By: Tate Smyth
Atlanta Hawks: With their pickups of Onyeka Okongwu and Skylar Mays, the Hawks added some much needed defensive ability to their squad. Okongwu will be an important addition at the center position, an area where Atlanta has certainly been lacking, and Mays will be able to develop under the guidance of veteran Rajon Rondo and budding superstar Trae Young.
Boston Celtics: While the Celtics’ acquisition of two point guards in the draft may seem puzzling for some, rookies Payton Pritchard and Yam Madar could prove key in helping take some of the offensive playmaking pressures off of veteran Kemba Walker. Pritchard could prove to be a legitimate steal in the draft. His ball handling creativity is some of the best in the draft, and his three point shooting was elite in college at over 40%.
Brooklyn Nets: After trading their 19th pick Saddiq Bey, the Nets acquired sharpshooter Landry Shamet from the clippers. Shamet’s three point and scoring ability at the guard position will certainly be appreciated in supporting KD, Kyrie, and possibly Harden.
Charlotte Hornets: After years of mediocrity, there is finally some real excitement around the Hornets organization. With the third pick, MJ’s squad picked up the highly anticipated Lamelo Ball, who spent much of the past couple years developing amongst grown men on overseas courts. Ball will bring his signature ball handling and passing ability to Charlotte and will be given the keys to the Hornets offense. Additionally, Charlotte acquired Vernon Carey Jr, a skilled forward who should bring some physicality and scoring inside. Another possible steal could be the late pickup of Grant Riller, an explosive scorer at the guard position, who is able to create impressive opportunities for himself with his finishing and shooting ability.
Chicago Bulls: The struggling Bulls drafted forward Patrick Williams with the fourth pick, a great athlete who can bring a strong defensive presence to Chicago, as well as a solid offensive skill set that will continue to develop. Chicago also picked up a European big man with stretch four potential in Marko Simonovic. The mobile big has impressive shooting ability for his size, runs the floor, and can provide solid rim protection for the Bulls.
Cleveland Cavaliers: With their number five pick, the Cavs selected Isaac Okoro, a strong and athletic forward who is one of the most imposing defenders in the draft. His offensive skill set appears promising, as he is an aggressive slasher to the basket and has been improving his outside shooting steadily.
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs’ pickup of Josh Green with the 18th pick could result in a good piece to fit into a very promising Dallas team. His defensive ability is very high, and his offensive capabilities are well rounded, while still developing. The pick of Tyrell Terry could also be good for Dallas, as his skill level at the point guard position is very high and could help to take some playmaking pressure off of Luka Doncic. The Mavs also acquired Tyler Bey in a draft trade, who could serve as another important defensive roleplayer.
Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets continued to add to their very talented roster with their draft picks this year, acquiring Zeke Nnaji and RJ Hampton in the first round. The big man Nnaji has good touch and offensive capabilities and can serve as a positive contributor on the offensive and defensive boards. Hampton, picked up through a trade with the Bucks, could prove to be another ultra athletic and skilled draft steal in the likes of Denver’s Michael Porter Jr pickup two years back. Having foregone college and played overseas (matching up with Ball at one point), he has been able to develop at a high competition level, with a promising offensive skill set as a guard and explosive athletic ability.
Los Angeles Lakers: While the Lakers chose not to make use of their 2020 draft pick, they have been one of the most active teams in the trade and free agency market this offseason. The pickup of Dennis Schroder at the point guard position adds another element of scoring and playmaking to the Lakers, as Schroder had been a consistent threat for OKC this past season. They also acquired an elite big man in Montrezl Harrell, who signed with them from the Clippers. Additionally, LA got veteran big Marc Gasol in exchange for JaVale McGee. These acquisitions combined with the championship supporting cast from last season and the resignings of Lebron and AD set the stage for another dominant Lakers season.
Los Angeles Clippers: Despite not having a draft pick this year, the Clippers were relatively active in the draft, looking to make up for a disappointing postseason in the bubble. In a trade with Detroit, they acquired skilled shooter Luke Kennard. They also got the draft rights to big man Daniel Oturu, an efficient scorer and strong rebounder who could help make up for the loss of Montrezl Harrell.
After one of the most exciting postseasons in recent years, the landscape of the NBA is changing quickly, with many big draft pickups, trades, and injuries. Some of the most exciting teams to look out for will certainly be the reigning champs, the LA Lakers, as well as the Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, and Denver Nuggets. Additionally, young teams that have dealt with mediocrity and struggled the past few seasons are looking to make a splash this year. This includes the new look Atlanta Hawks led by borderline superstar Trae Young, and the Charlotte Hornets with their skilled guards, veteran Gordon Hayward, and potential generational talent LaMelo Ball. With the season starting up quite soon, it’ll be very interesting to see how this shortened season will play out.