NBA Draft: Previewing Biggest Needs for NBA’s Worst Teams

Tristan ThompsonWill the NBA finish its 2019-20 season? Maybe, but one thing that will happen regardless of the status of this season is the 2020 NBA Draft. Sure, the draft may not happen on schedule, but there are hundreds of players around the world hoping to get selected to join an NBA team for next season.

When previewing the draft, it’s important to know what each team needs so we have some sort of idea of which players they will most likely select. Today, let’s focus on the needs of the NBA’s nine worst teams this season, all of which have a winning percentage below 40.

1. Golden State Warriors (15-50)

Need: An immediate contributor at any position

The Warriors are in a very different position compared to the rest of the teams on this list. While Golden State has had a dreadful season due to injuries, the squad should have a healthy starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney next season. That team is a potential championship contender.

If the Warriors do keep their high draft pick, they will be motivated to select one of the top prospects who can contribute right away. Preferably, that player will be somewhat low maintenance and not take away too many touches or shots from the Warriors’ cornerstone players, at least in year one.

The position of the player doesn’t matter too much, since the Warriors’ starting lineup is reasonably versatile and the team could use depth at any of the five positions.

  • Best fits: Anthony Edwards (G/F), Onyeka Okongwu (F/C), Obi Toppin (F/C).

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46)

Need: A future star

The Cavaliers have a bunch of young perimeter players (Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Cedi Osman, Kevin Porter Jr., Dante Exum and Dylan Windler) and several veteran frontcourt guys (Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr.).

However, none of them should be untouchable as building blocks for this team. Sexton, Love and Drummond are the three best players currently on the roster, but all three have major flaws.

What the Cavs need is anyone with star potential who can step in immediately to play big minutes, excite the fanbase and be someone to build around. If the pick causes the team to make some trades, then so be it.

  • Best fits: Anthony Edwards (G/F), Lamelo Ball (G), James Wiseman (F/C).

3. Atlanta Hawks (20-47)

Need: Two-way perimeter play

Trae Young and John Collins form a nice pick-and-roll duo. Young is a top-tier passer and great shooter and ball-handler, while Collins finishes very well and can shoot from the outside. Clint Capela can sometimes take Collins’ role, as well.

What the Hawks need is low-maintenance shooters who can space the floor and help make up for some of Young’s and Collins’ defensive deficiencies. Atlanta has tried to draft some of those guys in recent years (Kevin Huerter, DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish), but they are still developing and we don’t know quite what types of player they will end up being.

It doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of two-way wings in today’s NBA, though.

  • Best fits: Tyrese Haliburton (G), Deni Avdija (F), Tyrese Maxey (G).

4. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45)

Need: Defense

The Timberwolves are similar to the Hawks in that their top two young players struggle defensively. D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns are both All-Star caliber players, but neither is good on defense whatsoever.

Minnesota has Josh Okogie as a stout defensive wing, but the team needs more punch on that end of the floor. The Wolves need another guy to help set a hardworking defensive tone with grit and relentlessness.

  • Best fits: Deni Avdija (F), Isaac Okoro (F), Tyrese Haliburton (G).

5. Detroit Pistons (20-46)

Need: Best player available

What position do the Pistons need? Well, pretty much any position would do. Detroit’s future is quite murky at the moment, as the squad has no player (or players) clearly leading its youth movement. With Blake Griffin’s health situation and his huge contract, the Pistons likely won’t be making many waves in the Eastern Conference in the next couple season.

In a draft where there aren’t many sure things at the top of the class, the Pistons should be happy to snag any player that falls further than expected so they can give their youth movement a jump start.

  • Best fits: Lamelo Ball (G), Obi Toppin (F/C), Deni Avdija (F).

6. New York Knicks (21-45)

Need: Shooting

The Knicks rank last in the NBA in three-pointers made per game this season, at 9.6. Their three-point percentage is also way down at No. 27. That formula is not going to win many games. The main reason New York has won 21 games this season is due to its offensive rebounding prowess.

The Knicks are equally starved for shooters as well as on-ball creators who can facilitate open looks for shooters. Someone who can do both of those things, like LaMelo Ball, would be optimal.

  • Best fits: Lamelo Ball (G), Nico Mannion (G), Cole Anthony (G).

7. Chicago Bulls (22-43)

Need: A versatile, dependable forward

Theoretically, the Bulls have four members of their lineup of the future: Coby White and Zach LaVine as the guards and Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter in the frontcourt. The missing piece is that big wing who can set a strong defensive tone for the team and consistently do the little things required to win.

Otto Porter, Denzel Valentine, Chandler Hutchison and Shaquille Harrison have all played stints at the 3 this season, but I don’t see them as long-term core pieces. Someone like Auburn’s Isaac Okoro could step in as a defensive-minded option with some positional and skill versatility.

  • Best fits: Isaac Okoro (F), Precious Achiuwa (F), Deni Avdija (F).

8. Charlotte Hornets (23-42)

Need: An interior anchor

The Hornets have needed a quality starter at the center position ever since Al Jefferson’s big 2013-14 campaign (21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game). That happened back when the team was still the Charlotte Bobcats.

Since then, Charlotte has rolled out a combination of Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo. The squad has failed to really assert its dominance down low as a result.

A two-way prospect like USC’s Onyeka Okongwu could give this Hornets rebuild a major boost with reliable finishing and fearsome rim protection around the basket.

  • Best fits: Onyeka Okongwu (F/C), James Wiseman (F/C), Vernon Carey Jr (F/C).

9. Washington Wizards (24-40)

Need: Defense at any position

The Wizards can go with any position in this draft. Aside from their offensive ace, combo guard Bradley Beal, there aren’t many players set in stone as parts of this Washington squad. Former All-Star point guard John Wall should return next season, but he hasn’t played since December 2018 and injury problems continue to get in the way of his career.

One thing Washington definitely needs is defense. Beal is not a good defender and the rest of the team also features very few players with the combination of physical tools and mindset to succeed on defense. The Wizards have scored at least 129 points in 10 games this season, but they somehow lost six of those games.

Washington would love a rim protector like Onyeka Okongwu or James Wiseman or a solid perimeter defender like Tyrese Maxey to join the roster.

  • Best fits: Onyeka Okongwu (F/C), James Wiseman (F/C), Tyrese Maxey (G).