Golden State Warriors
Needs: SG, SF, C, PF
Picks: 11, 43
The Warriors front office has had some shake ups in the past year including adding mastermind Jerry West to the front office. Drafting Ekpe Udoh before fan favorite (and logical choice) Greg Monroe appears to be another blunder for the team. Golden State has made some positive moves as Stephen Curry is going to be a star, but they paid too much for David Lee and now have an overpaid, under-productive frontcourt. Dorrell Wright turned out to be a steal as a free agent signing and has turned into one of the league’s top 3 point shooters.
Monta Ellis will most likely be traded meaning bringing in a future starting SG is the team’s top priority. Reggie Williams is solid, but is a free agent and the team may be looking for ap layer with a little more star power. Alec Burks is a possibility and would likely work well with Stephen Curry. Although Burks has struggled some in workouts. Klay Thompson is another option and the team is said to be high on him. Marcus Morris would be a great sixth man and could eventually push David Lee. Chris Singleton would also fit in well.
The team gave away their 2012 first rounder adding importance to this year’s pick.
Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: PG, SF
Picks: 37, 47
Blake Griffin turned out to be even better than expected and Eric Gordon morphed into the elite-level scorer that they expected him to become. Despite the fact that the pick they traded to the Cavs ended up winning the lottery, Clippers management should be all smiles for the first time in years.
The Clippers are one of the hardest teams to evaluate for an especially unique reason: they have only one player (Ryan Gomes) under contract going into the 2012-13 season (Mo Williams has a player option, Griffin has a team option, Gordon will be a restricted free agent, and Aminu and Bledsoe both have team options). Right now they are pretty deep with young talent at just about every position, but with longtime starting center Chris Kaman prepping to become a free agent in 2012, they’ll have to be wise with the money they spend this offseason. In fact, they would be wise to not spend any money and allow their young prospects (especially Aminu and Bledsoe) to develop further, so that they have a clearer idea of who to pursue in 2012 when they’ll have as much to spend as any team in the league.
The Clips now have Mo WIlliams and Eric Bledsoe but neither may be the longterm answer at the point. Aminu showed flashes but remains a raw player with upside. A versatile NBA-ready prospect such as David Lighty or E’Twaun Moore might also make sense, as this team should be looking to finally make a run at the playoffs next year.
Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: PG, SG
Picks: 41, 46, 56, 58
When a championship contender gets wiped out in the second round of the playoffs, it’s normal to expect some big changes to follow. It’s very likely, however, that the only major change to result from the Lakers’ embarrassing second round exit was already made with the hiring of Mike Brown. The Lakers had the highest payroll in the league this year at $91.6 million, and it will somehow be even higher next year ($92.9 million). They publicly proclaimed Andrew Bynum, the subject of many rumors, to be untouchable (highly doubtful),but given his lack of production that seems to be just talk.
Lamar Odom is far too valuable to trade unless they can get a top-tier point guard in return, and that’s highly unlikely. Ron Artest is untradeable, and Luke Walton will amazingly earn $17 million over the next three years. The only position that really needs to be upgraded is point guard, with the Fisher/Blake experiment having failed miserably. Fisher had the 60th highest PER of any point guard; Blake finished right behind at 61.
Seeing as rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter hardly ever saw the floor last year, it’s hard to imagine any of their four picks making an impact this year. Indeed, it might be hard to see them at all, as at least two will end up in the D-League or in Europe.
That doesn’t mean that they can’t still hit a home run, however; this might be a weak draft but the point guard position is strong, much stronger than last year, and there’s a chance that they could pick up a PG who could be a good change of pace if grouped with Fisher and Blake. Shelvin Mack, Norris Cole, and Nolan Smith would be great fits at 41 because of their maturity and somebody is going to slide.
Needs: PG, SG, PF
Steve Nash deserves better. Would anyone really call him selfish if he asked for a trade? Five years ago, he ran with (and made them) the league’s best scoring PF in Amar’e Stoudemire, the league’s most versatile swingman in Shawn Marion and one of the most dangerous shooting guards in future max player Joe Johnson en route to winning 62 games and a Western Conference finals birth. He made the West finals again last year. Now, at 37, thanks to questionable management hamstrung by a cheap owner, he would be stuck running with Mickael Pietrus, Grant Hill and Channing Frye if the season started today.
Josh Childress averaged 5 points in 16.6 minutes last year in the first year of a 5-year, $36 million deal. Hakim Warrick only played 17 minutes a night in the first year of his new deal, and Robin Lopez has turned out to be a bust. Pietrus played just 18 minutes to pick up his $5.3 million check. Marcin Gortat was the lone highlight in a disastrous year in Phoenix; with his size, energy, athleticism, and underrated skill level, Gortat is arguably a top 10 center in the league.
There isn’t another team that could more excusably trade its franchise player, especially because Nash has just one year left on his contract. The Suns would be downright foolish not to trade Nash; they don’t stand a chance at contending for anything but the #1 pick in next year’s draft, he deserves a change of scenery, and they could certainly get another team to take another one of their bad contracts (cough, Childress, cough) in order to get a hold of the two-time MVP.
With Aaron Brooks becoming a restricted free agent and his future with the team uncertain, expect them to pounce on Jimmer if he falls to them. If not, this team then needs to decide if they’ll be pursuing a more defensive, attacking style for the future, meaning they would pick from a group that would ideally include Chris Singleton, Jordan Hamilton, Tristan Thompson, and Alec Burks.
Needs: PG, SF, PF
Picks: 7, 35, 60
The Kings need a point guard. But don’t tell that to them as drafting a PG would mean moving Tyreke off the ball, and completely limiting his effectiveness and happiness. On paper the Kings have a top level guard and center with Tyreke and Cousins. But there are major quesiton marks about the ability of those two to mature and play within a winning team.
With only $27 million in commitments next year, it would make sense to offer Marcus Thornton the contract that he deserves. Thornton proved as a rookie in New Orleans, then in Sacramento, that he is an elite-level scorer in this league. Thornton averaged 21.3 points in 27 games with the Kings, and was known to occasionally torch teams for 40 points with his amazing offensive skill set. He would be a perfect third guard once they nab that franchise floor general.
Kawhi Leonard is the player the team appears keyed on and would provide an NBA ready swingman. Kemba Walker is the other player that the team is considering, but drafting him could disrupt team (Tyreke) chemistry.
With their second round pick it might be worthwhile for them to experiment with a potential starting PG, which would entail considering Shelvin Mack, Norris Cole and even Malcolm Lee.