Sacramento Kings
Needs: Resign Malik Monk, backcourt depth, shot blocking
Picks: 13, 45

Sacramento finished ninth in the conference last season, but they are just one season removed from being the third seed in the conference, and their major pieces are still there. Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, and Keegan Murray are still in the fold, so the cornerstones are in place. I expect the Kings to be aggressive this offseason in an effort to get back to where they were at in the 2022-2023 season. One thing to keep in mind though as they do that, is that this season they won only two fewer games than the season before. The west is a gauntlet, and with Memphis expected to rebound, the Rockets showing some promise, and the Spurs getting better, the Kings will want to capitalize on what could be their last opportunity to add to their core before they ascend to first apron status. The question is, how do they go about doing that? The Kings under Mike Brown have shown a desire to shoot a lot of threes, so bringing back Malik Monk is likely to be a priority. If Monk opts to go elsewhere, Sacramento could look to snipe an interdivision free agent in Klay Thompson, who could play off of Sabonis and Fox. However, Thompson may be unlikely to leave, so that would lead to them targeting another option like Buddy Hield (assuming they could coax him back to Sacramento). One of the biggest weaknesses of this team is shot blocking, and with Sabonis being a cornerstone, any shot blocked needs to be able to play alongside him. So they could look to a reclamation project such as Bol Bol, who could offer some shooting while still being able to provide some shot blocking (career 2 blocks per 36) in limited minutes. In the draft they also have the 13th pick, which could net them a guard such as Baylor’s Ja'Kobe Walter, Duke’s Jared McCain, or Providence’s Devin Carter.

Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: Direction, coach, center
Picks: 17, 56

The Lakers always view themselves as contenders. The Lakers took winning the In-Season Tournament as a sign that they could win the NBA Championship. Instead, they ended up in the play-in game and got quickly dispatched by the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. Despite the fact they view themselves as contenders, it is painfully clear that this is a poorly run franchise that is treading water in a desperate attempt to keep the mirage alive that they are a good team. They attempted to entice Dan Hurley to leave UCONN to become their new head coach only to be rebuffed. Not only are there questions about their coaching staff, but the roster is in flux as well. Outside of Anthony Davis, the Lakers don’t have much set in stone. LeBron James has the option to become a free agent and could do so to play with his son or chase a better situation to close out his career. Everybody else on the roster is more of a role player, and with a new coaching staff coming in, it will be interesting to see the role some of these players will have moving forward. D’Angelo Russell is a quality player, but leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive end. Austin Reeves took a step back last season, Rui Hachimura has struggled to gain the trust of his coaches, and there are simply not a ton of avenues for this Lakers franchise to improve the roster moving forward. As a first apron team (second apron if LeBron returns), they will not have access to a lot of the ways teams previously built high priced teams. Assuming LeBron comes back, the team will be forced to hit on the 17th pick, and in a draft expected to be low on star potential, that’s risky. Keep in mind, the Pelicans could have had this pick, but opted to defer it to next season, which tells you how at least one team views this draft class (or the Lakers’ future). A point guard such as Tyler Kolek, or Rob Dillingham could be options here. Indiana big Kel'el Ware is a bigman that could provide some size and shot blocking and offensive potential. Yves Missi is said to be a Lakers target but would seem to be a bit of a reach at 17. His athleticism is intriguing, but he is likely a guy that needs time. More than anything, the Lakers need to decide how they get back to becoming a true contender. The best option long term is probably to blow it up and start from scratch, but that is not the Laker way. Unless LeBron chooses to leave, the Lakers will be running it back next year while adding the 17th pick to the equation.

Phoenix Suns
Needs: Depth, immediate contributor, PG, shooting center
Picks: 22

The Suns thought putting Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal together would be enough to make them a championship team. Not all dreams come true. Granted, Beal was often injured, but the team as a whole simply did not fit together. Durant and Booker each averaged 27 points per game and Grayson Allen took a significant step forward, but the Suns lacked the pieces around their big three to truly be a contending team. They ended up getting swept in the first round by the Timberwolves and as a second apron team, their hands are essentially tied in terms of building out the rest of the roster. Phoenix needs to hit a homerun in the draft, where they hold the 22nd pick. They need to find somebody that can play off of their big three and be a difference maker. That means that whoever they pick must be able to play without the ball in their hands. Dayton’s DaRon Holmes (if they want to snag him before Denver takes him). Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is said to be one of their targets, and would make sense to add to their aging core as a facilitator with readiness. A shooting big like Kyle Filipowski would figure to fit in with their team needs as well, but might be considered a slight reach. Phoenix loves ball dominant players, but at some point they need to recognize that they need a cohesive team to get back to being a true contender. I could see them making a run at backup big men Andre Drummond, Mo Bamba, Kevin Love, and Jaxson Hayes in free agency to help bolster their frontcourt.

Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: Paul George, Depth pieces, efficient scoring
Picks: 46

The Clippers are a team in a strange place right now. They are a team that could easily lose several impact pieces from last season, yet is still going to be over the salary cap. Paul George has a player option and is rumored to be option number one for the 76ers. James Harden will be entering the free agent market, and Russell Westbrook could also find himself testing the market. The Clippers are coming off of a season in which they were the 4th seed but came up short to the Mavericks in round 1. Now, they can attempt to bring back largely the same group and hope to have a better result, or if they are unable to get everybody back together, they have several players up for free agency after next season, which could lead to a scenario where after next season they have cap space to build around Kawhi Leonard. This offseason’s free agency period should give us some insight into how the team views their future. It is likely they look to continue to attempt t contend right now to avoid leaving Kawhi disenchanted with the direction of the franchise. As it stands now, the Clips would have the room exception to give them the opportunity to sign a free agent, and they could look at players such as D’Angelo Russell if he opts to test free agency, Malik Monk, DeMar DeRozan, or Buddy Hield. Ultimately, it’s likely the Clippers try to avoid any backslide by attempting to keep all of their core pieces intact. However, if they start throwing out a lot of one year offers, it could signal an attempt to setup a major offseason after next season.

Golden State Warriors
Needs: SG, A big, depth, Chris Paul trade
Picks: 53

The best case scenario for the Warriors is that their championship window is closing. The worst case scenario is that it’s already closed and they simply don’t realize that fact yet. After missing the playoffs last season, they need to figure out how to best build around Steph Curry to close his career. Step one, they need to make a decision on Klay Thompson and his impending free agency. Klay is not the player he was five years ago, but he still has value. The Warriors need to make sure that they don’t overpay him for nostalgia’s sake. That will be easier to do in a free agency period that features very few teams expected to have substantial salary cap space. However, they also can’t risk low balling him and seeing him leave, as they have a thin roster to begin with. Step two is to reign in Draymond Green. Love him or hate him, he’s integral to what Golden State does. But when he is constantly getting suspended or kicked out of games, he isn’t helping the team. His off-court distractions are on the verge of becoming bigger than his on-court impact. The third step is to utilize Chris Paul’s contract in a trade to improve their team. The Chris Paul trade seemed odd on a surface level when it first happened, but because his contract is not guaranteed for this year, he could be traded and then either waived or play out the year for the acquiring team. I would be shocked if Golden State didn’t swing for the fences with this deal, but it will have to happen quickly as his deal becomes fully guaranteed June 28th. I could see them trying to parlay Paul into bringing LeBron James to them to allow him a final run at a championship, but that remains unlikely. They could also call to check on Jimmy Butler amid his struggles with the Heat front office. One move that could make some sense for both teams would be calling the Knicks about Julius Randle. The Warriors have taken several steps backwards amid their stars aging, their bench becoming depleted, and draft misses (hello, James Wiseman!). However, if they can bring Klay back on a reasonable deal, get Draymond under control, and turn the CP3 contract into either a quality big man or added depth, they could step back up into being a playoff team next season. But they can’t afford to just sit on their hands. As good as Chris Paul is, he’s more valuable as a trade chip for them and they can’t squander that. If Klay does leave, they will need to find a new replacement on the wing. This is a vital offseason for a team that has had some missteps lately. It is imperative they make the most of this offseason.


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