Cleat Geeks

Who Goes Where in the NBA Draft?

Typically, teams that pick in the NBA Lottery are there for a reason – they aren’t good. With that said, there is one specific position on each team in this year’s Lottery that needs the most improvement. This will outline those needs along with which player each team will select:

The Minnesota Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins, which is great, but he is a stretch 4 at best and better fits the mold of a small forward/shooting guard. Wiggins’ offensive production transformed the T-Wolves into one of the most dominating teams in the West on offensive; however, the same cannot be said for the Wolves’ defense, where they ranked dead last in the NBA last season. With that said, the obvious need for the Timberwolves is a premier interior defender, which is a role Karl-Anthony Towns slides into perfectly. The hybrid 4/5 provides a solid defensive presence for a team that was the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, whereas Jahlil Okafor doesn’t have the defensive skillset that Towns does.

The Los Angeles Lakers are excited that last season’s first round pick, power forward Julius Randle, will finally see some NBA action in 2015. The rebuilding Lakers want a guy who can take some pressure off of Kobe and provide some offensive production down low: enter Jahlil Okafor, the most polished pure big man in this year’s Draft. He has the offensive skillset of Anthony Davis, but he just doesn’t play defense. Luckily, Julius Randle can pick up some of the slack left by Okafor on the defensive end. But let’s be honest here: the Lakers are going to take either Towns or Okafor, whomever doesn’t get picked by the Timberwolves.

The Philadelphia 76ers will finally get to see how their frontcourt duo of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid fare as they come off season-ending injuries. With that said, the Sixers don’t have a leader who can put the team on his back and take them to the promised land. The Sixers need a player who will take control of the team both on and off the court and that player is D’Angelo Russell. Russell is already a polished professional who played in a very competitive Big Ten and showed that he can pass, defend, and has ball-handling abilities that make other players look silly.

The New York Knicks are just a mess right now: Phil Jackson’s triangle offense relies heavily on a big man who can score in the post and right now that guy is…Cole Aldrich? That won’t work. The Knicks need a multi-talented post threat and Kristaps Porzingis is that guy. The power forward from Europe was absolutely dominant in the most competitive professional basketball league outside of the United States, the Euroleague and fits the prototypical triangle big man role perfectly.

The Orlando Magic need a guy who can replace Tobias Harris as he “departs” for free agency. Small forward Justise Winslow still has some work to do as a scorer, but is one of the premier defenders in this year’s Draft. The Magic really could use the best player who isn’t a point guard or shooting guard and Justise Winslow fits the bill.

The Sacramento Kings need a guy who can produce right now and there is no better guy for the job than SG/SF Mario Hezonja. He is supremely confident and has a swagger that will be missed if DeMarcus Cousins is traded away. Hezonja is as NBA-ready as any prospect in the Draft and the Kings could use him at a variety of positions as they are still trying to find their personality.

The Denver Nuggets have been trying desperately to trade this pick along with Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson to the highest bidder; with that said, the Nuggets will pick the best talent available. Cue Emmauel Mudiay, a strong, polished point guard who will make trading Ty Lawson a lot easier for the Nuggets front office. Mudiay has received nothing but praise by NBA scouts and college coaches alike, but his lack of recent tape make him a real gamble. The Nuggets have the ability to take that gamble and Mudiay has the potential to become one of the best point guards in recent memory.

The Detroit Pistons need a small forward – desperately. Stanley Johnson out of Arizona has shown flashes as an all-around talent, but is still a work in progress. Under the tutelage of Caron Butler, Johnson can continue to develop and provide the Pistons with their small forward of the future.

With their recent moves, the Charlotte Hornets now need a post player who can be a legitimate starter alongside “Big” Al Jefferson. Frank Kaminsky is the most experienced player in this Draft and can produce immediately for the Hornets who are showing the entire league that they want to win…now.

The Miami Heat just need a guy who can help out in the post and that is where Willie Cauley-Stein can fit the best. Hassan Whiteside showed flashes as being a legitimate NBA starter, but his lack of consistency makes him a gamble. Cauley-Stein and Whiteside will split minutes in the beginning until one of them sets himself apart from the other – for the Heat’s sake, I hope it’s Cauley-Stein.

The Indiana Pacers are going to need someone to replace David West, who is rumored to be considering opting out of his contract. Trey Lyles is raw, but the Pacers have time to wait for him to develop. No one expects the Pacers to be a Playoff contender and the front office knows that as well.

The Utah Jazz have their backcourt set in Trey Burks and Dante Exum, but their primary concern is in their frontcourt. Myles Turner is a big man who can shoot as well as defend. Like Kaminsky, Turner can make an immediate impact and will be able to hang with the big men of the Western Conference with relative ease.

Ever since Steve Nash left for greener pastures in L.A., the Phoenix Suns have spiraled out of control and they need a backcourt leader who can slow this string of bad outings. Devin Booker is a real steal for the Suns, having been projected to go as high as #6 to the Kings. Booker has one of the best shots in the Draft and can play solid defense. While he isn’t the Suns’ franchise centerpiece, Booker is a guy who fills a need for the Suns.

We saw what happened to the Oklahoma City Thunder when Durant and Westbrook went down. Knowing this, the Thunder front office will want to add depth behind their two stars and Cameron Payne can do just that. Payne has superb ball-handling skills and can provide scoring bursts off the bench, making him an immediate Sixth Man of the Year candidate in OKC.

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