Most of the NBA is already operating in offseason mode.
The rest will get there in the next month (give or take a few days).
If you aren't thinking about your franchise's next step, you're already behind.
We're here to bring everyone up to speed by spotlighting the biggest need—from a second-round flier to a franchise cornerstone—each team will take into the annual talent grab.
Atlanta Hawks: Perimeter Defense
By virtue of rostering Trae Young alone, Atlanta should always field a formidable offense.
Of course, it will also have glaring defensive questions, too, and while the right blend of lanky stoppers might answer them, the Hawks haven't found them yet.
They need a lockdown defender on the perimeter, and De'Andre Hunter just hasn't shown evidence of ascending to that level. Jimmy Butler exposed that void during the Miami Heat's five-game series win over the Hawks, averaging 30.5 points on 54.3 percent shooting and more than quadrupling his five turnovers with 21 assists.
Boston Celtics: Sharpshooting
Ten different Celtics fired up 100-plus three-point attempts this season. Just four of them cleared the league-average connection rate of 35.4 percent: Jaylen Brown, who edged past it at 35.8; Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard; who played support roles on the second unit; and Josh Richardson, who was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs at the deadline.
Boston wants to establish an elite three-point attack. In the regular season, only eight teams launched more long-range looks. In the playoffs, that number is down to one. The issue is not enough of those shots are falling for this club to qualify.
Improved playmaking helped the Celtics offense hit a higher gear this season. If they can make similar strides in the shooting department and widen the attack lanes for Brown and Jayson Tatum, Boston could enter the Association's top tier.
Brooklyn Nets: Defensive-Minded Role Player
At one point, the Nets seemed to wager on their ability to simply outscore any opponent that stood in their way. That was most easily seen in the assembly of the three-headed, point-producing monster of the Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden trio, but even the smaller moves seemed to take them in that direction. The backcourt backups are almost all score-first guards, while the interior features offense-first options like LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin.
Brooklyn can't make that same bet any longer. Not after swapping out Harden for Ben Simmons, a hyper-versatile defender with glaring offensive shortcomings.
The Nets will have to find better floor balance, and that starts with adding more stoppers to the mix. If they stay in this draft—their lone pick is the Philadelphia 76ers' first-rounder, but it can be deferred to next year—the defensive end should have all of their attention at the talent grab.
Charlotte Hornets: Starting Center
The Hornets, who just enjoyed their first winning season in over a half-decade, could be one player away from really interesting.
Unfortunately, the missing piece is a big one. Literally.
As tempting as it is to bathe in the excitement surrounding fast-risers like LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, it's impossible not to notice Charlotte's wholly uninspiring collection of centers. Mason Plumlee is over his skis as a starting center, Montrezl Harrell is an offensive specialist (and unrestricted free agent), and PJ Washington only offers so much paint protection as a 6'7", 230-pounder.
The Hornets hold a pair of first-round picks (their own and the New Orleans Pelicans'). Failing to use one on a potential impact player at the 5 would meet the legal requirements of first-degree roster mismanagement.
Chicago Bulls: Rim Protection
Assuming the Bulls bring back Zach LaVine in free agency—an assumption that still feels likely but apparently can't be written in permanent marker—they won't have many holes to fill.
Nearly all of their key contributors are under contract for next season, which is great news for those who believe this club's biggest issues could be corrected with a clean bill of health.
That may be true on the perimeter (Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso showed their immense defensive value when healthy), but the interior is a different story. Chicago averaged the sixth-fewest blocks and surrendered the fourth-most field goals inside of five feet, and even optimists would struggle to find sources of hope for an internal solution.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Two-Way Wing
Cleveland's celebrated core of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley has exponentially elevated this franchise's ceiling.
Now, just imagine what this group would do if surrounded by a two-way wing—not Lauri Markkanen masquerading as a jumbo-sized 3 or Isaac Okoro racing to find his rhythm from range.
While Cavs fans surely would have preferred to emerge from the play-in tournament with its first LeBron James-less postseason berth in decades, the consolation prize is another lottery pick and another chance of adding high-level talent. Should the selection yield a difference-making swingman, Cleveland could be headed toward a second consecutive campaign chock-full of pleasant surprises.
Dallas Mavericks: Shot-Blocker
While finding a true co-star for Luka Doncic might be the top offseason priority—unless they think Jalen Brunson can handle the role—that's not an itch the Mavericks can scratch on draft night.
Plugging the interior with an athletic center who can block shots and crush lobs, though? That's certainly doable with the right pull from late in the first round.
Kristaps Porzingis paced this team in blocks—while suiting up just 34 times before being traded away at the deadline. Dallas needs an intimidating presence in the paint (hence the reported interest in Rudy Gobert). Finding one could give real legs to this defense, which climbed to seventh in the regular season but sits just 10th among playoff participants.
Denver Nuggets: Wing Depth
Missing your second and third options on offense as Denver did this season (Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., respectively) is an unfortunately great way of exposing issues with depth.
Still, even if the Nuggets were full strength, they could've used more capable wings.
Protection for Porter alone is necessary following the 23-year-old's third back surgery, while free agency could subtract the likes of Austin Rivers and Bryn Forbes. Denver desperately needs to mine talent from the first round's final third again, as it did when snagging Bones Hyland at No. 26 last summer.
Detroit Pistons: Second Shot-Creator
The Pistons pounced on a foundational talent while grabbing Cade Cunningham atop the 2021 draft.
They should use their next lottery pick to make Cunningham's life easier.
They need another shot-creator, and that's true regardless of whether they want to include Jerami Grant in their long-term plans. Ideally, they can find someone who can score and set the table like Cunningham, but if not, they need someone who either scores more efficiently or is a much better distributor than Grant.
Golden State Warriors: Reliable Depth
Golden State is heavily committed (financially at least) to the quartet of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. Jordan Poole should soon join that club either by an extension this summer or in restricted free agency the next.
That doesn't leave much wiggle room for the rest of the roster, which is mostly comprised of players on rookie-scale pacts and veterans making minimum money. The squeeze could get even tighter this summer with free agency looming for several key support players, including Kevon Looney, Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II.
It makes sense, then, for the Warriors to prioritize reliability with the 28th overall pick. They thought they were getting that from Moses Moody, but the switch hasn't flipped yet. They hoped James Wiseman might provide it by now, but he followed a choppy rookie season by having his second erased by injury. It's a lot to ask a freshman to contribute to a championship run, but Golden State has no other choice.