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NBA Team Pre-Draft Needs - Central Division

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After looking at the Atlantic and Pacific Divisions, today we examine the draft needs of those teams in the Central Division.  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.

Overall, the teams in this division have some pretty similar needs; maybe some three-point shooting, maybe some perimeter defense, maybe some big man depth.  That makes sense, as aren't we all really looking for the same things in life?

Detroit Pistons [picks: lottery (5.2% chance at #1), 36]

Players under contract for next season

PG: Rodney Stuckey/Will Bynum (Qualifying Offer)
SG: Richard Hamilton/Ben Gordon
SF: Tayshaun Prince/Jonas Jerebko (Unguaranteed)
PF: Charlie Villanueva/Jerebko/Jason Maxiell/DaJuan Summers (Unguaranteed)/Chris Wilcox (Player Option)
C: Maxiell/Wilcox

Recent draft picks: F Austin Daye (2009 1st round); F DaJuan Summers (2009 2nd round); F Jonas Jerebko (2009 2nd round); F Chase Budinger (2009 2nd round); F/C D.J. White (2008 1st round); F Deron Washington (2008 2nd round); PG Rodney Stuckey (2007 1st round); SG Arron Afflalo (2007 1st round), G Sammy Mejia (2007 2nd round)

Well that didn't go very well.  After bringing in a new coach and some free agents, the Pistons finished...last in their division.  The team had some injuries here and there, but overall Pistons fans likely will try to forget this season.  There were some bright spots, including Jerebko; I assume his contract for next year will get picked up given that he made the all-rookie second team.  Jerebko and fellow rookie Austin Daye led the Pistons in True Shooting percentage.  Unfortunately, the team also finished worst in the league in opponent assist percentage and second-worst in opponent three-point percentage (both coming from Hoopdata).  While it's probably unwise to attribute that solely to being without Arron Afflalo, who was traded to Denver, I think it's fair to say that not having Afflalo didn't help.

Looking at the rest of Detroit's roster, the contracts of both Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown expire at the end of the season.  While I suppose they may re-sign Wallace, he'll be 36 years old at the start of next season.  It's true that this year saw him post the second-best shooting percentages of his career and a better rebounding percentage than the prior two seasons, he also had the lowest block percentage of his career, and Detroit's opponents made 62.8 percent of their shots at the rim, seventh-worst in the NBA (again via Hoopdata).  What I'm trying to get at is that Wallace isn't the defensive force he once was, and that it's probably best if the Pistons move on.

Needs: Perimeter defense, center

Indiana Pacers [picks: lottery (1.1% chance at #1), 40, 57]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: T.J. Ford (Player Option)/A.J. Price (Unguaranteed)
SG: Brandon Rush/Dahntay Jones
SF: Danny Granger/Mike Bunleavy (#basketballfood)/Jones
PF: Troy Murphy/Granger/Tyler Hansbrough (Unguaranteed)/Josh McRoberts (Unguaranteed)
C: Roy Hibbert/Solomon Jones/Jeff Foster/Hansbrough/McRoberts

Recent draft picks: F/C Tyler Hansbrough (2009 1st round); PG A.J. Price (2009 2nd round); G Jerryd Bayless (2008 1st round); F/C Nathan Jawai (2008 2nd round); none in 2007

Bottom line: Indiana needs to step its draft game up.  Sure they got Danny Granger five years ago, and Hansbrough could develop into something, but going all the way back to 1998 the Pacers' draft history is more Jamison Brewer and Vonteego Cummings and Shawne Williams than it is Granger and Al Harrington.  Looking to this draft in particular, I'd recommend finding some three-point shooting; more than a quarter of the Pacers' shots this past season came from beyond the arc (27.8 percent to be exact, according to Hoopdata once again, third-highest in the league) yet they made just 34.8 percent of those shots.  2010/2011 will be a contract year for Murphy, Bunleavy, Foster and Solomon Jones, and while both Granger and Hibbert are around, a few more backup plans couldn't hurt.

Needs: WHITE PLAYERS, AM I RIGHT? HAW HAW Three-point shooting, a big man to develop for the future

Chicago Bulls [picks: 17]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Derrick Rose/Kurt Kris Kyle Kermit Kirk Hinrich
SG: Hinrich
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Joakim Noah/Taj Gibson/James Johnson/Deng/Rob Kurz (Unguaranteed)
C: Noah/Chris Richard (Unguaranteed)

Recent draft picks: James Johnson (2009 1st round); Taj Gibson (2009 1st round); Derrick Rose (2008 1st round); Sonny Weems (2008 1st round); Joakim Noah (2007 1st round); Aaron Gray (2007 2nd round); JamesOn Curry (2007 2nd round)

The Bulls are yet another team trying to position themselves for the 2010 Free Agent Bonanza-bration, with just six players under guaranteed deals for next season and some good young players in Rose and Noah (and some slightly less good, slightly less young players in Hinrich and Deng).  In that regard, Chicago's draft will have to be flexible enough to get a player who can fit in with whomever they sign.  (And Noah is listed at two positions with the understanding that one of the Bulls' signees will take one of those away from him.)  Chicago was the third-worse three-point shooting team this past season at 33 percent, so that would work.  Actually, the Bulls were 27th in the league in offensive efficiency, so any kind of improvement there would work, although having a coach who actually knows how to design an offense probably will provide a boost in itself.  A better backup big man also would help; much as we are D-League champions here at RU, there are better options available than Chris Richard.  17 is probably a bit high to draft for that, but who knows what'll happen.

Needs: Three-point shooting, better announcers if Twitter is to be believed

Milwaukee Bucks [picks: 15, 37, 47]

Players under contract for next year:

PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Michael Redd (Early Termination)/John Salmons (Early Termination)/Charlie Bell
SF: Carlos Delfino (Unguaranteed)/Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (Unguaranteed)
PF: Ersan Ilyasova/Mbah a Moute/Darnell Jackson (Unguaranteed)
C: Andrew Bogut/Dan Gadzuric/Ilyasova

Recent draft picks

As Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer pointed out, this team really struggled to score at times; they finished in the bottom quarter of the league in offensive efficiency.  Getting Redd healthy will help, but both his and Salmons's contracts expire after next season, so a longer-term solution probably should be in the offing.  You'll also notice that Jennings currently is without a backup, as Ridnour's deal expires at the end of the current season; the later picks are probably best suited for that.  I'd also recommend a better backup for Bogut, because Gadzuric is only signed for another year, and also because he's Dan Gadzuric.

Needs: Depth, players who won't hurt the team defensively, maybe a shooting guard specifically

Cleveland Cavaliers [picks: only those that Anderson Varejao sets)

I initially wrote up this whole thing, then felt silly because the Cavs have no draft picks after trading their first-rounder to Washington and their second-rounder to Phoenix.  They could use a young center, as J.J. Hickson is probably more of a power forward and Zydrunas Ilgauskas is old (assuming they re-sign him).  The Cavaliers have been stockpiling older/established players in a bid to win the championship before LeBron James's deal expires at the end of this season, and we'll see how that turns out.  Count me among those who think it's almost a lock that he stays in Cleveland, but if he does the team may have some re-tooling to do in the next few years, and not having a steady stream of draft picks could hurt down the line.