2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise


Follow the 2023 NBA Draft with Sky Sports, late overnight on Thursday June 22 where NBA teams will select from the best young prospects from American colleges and around the world internationally

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

One of the things that makes the NBA such a great league is the paramount importance of the NBA Draft.

Every year, soon after the conclusion of the postseason comes the chance for one of last season’s basement dwellers to reinvigorate hope with a generational pick (such as Victor Wembanyama) to transform their team’s trajectory.

Unlike the seven-round NFL Draft, each team only has two picks (excepting trades and circumstances where picks have been forfeited), meaning the importance of making the right selections is magnified massively.

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2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

For the most part, teams will select the player they believe to be the best available at the time of their pick. But they’ll trade up and trade down during the draft too, if there is someone in particular they have their eye on or if they decide to hoard some assets because they expect the player they want or need to fall back in the draft.

And that latter term – ‘need’ – is key as what a team requires in the draft may be different from what they can potentially manage to get.

Going into the draft, front offices must have that right mix of evaluating the talent of the players available and self-reflecting to be sure they know which gaps they need to fill in order to be successful.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what each team should be looking to target with the picks they have available…

Atlanta Hawks

Pick(s): 16, 46 (from Pelicans)

The Hawks are all-in on Trae Young so they need to find some defence around him and some more shooters that he can feed with his crafty playmaking skills.

Three-and-D are very much the watchword for the Hawks who should have some decent options in that regard just outside the lottery. They may also elect to go for some size, to fill the team’s need for another big man.

They could of course look to try and trade Young, but that seems just a bit crazy.

Boston Celtics

Pick(s): 35 (from Trail Blazers)

The Boston Celtics have the deepest roster in the league despite flaming out against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

They are approaching a roster crunch though, with lots of their stars needing to be paid. If Brad Stevens stays all in on the Jays (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) as well as Marcus Smart, then perhaps they will look for a big man with Robert Williams III very much injury-prone and Al Horford coming to the end of his career.

Again, with so many pieces and the feeling that a fresh look may be needed then perhaps Boston could look to partner on a trade.

Brooklyn Nets

Pick(s): 21 (from Suns), 22, 52

The Brooklyn Nets stand a chance at picks 21 and 22 of snaring a player who performs above his draft slot.

The team’s dire need for offensive skills and a playmaker means they will have a good chance to add someone who will get a great opportunity to showcase their skills fairly early on.

The Nets also need to add another rebounder alongside Nic Claxton and, if he plays enough, Ben Simmons. So Brooklyn have much to address with their three draft picks and it will be interesting to see which direction they choose to go.

Charlotte Hornets

Pick(s): 2, 27 (from Nuggets), 34, 39 (from Jazz), 41 (from Thunder)

The Hornets will either go for Alabama forward Brandon Miller or G League Ignite sensation Scoot Henderson with their No 2 pick. Henderson seems an awkward fit next to LaMelo Ball but the team is crying out for any kind of talent.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

They could look to package a few of the others to move up, but the team may also be hoping to find a few sleepers in the draft class.

In fairness, Charlotte need a bit of everything, so if they are confident in their ability to assess talent then they should look to assemble a roster of young talent alongside Ball which will stop them having to tank for too much longer. At least another year of that seems almost certain though – unless they snag something special.

Chicago Bulls

Pick(s): N/A

The Bulls have no picks, but they very much need a point guard who can run the offense to pair with Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Lonzo Ball could do that, but he is too riddled with injuries to be relied upon.

At the other end of the court, Nikola Vucevic is heading for unrestricted free agency so they could do with some reinforcements there too.

The Bulls chose not to blow it up last year – how can they manage to find a way to add talent? Maybe free agency is a better bet than the draft, but maybe there is a deal to be made if their talent evaluators really like someone.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Pick(s): 49 (from Warriors)

Shooting – that is the key for the Cavaliers. The young core of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are all 26 or under so the team is set at both ends of the court for the long run.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

Add some firepower, particularly on the wings, and the team could make another step forward. A good on-ball defender would help too, so if either of these needs can be addressed at 49, expect them to lean in.

Detroit Pistons

Pick(s): 5, 31

With Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, the Pistons are building an intriguing young team, who will now have Monty Williams guiding their future. There is also James Wiseman, who could make good on his potential.

Detroit’s No 5 pick also gives them the chance to add to that, and an athletic shooter and someone to help power the pace of the offense could help them make that next step forward. Again, as for many teams, shooting weapons are essential.

Indiana Pacers

Pick(s): 7, 26 (from Cavaliers), 29 (from Celtics), 32 (from Rockets), 55 (from Cavaliers)

The Pacers are in an interesting place as they may look to consolidate their slew of five picks into being able to select higher or for an asset, or to potentially stock up on more future picks.

But in terms of what they will be looking to draft, especially with that no seven pick, then a power forward would seem the obvious selection assuming they manage to agree an extension with Myles Turner, who offers strong rim protection from the center spot.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin look sure to be the backcourt of the future and there are some strong forwards in the draft. Selecting one with good athleticism and defensive skills would be ideal, and it is safe to expect Houston’s Jarace Walker and UCF’s Taylor Hendricks to be among their targets around that spot.

Miami Heat

Pick(s): 18

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

The Heat made it all the way to the NBA Finals with a team which appeared to be missing a third elite offensive component alongside Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler to make it all work. Whether Tyler Herro would have made a difference if he had been fit is a hypothetical debate, but either way a final piece is needed to complete their roster.

A shot creator who is also a pull-up threat would be the ideal mix for Miami and it remains to be seen if there are moves to be made which can help them find that in this draft – finding one of those types of players ready to go at 18 seems a stretch, but Pat Riley is always creative so Miami could be a trade player if they fancy someone higher up.

Milwaukee Bucks

Pick(s): 58

The No 58 pick will be the very last selection in this year’s NBA Draft after two picks were forfeited.

Of course, it is a very different NBA now but four-time NBA champion and San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year, was taken just one spot ahead of the Bucks’ pick after being selected 57th in 1999.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

Milwaukee are another team in need of a final piece to fit alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and the ageing core. A big guard or a wing who could shoot on the kick-out when the defence collapses on him would be ideal.

New York Knicks

Pick(s): (N/A)

The Knicks are just off their best season in a decade and do not own a pick in the draft but if they decide to trade their way in, then it makes sense to try and find a player with a solid amount of upside.

If they decide that someone who fits that description is there, then they could perhaps look to leverage some of their complementary pieces into a package – but maybe they will sit this one out.

Orlando Magic

Pick(s): 6, 11 (from Bulls), 36

The Orlando Magic have been cooking to the boil nicely in recent years and now have three legitimate pieces in last year’s No 1 pick Paolo Banchero, versatile wing Franz Wagner and the born-again Markelle Fultz – another former No 1 pick.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

Put simply, Orlando need shooters and some more scoring punch in the backcourt in general. Pull-up shooters, catch-and-shoot threats, anyone with range may fit the bill as that is the one area of Fultz’s game which has not bounced back to pre-draft levels.

The Magic have flexibility though, and their two picks mean they can trade up, down or maybe even out of this year’s draft depending on what becomes available and how long they see their timeline.

Fultz’s rise as a reclamation project shows the player development culture is strong and head coach Jamahl Mosley is notably strong at working with young players, so Orlando will be a good landing spot for both of their lottery picks – should they make them.

Philadelphia 76ers

Pick(s): N/A

Philadelphia are another team with no picks and the direction the franchise wishes to take could be somewhat in question after this year’s playoff performance.

If they choose to keep James Harden, which seems more likely than not despite him being criticised by recently-fired head coach Doc Rivers, then in Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris they have a strong quartet capable of propelling a team to title contention. Ideally, they will look to bring in a wing shooter to complement that group, but that is a need probably better served by looking at veterans in free agency.

Toronto Raptors

Pick(s): 13

The Raptors are at the tail-end of the lottery but there are a lot of dominoes to fall for the franchise. They could lose any or all of Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr and Jakob Poeltl this summer and have Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby headed for free agency next summer, so should they have to offload one, expect them to be big sellers as they look to tilt towards a rebuild.

2023 NBA Draft: Team needs for every Eastern Conference franchise

In 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes they have a core piece to build around, so surrounding him with some (yes, you guessed it) long-range shooting would be a good start. If that is not available, some shot-blocking on the interior would not hurt either.

Washington Wizards

Pick(s): 8, 42 (from Bulls)

It has been seven seasons since the Wizards won a playoff series and they are ready for a restart. It is time to shift Bradley Beal and move on by finding a core piece to build around once again. Could the eighth pick and Beal entice suitors enough to allow them to move up in the draft?

The Wizards will continue to tank and will be looking to find a player with a colossal upside and massive ceiling with the No 8 pick. That seems a stretch in this year’s draft, so maybe looking for a trade is the best way to go.

Newly-appointed president of basketball operations Michael Winger has been told he can do whatever he wishes to reset the team, so it will be interesting to see how he goes about it.


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