2022 NBA Draft: Biggest need for each team

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2022 NBA Draft: Biggest need for each team originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2022 NBA Draft is approaching, and soon a new batch of promising rookies will be entering the big leagues.

Since the draft comes before the free agency period, it’s the first chance in the offseason for franchises to address needs for the upcoming regular season.

With draft day on June 23, let’s take a look at the biggest draft need for each team: 

Atlanta Hawks: Defensive versatility

Picks: No. 16, No. 44

The Hawks’ most pressing need is adding a bonafide star to pair with offensive mastermind Trae Young. But because Atlanta is not in a position to find that with picks outside of the lottery, it desperately needs someone who can defend multiple positions. The Hawks finished the season ranked 26th in defensive rating, and it’s why they had a tough time against the Miami Heat in the playoffs. Jalen Johnson, a 2021 first-round pick, could help as he enters his second season.

Potential options at No. 16: Tari Eason, E.J. Liddell, Blake Wesley, Jalen Williams

Potential options at No. 44: Jabari Walker, Julian Champagnie, Caleb Houstan, Josh Minott, Max Christie

Boston Celtics: Scoring guard/wing

Picks: No. 53

Boston’s run ended in the 2022 NBA Finals, and it will have a late second-round pick to help barring any changes. Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Al Horford and Daniel Theis proved to be a solid frontcourt rotation, but going for another guard or wing who can score off the dribble is a must. Aaron Nesmith has barely seen the court, Marcus Smart and Derrick White are more geared towards defense and Payton Pritchard could be upgraded on. 

Potential options at No. 53: Terquavion Smith, Dereon Seabron, Matteo Spagnolo, Jordan Hall, Vince Williams Jr., Jabari Walker

Brooklyn Nets: Two-way wing/center

Picks: None

The Nets deferred their 2022 first-round pick to Philadelphia, so Brooklyn currently doesn’t have any ammo in the draft. While Ben Simmons remains the key wild card for the Nets’ ceiling, adding a wing or center with size – most likely in the undrafted pool if they don’t trade back in or buy a second-rounder – who can immediately help on both ends will be vital for a postseason push with the Kyrie Irving-Kevin Durant championship window still open. 

Beyond Durant, 2021 No. 44 overall pick Kessler Edwards is the only other true two-way wing with size at 6-foot-8.  And at center, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Alridge are no longer rotational players in the playoffs, with Andre Drummond unlikely to return in free agency. That leaves Nicolas Claxton and 2021 No. 29 overall pick Day’Ron Sharpe as young options at center. 

Charlotte Hornets: Defensive versatility

Picks: No. 13, No. 15 (via New Orleans), No. 45

The Hornets will be facing a pivotal offseason following two straight seasons ending with blowout losses in the play-in tournament. LaMelo Ball can power the offense, but he needs a stronger core around him that can hold up defensively (Charlotte ranked 23rd in defensive rating). Miles Bridges had a career scoring year but is not an impactful defender. Gordon Hayward’s availability leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately for the Hornets, they’re in a good position to upgrade through the draft, especially at center. They could also look to package their first-round picks and move up, but we’ll leave that theoretical off this list.

Potential options at No. 13 and 15: Mark Williams, Tari Eason, Jalen Duren, E.J. Liddell, Jalen Williams 

Potential options at No. 45: Peyton Watson, Josh Minott, Ismaël Kamagate, Orlando Robinson, Ron Harper Jr., Trevion Williams, Tyrese Martin

Chicago Bulls: Defensive-minded big

Picks: No. 18

The Bulls enjoyed a great regular season until it all came crashing down at the end. Injuries took their toll, but they have a solid group on paper. They have versatile guards and wings across the board, but adding a backup big behind Nikola Vucevic could be beneficial, especially since Tristan Thompson offers little on the court. Fortunately for Chicago, that can be addressed with its only pick as of now.

Potential options at No. 18: Mark Williams, Christian Koloko, Walker Kessler

Cleveland Cavaliers: Secondary creator

Picks: No. 14, No. 39 (via Utah), No. 56

Like Chicago, Cleveland enjoyed a wonderful start to the regular season until injuries and roster flaws saw it fall out of the playoffs after two losses in the play-in tournament. The biggest flaw was a lack of creation. Without Collin Sexton, Darius Garland shouldered the burden of creating for the offense, but that made him easier to defend. Caris LeVert filled in, but he showed he’s better suited to lead a reserve lineup than start for a potential playoff team. Regardless of what happens to Sexton as a restricted free agent this summer, the Cavs should be all in on adding a playmaker with their lottery pick who can play alongside Garland.

Potential options at No. 14: Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy, TyTy Washington Jr., Malaki Branham

Potential options at No. 39, 56: JD Davison, Keon Ellis, Jordan Hall, Terquavion Smith, Matteo Spagnolo, Jean Montero

Dallas Mavericks: Undrafted pool

Picks: None

Like Atlanta, the Mavericks’ primary need is a star second option alongside Luka Doncic. Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie proved in the playoffs they could help Doncic in the playmaking column, and Dallas may have solved its big man issue by acquiring Christian Wood from Houston for the No. 26 overall pick this year and some role players. Now, if the Mavs can add more shooters with size to go with Wood and Maxi Kleber in the frontcourt (Davis Bertans is inconsistent), then that would make Dallas’ odds of returning to the Western Conference finals much easier. But they will have to find such players via undrafted free agency if they don’t trade back in. 

Denver Nuggets: Wing shooting

Picks: No. 21, No. 30 (via Oklahoma)

The Nuggets just can’t catch a break with injuries. Adding a healthy Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and P.J. Dozier would definitely reduce the load on Nikola Jokic. But it also doesn’t help that, with how this season played out, the Nuggets ranked 16th in 3-point shooting. Denver needs better shooting from its forwards: Will Barton (36.5%), Aaron Gordon (33.5%), Jeff Green (31.5%). Davon Reed stepped in nicely on a two-way contract (43%) but was a low-volume shooter (1.8 attempts). The Nuggets would have multiple options if they go that route after also acquiring the No. 30 pick from Oklahoma City.

Potential options at No. 21, 30: Malaki Branham, Wendell Moore Jr., Christian Braun, Kendall Brown, Trevor Keels, Jalen Williams, Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Detroit Pistons: Best player available

Picks: No. 5, No. 46 (via Brooklyn)

The Pistons dropped in the lottery this year after drafting Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick last year but have some intriguing young talent: Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley III (RFA) and Isaiah Livers. This year, they’ll be able to add another quality rookie to the roster, and it essentially comes down to who will be available when they pick. Then adding shooting in the second round is a must for a team that ranked 29th in 3-point percentage.

Potential options at No. 5: Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, Keegan Murray, AJ Griffin

Potential options at No. 46: Jordan Hall, Andrew Nembhard, Gabriele Procida, Gabe Brown, Hyunjung Lee, Tyrese Martin

Golden State Warriors: Size who can shoot

Picks: No. 28, No. 51 (via Philadelphia), No. 55

The Warriors have a core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole. Andrew Wiggins will likely need to be offloaded to make room for a Poole extension, Otto Porter Jr. is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and Andre Iguodala’s age led to a sharp decline in production. Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State’s two 2021 lottery selections, should help in their sophomore seasons. Golden State has a great track record of developing prospects, but they should look to add players who could help now with a title window still going strong heading into next season.

Potential options at No. 28: Christian Braun, Wendell Moore Jr., Jaylin Williams

Potential options at No. 51, 55: Orlando Robinson, Isaiah Mobley, John Butler, Vince Williams Jr., Gabe Brown

Houston Rockets: Best player available

Picks: No. 3, No. 17 (via Brooklyn)

Houston has a top-three pick in 2022. There’s a ton of young talent on the roster: 2021 No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, Kenyon Martin Jr. and Josh Christopher. The Rockets will likely be choosing between Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero. Holmgren would be a great defensive center to cover Sengun’s flaws on that end, but Smith and Banchero would elevate the offensive potential alongside Green. It’s a good problem for the Rockets to sort out, so let’s see who falls to them. At No. 17, they could look to pick someone with intriguing upside.

Potential options at No. 3: Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero

Potential options at No. 17: Ousmane Dieng, MarJon Beauchamp, Jaden Hardy, Nikola Jovic

Indiana Pacers: Best player available

Picks: No. 6, No. 31 (via Cleveland), No. 58 (via Phoenix)

Indiana blew up the roster last season and shuffled through countless players, leaving multiple questions for how next year’s team stacks up. Will Myles Turner stay on or be traded? Will Jalen Smith be retained or will another team outbid for him? What does T.J. Warren look like after two years of non-action? At No. 6, Indiana is likely looking at either Murray, Sharpe or Griffin. Murray gives Indiana a forward for the future while Sharpe would pair with Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt, which would require Malcolm Brogdon’s situation to be sorted out. Adding size is probably the way to go with their two second-rounders.

Potential options at No. 6: Shaedon Sharpe, Keegan Murray, AJ Griffin, Dyson Daniels, Bennedict Mathurin

Potential options at No. 31, 58: David Roddy, Jaylin Williams, Ismaël Kamagate, Khalifa Diop, Orlando Robinson, Kofi Cockburn

Los Angeles Clippers: Mobile big

Picks: No. 43

The Clippers are loaded with two-way players ranging from 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-9. It remains to be seen what 2021 second-round pick Jason Preston can do as a 6-foot-4 scoring guard. He did not play this year due to a foot injury. At center, Los Angeles has two options: Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein. With just one late pick this year, adding a project big could be something to tackle. 

Potential options at No. 43: Orlando Robinson, Marcus Bingham Jr., Trevion Williams, Brady Manek

Los Angeles Lakers: Undrafted pool

Picks: None

After a massively disappointing season, the Lakers’ first-round pick is slated to go to the New Orleans Pelicans in the lottery range. Barring a change, the Lakers might have to look for hidden gems in the undrafted pool just like last season. That’s how they found Austin Reaves, who inserted himself into the rotation with his high-IQ two-way play. The Lakers’ scouting department has had a good track record lately – let’s see if that continues with a roster that should have plenty of turnover.

Memphis Grizzlies: Hard-nosed fillers

Picks: No. 22 (via Utah), No. 29, No. 47 (via Cleveland)

The Grizzlies are loaded with young talent all across the board and finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the West. They don’t have any pressing team needs, but grabbing more hard-nosed players who fit the grit-and-grind culture wouldn’t hurt. Memphis has two first-round picks to play with if they are not traded.

Potential options at No. 22, 29: Jalen Williams, Malaki Branham, E.J. Liddell, Wendell Moore Jr., Walker Kessler, Christian Koloko, MarJon Beauchamp, Jaylin Williams, Dalen Terry

Potential options at No. 47: Peyton Watson, Josh Minott, Dereon Seabron, Moussa Diabate

Miami Heat: Wing help

Picks: No. 27

Miami has good depth in the backcourt, but drafting a wing with its only draft pick this year would make sense. Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker (UFA) and Caleb Martin have been the main options there, so going with someone who can play the 3 and 4 could be the route. 

Potential options at No. 27: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Kendall Brown, Christian Braun, Trevor Keels, Jake LaRavia

Milwaukee Bucks: Playmaking wing

Picks: No. 24

The Bucks could probably go for a center with their only pick to develop behind Brook Lopez, especially with Serge Ibaka not being a vital part of the postseason rotation. But going with someone with size who can put the ball on the floor to relieve pressure off Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday would be wise. Pat Connaughton, Grayson Allen and Wesley Matthews are primarily catch-and-shoot, 3-and-D players. 

Potential options at No. 24: Wendell Moore Jr., Malaki Branham, Jaden Hardy, Blake Wesley, Jalen Williams

Minnesota Timberwolves: Guard initiator or center

Picks: No. 19, No. 40 (via Cleveland), No. 48, No. 50 (via Philadelphia and Denver)

The Timberwolves boasted the highest-scoring offense during the regular season and have versatile defenders in the guard and wing department. With four picks under their belt, the Wolves could look for a young initiator off the bench – mainly an upgrade over Jordan McLaughlin – and a defensive-minded center since Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid are more tailored towards offense.

Potential options at No. 19: Jaden Hardy, Kennedy Chandler, Mark Williams, Walker Kessler, Blake Wesley, Jalen Williams

Potential options at No. 40, 48, 50: JD Davison, Iverson Molinar, Hugo Besson, Jean Montero

New Orleans Pelicans: Playmaking and shotmaking guard

Picks: No. 8 (via Lakers), No. 41, No. 52 (via Utah)

Zion Williamson is the biggest wild card for New Orleans. With CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram also on the roster, this team has the star shotmakers who can make some noise in future postseasons. With the Lakers to thank with this lottery pick, the Pelicans should look to add a versatile guard who can eventually start alongside McCollum. Devonte’ Graham and Jose Alvarado are better suited to come off the bench while 2020 lottery pick Kira Lewis Jr. hasn’t indicated much yet. And after finding Herbert Jones in the second round last year, let’s see if the Pelicans can uncover another gem with two possibilities in 2022.

Potential options at No. 8: Bennedict Mathurin, Johnny Davis, Malaki Branham

Potential options at No. 41, 52: Ryan Rollins, Gabriele Procida, Terquavion Smith, Dereon Seabron

New York Knicks: Starting-caliber point guard

Picks: No. 11, No. 42

The Knicks went from the No. 4 seed in the East to a lottery team in just one year. A drop was predictable given the lack of upgrades last summer, but Julius Randle was not in form for much of the season. New York could go two routes with this pick: a point guard or center. Mark Williams would be a good replacement if Mitchell Robinson (UFA) does not return, but the Knicks need to stop running a makeshift point guard and develop one. Over to you, Tom Thibodeau. At No. 42, they could possibly add another 3 or a backup 5 to develop.

Potential options at No. 11: TyTy Washington Jr., Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis

Potential options at No. 42: Bryce McGowens, Jaylin Williams, Caleb Houstan, Isaiah Mobley, Orlando Robinson

Oklahoma City Thunder: Best player available

Picks: No. 2, No. 12 (via L.A. Clippers), No. 34

It’s no secret Oklahoma City is loaded with draft picks. At some point, the Thunder will need to figure out which youngsters will be key members of their core. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort are likely locks for the roster. Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl have flashed potential. There are three favorites for the Thunder at No. 2, while the other picks should be about grabbing whom OKC deems as the best player available.

Potential options at No. 2: Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivey

Potential options at No. 12: Jalen Duren, Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, Dyson Daniels

Potential options at No. 34: Jake LaRavia, David Roddy, Justin Lewis, Max Christie

Orlando Magic: Best player available

Picks: No. 1, No. 32, No. 35 (via Milwaukee)

Orlando has first dibs and could leave the draft with one of Smith, Holmgren or Banchero. Any of those three would be perfect for how the roster currently looks. Then in the second round, finding more shooting is key for a team that ranked dead last in offensive rating and 29th in points.

Potential options at No. 32, 35: Trevor Keels, Wendell Moore Jr., Dalen Terry, Keon Ellis, Andrew Nembhard, Christian Braun

Philadelphia 76ers: Shooters

Picks: No. 23

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey rose to the occasion in the playoffs, but they need a lot more help. Can James Harden turn back the clock? How does Tobias Harris hold up? The 76ers could upgrade the wing shooting with Danny Green (ACL tear), Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz all being liabilities in that department looking ahead. Philly has a first-rounder this year with Brooklyn’s deferral; trading it could also be an option. 

Potential options at No. 23: Blake Wesley, Kennedy Chandler, Christian Braun, Trevor Keels, Wendell Moore Jr., Dalen Terry

Phoenix Suns: Undrafted pool

Picks: None

Phoenix traded both of its picks this year, so it will also have to tread the undrafted path. The Suns have Deandre Ayton (RFA), JaVale McGee (UFA) and Bismack Biyombo (UFA) entering the free agent market, so they could look for a young big to stash. Another area could be point guard with Aaron Holiday (RFA) and Elfrid Payton (UFA) also heading for free agency.

Portland Trail Blazers: Best player available

Picks: No. 7, No. 36, No. 57 (via Utah)

Dame Time in Portland is, to be frank, running out of time. The Trail Blazers have to convince franchise legend Damian Lillard to stay longer to compete for a title, but Portland really needs a lot of everything to reach that level: defensive versatility, shooters, talented size. Portland desperately needs to hit on these picks, primarily No. 7.

Potential options at No. 7: Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Dyson Daniels

Potential options at No. 36, 57: Jaylin Williams, Bryce McGowens, Khalifa Diop, Ryan Rollins, Justin Lewis, Dereon Seabron, Trevion Williams

Sacramento Kings: Two-way wings

Picks: No. 4, No. 37, No. 49 (via Memphis and Detroit)

The Kings are in the middle of a 16-year playoff drought, the longest in the NBA. De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis are the two players the franchise hopes can end the drought, while Harrison Barnes and Davion Mitchell are the key members of an otherwise weak supporting cast. The Kings do need a 5 to pair with Sabonis, but drafting a young wing/forward who can blossom into a two-way star is the next ingredient the franchise needs to add to end the drought. The same goes for their two second-rounders. A trade out of No. 4 is also possible

Potential options at No. 4: Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, Keegan Murray

Potential options at No. 37, 49: Keon Ellis, Jordan Hall, Gabe Brown, Jaylin Williams

San Antonio Spurs: Frontcourt size

Picks: No. 9, No. 20 (via Toronto), No. 25 (via Boston), No. 38 (via Chicago and Washington)

San Antonio is a tricky team because it doesn’t always draft for what’s needed. Led by 2022 All-Star Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker IV (RFA) are among the key members of the backcourt. Joshua Primo was added as the 12th overall pick in 2021, going much earlier than anticipated. But the Spurs should look to add more size in the frontcourt after primarily playing with small 4s as Jakob Poeltl held it down as the chief big man. Do that and the Spurs should be on the rise again.

Potential options at No. 9: Jalen Duren, Tari Eason, Jeremy Sochan

Potential options at No. 20, 25: Ousmane Dieng, Nikola Jovic, E.J. Liddell, Christian Koloko

Potential options at No. 38: Jaylin Williams, Khalifa Diop, Ismaël Kamagate, Trevion Williams

Toronto Raptors: Center

Picks: No. 33 (via San Antonio, Washington and Chicago)

The Raptors are stacked with two-way wings even though Thaddeus Young (UFA) and Yuta Watanabe (RFA) are entering free agency. But they certainly need to add a legit center at some point. Chris Boucher (UFA), Khem Birch, Precious Achiuwa and Pascal Siakam have rotated minutes at the 5, and none are the ideal size, which proved costly against Embiid in the playoffs. A backup point guard is a possibility if they’re no longer high on Malachi Flynn, but there should be good center options at No. 33 if they don’t select another young wing.

Potential options at No. 33: Christian Koloko, Khalifa Diop, Trevion Williams, Ismaël Kamagate, Moussa Diabate

Utah Jazz: Undrafted pool

Picks: None

Utah does not have any picks, and there’s still plenty of uncertainty around the Donovan Mitchell-Rudy Gobert duo. Replacing head coach Quin Synder is also a priority. But for now, Utah will have to look for young talent who went undrafted. Prioritizing defensive upside and positional versatility will be key.

Washington Wizards: Scorers

Picks: No. 10, No. 54 (via Dallas)

Bradley Beal’s future with the franchise is obviously the biggest question mark. But beyond Beal, the Wizards’ roster is filled with role players. They need someone who can make plays and score off the dribble, and they’re in a solid position in the lottery to land someone who fits that description. 

Potential options at No. 10: Johnny Davis, Malaki Branham, Bennedict Mathurin

Potential options at No. 54: Dereon Seabron, Kameron McGusty, Alondes Williams

Note: The Bulls and Heat each lost a second-round pick after an investigation by the NBA revealed the two teams entered early discussions with Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry.