NBA Draft 2020: Addressing Each Lottery Team’s Need

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

Landing in the lottery usually means that something went wrong last season. The 2020 lottery has teams all over the map. Some who are destined to be in the playoff picture in 2021, while others are set to float around the lottery for years to come. Regardless, a lottery pick holds massive stock and the debate over best player available versus team need is more split than ever. For those opting to address their biggest weak point, the following should lay out their upcoming options.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Wing Scorer

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the great fortune of landing the first overall pick in the 2020 Draft. Many rumors have highlighted a need in the front court or a need for another guard for the Timberwolves. However, their biggest need is for a wing scorer. This past season, the Timberwolves primarily relied on Malik Beasley, Jarrett Culver and Josh Okogie on the wing after the Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington trades. Beasley performed the best, with a 16.2 PER in 14 games, but all 3 combined for a -7.1 Box Plus/Minus. Additionally, Beasley was the only one of the three with over a 20% Usage Rate, but his sample size was just 14 games with the Timberwolves. They will need to find a player that can be used as a scorer on the wing with Karl Anthony Towns in the frontcourt and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt, allowing Okogie and Culver to play to their strengths as a slasher and defender, respectively. With the 1st pick, the Timberwolves have their pick of the litter. Anthony Edwards has long been connected to the top pick, but a player like Deni Avdija may add more of a complete game to the team.

  1. Golden State Warriors: Impact Forward

The Golden State Warriors will look to get a key contributor from the 2020 Draft, regardless of whether they stay put at pick 2. Rumors about frontcourt or guard needs are swirling, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson’s returns and the league’s small ball direction do not make those dire needs to address with a top 2 pick. Through the draft, the Warriors should look to upgrade the forward group. The Warriors particularly had a merry-go-round at Small Forward, as Andrew Wiggins was the only player that ended the season with the team to play at least 300 total minutes at the three. In 12 games as a Warrior, Wiggins had a -1.1 Defensive Box Plus/Minus, a mediocre True Shooting % of 54%, and a low Offensive Rating of 106. Eric Paschall and Draymond Green were the other primary forwards left on the team, but neither had a positive Box Plus/Minus, and both spent more than 70% of their minutes in the frontcourt. With the Warriors looking to contend, they will need a young player to reinforce the forwards, especially at the three. At the 2nd pick, combo forward Deni Avdija would be a good option for both sides of the ball, while Anthony Edwards could be developed to play the three more. A trade down could net a player like Devin Vassell or Isaac Okoro to be an impact forward for the Warriors.

  1. Charlotte Hornets: Interior Talent

With pick 3, the Charlotte Hornets will be looking to add a young player to fill a need in their promising young core. They have needs for a scorer or wing, but Miles Bridges and Devonte’ Graham’s potentials make those secondary needs for the draft. The Hornets’ biggest need through the draft will be an interior talent. Charlotte ranked last in the league in 2 Point FG%, while the team tied for 24th in Rebounds Per Game. Among the Hornets’ current frontcourt members, Willy Hernangomez and Cody Zeller were the only big men with a Usage Rate over 20%, while pending free agent Bismack Biyombo and rising star PJ Washington were the only frontcourt members with a Block % over 1.7%. The Hornets will need to add a long-term big man to pair with Washington who can ideally produce on both ends of the floor. James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu could fit, while Obi Toppin may be an intriguing offensive option who would need molding on the defensive end. Adding a big man that can develop with the core would be a big way to fill a need for the Hornets.

  1. Chicago Bulls: Playmaker

Under new management, the Chicago Bulls landed the 4th pick and look to add a player to a young core with playoff hopes. While the Bulls could address needs on defense or the wing, playmaking will be their biggest need to address through the draft, especially given the playmaking options that will be available in the top 4. This past season, the Bulls were 23rd in Assists Per Game and had the 5th most Turnovers Per Game with the 5th highest Turnover %. Zach LaVine was the only player on the Bulls with an Assist % over 17% and a Turnover % below 15%, but he is best utilized as a scorer, with a Usage Rate of 31.7%. Rookie Coby White showed potential as a passer, but he performed best as a scorer as well, with 24.7 Points Per Game post-All Star Break, he would need to be developed further into a playmaker. By adding a playmaker at Point Guard, the Bulls could complement LaVine and White’s best skills and improve their offensive flow. LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, and Tyrese Haliburton good all be top 10 picks the Bulls could pursue. With many solid Point Guards in the draft, the Bulls can fill a need by pursuing one of them with their pick.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Big Man

With many young players, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of young potential on the team. At pick 5, the Cavaliers could address a need for a playmaking guard, but with Darius Garland still developing, the Cavaliers can address the larger need for a big man through the draft. Veterans Kevin Love and Andre Drummond started in the frontcourt for the Cavaliers to end the season, while Larry Nance and Tristan Thompson were option coming off the bench throughout the season. Out of these 4 players, only Drummond had a Defensive Rating under 110, while he only played in 8 games for the team. Nance was the only qualifying big (45 games played) on the Cavs with a 2 Point FG% over 54%. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers as a whole ranked in the bottom third of the league in 2 Point FG%. With Thompson’s pending free agency and Drummond’s player option this offseason, Cleveland could use a young big to develop next to star Kevin Love. James Wiseman and Onyeka Okongwu are all-round bigs that can be developed next to the core, while Obi Toppin would be a solid scorer that can learn from Love. A young big would be a big need for the Cavaliers to address in the draft.

  1. Atlanta Hawks: A Secondary Guard

The Atlanta Hawks have a star in Trae Young with a good sidekick in John Collins, but will need to add more consistent talent in order to take the next step. While Atlanta has needs on the wing and frontcourt, sophomores De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish can still develop into wing starters, and the return of Clint Capela will help the frontcourt. The biggest need to fill with a draftee is at guard for the Hawks. Outside of Young this past season, no other Atlanta guard finished with a positive Box Plus/Minus, an Offensive Rating over 107 or a PER over 13. Pending free agent Jeff Teague was the only guard other than Young to finish with an Assist % over 20%. Adding a consistent guard, or particularly a passer, will help take the load off Young (34.9% Usage Rate), complement Young’s scoring, and upgrade the lineup when Young is off the court. Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, or Cole Anthony could all fit for the Hawks to reinforce the backcourt behind Trae Young. In an increasingly positionless league, adding another guard to the backcourt would supplement the Hawks’ strengths.

  1. Detroit Pistons: Core Guard

With veterans Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin leading the way, the Detroit Pistons could add younger talent to develop under the two former All-Stars. Sekou Doumbouya’s usage as a combo forward and Griffin’s presence in the frontcourt decrease the need for a frontcourt draftee. Instead, the Pistons’ biggest draft need is a centerpiece guard. Rose was the only qualifying guard (45 games played) left on the roster with a Usage Rate over 20%, and the only one with a PER over 15. Rose was also the only qualifier with a positive Box Plus/Minus and Bruce Brown was the only qualifying guard in addition to Rose with an Assist % over 20% and Turnover % under 17%. With the mix of inconsistent guards behind former MVP Rose, who has one year left on his contract, the Pistons need a young, core player for Dwane Casey to develop in the backcourt. At pick 7, players like Cole Anthony and Killian Hayes may still be on the board and could be considered future Pistons centerpieces in the backcourt.

  1. New York Knicks: Wing

As a team with needs in many places, the New York Knicks may just look to add talent everywhere with their 8th pick. While Point Guard is widely considered an offseason need for the Knicks to address, they may have better luck finding a proven PG through free agency, rather than at pick 8 (barring a trade up). The Knicks’ biggest need will be to find a wing ready to plug into the lineup. RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox were the Knicks’ primary wings this past season. Both players finished with a Defensive Rating of 114, Offensive Ratings under 98, and Box Plus/Minuses worse than -4, all ranking outside the top 7 on the team. Additionally, neither player had a PER over 11. While Barrett is still a rookie and will get opportunities, primarily at the 2-guard (72% of minutes there), getting a wing who doesn’t necessarily need the ball to succeed would be beneficial to reinforce Barrett. Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell are good options at pick 8, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With their top 10 pick, the Knicks should look to grab one of the multiple wings that may still be on the board.

  1. Washington Wizards: Defense

Outside of Bradley Beal, the Washington Wizards had inconsistent performances from the rest of the team. While the team could use shooting help with Davis Bertans’ upcoming free agency or a guard with John Wall’s uncertain injury history, Washington has had the most trouble on defense. The Wizards had the worst Defensive Rating in the league this past season while allowing the second highest Effective Field Goal % in the league. No player on the team had a Defensive Rating lower than 110 and Troy Brown was the only player with more than 1 Defensive Win Share. Additionally, the top 9 players in minutes played all had a negative Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Players like Isaac Okoro or Onyeka Okongwu would improve the team defensively, if still available, while a player like Killian Hayes might add defensive versatility in a weaker defensive backcourt (Bradley Beal 117 Defensive Rating). The Wizards’ defensive struggles across the board can be improved by drafting a plus defender.

  1. Phoenix Suns: Forward Play

The Phoenix Suns blazed through their bubble run, ending undefeated and showing the potential of the core. Rumors have discussed that the Suns may need a Point Guard, but with Ricky Rubio performing well last season (3.26 Assist to Turnover Ratio) next to Devin Booker, their biggest draft need is to get a consistent four to pair with Deandre Ayton in the frontcourt. Pending free agent Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson were the only players to play the more than 750 total minutes at Power Forward for the Suns this past season. Neither player finished with a PER over the league average of 15 or a Defensive Rating under 112, and Johnson had the higher Box Plus/Minus, at just 0.3. Johnson and Saric were also not used as much in the Phoenix offense, both with Usage Rates under 18%, outside the top 5 of Suns with at least 900 total minutes. With the 10th pick, the Suns could look to late lottery forwards, like Precious Achiuwa and Jalen Smith, to give Ayton a consistent partner on both sides of the ball, or hope Obi Toppin falls to them to get another scorer in the lineup. With all the other positions in the starting lineup relatively fortified, Phoenix should look to reinforce the Forward position to round out the lineup.

  1. San Antonio Spurs: Two-Way Player

Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs could be headed for a rebuild after missing the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Their offseason needs include a big and shooting, but they should look for a two-way player through the draft, specifically a 3 and D player to develop next to DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. This past year, the Spurs ranked 25th in the league in Defensive Rating, while 28th in 3 Point Attempt Rate. Despite the low 3P Attempt Rate, the Spurs ranked 4th in the league in 3 Point %, but 2 of their top 6 qualifying players (45 games) in 3P % will be free agents this offseason. Offensive centerpiece DeRozan only shot 26% from three and tied for career-worst in Defensive Rating. The Spurs’ top 3 qualifiers in Usage Rate will all be over 30, and the team’s defense consistently struggled last year, so adding a young two-way player to learn from DeRozan and Aldridge and slot next to young defensive guards Derrick White and Dejounte Murray would be beneficial. Devin Vassell would be a proven 3 and D player to take if available while Patrick Williams, Tyrese Haliburton, and Aaron Nesmith are all options with two-way potential that Popovich can sharpen and develop for San Antonio.

  1. Sacramento Kings: Wing

There is no shortage of teams looking for wing help, and the Sacramento Kings are no exception. The team could use rebounders in the frontcourt, but Marvin Bagley’s return should alleviate that need. On the wing, the Kings have Kent Bazemore and Bogdan Bogdanovic as pending free agents, while Buddy Hield has shown unhappiness with the team and may be traded. This past season, no Sacramento wing had a PER higher than 16, while Hield was the only one with a Box Plus/Minus over 1. Harrison Barnes was the only qualifying wing (45 games) with an Offensive Rating over 110, but he also played 54% of his minutes at Power Forward. The Kings have young stars De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley in the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively, but need reinforcement in the middle of the lineup, where highly used wings Hield (27.2% Usage Rate) and Bogdanovic (22.6% Usage Rate) may not be with the team next season. Aaron Nesmith, Williams, and Isaac Okoro are all wings that could develop with the Kings through the future. Sacramento should look to replenish their wing group through the draft.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans: Defense

The New Orleans Pelicans have a bright future with one of the most electric young stars in the game in Zion Williamson. Last season, the Pelicans were middle of the pack in many aspects of the game, but could use an improvement on defense through the draft. Jrue Holiday is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but the rest of the team was average at best, and plus defender Derrick Favors will be a free agent this offseason. The team allowed the 4th most Points Per Game in the league last season, while no Pelican had more than a 0.9 Defensive Box Plus/Minus. Top starters Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram both had negative Defensive Box Plus/Minuses and Defensive Ratings over 111, while the Pelicans as a whole ranked in the bottom half of the league in Defensive Rating. The Pelicans will need more defensive consistency from their top players to complement the offensive electricity they bring. Patrick Williams, Jahmi’us Ramsey, and Saddiq Bey are all late lottery options with good defensive potential. A defender would be the biggest draft boost for the Pelicans to get in the late lottery.

  1. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Rotational Contributor

As a playoff team making a deep run, the Boston Celtics do not have many glaring needs, especially with most current players under contract next season as well. However, the Celtics could always use more bench depth, as they utilize the bench a lot, with 11 players playing in at least 48 games last season. Among bench players past 6th man Marcus Smart (also 40 starts), Enes Kanter was the only qualifier (45 games) with a positive Box Plus/Minus and the only one with a PER over 14. Getting a consistent player to come off of the bench would reinforce the Celtics’ overall lineup, so starters do not have to carry the whole load, as Daniel Theis was the only starter to average less than 11 Field Goal Attempts Per Game. Jalen Smith, Precious Achiuwa, Cole Anthony, and Tyrese Maxey would all be good contributors for the Celtics’ bench to reinforce the stars for Boston.

*2019-2020 Regular Season Stats from Basketball Reference

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