Cleat Geeks

Ideal NBA Draft Prospects For 3 Borderline Play-off Teams From 2015 Part 2

The Golden State Warriors are the 2015 NBA Champions. Every other team, however, has a different conclusion to their season. Some exceeded expectations, others failed. Some teams shockingly made the playoffs, others missed them in disappointment. For the teams that narrowly missed the postseason, one solid draft could get them over the hump. I split this up into articles, the teams under examination in my prvious article were Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns. While this, the second article will focus on the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, and the Charlotte Hornets.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers, like the Thunder, wouldn’t be on this list if they were healthy the whole season. After Paul George’s gruesome injury last summer, everyone and their mother prepared for a season of tanking in Indiana, which outside viewers hoped would include a lot of Roy Hibbert appearances on Shaqtin’ a Fool. Instead, they got a gritty team that was able to hang in the East until their superstar came back for the last couple games of the season.

Though they weren’t able to make the final push into the playoffs, there is no need to panic in Indiana. So long as they have Paul George and they are in the Eastern Conference, they will be able to make the playoffs.

Rumors have it that the Pacers want to play faster. Basically what they’re saying is that they’re done hyping up Roy Hibbert for that month span that he was actually good when all of us were going nuts because he rejected Carmelo Anthony at the rim. Times have changed. The Knicks were in the playoffs back then. Moving on is the right thing to do.

Playing fast would mean finding a big man that could not only make it up the floor, but also beat opposing bigs down the floor. Look no further than homegrown stretch 4 Trey Lyles. Even though he would be a little undersized playing the 5 position (measured in at 6’11.5″ in shoes at the NBA Combine) if he had to fill in for (hopefully) departed Roy Hibbert, he has the ability to do what the Pacers want to do; play fast. In his lone year Kentucky under John Calipari, he mostly played out of position at small forward due to Kentucky’s ridiculous frontcourt which allowed him to show off his smoothness on the court. He was by no means a lockdown defender, but being forced to guard perimeter players in college will only benefit him when he gets to the pros. Lyles has a smooth shot from anywhere in the arc, as well as a post-game that he says he models after Tim Duncan. He makes a lot of sense for the Pacers at 11, as he brings size, skill, and top talent that is hard to come by this late in the lottery.

Miami Heat

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “they would’ve made the playoffs had they been healthy all year.”

I’m not stopping.

The Heat are in an odd situation. They had two all-stars on their team and they played in a conference where sub-.500 teams were able to make the postseason. Still, due to health issues, they were unable to extend their season. This leaves them in a rather unfamiliar situation after making 4 straight NBA Finals appearances; the NBA Lottery. Other than Dwayne Wade, the Heat aren’t known for building through the draft. Free Agency is where they make their moves.

If Miami plays their cards right this offseason, Dwayne Wade should be finishing his career in a Heat uniform. They should also be able to add more assets to help slow the bleeding that LeBron James started when he decided to make a homecoming to the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. The draft however; they should be looking for basically any position but power forward. Chris Bosh isn’t (hopefully) going anywhere anytime soon.

One player that has been fluctuating on draft boards for a while now is Stanley Johnson. The freshman small forward out of Arizona is still the best small forward in this draft in my opinion. If he somehow slips to the Heat at 10, they should take him right away. He has the skill now to contribute immediately and the future potential to take over this franchise long after the two remaining thirds of the big three are done playing ball in South Beach. He passes the eye test in every way possible. At the NBA Combine, he measured in at 6’7” 242 lbs.

If the heat retain their pick, they should pray that Stanley Johnson slips to them.

Charlotte Hornets

Sometimes gambles pay off big, and you go home being a huge winner.

Other times, you end up with a 3 year, 27 million dollar shooting guard that has the worst 3 point shooting season in NBA history.

After making the playoffs in 2014, the Hornets looked to actually win a postseason game in 2015 by adding Lance Stephenson. The opposite happened. They missed the playoffs all while regressing in just about every aspect.

This article was easy enough to write before Lance was shipped off to Los Angeles, but halfway through writing it the Hornets were able to get rid of him. For years now, perimeter shooting has been Charlotte’s weakness. Kemba Walker is a fine shooter, but unless if your point guard is Steph Curry, you don’t want him taking an excessive amount of threes. Stephenson put up record breaking numbers. Only they were bad records, which ultimately led to his departure. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is known for two things: tenacious defense and the ugliest jump shot by a non-big man not named Shawn Marion.

Since they can’t go back and draft Brad Beal instead of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Klay Thompson instead of Bismack Biyombo, they need to go out and get the next great shooting two guard. Devin Booker from Kentucky is just that. He resembles both Beal and Thompson. All three of those players are high IQ shooters that know how to get open. They are also all solid defenders and have sneaky athleticism that you wouldn’t expect from 3 point specialists.

Devin Booker could immediately help Charlotte’s shooting problem while not being a liability defensively. He doesn’t quite yet have the ability to create with the ball in his hands, but he isn’t even 19 yet so he has room to grow. If you were to go back and watch every single College Basketball game from last year, you wouldn’t say that Booker is a top 10 pick. He doesn’t necessarily have top 10 talent, but his strengths are highly valuable to NBA Franchises. However, shooters seem like their hard to come by nowadays. If you don’t believe me, go watch the USA vs World Nike Hoop Summit game. This factor should help Booker rise above some of those uber-athletic-full-of-untapped-potential 6’8″ wing players.

Devin Booker can go from a 3-and-D guy to an all-star after a few years in the league. Even if he never emerges into an all-star, he will be a highly valuable player to a Charlotte franchise that is in desperate need of three point shooting.

This story was written by T. Grandits, you can find out more about him and read about the other 3 teams here, on his first article of the same subject.

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