2014 Draft Preview: First Round

By Jay Cipoletti

With the Preview of the Draft Preview, we established realistic expectations for rookies. If they are going to have an impact, it more than likely will be on their team's Effective Field Goal Percentage differential. The two shooting zones that influence eFG% the most are the Restricted Area and Corner 3s. Lastly, we are using the context of Lottery Team; Playoff Team and Conference Finalist to index how each team performed in each zone (measured against the average Playoff Team: Red is worse; Green is better).

Using insights from SAP, here is a look at each team's need(s) and how they can be addressed immediately in this Draft. This is not a projection of who will be the best pro players, or who we project a team will take.

With that said, Cleveland is on the clock ...

Cleveland Cavaliers

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Cavaliers were worse than the Lottery Team average in every category except Restricted Area Attempts allowed, where they allowed the 4th-fewest in the League. No team allowed more Corner 3 makes than the Cavs' 223 allowed. Provided they can continue limiting RA shot attempts, their primary needs are quality shots in the Restricted Area, where their 56.1% make rate ranked last, and a higher volume of shots in the corners.

A true low-post scoring presence that draws doubles would address both needs. A rim attacker that can finish, create easy shots at the rim and draw help for Corner 3 kick outs is the more likely solution.

FIT: Andrew Wiggins

Milwaukee Bucks

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The top four teams in the League in Restricted Area FG% differential were, not surprisingly, the four Conference Finalists. Only two Playoff Teams (Bulls, Mavericks) had a negative RA FG% differential, while only two Lottery Teams (Suns, Nuggets) had a positive differential. The Bucks need to improve upon their 26th ranking inside the circle, though they may have to wait a season for it to materialize.

FIT: Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker

Philadelphia 76ers

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Sixers have two lottery picks and five picks in the 2nd round. They will need all of them, along with a healthy Nerlens Noel. They were able to get to the rim for a League-leading 2,888 RA shots. Improving upon their 27th-ranked conversion rate should be first priority. Improving upon their League worst 32.8% Corner 3 make rate should be their secondary focus. Assuming a healthy Noel, the handful of 2nd round picks can be used to add more C3 spacers and address their League-worst 561 Corner 3 attempts allowed.

FIT: Joel Embiid (3rd), Doug McDermott (10th)

Orlando Magic

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Magic scored in, and defended, the Restricted Area slightly better than the Lottery Team average. They could stand to improve upon their -3.5% RA FG% differential, but the biggest area of need is finding more makes from the Corners. Their 35.7% make rate ranked trailed all but the Sixers in the East. With their two lottery picks, they can find a shot creator and distributor to get their shooters easier looks, then add another Corner spacer.

FIT: Dante Exum (4th), Doug McDermott (12th)

Utah Jazz

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Utah had the 3rd-best RA FG% differential of the 14 Lottery Teams. While they could use some improvement there, it is not a glaring need. Adding perimeter length to cut down on a League-worst 43.8% Corner 3 make rate allowed is. Increasing their shot volume from the corners is a secondary need.

FIT: Andrew Wiggins; Marcus Smart; Aaron Gordon (5th): Shabazz Napier, PJ Hairston (23rd)

Boston Celtics

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Boston defended the Corners like a Playoff Team. Their 370 C3 FGAs allowed was the 6th fewest in the NBA, behind five Playoff Teams including Conference Finalists Indiana and San Antonio. Their 35.4% C3 make rate allowed was 2nd in the League behind the Rockets. The Celtics are the first team in the Draft with a playoff-caliber component on which to build. Their own Corner 3 production is slightly better than the Lottery Team average -- good enough to shift their attention to shoring up their RA defense.

FIT: Joel Embiid; Noah Vonleh; Aaron Gordon (6th): T.J. Warren, Adreian Payne, Clint Capela, Dario Saric (17th)

Los Angeles Lakers

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Lakers mirrored the four Conference Finalists averages of 40.0% FG% on 518 attempts from the Corners. Inside the arc, especially on the defensive end, they were every bit a Lottery Team. The Lakers allowed teams to make 1,648 of 2,618 shots in the Restricted Area. No other team allowed more than 1,493 makes or 2,445 attempts. They need a rim protector. With the best one in the draft likely off the board by the 7th pick, moving up or down may be their best option.

FIT: Joel Embiid; Noah Vonleh; Aaron Gordon; Clint Capela; Walter Tavares

Sacramento Kings

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Kings face a dilemma. They took and made fewer Corner 3s than every team but Milwaukee, and their 65.1% RA FG% allowed ranked 30th. Only one player in the Draft can conceivably address both needs, and he may not be around by the time Sacramento is on the clock. Like the Lakers, the Kings may need to move up or down.

FIT: Noah Vonleh

Charlotte Hornets

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The first Playoff Team with a pick, it is easy to see why -- Charlotte defended inside and out like a Conference Finalist. On the offensive end, they underperformed the Lottery Team averages across the board. The Hornets need shot creators and shot makers, in both zones. If they can get quality and quantity with the 9th pick, they might be able to concentrate on the RA with the 24th selection.

FIT: Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas (9th); Jarnell Stokes (24th)

Denver Nuggets

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Denver is one of two Lottery Teams to outshoot its opponents from both high-value zones. With incremental improvement on the defensive end and no decrease in offensive production, they can play at a Playoff Team level ... although as the Suns can attest, that is no guarantee of making the postseason in the West.

FIT: Elfrid Payton

Minnesota Timberwolves

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Kevin Love took 14.9% of Minnesota's RA shots, making 65.2% of them. Considering Love may be playing elsewhere next season, there could be a LOT of shots available around the rim. The Wolves need someone who can make a few of them.

FIT: Julius Randle, T.J. Warren

Phoenix Suns

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Suns outperformed the Playoff Team average in six of eight components. Their Net Rating of 3.3 would likely have made them a home seed in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They are the one team who can reasonably expect the rookie impact to be enough to propel them up one level ... due in large part to the fact they only have one glaring need -- Rim Protection -- and 3 chances in the 1st Round to address it.

FIT: Joel Embiid, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Walter Tavares, Artem Klimenko (14th, 18th, 27th)

Atlanta Hawks

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Atlanta earned the 8th seed in the East despite playing like an average Lottery Team on the defensive end. They need Rim Protection and they need length on the perimeter to close out on Corner 3 shooters. That gives them many options late in the Lottery.

FIT: Nik Stauskas, Elfrid Payton, Zach Levine, Rodney Hood, Dario Saric, Clint Capela, Adreian Payne

Chicago Bulls

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Derrick Rose returns, and with him the Bulls ability to make shots in the Restricted Area, something they did worse than every team but the Cavs. They defended both zones like a Conference Finalist. That leaves the Corners as their primary need. With two picks bunched together (16th & 19th), they have some flexibility to either move up or double up to address their need.

FIT: Nik Stauskas, Doug McDermott, Zach Levine, Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier

Toronto Raptors

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The Raptors earned the No. 3 seed in the East on the strength of their high-volume, average-quality shooting from the Corners. To move into the Conference Finalist level, they will need to strengthen their production in the Restricted Area. No team attempted fewer RA shots than Toronto's 1,851 attempts.

FIT: Julius Randle, T.J. Warren, Jarnell Stokes

Oklahoma City Thunder

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

The first of the Conference Finalists on the clock, the Thunder's need is plain to see. They shot 35.1% from C3, better than only Philadelphia and Minnesota. They need C3 ppacers, and they can afford to sacrifice on the defensive end to get them. With two picks late in the 1st round, expect them to target two shooters, at least one of whom they can park in the corner.

FIT: Shabazz Napier, P.J. Hairston, C.J. Wilcox, Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie (Alec Brown or Travis Bader could fit the role as UFAs, too)

Memphis Grizzlies

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Similar to the Thunder, the Grizzlies' glaring need is more production from the Corners, where their attempts and makes both ranked 2nd-worst among playoff teams. Unlike Oklahoma City, they only have one 1st Round pick.

FIT: P.J. Hairston

Houston Rockets

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

As of Thursday night, these are the needs the Rockets need to address ... their needs may be fully addressed, or at least different, after July 1st. Addressing their needs through the Draft, they need Rim Protectors and length to limit the volume of Corner 3 attempts they allow.

FIT: Clint Capela, Walter Tavares, Artem Klimenko

Miami Heat

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

Miami's needs obviously hinge on whether LeBron James returns or signs elsewhere. If he departs, the Heat would need to rebuild, not retool. Assuming he stays, Miami needs to greatly improve upon their Lottery Team caliber Corner 3 defense. Only three Playoff teams allowed more than 500 C3 attempts, none more than the Heat's 553. No other Playoff team allowed more than 198 C3 makes -- the Heat allowed 222, more than every team in the League save for the Sixers (222) and the Cavaliers (223). Miami needs athletic length.

FIT: James Young, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Clarkson, K.J. McDaniels, Cleanthony Early

Los Angeles Clippers

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

With CP3 running the show, the Clippers offense produced like a Conference Finalist. Their defense resembled an average Lottery Team. Even with Deandre Jordan anchoring the middle, they were the only team to allow more than 1,400 RA makes.

FIT: Clint Capela, Walter Tavares, Artem Klimenko

San Antonio Spurs

RA AttemptsRA FG%C3 AttemptsC3 FG%

What do you get for the Conference Finalist that has everything? More mismatches, more versatility, more high basketball IQ ... more of the same. As this season showed, the Spurs' greatest need is to avoid injuries. They have made a history of finding value late in the Draft, and the expectation is that this year will be no different. When looking at this year's talent pool, two players way down on most Draft boards seem to fit the Spurs profile. This last capsule isn't a need, it is pure speculation.

FIT: Alec Brown, Cory Jefferson