Each team approaches the NBA Draft from a decidedly different place. Some are looking to add the best player available while others have specific positions they are targeting. Some don’t regularly build through the draft and look at their picks as trade fodder.
Here’s where each team stands heading into the 2020 NBA Draft:
Picks: 6, 50
Needs: Atlanta has young players in place at just about every position. They could use another four in case they can’t reach an extension with John Collins. Beyond that, it’s probably best player available for Atlanta. In addition, keep an eye on the Hawks trading this pick for veteran help to bolster a 2021 playoff push.
Picks: 14, 26, 30, 47
Needs: The Celtics don’t really “need” anything. They certainly don’t need four more rookies after adding seven first-year players last season. Look for Boston to try and package picks together to move up in the draft. Barring that scenario, Danny Ainge will probably draft one or two players for this season, stash another, and move another pick to either dump salary or to gain a future first rounder.
Picks: 19, 55
Needs: Brooklyn needs some depth and a starting four and are unlikely get either through the draft. Their picks don’t have a ton of trade value either. Look for the best player available for the Nets. The real roster work will get done through free agency and trades.
Picks: 3, 32, 56
Needs: The Hornets made a big jump up in the draft lottery. They need to come away with someone who can be a big part of their next playoff team. Charlotte is rumored to be enamored with James Wiseman, who would fill a hole a center. Mitch Kupchak has also said he’s open to taking on questionable contracts to add more picks. That should be a major goal at the draft and this offseason.
Picks: 4, 44
Needs: The Bulls can take the best player available with the fourth pick. They could use a steady small forward, as Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t stayed healthy for them. That shouldn’t preclude Chicago from picking a guard or big if one falls to them. This draft is about adding talent to a roster that needs better health more than anything else.
Needs: Cleveland needs more talent. No one on the roster has shown enough that Koby Altman shouldn’t be willing to double-down at a position. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have shown flashes, but if a good guard falls to the Cavs, they should pounce. If they could ever find a trade for Andre Drummond or Kevin Love, Cleveland would come away from the draft happy.
Picks: 18, 31
Needs: The Mavs are in an interesting spot. They’ve got solid depth and they have big cap space dreams for 2021. This is also their last real draft shot for a bit, as they owe some picks to the Knicks moving forward. Best player available, but ideally a wing shooter makes the most sense for Dallas. Look for the 31st pick to be heavily dangled in trade talks, as that first pick of the second round has value, without a guaranteed rookie deal attached to it.
Needs: Denver is rumored to be looking at moving up in the draft, as well as trading for Jrue Holiday. The Nuggets have all but made Michael Porter Jr. untouchable. That makes trades a bit harder to project. But Denver has a deep roster that makes them a team to watch. Adding talent around Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray is key to take the next step in the Western Conference.
Needs: Everything. The Pistons have nothing locked in that should prevent them from drafting the best player available. Ideally, Detroit would trade back slightly and add some extra picks or young players. This is year one of a multi-year rebuild. It’s about adding young talent however new GM Troy Weaver can.
Golden State Warriors
Picks: 2, 48. 51
Needs: The Warriors just need to get to opening night with everyone healthy. They’re a title contender if that happens. To have the opportunity to bolster their roster with a second overall pick is a boon. If Golden State keeps the pick, they can add a rookie to be shepherded along by their stars as a bridge player to the future. If they trade No. 2, it should bring back immediate help to aid a title chase. Keep an eye on the luxury tax for the Dubs, even if the CBA amendment delivered some much-needed aid on that front.
Needs: Under Daryl Morey, the Rockets largely sat out the draft. The picks were either traded in advance or shortly after. Rafael Stone and Stephen Silas are leading the team now, but the draft cupboard is bare. Houston will do their work through free agency and trades.
Needs: The Pacers traded their pick this year to get Malcolm Brogdon last summer. That worked out well, outside of some health issues. It’s probably going to be a quiet draft night for Indiana, as trade talks focus on bigger-salaried players. That will come after the draft.
Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: Lawrence Frank isn’t doing much at the draft. The Clippers are in position to win a title. They’ve traded their draft future to do so. It’s about free agency to add talent to an already deep roster, while deciding if they should keep some of their players. The draft is almost an afterthought for the Clippers.
Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: This is the last pick the Lakers will own outright for a bit due to the Anthony Davis trade. Did they pay a big price to get AD? Yup. Did it work? Yup. Look for the Lakers to either draft an older, ready-to-play player to add some depth, or to trade the pick for a veteran who can help this season.
Needs: The Grizzlies' first rounder is going to the Celtics to complete the long-ago Jeff Green trade. While that trade didn’t work out, every move since then has more or less gone well for Memphis. Pick 40 will probably deliver a two-way player, as the Grizzlies roster is pretty fleshed out already. Maybe Memphis gets involved in deals to add more talent or a draft pick by dealing of vets, but it’s likely to be more of a quiet night.
Needs: Miami is in a really interesting spot. They do as well in the draft as anyone (see: Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro), but they’ve got big cap space plans for 2021. This pick could be in play to add some win-now help to drive another Finals run. If the Heat keep the pick, could they milk the Kentucky pipeline again for an impact player?
Needs: The Bucks have this pick from Indiana from the Malcolm Brogdon trade. Milwaukee is dangling it to bring in veteran help, but it’s unclear how much interest there is around the league. It’s important that the Bucks get a player here if they keep the pick. They need some cheap production on an increasingly expensive roster.
Picks: 1, 17, 33
Needs: The Wolves need everything but a center. And even a second big could work, because Karl-Anthony Towns is versatile enough to play alongside another big man. Mostly, this is about adding talent to a roster that desperately needs it. Because D’Angelo Russell can play on or off the ball, Minnesota can take whoever they think fits best with the first overall pick. It’s important they nail this pick, because they owe a future first to Golden State and it could deliver as soon as 2021.
New Orleans Pelicans
Picks: 13, 39, 42, 60
Needs: New Orleans has the luxury of not having to pick for a specific need. They probably don’t want another young big after adding Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes last year. Anything else seems on the table. They’re heavily engaged in Jrue Holiday trade talks. That could add an additional pick or two. Look for them to add a wing shooter in the first round and then take some upside shots with the second rounders.
New York Knicks
Picks: 8, 27, 38
Needs: The Knicks need everything. You could argue they have their center of the future in Mitchell Robinson and not get too much pushback on that. Everywhere else, no one has stood out enough for Leon Rose and the new front office to say that player is the guy to build around. New York should take the best player available, but also make it known they’d eat a bad contract or two to pick up additional picks. It’s year one of the rebuild once again for the Knicks.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Picks: 25, 53
Needs: The Thunder are starting a rebuild many expected to begin when they traded Paul George and Russell Westbrook during the 2019 offseason. They were better than anyone could have reasonably expected in 2019-20, but have signaled they know it’s time to start over. Sam Presti has a boatload of future picks, which makes OKC a threat to move up in the draft from No. 25 if there is a player they really like. Considering they are starting from scratch for the most part, expect the Thunder to take the best player available.
Picks: 15, 45
Needs: The Magic have the luxury having a “bonus” pick of sorts, as Chuma Okeke will make his debut this season after being the team’s first round pick in 2019. That gives Orlando some flexibility with their pick in the middle of the first round. They need an offensive creator, ideally a guard or a wing. In addition, the Magic also need to add more shooting. Look for them to fill one, or hopefully, all of those needs in one pick.
Picks: 21, 34, 36, 49, 58
Needs: Let me know if you’ve heard this before, but the Sixers could use some more shooting. That’s what Daryl Morey will target in his first draft leading Philadelphia’s front office. With four second round picks, the 76ers will likely look to package them and move up for specifically targeted players. For a good team, they don’t have a ton of depth. They can address that in this draft.
Needs: If the Suns don’t move this pick in a trade for a veteran, they could use a big to pair with Deandre Ayton up front. Ideally, this would be a stretch-4 and maybe someone that could play small-ball five as well. Right now, it appears that Phoenix’s focus is on trying to flip this pick and some salary for a veteran to push them over the top for the playoffs. Keep an eye on the Suns, as they’ll be busy leading up to the draft.
Portland Trail Blazers
Picks: 16, 46
Needs: The Blazers need depth. If healthy, they have a solid starting five. But that’s a big if, considering some of those players’ track records. Injuries undid Portland by the time the playoffs started. They especially need forward depth. Look for the team to target a big in the first round, ideally one who can play right away. That could mean a slightly older player than Portland usually drafts.
Picks: 12, 35, 43, 52
Needs: Sacramento’s young nucleus is solid. They could use another big, especially if Marvin Bagley can’t get and stay healthy, but the rest looks good. In the first round, they could use another wing scorer. It’d be good if that player can create off the dribble. In the second round, Sacramento is another team that could package a couple of picks together to move up for a targeted player.
San Antonio Spurs
Picks: 11, 41
Needs: It’s weird to see the Spurs picking in the lottery. It might be a while before we see it again too. That makes nailing this pick important. Look for a player with size, as San Antonio is flush with young guards. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that the Spurs add additional picks if they move on from some of their veterans. They’ve been involved in more trade talks than usual leading up to the draft.
Picks: 29, 59
Needs: Toronto is kind of in the same spot as Miami. They are prepared to be good again and to run it back, but they’re dreaming big for 2021 free agency. That means this draft probably sees the Raptors stick right where they are. That’s fine as Masai Ujiri has shown a knack for finding good players late in the draft.
Needs: The Jazz need someone with some size. Tony Bradley played better behind Rudy Gobert, but Utah still doesn’t have a real four on the roster. It would be good if they could get a big with some range, and one that could allow them to play small if necessary. Given some limited cap flexibility, it’s important to get someone who can play with this pick for Dennis Lindsey.
Picks: 9, 37
Needs: The Wizards could use a little bit of everything. They’ve got a couple of young players they like in Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown Jr., but neither has shown they are certain to be more than average starters. Washington could also use a young point guard, just in case John Wall can’t get all the way back. It’s probably best player available for the Wizards.