Houston Rockets
Needs: Three point shooting, playmaking
Picks: 3, 44

The Rockets have some good pieces, but they also have a lot of deficiencies. However, over the final 23 games of the season, they seemed to figure out how to play with each other and went 16-7 down the stretch. They will be hoping to build off of their strong end of the season run and carry that momentum into the new season. Alperen Sengun remains their best player and Houston should look to play through him much the way that Denver does with Nikola Jokic. Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green can consistently score and Jabari Smith shows flashes of being good on that end. Past that, the roster has some major flaws. Dillon Brooks is very good on defense, but can’t generate offense for himself or his teammates, and Amen Thompson can rebound and play defense, but he may be the worst shooting wing in the league. Tari Eason and rookie Cam Whitmore showed promise last season, but need to further develop their all-around games. That brings us to this offseason. The Rockets can add the third overall pick to bolster their roster. A trade down is said to be a possibility if they are offered the right deal. Reed Sheppard of Kentucky could supply them with additional shooting. Colorado’s Cody Williams fits the physical profile for what Houston generally looks for in their players. Stephon Castle of UCONN would make some sense for the Rockets as well. Houston ranked 23rd in the league in three point shooting, so they need to be looking for somebody that can knock down shots from the outside, which points to Sheppard or Williams. Playing off of Sengun could create open opportunities for the rookie to come in and make an impact without having to be a high usage player. They also have the room exception and biannual exception with which to add players in free agency. Some targets could include Hawks restricted free agent Saddiq Bey, Naji Marshall, or Gary Trent Jr.

San Antonio Spurs
Needs: PG, Shooting,
Picks: 4, 8, 35, 48

The Rockets may have the higher pick, but the Spurs are truly the team that controls this draft. The Spurs own both the 4th and 8th picks, which should give them a lot of options. Victor Wembanyama was exactly what everybody expected him to be, but the team struggled to get him involved the way you would hope. Much of that was because they lacked a consistent point guard. Jeremy Sochan spent much of the season starting at that spot but it wasn’t as efficient as Gregg Popovich hoped. Zaccharie Risacher and Alexandre Sarr are expected to go first and second, but if either one of those players slip to #4, San Antonio can scoop them up (or simply take the best player available) and then fill their biggest team need at #8. Reed Sheppard would be an ideal fit for them with their first selection, but Castle would be appealing as well. Their selection at #8 will likely be impacted heavily by the direction they take at 4, but Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams or Tidjane Salaun figure to be their main targets. Dalton Knecht, Ron Holland, and Devin Carter are all potential options as well. Where the offseason gets intriguing for the Spurs is how having Wemby impacts the way in which free agents view the Spurs. Generally, a small market team that finished with 22 wins would not be a great destination. However, with a generational player in the fold, two rookies that should have high ceilings, and a Hall of Fame coach, I could envision a scenario where San Antonio is a legitimate player in free agency and pulls a player or two that could fast track their rebuild. Sure, it’s unlikely that a player the caliber of Paul George, LeBron James, or Pascal Siakam would look to come to San Antonio, but that next tier of free agents could all take a long hard look at what the Spurs are putting together and decide to join them.

New Orleans Pelicans
Needs: Center, point guard
Picks: 21

The Pelicans remain a bit of an enigma. Their top three players, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and CJ McCollum each average 20 points. That kind of balance gives them a lot of options when it comes to roster building. They also have quality young players in Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy, Dyson Daniels, and Jose Alverado. Despite this, they finished 7th in the conference and got swept by the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Their center, Jonas Valanciunas has been falling off a bit, but provided stability for them as he averaged 78 games per season since joining the team. He’s now a free agent, and New Orleans will have to decide if they want to bring him back. One thing to keep in mind for them is that they may be able to replace him with a big man at that point in the first round, with Kyle Filipowski, Yves Missi, Tyler Smith, DaRon Holmes, and Zach Edey all possibly available. The other major need for New Orleans is point guard, as adding a lead guard would free McCollum up to be more of the score first player that fits his natural play style. If the team opts to go that direction, Isaiah Collier, Tyler Kolek, Jared McCain, and Trey Alexander could find themselves still on the board at #21, too. One other thing to consider with the Pelicans is that they could look to move Ingram. Ingram has been one of their best players, but Jones and Murphy can fill his spot in the lineup and Ingram has enough value around the league to net them a nice package of players and/or picks.

Memphis Grizzlies
Needs: Real NBA players on the active roster, rebounding
Picks: 9, 39, 58

Memphis stunk last year, but what else do you expect when the team’s star plays nine games, Desmond Bane plays 42, Marcus Smart 20, and Brandon Clark 6? Seriously, the list of players to suit up for the Grizz this season is basically a novel. Thirty three players played at least three games for the team this season. The only significant free agent decision they have is Luke Kennard’s team option, so this offseason is more about rehab and the draft than anything else. They could add somebody using their tax payer exception, but it likely won’t net them a major player. Because of their wasted season, they will have the #9 draft pick to bolster their lineup. One of the biggest needs for their current roster is rebounding. As good as Jaren Jackson Jr. is, he is not a good rebounder, so Memphis needs to give him some help down low. To illustrate how bad their rebounding was, their leading rebounder last season was 6’3” Jordan Goodwin over 17 games. Donovan Clingan, should he be there, could make some sense, but he’s not a perfect fit for them, either. I believe Memphis could actually be a really good candidate to make a trade on draft day. They could justify trading down because of how good they were a year before when everybody was healthy and add a veteran piece by sacrificing this year’s pick. They could also look to shed some salary to give themselves more wiggle room to add to their team over the long term. Look for them to do everything within their power to move up to select Donovan Clingan. If they’re unable to and they they opt to make a pick at nine, they could simply look to take the best player available and figure it out later. Tidjane Salaun, Ron Holland and Ja'Kobe Walter are players that could interest Memphis. Ultimately, Memphis needs their players to be healthy and making good decisions to make some major strides next season.

Dallas Mavericks
Needs: Wings
Picks: 60

The Mavs have made it to the Finals, so they have come a long way from last offseason when they were trying to navigate Kyrie Irving’s free agency. Their bold move at the trade deadline to acquire PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford paid significant dividends, and I’m confident in saying they wouldn’t have made the Finals without the deal. The biggest weakness the team has at this point is perimeter defense. Luka and Kyrie are both offensive-minded players, so the rest of the Mavericks lineup has to make up for this fact. Because of Luka’s size, he can guard bigger opponents, which allows for a little more versatility in building out their roster. They can utilize wing players that lack great positional size. One of their starters, Derrick Jones, is a free agent this year, and I would anticipate Dallas trying to bring him back. However, I could also see Dallas being very aggressive in trying to capitalize on this championship window (whether they win this year or not) and trying to improve their lineup. Their only draft pick this year is the final pick, so any move they make would likely need to be through trade. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s deal expires after next season, so they could look to move him in exchange for somebody that could play the wing for them. I would expect them to make calls to every team looking to shed salary. Would Memphis be willing to send Marcus Smart? That would be the type of deal Dallas could seek out. In the first tfour games of the Finals, Dallas has struggled to stay in front of Boston’s guards, so fixing that issue will be at the forefront of their minds this offseason.


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