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NBA Team Pre-Draft Needs - Southeast Division

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The draft remains the cheapest and smartest way to build a team, though (assuming the GM knows what he's doing), and the past few seasons have seen large numbers of rookies contributing immediately. Some (including DraftExpress) have called this year's draft extremely strong, so that trend should continue. When evaluating team needs, I'll look at who will/will not be under contract next season, as well as the team's recent draft history. Any contract information I use comes from ShamSports. The previous divisions can be found here: Atlantic/Pacific/Central/Northwest

Today we turn to the Southeast Division; like the Northwest, all teams but one (the Wizards) made the playoffs, but that masks some real questions for many of the teams in this division.  The Hawks just embarrassed themselves in their playoff series against the Magic; the Bobcats may or may not be losing their coach Larry Brown; the Miami Heat got by this season essentially on Dwyane Wade plus spare parts, and now Wade's a free agent.  So there are some interesting questions heading into the draft.

Washington Wizards [picks: lottery (10.3% chance at #1), 30, 34]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Gilbert Arenas/Randy Foye (Qualifying Offer)/Cedric Jackson (Qualifying Offer)
SG: Josh Howard (Team Option)/Nick Young/Quinton Ross (Player Option)
SF: Al Thornton/Howard/Cartier Martin (Qualifying Offer)
PF: Andray Blatche
C: JaVale McGee

Recent draft picks: SG Jermaine Taylor (2009 2nd round); C JaVale McGee (2008 1st round); G/F Bill Walker (2008 2nd round); SG Nick Young (2007 1st round); F Dominic McGuire (2007 2nd round)

I will state up front that I personally am a Wizards fan, and thus would prefer to talk about this past season as little as possible.  It also means I have a lot of opinions as to what they should do moving forward.  They pretty much took a pass on last year's draft, trading the fifth overall pick to Minnesota for Randy Foye and Mike Miller, then selling their 2nd round pick to Houston for cash.  Such a move was part of a push by owner Abe Pollin to win a championship before he died.  That didn't happen, both because the Wizards had a terrible season and because Pollin passed away.  They have a new owner now, Ted Leonsis, who has shown an openness to new approaches as owner of the Washington Capitals (and Mystics, I assume), and this is a full-on rebuilding project.

So; those opinions.  The coaching staff tried to mold Randy Foye into a point guard, which didn't work because he can't really do anything other than spot up for threes.  Josh Howard played decently in the very short amount of time he was there before being injured, but his contract is a little pricey for a team looking to re-stock.  So even though they might have guys penciled into the swing positions, getting at least one player at shooting guard or small forward couldn't hurt.  Really, though, the Wizards are in best-player-available territory after winning 26 games and having just six players guaranteed to come back (I'm including Quinton Ross because I assume he's not stupid).

Needs: A do-over

Charlotte Bobcats [picks: none]

Having no draft picks is probably the best route to take if Michael Jordan is going to have a more prominent role in the front office.  Not that I'm still bitter nine years later.

Miami Heat [picks: 18, 41, 42, 48]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Mario Chalmers (Team Option)/Kenny Hasbrouck (Unguaranteed)
SG: Daequan Cook
SF: James Jones (Unguaranteed)
PF: Michael Beasley
C: Joel Anthony (Player Option)

Recent draft picks: SG Marcus Thornton (2009 2st round); F Robert Dozier (2009 2nd round); F Michael Beasley (2008 1st round); PF Darnell Jackson (2008 2nd round); PF Jason Smith (2007 1st round); C Stanko Barac (2007 2nd round)

Wow, that is...rather ugly, isn't it.  Both the players under contract and the draft history.  In fact, you probably should use one of these when looking at it.  Thornton was moved in a deal with New Orleans, Beasley has been shaky (in addition to his off-court stuff), and if you want me to keep going back, the rest of the Heat's post-Wade draft picks are Wayne Simien, Dorell Wright, Pape Sow and Matt Freije.  Really.  I have a feeling the Heat will be going after free agents to stock their roster (and I'm assuming that Dwyane Wade re-signs with them), so they can use their multiple draft picks either to trade for more veterans or to fill in any gaps.

Needs: A certain player to re-sign with them; a more dependable point guard who can play off the ball a bit

Atlanta Hawks [picks: 24, 53]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Mike Bibby/Jamal Crawford
SG: Mario West (Qualifying Offer)
SF: Marvin Williams/Maurice Evans (Player Option)
PF: Josh Smith/Al Horford
C: Horford/Zaza Pachulia

Recent draft picks: PG Jeff Teague (2009 1st round); SG Sergiy Gladyr (2009 2nd round); none in 2008; PF Shelden Williams (2007 1st round); C/F Solomon Jones (2007 2nd round)

The Hawks have a similar free agent question of their own, namely whether to re-sign Joe Johnson.  He'll likely be seeking a max contract or close to one, and the Hawks will have to decide whether to pay it.  If not, one has to think they'll look to another veteran to replace him rather than doing it through the draft; the 24th pick traditionally isn't really where you find a shooting guard to plug into a playoff roster.  It still would be nice if they could get a backup there who wasn't Mario West, though.  They were decent (or at least about average) on defense everywhere except for 16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata, and Mike Bibby isn't exactly a defensive stopper, so that's another area to look.  Furthermore, Atlanta was towards the bottom of the league in defensive rebounding rate.

Needs: Perimeter defense; a bench that doesn't include Mario West or a Collins brother

Orlando Magic [picks: 29, 59]

Players under contract for next season

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Vince Carter/J.J. Redick (Qualifying Offer)
SF: Mickael Pietrus
PF: Rashard Lewis/Ryan Anderson/Brandon Bass
C: Dwight Howard/Marcin Gortat/Bass

Recent draft picks: none in 2009; SG Courtney Lee (2008 1st round); SF Reyshawn Terry (2007 2nd round)

For a team with few draft picks from the past few years, the Magic have been built pretty well (and yes, that's an exercise in understatement).  They're a juggernaut on both sides of the ball, finishing fourth in the league in offensive efficiency and third in defensive efficiency.  So where to fill the gaps?  Are there gaps to fill?  Getting another backup for the swing positions would be helpful, although they could decide to re-sign Matt Barnes, I suppose.  They've been going with somewhat stop-gapp-y solutions at backup point guard, so that's another area to watch, although GM Otis Smith strikes me as someone who prefers getting veterans for that job.  Really, they could draft anyone just as long as he can shoot threes.

Needs: A cop show wherein Stan Van Gundy is the chief and Mickael Pietrus keeps things loose (idea inspired by @whatthenoelle)