Mark Montieth takes a post-draft look at where he thinks the Pacers stack up in the Eastern Conference. This isn't supposed to be a static look at the East that projects to the season, it is simply measuring a point in time realizing teams will change plenty throughout the rest of the off-season.
The draft is over, trades are being discussed and free agency opens today. Here's how things stand:
- Chicago: Already on cusp of contention, now Joakim Noah adds front-line depth (and fashion).
- Detroit: Added backcourt depth with Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo but must retain free agent Chauncey Billups to contend.
- Cleveland: Didn't have a draft pick. Needs to find a way to strengthen backcourt.
- Miami: First-round pick Daequan Cook won't provide immediate help. And Shaq ain't getting any younger.
- Toronto: Sat out the draft, other than trading for a late second-round pick. Needs front line help.
- New Jersey: Gambled on player (Sean Williams) with character issues for second consecutive year.
- Washington: Nick Young fills needs for shooting guard, especially if it loses DeShawn Stevenson.
- Orlando: Second-round pick Milovan Rakovic will stay overseas for at least another year.
- Charlotte: Trade for Jason Richardson brings immediate gain but hampers long-term building plan.
- Boston: Got better quickly by trading for Ray Allen, but where's the long-range vision?
- Indiana: The real work begins in July trading period. Relying on coaching change for improvement, so far.
- New York: Acquisition of Zach Randolph could provide lift, but is there room for him and Eddy Curry on the low block?
- Philadelphia: First-round picks Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith won't provide much immediate benefit but improve depth.
- Atlanta: Al Horford should excel at power forward, but it will be haunted by decision to pass on Mike Conley with No. 3 pick.
- Milwaukee: Major risk to take Yi Jianlian, who doesn't want to play there and won't provide immediate help anyway.