Golden State Warriors
Needs: Impact player, a healthy Klay Thompson
Picks: 7, 14
The Warriors have struggled the last two seasons, and that can all be attributed to Klay Thompson being injured. With Klay, they are a dynamic team that can score in bunches and stretch a defense to its breaking point on every single possession. Without him, the team becomes Steph Curry versus the world. Austin Powers without his Mojo. Draymond Green is a top-tier role player that can be a secondary ball handler, but he lacks the offensive repertoire to be the second option. Because the team is well over the cap, they have two realistic options for improving their team: the draft and trading. They have the 7th and 14th pick in the draft, and if they choose to use those picks, it will be important for them to get instant impact players in order to capitalize on the remaining years of their core and capitalize on the tail end of this championship window. If Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes were to fall to them at 7 they would likely be thrilled and risk waiting to fully develop a player with a high ceiling, but absent that scenario, the player that makes the most sense is UConn’s James Boatknight. Boatknight is a slight shot creator who plays with a sense of urgency. At 14, they could look at Stanford’s Ziaire Williams, Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Arkansas’ Moses Moody or Oregon’s Chris Duarte. However, a combination of any of those players doesn’t necessarily make this team a title favorite. But they will likely look to be active in the trade market by offering one or both of those picks, last year’s second overall pick James Wiseman, and Andrew Wiggins and his giant contract. Ben Simmons could potentially be had. bradley Beal is another potential target. The Warriors figure to be one of the most aggressive teams in the association this offseason, but their upcoming season probably comes down to how healthy Klay Thompson is.
Needs: Rebounding, wing depth
Picks: 9, 39
The Kings have been disappointing as a franchise for years. Last year’s draft did supply their fan base with hope as they were able to grab Tyrese Haliburton with the 12th pick and he showed very real promise. Between him and De’Aaron Fox, the team has the guard play to be a quality team. However, the rest of the roster is holding them back. Marvin Bagley has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play inside while Harrison Barnes has not lived up to what the team hoped for when they signed him to a massive deal. They did get excellent production from Richaun Holmes, who led the team in rebounding and shot blocking. However, he is a free agent and is in line for a big payday that Sacramento may not be ready to pay since they aren’t in position to compete for a playoff spot. So they will need to find someone to replace that production in their lineup. If they can resign Holmes, it would absolutely benefit them. If they can’t retain him, they will have an uphill battle ahead of them to replace him with less than 10 million in salary cap space to use. They could also look to trade Buddy Hield, who has grown frustrated with his role on the team. If they opt to go that route, they would find themselves with even less depth on the wings, which is also an issue for them already. Look for them to use the 9th pick to add depth to their wing/forward positions by selecting someone such as Michigan’s Franz Wagner, Australia’s Josh Giddey, Duke’s [Player Jalen Johnson], or an upside guy like Tennessee’s Keon Johnson.
Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: Point guard, center
The Lakers’ fortunes, obviously, rely on the health and well being of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Both players dealt with injuries down the stretch of this past season and it nearly cost LA their spot in the playoffs as they faltered late in the season. They ended up making the postseason only to be eliminated by the Phoenix Suns. The team’s roster was flawed and that issue will likely not be fully fixed this offseason, but the franchise must try as the team’s championship window will close with LeBron’s if they don’t make major adjustments. They currently don’t have a single point guard on the roster for next season. While names like Chris Paul, Dame Lillard, and Ben Simmons will likely get traction among fans, it’s far more likely that the team signs somebody such as Derrick Rose, Goran Dragic, or Elfrid Payton. It’s not that the Lakers wouldn’t like to net a bigger prize at the point, but they are already over the salary cap. They also need a center. Anthony Davis plays really well at the 5 spot, but he has been adamant for years that he doesn’t want to play the position and the Lakers have acquiesced to that demand thus far. Last season they had Montrezl Harrell, Andre Drummond, and Marc Gasol play the position and all had weaknesses that opponents exploited. Gasol and Harrell are still under contract, but they may not be the answer at the position this season. Ideally they would be able to convince Davis to play the 5, but it’s far from likely. If they attempt to swing a trade to build out their roster around their two stars, the biggest trade chips on the roster are Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contract that is non-guaranteed in 2022-2023. The Lakers also hold the 22nd pick in the draft, and could look at players such as Alperen Sengun of Turkey if they go with a big, or VCU’s Nah'Shon Hyland, Tre Mann of Florida or Jared Butler of Baylor if they want a lead guard.
Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: Rim protection and rebounding
The Clippers built their roster around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the idea that having two stars of their caliber would almost guarantee them a trip to the NBA Finals. Two years in to the experiment and they’ve yet to make it there. In year one Paul George essentially imploded, and in this year’s playoffs they lost Kawhi to a significant knee injury. As a result, the Suns dispatched them on their way to the Finals. The Clippers weren’t deep enough to handle losing their star and Patrick Beverley lost his composure late in a move that will see him suspended to start the upcoming season. Terance Mann had his coming out party as he took on a bigger role in the postseason. The Clips will hope that he can carry that forward, and that third leading scorer Marcus Morris Sr. can continue being a threat from outside after shooting a career-best 47.3% from three. They need to find a player that can protect the rim (LAC was 29th in the league in blocks last season) and rebound the ball as Ivica Zubac (7.2 rpg) and Serge Ibaka (6.7 rpg) needed a lot of help on the boards from their smaller counterparts, limiting transition opportunities more than what would be ideal for a team with the quality defenders that the Clips have (28th in pace). DeMarcus Cousins had some solid moments for them last season as he tried to work himself back into a larger role, but he’s a free agent and not likely to return to the Clips. If they can find a suitable big man it could help them in their attempt to reach the Finals for the first time in franchise history. But with Kawai unlikely to play at all next season, the Clippers outlook is not so optimistic. They will have some of the same targets as their intra-city rivals, the Lakers on draft night and will have to make the most out of the 25th pick and economical free agent signings as they are already well over the soft cap for the immediate future.A Louis Williams type like Nyshon Hyland or a scoring guard like Joshua Primo, could be potential options.
Needs: Point guard
Phoenix finished one win back of the Jazz in the quest for the league’s best record last season and made a run all the way to the Finals before being beaten by the Bucks. Chris Paul helped the young roster come together and very nearly put them over the top. Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton were both major forces down the stretch, and the role players came up big when needed, but Paul’s play was a massive part of the team’s success. He has a player option for the final year of his contract and could opt to leave in hopes of latching on with another contender. If he does that, the Suns will desperately need a replacement to keep the team’s momentum. Even if he returns, he’s at the twilight of his career, and the team will need to start looking for a replacement for him. Cam Payne was very good down the stretch and likely earned himself some more money as he is a free agent this year. The Suns could look to resign him regardless of the Chris Paul decision. The team without a doubt hopes Chris Paul will remain with the team, but if he decides to opt out, the team will have around 30 million dollars in cap space to replace him. Some potential replacement options could be Kyle Lowry if they want another veteran presence, or Lonzo Ball if they want someone a bit younger that can create open looks for their spot up shooters in Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges. With the 29th pick in the draft the team will almost assuredly go with the best player available regardless of position, and some possible options would be Spain’s Usman Garuba, Kentucky’s BJ Boston, Auburn’s Sharife Cooper, Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi, or GLeague Ignite’s Isaiah Todd.