Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Is there a team you think will be markedly better this year because of last week’s Draft?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Utah. Not only did the Jazz fill a serious need at point guard, they got the best one in the draft and a guy who seems eager now to play with a chip on his shoulder. Trey Burke didn’t like being bandied around on draft night – picked by Minnesota, swapped out for the Nos. 14 and 21 picks. I can see him playing cranky (and focused) when he faces some of those teams that passed on him.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The Wizards. They’re building on a healthy John Wall and a strong finish to last season and then added a perfect fit on the front line in Otto Porter. This should finally be the season the Wizards live up to the hope and take a big step forward in the Eastern Conference. Playoffs? Yes. Home-court? OK, let’s not get too carried away.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Trail Blazers. As unusual it is to say that about a team that did not add a starter, Portland got substantially better in the area that needed improvement: depth. It added three players who not only will make the roster but should be in the rotation, including two from the second round. That’s a very good night.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. I don’t think any of the guys drafted will make that much of an impact next season. I believe Cleveland will be markedly better, but more because they hired a coach that will fix their defensive issues and because the young guys they already have will improve. The Pelicans got an All-Star point guard for their pick, but I don’t think that Jrue Holiday is that big of an upgrade over Greivis Vasquez.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: That word you used, markedly, is a bit strong for the Draft. Even when you draft well, as Portland did last season by snagging the best rookie in the class (Damian Lillard), it doesn’t raise your bottom the line the way it does when you get a transcendent talent like say LeBron James or Derrick Rose. But if there is a team that has a chance to see an immediate up tick in its fortunes based strictly off of the work done in last week’s Draft, I think it’s the Washington Wizards. By grabbing Otto Porter with the No. 3 pick, I think the Wizards just might have added the final piece to help them escape the lottery and move into the mix for a playoff bid in an Eastern Conference that will see some shifting due to trades, free agency and the general turnover we see from year to year.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: No. But I think there are some teams that will be improved from where they were last year, like Utah and Cleveland, and possibly even Orlando. I just don’t see any of the guys from this year’s Draft as make or break franchise players.
Pawel Weszka, NBA Africa: I don’t think we will see a sudden revelation from the draft last week, but I expect some of the players making an impact from day one. If Victor Oladipo’s enthusiasm transforms into his performance on the court, we should see some positive sparks in Orlando during the regular season. Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng should make the Wolves better while Tim Hardaway Jr., once he gets stronger, may be just what Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks need.