NBA Team Needs: Southeast Division

NBA Team Needs: Southeast Division
Jun 17, 2008, 11:44 pm
NBA Team Needs: Atlantic Division
NBA Team Needs: Central Division

Atlanta Hawks (37-45 in 2007-08)

Draft picks: None

Depth Chart

PG: Mike Bibby / Acie Law / Speedy Claxton
SG: Joe Johnson / Salim Stoudamire* / Mario West*
SF: Josh Smith* / Josh Childress* / Jeremy Richardson
PF: Marvin Williams / Solomon Jones
C: Al Horford / Zaza Pachulia

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Power Forward, Shooting Guard, Depth

Bottom line: For the first time since 1999, the Atlanta Hawks found their way into the playoffs on the wings of a deadline deal for Mike Bibby. After years of neglecting to address the point guard position, now ex-General Manager Billy King finally bit the bullet and traded three veterans and Shelden Williams for the former All-Star. The four-for-one deal depleted some of Atlanta’s depth and disposed of all of their experienced backups, but turned them into a legitimate playoff team. Taking Boston to seven games was icing on the cake for a team that has been mediocre for so long.

Draft outlook: With no selections for the first time in a while, the Hawks will conduct workouts to find some candidates for their Summer League roster in hopes of finding some depth across the board, and may tap into one of their selections from previous seasons, David Andersen (CSKA Moscow), to help fill out the roster. The first order of business for incoming GM Rick Sund this offseason will be to work out contract details for restricted free agents Josh Smith and Josh Childress, who should both find ample suitors around the League. Smith and Childress each played a big role in Atlanta’s playoff run, and along with Marvin Williams and Al Horford, form a very promising young frontcourt rotation. Given the relative youth and size of Atlanta’s current roster, their best strategy may be to sit the draft out and let a year of experience propel them to a better record in 2009.

Charlotte Bobcats (32-50 in 2007-08)

Draft pick: No. 9, No. 38

Depth Chart

PG: Raymond Felton / Earl Boykins*
SG: Jason Richardson / Matt Carroll / Derek Anderson*
SF: Gerald Wallace / Jared Dudley / Adam Morrison
PF: Nazr Mohammed / Jermareo Davidson/ Othella Harrington* / Sean May
C: Emeka Okafor* / Ryan Hollins*

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Point Guard, Forward/Center

Bottom line: The Bobcats took an aggressive step last offseason by deviating from their slow and steady rebuilding process to acquire Jason Richardson. Despite the major acquisition, the team failed to achieve the same record it did a season ago. General Manager Rod Higgins made a similarly aggressive move this offseason by introducing Larry Brown as Head Coach. With Brown in fold, the Bobcats will have to grow up fast in order to avoid another disappointing season. Higgins will have to decide whether he wants to keep the franchise’s first draft selection, restricted free agent Emeka Okafor, around for the continuing rebuilding process. His decision on that front will decide what Brown has to work with in his first year in Charlotte.

Draft outlook: Though Nazr Mohammed put together a career year, Charlotte will come into the draft looking for a long term answer at PF/C next to Emeka Okafor. Kevin Love and Brook Lopez would be solid fits in Larry Brown’s offense, with Lopez being the better fit next to Emeka Okafor, who had a tough time defending quicker power forwards this season. Love is attractive because of his ability to face the basket, shoot from the perimeter and make post-entry passes, but could very well be long-gone by the ninth pick. If Higgins opts to look for a more long-term approach, Anthony Randolph has potential comparable to that of the player Higgins dealt for Jason Richardson, Brandan Wright.

The biggest question mark here is whether or not these players are on the same time-table as Charlotte, as at some point you need to stop drafting prospects and start winning games. For that reason, Higgins may be inclined to once again shop the team’s lottery selection in search of a proven veteran.

Charlotte also has a decision to make at the point guard spot. The player they drafted in the top 5 just two years ago, Raymond Felton, has major talent but looks like a very poor fit for the style of basketball Larry Brown typically likes to play. Do they cut their losses and go after a more half-court oriented playmaker like D.J. Augustin in the draft? Or do they stay the course with Felton and hope that both sides are able to meet half-way?

With their second round pick in this very deep draft, the Bobcats may be able to find an interesting prospect that otherwise would have gone in the first round in any “normal” draft, hopefully possessing the character and winning attitude that the team was built on. Richard Hendrix, Ryan Anderson and D.J. White could be a few of the more intriguing guys out there, if available. A number of European players who can be stashed overseas for a few more years could be found here as well, such as Nikola Pekovic, Omer Asik, Ante Tomic or Nathan Jawai.

Miami Heat (15-67 in 2007-08)

Draft pick: No. 2, No. 52

Depth chart

PG: Jason Williams* / Chris Quinn* / Marcus Banks / Blake Ahearn*
SG: Dwyane Wade / Daequan Cook
SF: Shawn Marion / Ricky Davis* / Dorell Wright / Kasib Powell*
PF: Udonis Haslem / Alexander Johnson* / Stephane Lasme*
C: Mark Blount / Earl Barron* / Joel Anthony* / Alonzo Mourning*

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Point Guard, Power Forward, Center, Depth

Bottom line: This year’s Heat roster wasn’t 27 games worse than its 2007 counterpart by any stretch of the imagination. While injuries decimated the team’s lineup during both outings, this year’s Heat team was much worse for wear, and was given the second overall pick as a consolation prize for its struggles. Despite a truly abysmal season, no one is complaining in Miami, as the team is in position to add a franchise-caliber player next to Dwyane Wade. With Pat Riley handing the reigns over to Spoelstra and focusing all of his attention on his administrative role, this should be an eventful summer in Miami. One that should result in a trip to the playoffs in 2009.

Draft outlook: Miami’s choice at number two will obviously depend on who Chicago takes first, and they will take whoever falls to the: Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for the Heat. Derrick Rose would fit seamlessly into the starting lineup next to Dwyane Wade, filling the spot vacated by departing free agent Jason Williams. Beasley would slide into the power forward spot from day one and give the Heat an amazing forward tandem with Shawn Marion. Both players would pay dividends immediate, and could steer the team to the playoffs if Wade stays healthy. With their second round pick, Miami would like to find a center, but considering where they draft, will probably simply take the best player available. Players like Pat Calathes, Maarty Leunen, and David Padgett all could offer depth in areas of need. Despite rumblings that Miami is looking to deal the second overall pick, it is more likely that the team will shop Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks before even thinking about trading away a potential franchise player.

Orlando Magic (52-30 in 2007-08)

Draft picks: No. 22

Depth chart

PG: Jameer Nelson / Carlos Arroyo*
SG: Maurice Evans* / Keyon Dooling* / J.J. Redick
SF: Hedo Turkoglu / Keith Bogans
PF: Rashard Lewis / Brian Cook / Pat Garrity* / Tony Battie
C: Dwight Howard / Adonal Foyle* / James Augustine* / Marcin Gortat*

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Shooting Guard, Center, Overall Depth

Bottom line: A team reaping the benefits of their last few offseasons, Orlando has taken a stranglehold on the top spot in the Southeast Division. Many questioned the contract General Manager Otis Smith tendered to Rashard Lewis, but it was that acquisition, coupled with tremendous seasons turned in by Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard, that propelled the team past the 50-win mark. With Dwight Howard turning into a dominant force, Smith will be charged with adding pieces that will help Stan Van Gundy exploit all the qualities of Dwight Howard’s game.

Draft outlook: Smith hasn’t had a great deal of success with his draft choices in Orlando, but shouldn’t have a hard time finding a player that can contribute in some way next season. Getting a swingman who can space the floor and play strong defense on the wing would be of great help, meaning the team will take a hard look at Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Rush to remedy the lack of depth in the backcourt. Each of those three players could step in a play minutes at shooting guard immediately and produce as a backup, with Rush likely being gone at this point, and Lee recently emerging as a favorite to be selected here. If the team opts to take advantage of this year’s very intriguing center class and add some depth to their frontcourt (one of their biggest weaknesses this season), anyone that falls amongst Kosta Koufos, JaVale McGee, Robin Lopez, Marreese Speights and DeAndre Jordan could be snatched right up. Any of those players could back up Dwight Howard, while some could also slide over to spell Rashard Lewis as well. When it’s all said and done, Otis Smith has the luxury of being able to take the top player on his draft board, a testament to how far this team has come from a few seasons ago, when it was riddled with holes.

Washington Wizards (43-39 in 2007-08)

Draft pick: No. 18, No. 48

Depth chart

PG: Gilbert Arenas* / Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson / Nick Young / Roger Mason*
SF: Caron Butler / Dominic McGuire
PF: Antawn Jamison* / Darius Songaila / Oleksiy Pecherov
C: Brendan Haywood / Andray Blatche / Etan Thomas

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Point Guard, Forward/Center, Overall Depth

Bottom line: The Wizards had a very good season considering the fact that they played without their superstar Gilbert Arenas for the vast majority of their games. Injuries tempered any shot the team had at making a playoff run, and while the Cleveland dispatched of them in the first-round, they played with a lot of resolve for a team without its best player. General Manager Ernie Grunfeld will look to solve the continuity problems that have faced his team by attempting to keep Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards feel like their three best players match up well with the top trios they’ll face on any given night of the season, and would like to give this group another chance to prove itself while healthy.

Draft outlook: Washington doesn’t have any glaring holes, and unless the team goes into rebuilding mode and fails to resign its stars, they may opt to take the best player available. They would most likely want to find a point guard who can play both with Gilbert Arenas in the backcourt as well as without him, but it’s not quite clear how they would feel about reaching for Mario Chalmers. A local player they may wind up looking at is Roy Hibbert, who provides a nice scoring presence on the low block and would be a quality backup behind Brendan Haywood from day one. Kosta Koufos could fit the same bill and offer more long-term potential. It is entirely possible that the Wizards will wind up taking whatever player falls out of the first-half of the first-round. A guy like DeAndre Jordan or JaVale McGee could be in play depending on how they work out, as could Darrell Arthur. With their second-round pick, Ernie Grunfeld may be able to add depth to the Washington backcourt. Jamont Gordon, George Hill, Kyle Weaver and Mike Taylor would all probably get looks considering their versatility. The Wizards haven’t been afraid to take a European player in the past, and if Goran Dragic is around, he may be a good fit.

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