The Spurs are still celebrating their NBA title yet front offices all around the league are charting a course for the upcoming draft and analyzing which free agents they can afford. Let's take a quick look at who can make a pretender a contender in our NBA picks.
2014 NBA Draft
Before the college hoops season began, this year's draft class had been heralded as the best and brightest in well over a decade, but expectations have been somewhat tempered due to the middling performances this season by the rookies of '15. Opinions have varied on how much of an impact the top picks will have, but most agree that a diamond in the rough can be had even in the late teens to mid-20's.
Below are the top five teams in the draft whose early round selections could make them far more interesting to watch, and cause the NBA odds to move in their favor.
Cleveland has the number one pick in the draft, and what they need is a big man in the middle to augment the outside shooting presence of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. The only big man who can make an immediate impact is seven-footer Joel Embiid of Kansas who is slated to be the next big thing if his back can withstand the wear and tear of an NBA season.
This team needs everything and anything so it will be up to them to determine who is the best available athlete regardless of position. Rumors persist they tap Jabari Parker of Duke as their new small/power forward.
Kansas's Andrew Wiggins was the preseason favorite to be the first overall pick but it appears he will fall to the Sixers who are reportedly all-in with the 6'8' small forward.
If the Magic choose wisely they could get better in a hurry with the fourth and twelfth overall picks. Expect 6'6" Aussie sensation Dante Exum to bolster their backcourt while they could get more athletic up front with their twelfth choice by tapping either Duke's Rodney Hood or MSU's Adreian Payne.
The Jazz will probably opt for the purer shooting skills of Noah Vonleh over the more versatile Aaron Gordon as they revamp their offense.
Free Agency Looms
The Big Three
Dwyane Wade is staying in Miami, if he knows what's good for him financially. Wade got old in a hurry during the NBA Finals, and has missed 74 games over the past three seasons. If the Heat could dump his big money contract they would, but he's got the hammer, and will likely (unless he's delusional) stay put to collect almost $42 million over the next two years.
Chris Bosh will also agree to exercise the option on his contract, but it's LeBron James who is the big question mark in this equation. Will he remain employed in the sun splashed surroundings of South Beach or take his talents to - oh I don't know - Cleveland! And if he does stay will the Big Three restructure their contracts to make room for the other big fish in this free agent pool, Carmelo Anthony? Is there a Big Four in Miami's future?
Where, oh where will Melo go to win a championship? As previously stated there is a tsunami of support for him to join the King and his court in Miami, but a nice fit might also be in the Windy City where the 15-1 NBA odds on the Bulls to win the title would catapult to half that if Melo made the move. Time will tell.