As Part II of my Pre-Draft coverage we will look at the Central Division in the East.
CHICAGO BULLS- The Bulls has a decent season in 08-09 and look to build off their epic 7 game series with the Boston Celtics. They have a stud point guard in Derrick Rose who took home Rookie of the Year honors. They have good players in John Salmons, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Brad Miller. They have one problem at shooting guard with the looming free agency of Ben Gordon. They have been unable to sign him to a long-term deal and this look to be their biggest issue this summer. Unless they can somehow pull off a trade to get a great shooting guard such as Vince Carter, they should try to lock up Ben Gordon. However, they need to spend wisely because in the summer of 2010 they face losing players such as Thomas, Miller, and Salmons. With their draft pick this year they could do many things. They could try to trade up and get a better player (although in my opinion players 10-20 are all equal) or they could look to move down and save some cap space to lock up a veteran like Ben Gordon or even Nate Robinson if Gordon cant be signed. However, with their 16th pick, I see the Bulls getting a tough forward. With the aging Brad Miller and the more finesse type players in Thomas and Noah, they have a need for a tough nose player. Players such as DeJuan Blair, B.J. Mullens, and James Johnson to get a hard look here. Of course, if a player like Tyler Hansbrough falls to them at this pick, the Windy City would certainly be happy.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS- With the Cavaliers having much regular season success with the best record in the NBA (66-16) and the reigning MVP and Coach of the Year in Lebron James and Mike Brown, they certainly have a great team. But with the disappointing exit in the Eastern Conference Finals at the hands of the Orlando Magic, they have some areas to look at. They have a solid player at point guard in Mo Williams. They have an under sized yet good role player in Delonte West. They have unconventional frontcourt players in the energetic Anderson Varejao and the 7 foot 3 perimeter oriented center in Zydrunas Ilgauskas. They need to work on resigning Anderson Varejao, but he could leave if another team offers him more money. They have some questions to fill with their need of a true center and some longer people on the wings. The Cavs have good shooters off the bench in Sasha Pavlocic and Daniel Gibson. They could use one of these in trade talks, especially with Pavlocic in the final year of his contract. Ben Wallace is also in the same position and has hinted at retirement, which could be a good bargaining tool in any trade. I see the Cavs looking to get a stronger center, maybe a Shaq or Chris Kaman type. I could also see them trying to get a wing player like Vince Carter or Trevor Ariza. Or they could sign a player like Lamar Odom or Rasheed Wallace, both who would fit the system well. The Cavs have the 30th pick in this draft so they wont get much help there, they will need to boost their roster in the free agent market to compete for a title, and more importantly to try to get Lebron to stay in Cleveland next summer.
DETROIT PISTONS- The Pistons had a very rough season when their trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson didn’t work out. They have some rebuilding to do and could make some drastic changes. Rasheed Wallace is a free agent and wont resign with the team. They have big contract with veteran players like Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton, which could be trade pieces. I seem them trying to resign Antonio McDyess, although he might leave for a contender. Look for them to try and trade either Prince or Brown. Many teams would love to have a player like Tayshaun Prince on their roster. He is a proven winner and could help out a team who wants to contend. They probably wont do very much spending this year and wait for next summer blockbuster year and try to snatch up some quality players. However, with the savvy Joe Dumars at the helm the Pistons could do something bold this summer. With their 15th pick in this draft they aren’t going to find any franchise players, but they could select some solid small forwards in either Earl Clark or James Johnson.
INDIANA PACERS- The Pacers are coming off a disappointing season racked with injuries. As they get healthy this season, the look to strengthen their roster. With one of the NBA’s most talented small forwards in Danny Granger and a solid veteran power forward in Troy Murphy they look to fill question marks on the roster. With the under performance of Jarrett Jack they might look to draft a point guard such as Eric Maynor, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson or Jonny Flynn. However, with most of those likely already taken, they may look at a wing-oriented player such as Austin Daye out of Gonzaga. This would allow them to play Granger as an undersized power forward and move Murphy to center bringing Roy Hibert off the bench for size and toughness. I personally believe Jarrett Jack can be the fix at point guard, but they might be unwilling to resign him to try and test him out for another year.
MILWAUKEE BUCKS- On paper the Milwaukee Bucks should be a great playoff team. They developed a good point guard in Ramon Sessions this past season. They have one of the best shooters in the game, Michael Redd, coming off knee surgery. They have a great small forward in Richard Jefferson and a quality power forward in Charlie Villanueva. When healthy, Andrew Bogut can be a good man in the middle, but his short career has been filled with injuries. For the Bucks this summer, they need to decide on the free agents on Villanueva and Sessions. They have a good role player in Luke Ridnour who could be their point guard if they decide to let Sessions walk. The Charlie Villanueva topic is a different issue; he has been somewhat unhappy in Milwaukee and most likely will want to sign with another team. This year is a do or die year for the franchise as Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson can opt out of their contract next summer. With the last pick of the Top 10, they will look to fill the void left by Villanueva and draft Jordan Hill from Arizona. If he is already drafted, they may look at point guard or take the best player available.