July 16, 2021, 4:21 pm
Another quick turnaround is taking place this year as the NBA Draft and free agency are only a couple weeks away while the NBA Finals are underway; it’s what we shall remember as the “corona years.”
The upcoming draft class has a ton of talent, ranging from high-ceiling and low-floor prospects to kids who can contribute to winning teams right away. It’s a charismatic class that includes scoring guards, traditional floor generals, jack-of-all-trades wings, a few bigs who specialize in different areas and some intriguing international guys.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NBA’s 30 rosters as currently constructed and see where the biggest needs are. In the midst of smokescreen season many trade rumors also get passed along to drive narratives so make sure you take these with a heavy grain of salt.
Draft Picks: No. 20, 48
Expiring Contracts: John Collins (RFA), Brandon Goodwin (RFA), Skylar Mays (RFA), Nathan Knight (RFA), Lou Williams (UFA), Solomon Hill (UFA), Tony Snell (UFA), Kris Dunn (Player Option)
Team Needs: One might say that Atlanta was lucky to make it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals this year but the Hawks made a very successful free agency splash last year and they have drafted really well recently, putting the team in good position going forward. After finding the right coach to lead this group of players they will try to retain John Collins and find someone that can be a reliable backup to Trae Young. Other than that, and assuming that no major changes take place, this is one of the most exciting young squads in the league with depth and the right mix of veterans and youngsters at every position.
Rumor Mill: Atlanta might need to cut some salary in order to re-sign John Collins so a draft-night trade might be a possibility in their quest to avoid losing one of the young pillars of their success.
Draft Picks: No. 45
Expiring Contracts: Tacko Fall (RFA), Tremont Waters (RFA), Evan Fournier (UFA), Semi Ojeleye (UFA), Luke Kornet (UFA)
Team Needs: There is a new sheriff in town (hello GM Brad Stevens!) and the early signs point to not much emphasis on draft picks as Boston quickly shipped their first-round pick to Oklahoma in order to get rid of Kamba Walker’s massive contract and to be able to re-sign Evan Fournier. And while shooting seems to have improved, the trade created a hole in the point guard position while depth and rebounding remain key areas the Celtics need to upgrade. It also remains to be seen whether Jayson Tatum enters as the team’s starting power forward next year (something that was not the case with Brad Stevens).
Rumor Mill: This roster won’t be getting much infusion from the draft since the Celtics only own a deep second-round pick so it’s possible that more trades are on the horizon.
Draft picks: No. 27, 44, 49, 59
Expiring Contracts: Bruce Brown Jr. (RFA), Mike James (RFA), Reggie Perry (RFA), Chris Chiozza (RFA), Spencer Dinwiddie (UFA) Tyler Johnson (UFA), Blake Griffin (UFA), Jeff Green (UFA)
Team Needs: Assuming that KD, Kyrie and James Harden finally step on the court all healthy together next year, Sean Marks will continue to be active trying to recruit veterans that can play next to the big three. Jeff Green and Blake Griffin (and LaMarcus Aldridge) were key additions but the team continues to have a hole in their frontcourt and with plenty of picks in a loaded draft class, drafting some younger versatile forwards and centers will be a smart way to go.
Rumor Mill: There were some rumblings coming out of Brooklyn after the season was over that the team was somehow “fed up” with Kyrie’s actions during the season which could trigger a deal, but it’s highly unlikely that the Nets do something so drastic especially since results were spectacular when all three stars were on the floor together.
Draft picks: No. 11, 56, 57
Expiring Contracts: Malik Monk (RFA), Devonte’ Graham (RFA), Grant Riller (RFA), Nate Darling (RFA), Cody Zeller (UFA), Bismack Biyombo (UFA), Brad Wanamaker (UFA)
Team Needs: The Hornets are an extremely guard-heavy team while they have Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward at the small forward spot and PJ Washington at power forward; with Cody Zeller off the books this year it’s almost certain that they will try to fill in the center position through free agency and the draft. It’s unlikely that they get a starting caliber center at No. 11 so they could explore other options with wing depth and rebounding being some areas where they could use extra help.
Rumor Mill: With the Hornets nailing their pick last year with Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball they could explore sign and trade options for their restricted free agents Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk who were both stuck behind him and Terry Rozier.
Draft picks: No. 38 (assuming that Chicago exercises its right to swap the #40 pick for the #38 pick)
Expiring Contracts: Lauri Markkanen (RFA), Javonte Green (RFA), Adam Mokoka (RFA), Devon Dotson (RFA), Denzel Valentine (UFA), Cristiano Felicio (UFA), Daniel Theis (UFA), Garrett Temple (UFA), Ryan Arcidiacono (Team Option)
Team Needs: The Bulls went all in during the season by acquiring Nikola Vucevic which cost them this year’s first-round pick (which ended up going to Orlando at No. 8). They love Patrick Williams, who they see as the long-term answer at the power forward position, so it’s unlikely that they overpay to keep Lauri Markkanen in town. The focus in the offseason will be to add a starting point guard that can supplement Vucevic and Zach LaVine while finding more depth and help at the wing, power forward and center positions.
Rumor Mill: The Bulls and LaVine will soon discuss an extension which will require some serious salary cap machinations so I expect Arturas Karnisovas to be really busy on draft night.
Draft picks: No. 3
Expiring Contracts: Jarrett Allen (RFA), Jeremiah Martin (RFA), Brodric Thomas (RFA), Matthew Dellavedova (UFA), Isaiah Hartenstein (Player Option)
Team Needs: The Cavs were lucky enough to secure the No. 3 pick this year and they could go different ways as shooting, scoring from the wing position and a power forward are the main holes on the roster. Jarrett Allen is entering restricted free agency and there have been some rumors of potential sign-and-trade deals for him so it’s uncertain whether the Cavs are really invested into him as the long-term answer at center while he and Evan Mobley make sense as a strong combo in the middle.
Rumor Mill: Collin Sexton‘s future with the Cavs remains in doubt and the Knicks are reportedly seen as the most aggressive suitor for his services, as Cleveland reportedly continues to have trade talks with teams around the league.
Draft picks: No picks
Expiring Contracts: Nicolo Melli (RFA), Tyler Bey (RFA), Nate Hinton (RFA), Tim Hardaway Jr. (UFA), J.J. Redick (UFA), Boban Marjanovic (UFA), Josh Richardson (Player Option), Willie Cauley-Stein (Team Option)
Team Needs: The Mavs already had a rocky offseason with major changes in the front office and the coaching front, as Rick Carlisle and Donnie Nelson left the organization after many years on the job so it remains to be seen what direction the franchise takes now. It’s pretty obvious that the Mavs need another ball-handler capable of creating next to Luka Doncic as Dallas struggled mighty when he was off the floor. Shooting, wing defenders and a reliable big that can contribute on both sides of the ball and play together with Porzingis and Doncic is also something that Dallas has been seeking for years.
Rumor Mill: The Mavs reportedly want to either add a third star alongside Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis or swap KP with another star but the lack of assets going forward limits their options even though the new front office should be busy trying to upgrade the roster.
Draft picks: No. 26
Expiring Contracts: Markus Howard (RFA), Paul Milsap (UFA), JaVale McGee (UFA), Austin Rivers (UFA), Troy Daniels (UFA), Shaq Harrison (UFA), Will Barton (Player Option), JaMychal Green (Player Option)
Team Needs: The Nuggets have drafted very well in recent years and even though they took a step back last year by losing Jerami Grant, they were able to acquire Aaron Gordon who was a great addition next to Michael Porter Jr. and Nikola Jokic. With Jamal Murray going down late in the season the Nuggets were forced to play Faccundo Campazzo heavy minutes and since Will Barton can also opt out of his deal and Gary Harris is not in Denver anymore, the team should look at adding some depth at either guard position.
Rumor Mill: I expect Denver to have a quiet offseason with health being the primary focus of the team for next year.
Draft picks: No. 1, 37, 42, 52
Expiring Contracts: Dennis Smith Jr., (RFA), Hamidou Diallo (RFA), Saben Lee (RFA), Wayne Ellington (UFA), Frank Jackson (UFA)
Team Needs: The Pistons drafted really well last season and they got all the luck in the world this year as the ping pong balls delivered them the No. 1 pick. This roster lacks scoring punch and outside shooting and they are fortunate enough to be able to add a player like Cade Cunningham who, two or three years down the line, can become a high-usage scoring wing, easing the burden on Killian Hayes and slot players like Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey into the more complementary roles for which they’re best suited. Detroit has three second-round picks as well which the team is certain to use for depth or stashing international guys and fans should be excited about the quick turnaround of the franchise.
Rumor Mill: The Pistons remain active in trade talks regarding the No. 1 pick and even though it seems unlikely that they surrender the pick, they could move down if a team makes a grandfather offer.
Golden State Warriors
Draft picks: No 7, 14
Expiring Contracts: Nico Mannion (RFA), Kelly Oubre Jr. (UFA), Kent Bazemore (UFA), Jordan Bell (UFA)
Team Needs: Golden State is determined to be a contender again next year and even though they opted to invest in a young James Wiseman last year their decision didn’t exactly pan out. They face a rough challenge ahead of the draft as they will be looking for an immediate infusion of talent for a roster that needs more speed and athleticism, together with frontcourt help. Look for them to target ready-to-contribute guys if they are unable to move their picks.
Rumor Mill: Whether the Warriors are able to package away No.7, 14 and James Wiseman or Andrew Wiggins for a legit third star to play next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson remains one of the major stories of the upcoming draft and offseason.
Draft picks: 2, 23, 24
Expiring Contracts: DJ Wilson (RFA), Cam Reynolds (RFA), Cameron Oliver (RFA), Anthony Lamb (RFA), Armoni Brooks (RFA), Kelley Olynyk (UFA), Dante Exum (UFA), Sterling Brown (UFA), David Nwaba (UFA), Avery Bradley (Team Option)
Team Needs: After a disaster of a season where Houston brought the house down, the Rockets are entering a crucial offseason as they will have to select a player who forms their identity going forward. Assuming that Cade Cunningham goes at No. 1, they could go different directions, opting to add exciting guard Jalen Green or adding big man Evan Mobley next to Christian Wood. They have a couple more first-rounders that they will likely use to bolster their frontcourt and wing positions as this is a roster that needs a lot of work before it can compete again. They could potentially acquire even more picks in this year’s draft if the decide to move on from veterans like John Wall and Eric Gordon.
Rumor Mill: The Rockets reportedly continue to pursue the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft with their target being Cade Cunningham and this should be a story to watch in the upcoming weeks.
Draft picks: No. 13, 54, 60
Expiring Contracts: Cassius Stanley (RFA), Doug McDermott (UFA), T.J. McConnell (UFA), JaKarr Sampson (UFA)
Team Needs: The Pacers are turning back to the basics with Rick Carlisle being named the team’s new head coach after a failed experiment with Nate Bjorkgren. Indiana continues to lack perimeter defenders, depth and shooting while they could potentially lose Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell in the offseason, so it’s crucial that they make a good use of their picks, either by selecting a playmaking guard or a 3-and-D wing. They have been lacking a consistent backup power forward too in recent years while it remains to be seen how Carlisle deploys Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
Rumor Mill: The Pacers are willing to give up the No. 13 pick in the upcoming draft for a player who can contribute right away, which absolutely makes sense, especially since Rick Carlisle is not very patient with rookies and Eric Gordon has been mentioned as a possible target.
Draft picks: No. 25
Expiring Contracts: Amir Coffey (RFA), Reggie Jackson (UFA), Nic Batum (UFA), Patrick Patterson (UFA), DeMarcus Cousins (UFA), Kawhi Leonard (UFA), Serge Ibaka (UFA)
Team Needs: Other than Terance Mann, the Clippers have failed to develop a player out of the draft in recent years and with their future first-round picks already traded it’s crucial that they find help this year. They have a gaping hole at the point guard position and it’s not certain that they are able to re-sign Reggie Jackson, while Kawhi will certainly miss much of next season and their frontcourt depth got tested in the playoffs once Serge Ibaka went down.
Rumor Mill: One of the teams that is always looking to improve through a trade, the Clippers should be busy exploring draft night deals once again.
Los Angeles Lakers
Draft picks: No. 22
Expiring Contracts: Talen Horton-Tucker (RFA), Kostas Antetokounmpo (RFA), Devontae Cacok (RFA), Dennis Schröder (UFA), Andre Drummond (UFA), Wesley Matthews (UFA), Alex Caruso (UFA), Markieff Morris (UFA), Jared Dudley (UFA), Ben McLemore (UFA), Montrezl Harrell (Player Option)
Team Needs: The Lakers are another team that needs to nail their pick since New Orleans holds their first-round picks in the upcoming years. The No. 22 overall pick could be better than expected in a normal year due to a very loaded draft class while this is an organization that has drafted exceptionally in that range in the last few years. The lack of shooting and offensive scoring outside LeBron James and Anthony Davis has been the main area of concern as the Lakers need to find players who can create their own shot and can be consistent.
Rumor Mill: Los Angeles has a ton of free agents and they could find themselves in trouble trying to keep the band together so I expect a lot of action as the team could look to retool on the fly, with Kyle Kuzma always a name to keep an eye on and Kemba Walker also mentioned as an option.
Draft picks: No. 17, 51
Expiring Contracts: Killian Tillie (RFA), Tim Frazier (UFA), Justise Winslow (Team Option)
Team Needs: The Grizzlies have one of the most exciting collections of young talent in the league and it’s unlikely that they make any major changes. 3-point shooting and wing defense are the main areas that Memphis will be looking to address this offseason as they seem to have their role players spend too much time playing starters’ minutes.
Rumor Mill: Memphis has a path to open up as much as $22 million in cap space and could be a wild-card team in free agency, depending on whether they opt to pick up Justise Winslow’s $13 million team option.
Draft picks: No picks
Expiring Contracts: Duncan Robinson (RFA), Kendrick Nunn (RFA), Gabe Vincent (RFA), Max Strus (RFA), Victor Oladipo (UFA), Trevor Ariza (UFA), Nemanja Bjelica (UFA), Udonis Haslem (UFA), Dewayne Dedmon (UFA), Goran Dragic (Player Option), Andre Iguodala (Player Option)
Team Needs: Miami does not have a pick this year and the first-round elimination by the Bucks exposed some of their weaknesses with the lack of scoring and frontcourt depth being evident. The Heat have the money to spend and they will be looking to add a third wheel next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo while it’s possible that they try to bring back Victor Oladipo on a team-friendly deal.
Rumor Mill: John Collins has already been mentioned as a potential target as the Heat look to be aggressive in the open market this offseason, with Tyler Herro a name that has been mentioned in trade rumors.
Draft picks: No. 31
Expiring Contracts: Thanasis Antetokounmpo (RFA), Axel Toupane (RFA), P.J. Tucker (UFA), Jeff Teague (UFA), Justin Jackson (UFA), Bobby Portis (Player Option), Bryn Forbes (Player Option)
Team Needs: By signing Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to extensions and having already done that with Khris Middleton, the Bucks are locked into this roster for the upcoming years and will only have a chance to improve through trades and the draft. Bobby Portis, P.J. Tucker and Bryn Forbes were all some great additions but Milwaukee could lose them all in the offseason and it’s important that they get someone who can help them immediately as depth, especially after Donte DiVincenzo’s injury was tested.
Draft picks: No picks
Expiring Contracts: Jarred Vanderbilt (RFA), Jordan McLaughlin (RFA), Ed Davis (UFA)
Team Needs: The Wolves sacrificed this year’s first round pick when they went all in and traded for D’Angelo Russell last offseason, determined to build around him and Karl-Anthony Towns. Still, they will be getting a first-round selection as Leandro Bolmaro, last year’s 23rd pick will be coming to Minnesota and he is a jack-of-all-trades that will fit nicely with the young core of the Wolves. Minnesota hasn’t found an ideal long-term defensive-minded partner for KAT, which remains the team’s biggest need while more shooting should be welcome.
Rumor Mill: Gersson Rosas went on the record recently stating how the team is open for business and will try to improve through trades. Minnesota found a gem in Anthony Edwards which makes the presence of Malik Beasley obsolete.
New Orleans Pelicans
Draft picks: No. 10, 35, 40 (assuming that Chicago exercises its right to swap the #40 pick for the #38 pick.), 43, 53
Expiring Contracts: Lonzo Ball (RFA), Josh Hart (RFA), James Nunnally (RFA), James Johnson (UFA), Willy Hernangomez (UFA), Didi Louzada (Team Option)
Team Needs: The Pelicans are facing some tough questions this offseason as the pairing of Steven Adams and Zion Williamson didn’t prove successful and Stan Van Grundy had a quick and unimpressive tenure in New Orleans. Lonzo Ball will attract plenty of interest around the league and it’s not certain that the Pelicans are sold on him so they could target a point guard or look to add more shooting and wing defense next to Zion. I don’t see them drafting with all of their second-round picks, which they could either sell or use in order to stash international talent.
Rumor Mill: New Orleans has been able to accumulate a bunch of draft picks in the upcoming years which gives them the flexibility to swing for the fences if a deal that makes sense appears; with David Griffin on the hot seat after a year where the team took a step back it’s not out of question that New Orleans makes a move to pair Zion with another young star.
New York Knicks
Draft picks: No. 19, 21, 32, 58
Expiring Contracts: Frank Ntilikina (RFA), Theo Pinson (RFA), Jared Harper (RFA), Derrick Rose (UFA), Alec Burks (UFA), Nerlens Noel (UFA), Elfrid Payton (UFA), Reggie Bullock (UFA), Taj Gibson (UFA), Mitchell Robinson (Team Option)
Team Needs: After years of mediocrity the Knicks find themselves in a great position with plenty of money to spend, a couple first-round picks and most importantly, the aura of the Mecca of basketball back to life. The playoffs exposed their lack of depth at the point guard position while they could look into adding another power forward/center considering the fact that Nerlens Noel is a free agent, Mitchell Robinson is coming off a season-ending injury and Obi Toppin hasn’t really proved to be the answer. The Knicks have a lot of free agents while it’s not a sure thing that they pay Julius Randle (if he opts out) so this is a roster that could be looking very different next season.
Rumor Mill: Tom Thibodeau was successful in resurrecting the Knicks and I expect him to now use his leverage in order to bring in veterans he likes to coach. The Knicks have been mentioned as a possible destination for Collin Sexton and I expect the team to go after Lonzo Ball, Dennis Schröder and/or Chris Paul in the offseason.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft picks: No. 6, 16, 18, 34, 36, 55
Expiring Contracts: Tony Bradley (RFA), Svi Mykhailiuk (RFA), Jaylen Hoard (RFA), Josh Hall (RFA), Deonte Burton (UFA)
Team Needs: Oklahoma City failed to land a top-5 pick but they still possess three picks in the top-20 and they could really use a forward who is capable of starting or coming off the bench or a big who will be part of their core. This is a roster that has not started to take shape yet and OKC will be looking to add the best available talent. The team is likely to look into some stash candidates in the second round and they could sell some of their picks too as this is a front office that should be busy on draft night.
Rumor Mill: The Thunder owns 36 picks in the next seven years and while Sam Presti has never proved to be aggressive it makes sense to use his draft stock at some point in order to add a much-needed young stud to Oklahoma; could this be the year? Alternatively, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a name to watch as the Thunder still look to be far away from competing and they could move the young guard if they are committed to the long game.
Draft picks: No. 5, 8, 33
Expiring Contracts: Sindarius Thornwell (RFA), Ignas Brazdeikis (RFA), Otto Porter Jr. (UFA), James Ennis (UFA), Moritz Wagner (UFA), Chasson Randle (UFA)
Team Needs: After an injury-plagued campaign that saw the team post a 21-51 record and part ways with head coach Steve Clifford, the organization needs direction and the newly-hired Jamahl Mosley will try to set the tone but the team has a great opportunity to add a massive infusion of talent with a couple picks in the top-10. Shooting, scoring and wing help is what the doctor prescribed for the Magic, who already have a young and exciting young nucleus.
Rumor Mill: It’s no secret that the Magic would have loved to land a top-3 pick and packaging Nos. 5 and 8 make sense while they have a juicy expiring contract in Gary Harris that they could also use.
Draft picks: No. 28, 50
Expiring Contracts: Gary Clark (RFA), Rayjon Tucker (RFA), Mike Scott (UFA), Danny Green (UFA), Dwight Howard (UFA), Furkan Korkmaz (UFA)
Team Needs: All hell has broken loose in the city of Brotherly Love after a devastating loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Semifinals while Ben Simmons is officially on the block and could trigger a number of trades around the league. The Sixers are obviously looking for scoring and specifically for someone who can create from anywhere on the court and not just from the three or from inside the paint. The team should look different next year regardless with three of their rotation guys entering free agency. Philadelphia has drafted well in the first round in recent years and have a nice group of youngsters who they will continue to develop, and it’s likely that they add to that with their picks this year as well.
Rumor Mill: While the Sixers are shopping Ben Simmons it’s not out of question that Daryl Morey is trying to move Tobias Harris and his massive contract as well so expect a lot of action in the upcoming weeks. Kyle Lowry has also been mentioned as a possible free agency signing in case the team decided to stick with Simmons.
Draft picks: No. 29
Expiring Contracts: Cam Payne (UFA), Torrey Craig (UFA), Langston Galloway (UFA), E’Twaun Moore (UFA), Frank Kaminsky (UFA), Abdel Nader (UFA), Chris Paul (Player Option)
Team Needs: James Jones won the Executive of the Year award but can you imagine if the team had opted for Tyrese Haliburton instead of Jalen Smith at No. 10? (Just saying….) The Suns are loaded at the wing position and finally found a decent backup point guard in Cam Payne but the team is tremendously thin at center behind Deandre Ayton and should look to add more depth in the middle.
Rumor Mill: For the first time in recent years Phoenix doesn’t have a high lottery pick and the team should stand pat.
Portland Trail Blazers
Draft picks: No Picks
Expiring Contracts: Zach Collins (RFA), Keljin Blevins (RFA), Enes Kanter (UFA), Carmelo Anthony (UFA), Harry Giles (UFA), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (UFA), TJ Leaf (UFA), Norm Powell (Player Option), Derrick Jones Jr. (Player Option)
Team Needs: Portland doesn’t have a pick this year which makes it even more difficult for the team to improve. The Blazers are usually one of the most active teams around draft night and the trade deadline and they could look to buy a second-round pick but other than that the priority should be to re-sign their free agents and bring more defensive toughness to a roster that can score but has had trouble stopping opponents in recent years.
Rumor Mill: Rumors about Damian Lillard looking to get out of Portland are louder than ever and with little roster flexibility I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Blazers cashing in on their superstar before they lose leverage.
Draft picks: No. 9, 39
Expiring Contracts: Kyle Guy (RFA), Louis King (RFA), Richaun Holmes (UFA), Maurice Harkless (UFA), Hassan Whiteside (UFA), Terence Davis (RFA)
Team Needs: Sacramento has several shooters and scorers but they had a historically bad defense last year and they need to bring in some capable wing defenders and versatile big men in order to stop the bleeding. At No. 9 they should look at grabbing the best available talent while positional needs seem to scream “frontcourt help”; I expect Richaun Holmes to be heavily pursued this offseason and the Kings are in danger of losing him while Marvin Bagley still hasn’t lived up to the hype of a former No. 2 pick.
Rumor Mill: The Kings are reportedly one of the teams with interest in Ben Simmons and if they are able to land him without having to surrender De’Aaron Fox that would be a huge win for a franchise that has struggled for the last decade.
San Antonio Spurs
Draft picks: No. 12, 41
Expiring Contracts: Keita Bates-Diop (RFA), DeMar DeRozan (UFA), Patty Mills (UFA), Trey Lyles (UFA), Gorgui Dieng (UFA), Quinndary Weatherspoon (UFA), DaQuan Jeffries (Team Option)
Team Needs: This is an unbalanced roster at the moment since, after the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge, the only true bigs on the roster were Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks. San Antonio has an unprecedented amount of money to spend this offseason with as much as almost $52 million dollars available and it remains to be seen whether DeMar DeRozan moves to another city, which could trigger a full rebuild in San Antonio. The team is likely to look at all options at No. 12.
Rumor Mill: San Antonio desperately needs some frontcourt help and could throw hefty offer sheets at players like John Collins or Lauri Markkanen, with unrestricted free agents Richaun Holmes and Andre Drummond also on their radar as well.
Draft picks: No. 4, 46, 47
Expiring Contracts: Gary Trent Jr. (RFA), Jalen Harris (RFA), Kyle Lowry (UFA), Stanley Johnson (UFA), Khem Birch (UFA)
Team Needs: The Raptors were one of the winners of the draft lottery a few weeks ago as they were able to land the No. 4 pick which could help them get quickly back on track after a miserable season where the failed to make playoffs. Toronto drafted a talented guard last year in Malachi Flynn and may not need a guard to start with right away, but with many rumors about the possibility of Kyle Lowry’s tenure with the Raptors nearing the end it makes sense to replace him with one of the best young guards in the draft, Jalen Suggs, who is probably the best two-way player in this class. Toronto’s biggest area of concern last year was a lack of rim protection and they could try to address that area as well in the draft. The team has had a tremendous track record of player development and fantasy managers should always have that in their minds when evaluating draft picks made by the Raptors.
Rumor Mill: Pascal Siakam has had his ups and downs with Nick Nurse the last couple seasons and there has been talk about Toronto shopping him, especially due to a not-so-team-friendly contract, and he is someone that I’m keeping an eye on as Masai Ujiri usually surprises us with his moves.
Draft picks: No. 30
Expiring Contracts: Juwan Morgan (RFA), Jarrell Brantley (RFA), Trent Forest (RFA), Mike Conley (UFA), Georges Niang (UFA), Ersan Ilyasova (UFA)
Team Needs: Utah drafted Udoka Azubuike in the first round last year, a kid who is gifted and talented but is also miles away from competing at the highest level; that decision created a lot of tension between Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey. The Jazz were successful in manufacturing more depth but they still lack versatile wing defenders that can provide length and athleticism, something that was evident in the playoffs once again where Utah couldn’t contain Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
Rumor Mill: The team will reportedly try to re-sign Mike Conley to a long-term deal but the Jazz will have some serious financial decisions to make in the upcoming years which could force them to surrender players and picks in order to avoid going over the luxury tax.
Draft picks: No. 15
Expiring Contracts: Isaac Bonga (RFA), Cassius Winston (RFA), Garrison Mathews (RFA), Robin Lopez (UFA), Ish Smith (UFA), Raul Neto (UFA), Alex Len (UFA)
Team Needs: The Wizards actually showed some progress this season with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal forming a strong backcourt while the center position finally looks to be set with Thomas Bryant expected to be back next year and Daniel Gafford providing the rim protection the team was badly missing the last few years. It’s pretty obvious that Washington is desperate for a 3-and-D swingman who will be able to provide the defensive versatility needed at this level while hitting his shots and they could try to address that with their pick this year.
Rumor Mill: If Bradley Beal turns down an extension with the Wizards this summer, the franchise could very well look to trade him. Beal will be eligible for a five-year deal after the 2021-22 season, one that could pay him roughly $54 million more than he would get in an extension this summer but the Wizards wouldn’t want to risk losing him for nothing.