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June 17, 2011
Team Needs
East Lottery

by Dan Feldman


Charlotte Bobcats

Statistical weakness: Effective field-goal percentage and avoiding turnovers (25th)
Weakest positions: SF, PF, C

It's a wonder the Bobcats weren't worse offensively, finishing 25th in Offensive Rating. They didn't protect the ball very well, and when they did, they didn't shoot it very well. But they got to the line well enough to offset a below-average free-throw percentage and offensively rebounded in the middle of the pack.

Basically, they need more offensive skill. It would help if it came in the frontcourt, but because Stephen Jackson can play either wing position, the Bobcats could add a shooting guard and shift Jackson to small forward. The draft presents a few opportunities to upgrade in Marcus Morris, Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, Jordan Hamilton and Marshon Brooks.

None of those players will help inside, though. Maybe the Bobcats will pursue free agent Carl Landry, whom they signed to an offer sheet in 2008 before the Rockets matched.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Statistical weakness: Defensive effective field-goal percentage (29th)
Weakest positions: PG, SG

The Cavaliers ranked only slightly higher in offensive field-goal percentage (28th). They could use help everywhere, but their backcourt is particularly dire.

Kyrie Irving is an all-but-automatic choice with the first pick, and either Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas at No. 4 would upgrade Cleveland's frontcourt from "decent compared to its backcourt" to "actually appealing."

Cleveland has a trade exception from the LeBron James sign-and-trade, and that (along with other pieces) could net a quality wing player like Rudy Gay or Andre Iguodala. More likely, the Cavs will have to settle for chasing offensive-minded guards Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith and Jason Richardson or defensive-minded wing Shane Battier in free agency.

Detroit Pistons

Statistical weakness: Defensive effective field-goal percentage (30th)
Weakest positions: PF, C

The Pistons want another big to complement Greg Monroe. Monroe can play both power and center, and since power forwards are easier to find, odds are Detroit will find a desirable power forward and keep Monroe at center.

His ideal frontcourt-mate is athletic and can protect the rim. Bismack Biyombo, although flawed, would certainly fill a need with the eighth pick.

Tayshaun Prince will be a free agent and after a productive year on the court and a miserable year off it, there's a good chance Prince will get compelling offers elsewhere and take one. A sign-and-trade for Chris Kaman makes some sense if Prince, a Compton native, wants to play near his home.

If Prince leaves, the Pistons would need to add a small forward, unless they want to depend on just Jonas Jerebko (whom they might need more at power forward) and Austin Daye (who might be better at shooting guard). Detroit could target Jan Vesely or Kawhi Leonard in the draft or Andrei Kirilenko in free agency. Any of those three should help defensively immediately.

Milwaukee Bucks

Statistical weakness: Effective field-goal percentage (30th)
Weakest positions: SG, SF

The Bucks need more offensive punch. They ranked last in Offensive Rating and fourth in Defensive Rating--by far, the largest difference between those two categories of any team this season.

Their recently added wings, Corey Maggette and John Salmons, didn't pan out as hoped. Both are still due nearly $64 million, so that limits what Milwaukee can spend.

Ideally, the Bucks land a quality wing scorer in the draft, stay healthy and challenge to win a playoff series next year. Klay Thompson, Alec Burks or Marcus Morris could help them do that. Cheap free agents like Al Thornton, Rasual Butler, Willie Green or Mo Evans could help ensure a healthy Milwaukee team at least makes the playoffs in case its draft pick can't contribute immediately.

New Jersey Nets

Statistical weakness: Forcing turnovers (30th)
Weakest positions: SG, PF, SF

The good news for the Nets is they have quality, young players at the hardest positions to fill: center and point guard. Plus, they will likely have cap room.

The bad news is this is a fairly weak free-agent class, and they don't have their own draft pick.

In an ideal world, Dwight Howard would demand a trade to the Nets. In a more reasonable scenario, the Nets would use their cap room to absorb high-priced players already under contract and acquire sweeteners like draft picks for doing so.

But New Jersey needs to make Deron Williams happy before his contract expires. Maybe slightly overpaying Nene, whose rebounding ability and defense would complement Brook Lopez well, makes sense. There are plenty of free agents--like Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy or Shane Battier--the Nets could pursue to fill in the cracks. If Kris Humphries leaves in free agency, Chris Wilcox, Jeff Foster or Reggie Evans could serve as cheap, late additions.

Their possibilities with the 27th pick are vast--Justin Harper, Tyler Honeycutt, Chandler Parsons and to name a few. The odds of landing an impact player there are low, though.

Toronto Raptors

Statistical weakness: Defensive effective field-goal percentage and opponent free-throw attempts (28th)
Weakest positions: PG, SF

The Raptors badly need to upgrade their rebuilding blocks at point guard and small forward. Fortunately, the draft provides a few options. At point guard, Kemba Walker appears most likely to fit, but maybe Brandon Knight falls. Or maybe Toronto reaches for Jimmer Fredette. Small forwards Jan Vesely or Kawhi Leonard would sense, too, but point guard is a tougher position to fill. If Knight is available, I can't see the Raptors passing.

Depending on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Toronto could have some cap room. It would be a longshot, but Tyson Chandler would provide help to a defense that needs it very badly. Samuel Dalembert is probably a more realistic option.

If the Raptors don't draft a point guard, Jose Barea could be a sexy free agent, or Sebastian Telfair could serve as a stopgap. If the Raptors don't draft a small forward, free agent Shane Battier would certainly help them, but Mike Dunleavy seems more like the type of player they'd pursue.

Washington Wizards

Statistical weakness: Effective field-goal percentage and defensive-rebounding percentage (29th)
Weakest positions: SF

The Wizards have some talented, young players to build around. They're still a few years from contending, so I wouldn't worry too much about drafting for need. But fortunately for Washington, a couple quality small forward prospects would make sense at No. 6: Jan Vesely and Kawhi Leonard. Or perhaps, Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas will fall. The Wizards shouldn't be beyond their bigs.

Jordan Crawford played reasonably well late in the season. If Washington drafts a scorer like Jordan Hamilton or Marshon Brooks at No. 18, that could make Nick Young, a restricted free agent, expendable. Then, the Wizards could use that cap room to pursue veteran free agents like Tayshaun Prince, Mike Dunleavy or Carl Landry and speed up their rebuilding process.

Dan Feldman is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Dan by clicking here or click here to see Dan's other articles.

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