lot of sense because of his hometown roots and the fact that he is very likely to be around at that point.

kembaCHARLOTTE HORNETS

PICKS: First Round- 22

FREE AGENTS: Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee, Troy Daniels, Tyler Hansbrough

TEAM NEEDS: Shooting Guard, Power Forward

ADAM: Punt the ball try to pin them deep in their zone, right? Has there been any team that has had such bad results despite being in the lottery year in and year out? Here are the last four picks over the past five years: Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller, Noah Vonleh, and Frank Kaminsky. Four centers, and among the four, Biyombo and Vonleh were shipped out and Zeller might be developing … maybe? One current need for the Hornets is, of course, a big man. Sigh. So the best case scenario, to me, would be not drafting another big man who’s going to disappoint, and at 22, you’re not going to find a day-one starter, so you can either draft one of those Euro “Z’s” (Ante Zizic or Ivica Zubac) or hope you can get Florida State guard Malik Beasley. An actual shooter would fit as opposed to the defense of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Batum (if he re-signs).

ANDREW:The Charlotte Hornets did a wonderful job this season of making lemonade out of some not-so-talented lemons and getting all they could out of an expiring year for Batum, whom they nabbed last year in a draft-day trade. I can easily see them trading this pick for veterans again, but let’s say they keep this one. The Hornets were a really good three-point shooting team this season, to the shock of just about everyone, but their overall field goal percentage was awful. You are also likely to lose either Williams or Jefferson in free agency, so a dependable offensive big would be helpful. I would seriously consider Damian Jones out of Vanderbilt or Spanish stretch four Juan Hernangomez. Shooting guard might also be a concern with Lee, their best option at the two down the stretch, being a free agent, so maybe Patrick McCaw is a possibility here.

rosebutlerCHICAGO BULLS

PICKS: First Round- 14, Second Round- 48

FREE AGENTS: Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol (player option)

TEAM NEEDS: Youth, Center, Point Guard

ADAM: That sure turned into a dumpster fire quickly, didn’t it? Remember when the Bulls were one of the upper-echelon teams in the Eastern Conference? Well, that went all out the window this past year, and with Noah and Gasol looking elsewhere … eek! Along with Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, and Mike Dunleavy (who has a team option) in the last year of their contracts, maybe it’s time just to hit reset. Go forward with Jimmy Butler, Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, and this year’s pick. The Bulls, in my view, can either go big or go small. Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to get someone who could pay off in a year or two – maybe Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere or Washington’s Dejounte Murray? No? Too adventurous? Okay, then how about Marquette’s Henry Ellenson or Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin IV? Does that sound safer? As for their second-round pick, they can go for another falling big like Stone or Zimmerman or Bentil or Jones. There’s just so many of them.

ANDREW: First of all, let’s phase out all that fun “Will they or won’t they?” trade riffraff about Rose potentially being dealt to the Knicks. It honestly makes sense to shed $20 million by trading what now looks like a barely above-average point guard, but the Bulls have plenty of other clear and present dangers. Noah is hobbled, and likely won’t re-sign with Chicago and their best big man, Gasol, might get wooed away as well. Chicago has some younger pieces in Portis and McDermott and a shining star in Butler, but this team needs another jolt of youth, and it really needs to start at point guard regardless of what happens with Rose. The 14-spot is a precarious position if you want one of the top point guards in the class, so if Washington’s Dejounte Murray or Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson is on the board, that is probably where the Bulls will lean. Center will obviously be a big need thanks to free agency, so big guys like Thon Maker and Kansas’ Cheick Diallo might be there, too, but I see them going big with that 48th pick. Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku would be a steal if he falls there.

lebronCLEVELAND CAVALIERS

PICKS: none

FREE AGENTS: LeBron James (player option), Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Richard Jefferson, Mo Williams (player option)

TEAM NEEDS: Back-Up Small Forward, Shooting Guard, Shipment of Cristal

ADAM: Cleveland had the most expensive roster this past year by a good $10 million, so looking for a cheap roster addition would be a a little uncharacteristic for the Cavs. Instead of developing young talent, they have chosen to get past-their-prime veterans willing to take less money, and I expect this year to be no different. However, let’s say they get itchy and need to get into the draft for whatever reason. If so, I think they’d go for a European whom they can keep over for another few years. So take your pick. Serbia’s Rade Zagorac? France’s Isaia Cordinier? Germany’s Paul Zipser? *shrug* Again, it would be uncharacteristic for them to add a second-round pick who would just spend the season in Canton.

ANDREW: It would seem pretty easy to cop out of this entire discussion for the Cleveland Cavaliers and soak in the love for their improbable comeback to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the city its first pro sports title in over 50 years, along with LeBron James’ emotional, staggering MVP performance. But despite the Cavs being against the new cap and loaded roster next season, they still need a decent back up for Cleveland’s new superhero tandem of LeBron and Kyrie Irving. Jefferson is retiring, and Dellavedova is a free agent. If they bought a pick in the second round (which is highly unlikely), the Cavs could get a SF like Indiana’s Troy Williams or UConn’s Daniel Hamilton, two guys who struggled in the combine but stayed in the draft and have intriguing all-around games. If they want an insurance point guard, USC’ Julian Jacobs might not be a bad idea. 

drum

DETROIT PISTONS

PICKS: First Round- 18, Second Round- 49

FREE AGENTS: Andre Drummond (restricted), Steve Blake, Anthony Tolliver, Joel Anthony (team option)

TEAM NEEDS: Power Forward, Shooting, Bench Depth

ADAM: Say what you want about StanVan3000, but he has turned the Pistons’ roster from a laughing stock to a formidable contender during his short reign. However, he has mostly relied on trades as opposed to free agency (where he overpaid for everyone he got) and the draft. I expect nothing different this year as I point out the fact that he was going to trade his first-round pick for Donatas Montiejunas before he got cold feet. So why are we expecting anything different this year? The major needs going into the draft are point guard, power forward, and bench depth. Blake is gone, and the obvious choice is replacing him with a spark plug like Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis, but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it? The best case for them I think would be getting some experience in North Carolina’s Brice Johnson. He has two things going for him which seem to be lacking in this draft: A high basketball IQ and senior leadership. Stan isn’t the most patient coach in the world and I can’t see him wanting to spend a few years on a project. In the second round they can get local product Kay Fielder out of Oakland.

ANDREW: The Pistons should stay patient and stand pat in free agency when it comes to a pretty good starting lineup down the road along with star rookie Stanley Johnson. Their bench, however, was awful, and they can improve that immediately with these picks. Although Drummond is gigantic, the Pistons were the worst shot-blocking team in the league because Drummond’s defense is still a work in progress and Marcus Morris is more of a finesse power forward. Tobias Harris will help matters, but they need a physical interior player. So let’s go local! If MIchigan State big man Deyonta Davis is still around by then, I would take him immediately. The Pistons also need better shooting, so Spartan teammate Denzel Valentine (who might wind up out of position in the NBA because he is too slow to play point guard) might be a name we hear on the podium. For the second round, Stan Van Gundy still loves that three ball, so why not Jake Layman from Maryland?

georgeINDIANA PACERS

PICKS: First Round– 20, Second Round- 50

FREE AGENTS: Ian Mahinmi, Solomon Hill, Jordan Hill, Ty Lawson

TEAM NEEDS: Point Guard, Power Forward

ADAM: *sigh* Evan Fournier? Jameer Nelson? Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Is that the best case scenario for the 20th overall pick? The Indiana Pacers have officially entered the Milwaukee Bucks realm: You’re too good to be bad but you’re too bad to be good, meaning you are a perennial eight-seed. Outside of Myles Turner, who really surprised everybody, there isn’t anyone to get excited about. Mahimi might have priced himself out of Indy as a backup center, and there are major question marks at the 1, the 2, and, if you’re Larry Bird, the 3 (because Paul George is a power forward … right? Right?!) So what do you do when you’re a slightly above-average team with a below-average pick? I don’t think they have the luxury of drafting a project who will take two or three years to develop. Here’s what i think: If you’re convinced George is a 4, then you take the best 3 available and force the situation. If you’re hoping for the best, hope that athleticism falls your way. For the former situation, I would consider Brice Johnson or Baylor’s Taureen Prince. For the latter, take Deyonta Davis or cousin Dejounte Murray. Look small again with the second round, maybe Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead or Kansas’ Wayne Selden or Gary Payton II in round two?

ANDREW: The Frank Vogel era has abruptly ended in Indiana, but I am unsure if we will see a sudden change in philosophy from Larry Legend in this draft. The 20th pick gives the Pacers some options, and they certainly have questions with the shooting guard spot and the power forward spot. Mahinmi’s possible departure will be comforted by the emergence of Myles Turner, but they need another forward to replace possibly Solomon Hill and Jordan Hill, and no matter where you put George, he needs a sidekick to go with Turner. This is the spot where a lot of the raw bigs will still be alive and kicking, so Thon Maker will probably be there and if you want to double down on shot blocking, North Carolina’s Brice Johnson is not a bad idea, either. Malik Beasley is a possibility if they simply want a shooting guard, though. If you want another athlete to back up George, Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith (whose athletic numbers wowed at the combine) would be a nice pick at 50.

winslowMIAMI HEAT

PICKS: none

FREE AGENTS: Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem

TEAM NEEDS: Shooting, Back-Up Big

ADAM: With no picks seemingly ever (Justise Winslow was an exception), let’s say that the Heat purchase a second-round pick … having very little money to spend as they are always around the cap. I can see them getting a big Euro and keep him overseas for a few years. Maybe the younger “Juancho” Hernangomez from Spain, Zubac/Zizic or Petr Cornelie from France.

ANDREW: Miami got incredibly lucky (or Pat Riley was incredibly smart) drafting Justise Winslow, a future star, the one year the Heat missed the playoffs and got in the lottery, THEN picked Josh Richardson, who became a playoff contributor, out of Tennessee in the second round. They are back in the hunt in the East and predictably have no picks as they push to re-sign Wade and Whiteside, They do, however, need a back-up big man, which was evident in the second round vs Toronto when Josh McRoberts had to fill in for the injured Whiteside. Maybe a big body like A.J. Hammons from Purdue, thanks to a second round buy, could hit the spot.

giannis-antetokounmpo-jabari-parkerMILWAUKEE BUCKS

PICKS: First Round- 10, Second Round- 36, 38

FREE AGENTS: Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez, Miles Plumlee (restricted), Jared Cunningham

TEAM NEEDS: Shooting Guard, Rebounder

ADAM:

Dear Milwaukee,

Hi. This is Phoenix. How ya doin’? Gets cold up there in the winters, eh? So, we just wanted to say that we overachieved once, too. We had these things known as ‘expectations’ suddenly thrown at us … and we panicked. We freaked out. We didn’t know what to do. Don’t be like us. Hey, we heard Greg Monroe isn’t fitting in. How about him for Tyson Chandler straight up? We’ll even throw in a second! You saw what he did for Dallas in their Finals. He can do that for you, too.

Thanks,

PHX.

When it comes to Milwaukee, no one can really understand that team. Yeah, the Bucks have an exciting young core in Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton. But other than that, last year was a complete mixed bag. Monroe didn’t fit, John Henson was there … then he wasn’t for a long stretch. I’m not sure anyone really noticed. Michael Carter-Williams seems to be relegated to the bench now and most likely Mayo is gone, but first-round picks Rashad Vaughn and Tyler Ennis don’t seem poised to take over his spot. So what to do? Well, picking Jakob Poetl, Domantas Sabonis, or local product Henry Ellenson can’t hurt …unless Furkan Korkmaz is the real deal. I mean, this team did find Giannis out there in the Greek league. In the second round, they can get some useful players (Remember that Middleton was a second-round pick). I would say Patrick McCaw and maybe Tyler Ulis as they do need some back court depth.

ANDREW: What a mixed bag of everything the Milwaukee Bucks are. One year after they tease you with a playoff run, they go back in the lottery. The moment you get down on Giannis Antetokounmpo, he gets moved to point guard and turns into a triple-double machine. They got a ton of ink for signing Greg Monroe, and he was a fish out of water under Jason Kidd. The Bucks seem to play position-less ball in the vein of the Golden State Warriors, except without the same ball movement or teamwork or being elite stuff. The dying needs for Milwaukee this offseason are shooting and rebounding, but it has not been a team that picks a traditional positional player (even Parker roams between the 3 and 4 spot). Malachi Richardson at Syracuse might be a better sequel to Carter-Williams, and he can play the 2 primarily if you stick him there. If Jaylen Brown from Cal falls, he would not fit either of those two needs, but knowing Milwaukee’s risky drafting style, they might go outside the box again. I know No. 10 is high for Baylor’s Taureen Prince, but he would fit really nicely in Milwaukee if they reached for him. In this scenario, after going small in the lottery, I would double down with rebounding at picks 36 and 38. New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam and Kansas’ Perry Ellis (who looks older than any of the player on this young Bucks team) will be available there, as will Joel Bolomboy.

zingerNEW YORK KNICKS

PICKS: none

FREE AGENTS: Aron Afflalo (player option), Derrick Williams (player option), Lance Thomas, Langston Galloway (restricted), CleAnthony Early

TEAM NEEDS: Point Guard, Shooters, Trade Carmelo?

ADAM: Well, the Knicks have no picks in this draft, but for sake of argument, let’s say they spend a cool million and buy themselves a mid-second round pick. Guards are definitely a need for them and I’d say if they stay stateside, a good addition would be ACC Player of the Year, Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, or go overseas with Isaia Cordinier out of France who, at only 19, could be a steal if he chooses to stay in the draft.

ANDREW: I don’t the sense the New York Knicks being too active come Thursday as Phil Jackson seems set to either swing a big trade to add a piece with Carmelo Anothony and star rookie Kristaps Porzingis, or he might orchestrate a trade for Carmelo himself. Nevertheless, the Knicks desperately need more shooting guards, and good ones at that. If they traded their way in and got, for example, Buddy Hield or Tyler Ulis, the New York fans in the building would be thrilled. NBA games aren’t won on June 23rd, but the seeds can be planted. Unfortunately, in the Knicks’ case, they have to buy some seeds.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando MagicORLANDO MAGIC

PICKS: First Round-11, Second Round- 41, 47

FREE AGENTS: Evan Fournier (restricted), Ersan Ilyasova (team option), Jason Smith, Brandon Jennings, Andrew Nicholson (restricted), Dewayne Dedmon (restricted)

TEAM NEEDS: Best Player Available, Rebounding, Back-Up Point Guard

ADAM: Am I the only one confused about Orlando here? They had a log jam everywhere, so they needed to make trades. No, I’m not talking about the Tobias Harris trade as Ilyasova is vastly underrated and now we know about Brandon Jennings to Scott Skiles. No, it was the Channing Frye trade. They gave him to Cleveland, which got to dump Sideshow Bob and his contract (to Portland) and all the Magic got was Jared Cunningham, who was cut immediately, and a second-round pick from Portland in this year’s draft? Again, I know you had log jams everywhere, but this is the best you can do? I’m confused. But now that those logjams are free, Orlando has a youth talent problem. They just need their guys to mature and improve together. Problem is, Oladipo is ready for a big pay day and Elfrid Payton seems to be the Milhouse Van Houten of the NBA in that no one really likes him. So, pick No. 11 is way too high to reach for a second-tier point guard, so wait for one of the top centers (Poetl/Ellenson/Sabonis) to fall. They need some rebounding and can get some help there. As for the second round, i don’t see anyone really sticking around, so it wouldn’t hurt to go international with one pick, and the other maybe Florida’s Dorian Finney-Smith or Caris LeVert?

ANDREW:The Orlando Magic are a very strangely put together bunch. I was not a big fan of the Harris trade, but freeing up some playing time for dunk wunderkind Aaron Gordon helped him turn a corner. Payton was in Skiles’ doghouse, but lives in GM Rob Henigan’s penthouse, so Skiles is out and Frank Vogel is in. Vogel has a team similar to the Pacers when he took over for Jim O’Brien, but we will see if lightning can strike twice. The first step is to get guys in the right positions, and there is some clarification needed at the forward and guard spots. Fournier might depart in free agency, so you can always look at Malachi Richardson of Syracuse if he is still there or go Euro once again with Turkey’s Furkan Korkmaz and team him up with Mario Henzonja. The Magic still need some talent inside, and while Skal Labissiere is skinny as a rail and had numerous zero-rebound games at Kentucky, his jump shot has impressed in workouts and he has a high ceiling if he gets stronger, Joakim Noah-style. If I know Vogel well enough, he loves defensive guards who aren’t afraid of guarding bigger guys, and that reminds me of Oregon’s Elgin Cook. I would take him with one of those two second-round picks.

mark-tatum-brett-brown-nba-draft-lotteryPHILADELPHIA 76ERS

PICKS: First Round: 1, 24, 26

FREE AGENTS: Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan (player option), Hollis Thompson (team option), Tony Wroten, Jakarr Sampson

TEAM NEEDS: Small Forward, Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Ditch the Process

ADAM: No comment on “the process.” Philly needs bodies, plain and simple. I could say the 76ers have the luxury of three first-round picks, but they spent most of the past two seasons with non-drafted miscellany. So, outside of Ben Simmons, who is a favored pick at No. 1, they are in desperate need of a back court. The cynic in me thinks, “Okay, who tore their ACL that they can pick and who is the best center available?” But I believe they have to be much better with their new found leadership. Maybe a DeAndre Bembry/Patrick McCaw or Wade Baldwin/Dejounte Murray combo couldn’t hurt? Either way, “process” or not, adding young bodies is good and all, but they still need veteran leadership. 

ANDREW: Ben Simmons is going to be a Phildelphia 76er. That is the most well-known thing in this draft other than Jay Bilas calling the NCAA a corrupt, broken system in some lame diatribe. There is definitely room for second guessing if the Sixers should take the other stud small forward in this draft class (Duke’s Brandon Ingram) or even pick a guard like Jamal Murray or Kris Dunn. But Simmons is the reward for the proverbial “Process,” and hopefully the process of trying to actually win games begins with the selection of Simmons, a highest-of-high-ceiling guy who can play point forward at 6’10”. The Sixers traded all their second-round picks, but kept the 24th and 26th picks in those deals. With Simmons in tow, Philly desperately needs more guards. UNLV’s Patrick McCaw as a shooting guard and Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson or Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin IV as a point guard seem to be the picks here. No need to go international and stash with any of the three picks, because you have a new cap basement to hit and they need more talent right away. This is the start of something new — and hopefully better — for the Sixers.

lowryTORONTO RAPTORS

PICKS: First Round- 9, 27

FREE AGENTS: DeMar DeRozan (player option), DeMarre Carroll (player option), Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Jason Thompson

TEAM NEEDS: Power Forward if Biyombo leaves, Shooting Guard

ADAM:

Hello Toronto, this is Atlanta calling. We want to congratulate you for making it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in history. We were there last year. However, you face problems like we did.

We got priced out of keeping our team in tact … well, because of teams like you poaching our free agents. Speaking of which, do you happen to have the number of Biyombo’s agent on you? Ha, just kidding … or are we? Anyway, we stood pat in the draft, we even dumped our first-round pick for Tim Hardaway, Jr. I know! We could have drafted Justin Anderson or Bobby Portis, but no, we would rather have two future first-round picks from Washington. Don’t be like us. Use your draft picks wisely. Surely you can get someone better than Hardaway, right? You have a smart GM. Don’t be like us and put all your eggs in one basket.

Good talking to you. ATL out!

Toronto does need to restock the cupboard as their bench depth left a lot to be desired, but the problem is that the Raptors have too many developmental players at the end of the bench already in Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira, Norman Powell, and Delon Wright. They all had lots of time down the QEW with the D-League, so you can’t have potentially your tenth man be a project. So, the Raptors are in a precarious position. However, I think they would be thrilled to land an energetic young power forward like Washington’s Marquese Chriss … someone who they can develop, but still can contribute. With the second pick in the first round, this may be a cop out, but since it’s the Raptors, play to the hometown crowd and take Thon Maker? I mean, that’s why they went after Cory Joseph so hard and signed Anthony Bennett for a look earlier this year, right?

ANDREW: Toronto had its best season ever as a franchise, winning two Game Sevens in the playoffs before falling to the league champion Cavs (I still cannot believe I just wrote that). And with the ninth pick given to them thanks to a trade involving former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani to bolster a ready-made playoff team, there is hovering cloud of uncertainty surrounding DeRozan as he explores free agency and Kyle Lowry going into the last year of his deal before he can opt out. I don’t anticipate the Raptors going shooting guard in anticipation of losing DeRozan, but there is a really good chance they cannot match a big deal for Biyombo, who was a revelation for Toronto in the playoffs. Another big to replace that and help out Jonas Valanciunas is a good call, but I doubt Marquese Chriss will still be there by then. Domantas Sabonis at Gonzaga is a great fit and Skal Labissiere at Kentucky can bolster the Raps’ already-strong mid range game that head coach Dwayne Casey loves. If they go big in the lottery, a shooting guard would be nice to get at 27 in case of emergency. French guard Timothé Luwawu was a stud at Eurocamp and if he fell this far, I’d get him.

wallbealWASHINGTON WIZARDS

PICKS: none

FREE AGENTS: Bradley Beal (restricted), Ramon Sessions, Gary Neal, Nene, Marcus Thornton, Jared Dudley, Garrett Temple, Alan Anderson, J.J. Hickson, Drew Gooden (team option)

TEAM NEEDS: Inside Presence, Defensive Wing, Back-Up Point Guard

ADAM: Much like the Knicks, the Wizards have no draft picks, but who’s to say they won’t go buy one? They have a new coach (Scotty Brooks) and a ton of roster spots to fill up (with seven players under contract including Beal’s potential max deal) So their starting five is all set … with Kelly Oubre … and Martell Webster. So depth anywhere is a must, but especially in the front court. Their best case is they can pick up a defensive big. Of the third-tier centers (Maryland’s Diamond Stone, Providence’s Ben Bentil, Stephen Zimmerman, and Chinanu Onuaku), one of them should fall to a point where the Wiz can pick one up. If not, local product Robert Carter Jr. of Maryland would suffice.

ANDREW: There is an answer as to who will coach the team (it is former Thunder head coach Scotty Brooks), but a ton of questions remain for the Wizards this summer. With a plethora of free agents and cap space, who can the Wiz woo to play along with John Wall and potentially a re-signed Beal? Will they try to play fast, like they did this past season, or slow it down, as they did the previous two seasons when they got to the second round of the playoffs? The biggest need, no matter how you ask for Washington, is inside presence as Nenê is getting annihilated by Father Time. They went big on a dumb trade to move up and got Oubre and Markieff Morris mid-season in exchange for their first-rounder, but if they could have gotten a Jakob Poeltl or Domantas Sabonis, it would helped out more. Let’s see if the Wizards try to get back in the draft game.

And with that, the Eastern Conference is a wrap! Be sure to check out our Western Conference draft preview as well as the NBA-Team Podcast right here at Place to Be Nation!

Author: Andrew Riche

Andrew Riche is a Place To Be columnist for sports and pop culture. He is a fan of Louisiana sports and currently resides in Mandeville, LA. He knows nothing about cars and has no shame in watching Dawson's Creek episodes. Send Andrew an email