Boston Celtics (66-16: first place in Atlantic Division, lost NBA finals)
Draft picks: No. 30, No. 60
PG: Rajon Rondo / Sam Cassell* / Gabe Pruitt
SG: Ray Allen / Eddie House* / Tony Allen*
SF: Paul Pierce / James Posey*
PF: Kevin Garnett / Leon Powe / Glen Davis / Brian Scalabrine
C: Kendrick Perkins / P.J. Brown* / Scot Pollard*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Center, Depth
Bottom line: Danny Ainge orchestrated what may go down as one of the most impressive offseasons in NBA history in the summer of 2007. Just one season ago, the Celtics were neck-deep in a seemingly hopeless youth movement, until Ainge decided to unload many of the draft picks and young talent he had been stockpiling. In acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Ainge may have depleted his depth chart and gotten rid of most of the potential on his roster, but he also spurred the team to a 42-game improvement. At this juncture, Boston will take anything they can get in free agency or the draft, since they have the luxury of being able to compete for a championship with what they have and plan for a future beyond its 'Big Three.'
Draft outlook: Coming into this season, both Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins had a lot to prove playing in their audition next to the franchise's three All-Stars. While Rondo flourished and proved to be an ideal distributor, Perkins proved to be only an adequate option, something that became especially clear in the playoffs. With their first-round selection, Danny Ainge will either look to acquire someone to push Perkins for minutes at center, pick whoever happens to fall out of the top 20, or try to acquire a young role player who can come in an contribute off the bench. At center, Devon Hardin and Jason Thompson could both step in and offer a change of pace. Hardin's athleticism and quickness would compliment Perkins' strength and size. Thompson would be a good selection for the same reasons, but he possesses the soft touch to be a factor as a midrange shooter when Kevin Garnett gets double-teamed. Should Ainge opt for the best player available, Courtney Lee, J.R. Giddens, and Davon Jefferson could all earn minutes as rookies. In the second round, look for Ainge to keep the selection only if there is a player on the board he thinks can make the team, such as a Malik Hairston or Richard Roby. Regardless of whether or not Ainge keeps either pick, his motivation going into the draft is to acquire a young player that can come off the bench and add something to his already spectacular roster.
New Jersey Nets (34-48: fourth place in Atlantic Division, missed playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 10, No. 21, No. 40
PG: Devin Harris / Marcus Williams / Darrell Armstrong*
SG: Vince Carter / Trenton Hassell / Maurice Ager
SF: Richard Jefferson / Bostjan Nachbar*
PF: Josh Boone/ Sean Williams / Stromile Swift* / Keith Van Horn*
C: Nenad Krstic* / DeSagana Diop*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Forward / Center, Guard / Forward, Depth
Bottom line: Trading Jason Kidd was a major step for this franchise, regardless of its short-term outcome. Though Devin Harris had his ups and downs late in the season, he has the unique ability to lock down defensively, spark the fast break, and beat everyone to the rim. While he isn't going to be putting up any Jason Kidd-like stat lines any time soon, he still has potential and could be a great fit given time to gel with Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson. With two first-round selections, and needs that match up extremely well with the players that will be available to them at their picks, general manager Kiki Vandeweghe's strategy of taking the best player available should give this team a chance to grow considerably next season.
Draft outlook: With their lottery pick, the Nets will be presented with an array of players that fit their needs. DeAndre Jordan would be an interesting selection, and though he doesn't fit in with what Lawrence Frank implements defensively, his potential may be too good for Vandeweghe to pass up at 10. Anthony Randolph offers similar potential at the power forward spot, as do Marreese Speights and JaVale McGee. Both McGee and Speights will have to show well in workouts to get considered at 10, but neither is out of the question. At 21, the Nets will probably target a swingman who can consistently knock down the open outside jumper. Brandon Rush, Donte Greene, and Chase Budinger would all bring a nice mix of potential and perimeter skills to the table at that spot. Should something change in the top eight, the Nets could watch a player like Eric Gordon fall into their lap, meaning they would probably tab someone like Speights or Robin Lopez at 21. With their second-round pick, the Nets will take the top player on their board, likely an athlete who can provide a spark off the bench. Vandeweghe is never shy on draft day, and may look to move around to get the players he wants.
New York Knicks (23-59: last place in Atlantic Division, missed playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 6
PG: Stephon Marbury / Nate Robinson
SG: Jamal Crawford / Fred Jones* / Mardy Collins
SF: Quentin Richardson / Jared Jeffries / Renaldo Balkman / Wilson Chandler
PF: Zach Randolph / David Lee / Malik Rose
C: Eddy Curry / Randolph Morris* / Jerome James
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Center
Bottom line: The Isaiah Thomas era is over in the New York, and Mike D'Antoni's introduction as head coach has brought a renewed sense of cautious optimism to a desperate Knicks franchise. With a glut of ugly contracts that they'd love to get rid of, Donnie Walsh has a lot of trade scenarios to explore. With that in mind, this should be one of the most positive offseasons in the franchise's recent history, culminating with a mid-lottery selection that could add an impact player to a roster in need of numerous upgrades.
Draft outlook: The Knicks have three directions they can go with their pick. First, they can select whichever marquee player falls out of the top five. They would love to have the chance to grab up a potential franchise player like O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless should either still be available. Second, they could reach out to D'Antoni and select the young superstar from his home nation of Italy, Danilo Galinari. Third, the Knicks could pick up a player that fits in D'Antoni's offense, such as Eric Gordon or Anthony Randolph. Gordon would be a tremendous player in a run and gun system that would mask his lack of size by getting him lots of open looks in transition. Randolph could fill a role similar to the one played by Boris Diaw in Phoenix. Regardless of which direction the Knicks choose, they'll be selecting a player to act as the foundation for their rebuilding effort that will come to an apex two summers from now.
Philadelphia 76ers (40-42: third place in Atlantic Division, lost in first round of playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 16
PG: Andre Miller / Kevin Ollie*
SG: Willie Green / Louis Williams*
SF: Andre Iguodala* / Rodney Carney*
PF: Reggie Evans / Thaddeus Young / Jason Smith / Louis Amundson* / Herbert Hill*
C: Samuel Dalembert / Calvin Booth* / Shavlik Randolph*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Power Forward , Shooting Guard, Center, Point Guard, Depth
Bottom line: Despite the fact that they are in something of a rebuilding phase, the 76ers still managed to earn a playoff berth. Much of the credit for that goes to Andre Iguodala, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason. With a ton of cap space available, Ed Stefanski will get the chance to not only retain his franchise player, but also add another. Unfortunately, the pool of talent in free agency doesn't feature an ideal fit for the team outside of Elton Brand, whose recent injuries and age don't fit with where the team is in their rebuilding process. Taking that into consideration, Stefanski may be looking to move the team's only draft selection along with any number of players to acquire a power forward and an impact young talent.
Draft outlook: Should the 76ers choose to keep the pick, they will likely look to use it on a quality big man with the potential to contribute immediately. Though DeAndre Jordan and Marreese Speights are raw, both of them would fit in nicely in Philadelphia. Darrell Arthur may be the best true fit, and he is a much less risky investment than either Jordan or Speights. Kosta Koufos may come into play here, but only if the 76ers are confident that they can acquire a quality low post option to allow Koufos to play in the high post, where he can be most effective early in his career. It is almost guaranteed that Stefanski will come into the draft with his eyes on free agency, and the selection he makes should say something about what direction the team will take.
Toronto Raptors (41-41: second place in Atlantic Division, lost in first round of playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 17
PG: T.J. Ford / Jose Calderon*
SG: Anthony Parker / Carlos Delfino*
SF: Jamario Moon / Jason Kapono / Joey Graham
PF: Chris Bosh / Andrea Bargnani / Kris Humphries / Maceo Baston / Jorge Garbajosa
C: Rasho Nesterovic / Primoz Brezec*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Small Forward, Shooting Guard, Center
Bottom line: The Raptors took a step back this season, proving that they are not yet ready to compete for a spot in the top tier of the Eastern Conference. Bryan Colangelo has proven capable of turning a team around in a hurry, and he has the flexibility to do that once again this summer. With Jose Calderon looking for a new deal, he may feel compelled to deal T.J. Ford, along with any number of other players, in an attempt to add a legitimate scorer on the wing and a physical post player to complement Chris Bosh.
Draft outlook: Given Colangelo's propensity to look overseas for talent, Nicholas Batum seems like a very logical selection at 17. His mixture of athleticism and skill will likely land him in the middle of Round 1 – but at age 19, he has a chance to become a special player as he grows in the NBA game. Should the Raptors tab a more experienced player, Chris Douglas-Roberts would offer immediate offensive production in the backcourt, while Robin Lopez or Marreese Speights could grow into a nice physical presence at the NBA level. Regardless of what direction Colangelo chooses to go on draft day, there will be changes on the way in Toronto.