NBA Draft: Biggest needs for top 10 teams

Published June 21, 2023, 8:00 PMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

With the 2023 NBA Draft coming up, here are the biggest needs of the top 10 teams in the draft.

The NBA Draft is the best time to not only fill up a roster with young talent, but also a time for teams to address their biggest needs. Some teams need a player to fill in a position. Others need a young prospect to simply improve the talent level on the team.

San Antonio Spurs (1st pick)

Biggest Need: Franchise player

The Spurs aren’t built for mediocrity. Gregg Popovich isn’t getting any younger and if the team wants to win one more championship before their legendary coach retires, they’re going to need a franchise-saving superstar. They need their next David Robinsion, their next Tim Duncan.

Luckily, they have the top pick in a draft where there’s a generational talent making the leap to the NBA. There’s no overthinking this one. The Spurs need Victor Wembenyama, and they’ll pick Victor Wembenyama. Who knows, they might win one soon with Victor Wembenyama.

Possible Picks: Victor Wembenyama

Charlotte Hornets (2nd pick)

Biggest Need: Secondary star

After lucking out in 2020 and getting LaMelo Ball, the Hornets have struggled to put a stellar supporting cast around their young floor leader. Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, their big free agent signings, were supposed to be the other All-Stars next to Ball, but those moves just took disappointing turns. Kelly Oubre and PJ Washington are solid, but both aren’t star material.

Ball needs a real running mate. Someone on the same timeline as him who he can grow with. They need a player that can not just score, but also create for himself. They need someone who can carry the load when Ball isn’t on the floor. They have a couple of potential All-Stars they can take with the second pick.

Possible Picks: Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson

Portland Trail Blazers (3rd pick)

Biggest Need: Reason for Damian Lillard to stay

Damian Lillard wants to win a championship. Unfortunately, the Blazers aren’t close to being at that level. Picking third in this year’s draft is damning evidence of that. There’s a real threat that Lillard asks to be traded to a team that can put him in a better position to win. Portland needs to give their franchise player a reason to stay.

Unfortunately, a young prospect isn’t the answer to that, no matter how good that player is. The Blazers have a decision to make with their third pick. If they do find themselves holding on to the pick when their team name is called, they just need to pick the best talent available, despite the fit. That way, they can still use that player as trade bait to get Lillard the help he needs.

Possible Picks: Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson

Houston Rockets (4th pick)

Biggest Need: Playmaker

The Rockets have nice young pieces on their roster. But that’s exactly what they are right now, just pieces. There’s nothing holding those pieces together (30th in APG, 28th in FG%). 

Right now, the team has several players moonlighting as playmakers. Kevin Porter Jr. is their point guard, but he’s better off as a bucket-getter off the bench. Jalen Green can play point, but he’s a scorer through and through. Alperen Sengun can create but he also needs to do the dirty work inside. Houston needs a connector, a creator who can take the wheel and drive the bus towards a winning direction.

Possible Picks: Scoot Henderson, Ausar Thompson, Anthony Black

Detroit Pistons (5th pick)

Biggest Need: 3DA wing

The Pistons are all set at the bookend positions. They have Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey at the guards then a trio of young bigs in James Wiseman, Isaiah Stewart, and Jalen Duren to handle the paint. What they need is a wing player, specifically one that can shoot and defend.

Detroit gave up a young wing in Saddiq Bey to be able to acquire a high-upside talent like Wiseman. They can replace Bey with a wing that can develop along with the core of Cunningham, Ivey, and Duren in this draft.

Possible Picks: Ausar Thompson, Amen Thompson, Taylor Hendricks

Orlando Magic (6th and 11th picks)

Biggest Need: Shooting

The Magic made a nice little push for a play-in spot towards the end of last season. Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Wendell Carter Jr. all showed growth as individuals and as a group as the season rolled along. However, the key to truly maximizing this team’s potential is to get some shooting on the board. The Magic rank 26th in 3-pointers made and 25th in 3-point percentage. 

With two picks in the lottery this year, they can get the best player available while still making a pick to fill in their shooting needs.

Possible Picks: Amen Thompson, Taylor Hendricks, Cason Wallace, Gradey Dick

Indiana Pacers (7th pick)

Biggest Need: Power Forward

Tyrese Haliburton is entrenched as the team’s future All-Star point guard. Benedict Mathurin has proven that he’s the wing that the team will pair with Haliburton. Right now the team still has Buddy Hield and Myles Turner as small forward and center. That leaves a gaping hole at the power forward spot. The team has tried several players like Aaron Nesmith and Jalen Smith at the four. But they really need a player that they can slot into that position permanently. 

Possible Picks: Taylor Hendricks, Jarace Walker

Washington Wizards (8th pick)

Biggest Need: Talent across the board

Who knows what the Wizards’ direction will be on draft day. After trading their franchise player, Bradley Beal, acquiring Chris Paul in the process, there’s so many questions left to be answered. Are they keeping Paul? Are re-signing Kyle Kuzma and retaining Kristaps Porzingis priorities heading into free agency? Is Washington rebuilding?

With so much that the team needs to figure out, they’re best served just taking the best player available to them with the eighth pick. Either way, they’re getting a young prospect that can play with whatever team they decide to trot out next season.

Possible Picks: Jarace Walker, Anthony Black, Cam Whitmore

Utah Jazz (9th pick)

Biggest Need: Permanent Point Guard

The Jazz surprised everyone in the league by staying in the thick of the West play-in race all the way to the final few games of the season. And they did all that without a real point guard to lead the way. After Mike Conley was traded away at the deadline, Collin Sexton and Kris Dunn took over point guard duties for the team.

Both were passable but clearly not suited to lead the team in the long run. They need someone that’s low risk, low usage, and can run the team’s new system smoothly. Kind of like Conley, but younger.

Possible Picks: Anthony Black, Cason Wallace, Jalen Hood-Schifino

Dallas Mavericks (10th pick)

Biggest Need: Defensive-minded Forward

The Mavs tanked to keep this pick. They better draft the right player to justify wasting a year of Luka Doncic’s prime.

When talking about Dallas, the chorus has been to get Doncic some help. Help can come in many different forms. In this case, they need a forward that they can deploy as a wrecking ball on defense, kind of like how Dorian Finney-Smith was used before the Kyrie Irving trade. There’s more than enough scorers on the team. They need someone that can set the tone on defense.

Possible Picks: Jarace Walker, Cam Whitmore, Bilal Coulibaly