Drafting the Missing Piece to the Puzzle

With the 2014 NBA Draft coming up on Thursday, all 30 teams are looking to fill gaps and holes in their rosters.  Every team has pieces to move and new players to sign to either help out or enhance the good and bad to their organization.  It’s time to look at all 30 teams, what they need to fix in the draft, and what silver linings they might have going for them.

01Atlanta_HawksAtlanta Hawks- The Hawks were able to squeeze into the playoffs this year, and gave the Pacers a run for their money.  The problem with this team is that they are in the dangerous middle pack of the league.  They aren’t bad enough to tank and get draft picks but they aren’t good enough to make a run for the playoffs.  The Hawks need to acquire a scorer from out on the wing at the SG or SF with the 15th pick in the draft to alleviate some of the pressure on Teague and Horford.

01Brooklyn-Nets-logoBrooklyn Nets-The Nets snuck into the 2nd round of the playoffs and lost to the Heat, who dealt with the Nets fairly easily.  The Nets main issue is age.  Mikhail Prokhorov has proven that he has no problem spending money to acquire talent, but so far he has acquired “win now” talent who are on the verge of retirement.  The Nets unfortunately have no draft picks this year, and they somehow need to grab some young talent to back up the aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

01boston-celticsBoston Celtics- The Celtics finished 25-57 with their new coach and they were in the first year without Garnett, Pierce, and Allen.  The Celtics have some pieces to build around in Rondo, Bradley, and Green and they have 2 first round picks to work with.  The Celtics will be looking for one ready-to-go talent with the 6th pick that can be added instantly into their starting lineup to produce.  After that pick they will look for bench talent to build for the future.

01charlotte-hornets-logo-11Charlotte Hornets- New name, new look! The Hornets certainly turned it around this past year by taking the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Big Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker carried the team, and they are sorely in need of another scorer on the team.  The Hornets could look for another guard to pair up with Kemba in the backcourt at the SG position.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t panned out the way they hoped for though, so with 2 first round picks they will look to add a young SF to back up Kidd-Gilchrist and possibly grow into a third scoring option for the new look Hornets.

01chicago-bulls-2Chicago Bulls- The Bulls have a busy offseason ahead of them.  They have been devastated by two huge injuries to Derrick Rose and their huge weakness was exposed: they can’t score the ball.  There are talks of adding Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love, but that requires breaking up their rock-solid core and/or moving their 2 first round trade picks.  Either way they go, whether it be trade or draft, the Bulls sorely need a scorer out on the wing to take the pressure off of Rose offensively.

01New_York_Knicks3New York Knicks- The Knicks are in free fall this offseason.  It doesn’t look like Carmelo wants to stay, and they just traded away Felton and Chandler.  Phil Jackson has a very busy offseason ahead of him, and it will be extremely tough considering they have no draft picks tomorrow.  Assuming Carmelo leaves, the Knicks will have a very rag tag team to work with and the outlook doesn’t look very good.

PrintPhiladelphia 76ers-Where to start with the 76ers?  They told their star rookie Nerlens Noel not to play when he was healthy midway through the season, they traded away the remainder of their talent, they put out no-name players on a nightly basis who got slammed every game, and they still deny the fact that they were tanking?  Yeah, okay.  Their plan to tank didn’t even work as they didn’t get the #1 pick.  They have a future star PG in Carter-Williams, but other than him they can go in any direction they please with their 6 overall picks, they just need talent.

01toronto raptorsToronto Raptors- The Raptors made a good showing in the playoffs this year, and they have a lot of good, young talent.  They’ll be looking to fill the one weak spot on their roster, the PF.  They need a solid PF that has the ability to go down on the block and stretch out the court when needed.

01cleveland_cavaliers_logo-1024x768Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavaliers seem to have the #1 pick every draft, and they went 1-1 in their last two tries.  Kyrie Irving is a star and Anthony Bennett has a long way to go to fall back into the graces of Cleveland fans.  They will be looking at Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, either of whom will be a good fit into an up and coming Cavaliers squad.

01Indiana_PacersIndiana Pacers-Once the All-Star break came, nothing seemed to go right for the Pacers.  They were struggling on and off the court, and all their preseason promises and hopes were shattered.  They now have to work in the free agent market to fix these problems as they only have one pick and it’s in the very late second round.

01milwaukee_bucks_logoMilwaukee Bucks-The Bucks were even worse than the 76ers, but they seemed to do it with more grace.  They fought hard in all their games and never gave up.  They have the 2nd overall pick and will likely take the stud SF that Cleveland doesn’t take at the #1 spot.  Either Parker or Wiggins will fit well in this lineup and with all their other picks, the Bucks will look to acquire a future SG to add some scoring in the near future.

01detroit-pistonsDetroit Pistons- The Pistons were 29-53 this past season, and they had a pretty solid lineup.  Monroe and Drummond are one of the biggest and best frontcourts in the NBA and Jennings and Josh Smith added scoring from the outside.  The Pistons have talent and a second round pick that they can use to move up in the draft to acquire a shooting SG to add some stability to their presence out on the arc.

01miami heatMiami Heat-With such a heartbreaking loss, the Heat could potentially be in free fall this offseason just like the Knicks.  LeBron James has already opted out of his contract and will test free agency.  The Heat are trying to move up in the draft to acquire Shabazz Napier because LeBron said that Napier is the best PG in the draft.  The big problem they should be looking to address however is how poor their bench is.  Once the Big Three get a breather, there is no talent on the court for the Heat to utilize.

01Orlando-Magic-logo Orlando Magic-The Magic have a very solid backcourt to work around with as well as two early first round picks.  Victor Oladipo and Aaron Afflalo can play defense and score, now all the Magic need is a solid frontcourt.  They struggled with scoring down low and they have the chance to draft a PF and C to create a playoff squad in a year or two.

01washington-wizards-logoWashington Wizards-The Wizards shocked the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and showed that they are not to be laughed at anymore.  Wall and Beal are one of the best backcourts in the NBA, Nene and Gortat lock down the paint, and Ariza is a solid and reliable SF to have.  Against the Pacers they realized that they needed a stronger bench, so with a mid-second round pick they will be looking for a SF who can come off the bench and add scoring while being groomed into a future star.

01sacramento kingsSacramento Kings-Rudy Gay decided to opt into a final year with the up and coming Kings, and the Kings have an early first round pick to work with.  They have a lot of young talent in Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, and Demarcus Cousins with Rudy Gay out on the wing.  They need to look for a PF that will be able to step in and add defense and scoring who can come in and start in the near future to round out their starting lineup.

01la lakersLA Lakers-The Lakers were very poor across the board this year.  They were nowhere near the championship caliber team that we are used to seeing.  Kobe will be coming back for one of his last seasons and as much as he would like to deny it, he cannot carry that team anymore.  The Lakers need more scoring at down low but more importantly they need defense.  They were one of the worst defensive teams this past year and they have an early first round pick to look for a solid two-way player at the PF or C.

01la clippersLA Clippers-The Clippers had an extremely rough end to their season this past year, and a new and fresh front office has to get ready for the draft.  Luckily for the Clippers, Doc Rivers is a seasoned veteran of the draft and he will have them more than ready for the draft.  The Clippers have a solid starting lineup and bench, but a lot of their bench is aging so the Clippers will be looking for young talent to hop off their bench and into the fray.

01portland trailblazersPortland Trailblazers-The Trailblazers created a solid base to their organization this past year.  They made a good showing and their starting lineup proved to be one of the best around.  But like many teams who are looking for that final push, they need a better bench.  Aside from Mo Williams, there was no one the Trailblazers could turn to for scoring.  The Trailblazers need some bench scoring from down low for when Aldridge needs to take a breather.

01 golden state warriorsGolden State Warriors-The Warriors traded away all their picks for this draft, so they need to make their moves in the free agent market.  They lacked scoring off of the bench and they need a PF who can score with his back to the basket while Curry and Thompson launch away.

01phoenix sunsPhoenix Suns-The Suns shocked the NBA landscape this year by being one of the best teams in the West considering their lineup.  They missed the playoffs by one game and their starting lineup consisted mainly of average role players who found ways to win games.  That being said, the Suns have three first round picks to acquire some marquee scorers and future stars.  Ideally, they would acquire future starters at the SF, PF, and C.

01utah jazzUtah Jazz-The Jazz have good young talent in the backcourt, but their frontcourt is lacking in youth and talent.  Richard Jefferson is aging quickly while Marvin Williams and Favors are role players at best.  They have three picks total and they have the ability to grab an elite scorer in the paint with the 5th overall pick.

01Oklahoma_City_Thunder6Oklahoma City Thunder-The Thunder haven’t been the same since losing James Harden to the Rockets.  He added so much scoring and poise coming off the bench that teams had a relentless onslaught with Westbrook, Harden, and Durant.  The Thunder have done well in the draft and they will look to add a scorer to their bench, but also a center who can take over as Perkins eyes retirement in the future.

01minnesota_20080815614Minnesota Timberwolves- The Timberwolves could potentially just have one year left with Love and then they could quickly fall into obscurity.  They have to do everything they can to entice him to stay in the frozen tundra that is Minnesota, while subtly preparing for his departure.  They have three second round picks and will be looking for a scoring SG, as well as some two-way SF’s.

01Denver_NuggetsDenver Nuggets-The Nuggets fell into the middle pack of the league.  They don’t want to get caught in this purgatory and they luckily have three picks to work themselves out.  They had a very average starting lineup, but they will look to build around the young bright spots of Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried.

01San-Antonio-Spurs-Logo-WallpaperSan Antonio Spurs-The Spurs certainly aren’t immune to deficinies in their team.  They obviously were good enough to de-throne the Heat, but they have a solid 2-5 years left out of Ginobili and Duncan.  That leaves Parker and Popovich with a still solid Spurs squad, but one lacking in reliable scoring and rebounding.  They own the final picks of the first and second rounds and they have done exceptionally well with these late round picks before.  They will be looking to acquire a young PF or C to take over after Duncan’s likely final season next year.

01DallasMavericksDallas Mavericks-The Mavs just acquired Chandler and Felton which means that they have their former center locking down the paint for them again and a solid PG.  However, they lost star prospect Shane Larkin and they gave away both their draft picks in the process.  What does this mean? It means that the Mavs are looking to win now with Dirk, Chandler, Ellis, and the supporting cast.

01Houston_Rockets_NewHouston Rockets-Dwight Howard seemed to be somewhat back to himself this season with the Rockets.  He had his moments, both good and bad, but the Rockets nonetheless have a bright future in Harden, Parsons, and Howard.  They have one pick in both rounds and they will look to acquire a PG to run the offense through and a stretch PF to clear the lane for Howard to work.

01memphis grizzliesMemphis Grizzlies-The Grizzlies made the playoffs yet again this past season, but they slowly are falling out of the top tier and into the middle of the pack.  They have a good core between Conley, Randolph, and Gasol but they need a good partner for Conley in the backcourt.  They have a mid-first round pick to work with to look for a partner in crime to Conley.

01New_Orleans_Pelicans01New Orleans Pelicans-The Pelicans made a lot of moves in the previous offseason, and they are slowly working themselves into the playoffs in the post Chris Paul era.  Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, and Anthony Davis offer a solid base to work with while Austin Rivers grows into his role.  The Pelicans don’t have any picks to use this draft, but they have a lot of young talent that can be dealt around to add to their already solid starting lineup.

 

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What Now?

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Where do LeBron James and the Heat go from here? They were just blown out of the NBA Finals while they were seeking their 3-peat.  All of the Spurs wins in the Finals were by 15+ points and they manhandled the Heat on both sides of the court.  Credit is due to the Spurs on how lights out they played, and Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker were simply the better “Big 3”.  With all that being said, all eyes are now on the 2nd place team and how they will react to this beating.

First off, it’s time to address whether or not LeBron is staying or leaving.  With a loss in these Finals, some basketball “geniuses” think that LeBron will leave for Cleveland or some other team.  What does Cleveland have to offer that Miami can’t offer as well?  Why did LeBron leave Cleveland in the first place?  If LeBron were to choose to leave Miami, Cleveland doesn’t seem to make much sense.  He plans to go on vacation with his family to discuss what he will do with his contract however, so everything is still very much in the air.

Now the Miami Heat organization on the other hand has plenty of work to do.  The Heat’s one big weakness was exploited heavily by the Spurs, which is that the Heat aren’t balanced whatsoever and they struggled against balanced teams like the Spurs.  In Game 3 Chris Bosh only touched the ball on offense 13 times.  A member of the Big 3 can’t touch the ball only 13 times and still expect to win.  The Heat in the off season need to add several pieces to their bench to help keep the offensive and defensive ends in check while LeBron heals up from his cramps.  Shane Battier declared his retirement after Game 5 and he was a huge leader off the bench which means the Heat have a long and difficult road ahead of them to rectify their weaknesses.

From a bigger picture standpoint, the Heat need to lose or upgrade a member of their Big 3.  It makes sense to keep LeBron there obviously because he’s the best player in the world.  The Heat almost always lose when Chris Bosh doesn’t get a sufficient amount of touches on offense, which means that Bosh adds that final push they need over most teams.  Wade shows up in the big games and still has the ability to explode on offense.  All three have their weaknesses as well though: LeBron causes most players to just stand around and watch what he does, Bosh can be inconsistent, and Wade has struggled heavily with his health.  Whoever the Heat choose to drop or upgrade, they have to make several changes if they want to be back on top of the NBA mountain.

Finals Preview

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There are an unbelievable amount of people in this world who wish they had second chances for key points in their lives and careers.  Billy Buckner wishes he had one last shot at that grounder, Steve Bartman wishes he just sat there in peace listening to his music at Wrigley Field in the fall of 2003, and the Spurs wish they had another shot at the Heat for the NBA Finals.  The Spurs are the lucky ones in that group because they get a second shot at dethroning the Heat after last year’s blunder.

Last year the Spurs held a 3-2 series lead in Game 6, led by 5 points with 25 seconds left in regulation, and lost the game in OT.  With victory snatched from their clutches, there just seemed no air in their sails for Game 7.  On the other sideline, the Heat were given new life by their Game 6 antics and went on to snag their second championship in 2 years.  But with a 3-peat looming on the horizon, the Spurs have been given the opportunity of a lifetime: avenge their Finals performance from a year ago.

Of all the teams in the NBA, the Spurs have the best chance to defeat the Heat.  The Spurs have a bad taste in their mouths from last year and are looking stronger than ever.  They have an even more balanced attack than last year, and that’s what stumps the Heat more than anything.  When the Spurs make a substitution, the next man up has every ability to score as the last guy.  With the veteran leadership of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker for the starters and Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw leading the bench mob, the Spurs will be more than ready and focused on stopping the Heat’s run for a 3-peat.

The Heat on the other hand have been on a role.  Granted they haven’t had as tough a road as the Spurs, but with the Big 3 it’s hard to not make things look easy.  But the Heat have shown that they struggle against the balanced offense of the Spurs.  Danny Green, Marco Bellinelli, and the Spurs Sharpshooters launch away (and make a darn good portion of) three pointer after three pointer and the Heat are forced to adjust to it.  That then allows driving lanes to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and the Heat have to then worry about keeping up with the speedy and crafty guards.  With all of that going on, it finally allows Tim Duncan, Thiago Splitter, and Boris Diaw to set up down low and exploit the Heat’s lack of size.

With such a balanced attack on offense, a disciplined defense, and a hunger that rivals wolves focused on their prey, the Spurs will come out on top and win the series 4-2 and be crowned the 2014 NBA Champions.