Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: You name it, they need it
Talk about a sorry state of affairs for a team that was a contender up until very recently. They have the number 7 pick in the draft, but that won’t be enough to fix their issues. They have major issues at literally every position. The point guard position features a broken down Steve Nash on the cusp of retirement and Kendall Marshall who played well last year but still may not be the long term answer. At shooting guard they have Kobe, but even if he comes back at 100% from last year’s injuries problems, will be 36 next season. They don’t have a single forward under contract for next season, and the only center under contract is Robert Sacre. They will probably look to convince Pau Gasol that sticking around Los Angeles is best for him, but even if they do, that’s a bare bones roster with little youth or athleticism. Their roster situation makes life difficult for general manager Mitch Kupchak. As far as the draft, he’d be wise to remember three simple words: best talent available. It doesn’t matter who the best talent on the board is, it would be in the organization’s best interest to take that player. If the Lakers are lucky, that player could be Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, or Dante Exum who, shares the same agent as Kobe and seemingly would love to play for the Lakers. Athletic West Coast PF prospect Aaron Gordon would be a fan favorite for their pick, but in reality he’s much better equipped to become a key complimentary piece than a franchising changing star. There is always the off chance that LA would be able to trade the pick, but for it to make sense for them, they would have to get an all-star caliber player in return for it and the 7th pick likely isn’t enough to return that kind of haul. And in reality they would be moving in the wrong direction, chasing a window that has already slammed shut. The draft is simple for the Lakers, but building toward the future around this year’s 7th pick is anything but. Keep in mind this could all change if they can find a major free agent willing to come aboard, but as far as the draft, the options for the Lakers are limited. With that being said, it’s got to start somewhere, and hopefully for the organization it starts with a star player in this year’s draft.
Needs: SG/SF, PG with size, shooting
The Kings have some pieces to build around. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most productive centers in the league and Isaiah Thomas, despite his height limitations, has blossomed into a nice option at point guard. Rudy Gay seems to fit in with this squad in a way that most didn’t expect. Their roster seems to be pretty set in terms of big men for the immediate future, with Cousins, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, and Derrick Williams all in the mix. So, with the eighth pick in the draft, the team likely will look to boost their play on the perimeter. They landed Ben McLemore last season, but that doesn’t mean other two guards are out of the question as the Kings are still at the stage where they are looking to acquire as many assets as possible. The best case scenario would include Marcus Smart slipping to them. Smart would be an upgrade over Thomas and provide them with a big, strong player capable of playing point guard and ultimately some much needed leadership. They could also look at somebody capable of playing the small forward position such as Doug McDermott, Rodney Hood or Nik Stauskas. Each would each provide the Kings with the shooting that they sorely lack. They are currently one of the worst shooting teams in the league, and thus would benefit from landing somebody capable of stretching the floor for them. At 8, they should have a number of options to address that issue.
Picks: 14, 18, 27, 50
Phoenix was one of the surprises of last season, as unlike many other teams, they opted not to tank and stayed in the hunt for the playoffs in a tough Western conference far longer than anybody could have imagined. Add to that the fact that they possess three first round picks in a deep draft class, and they have a chance to build on what coach Hornacek started last season. Their picks aren’t high enough to grab a sure-fire franchise changer, but they should have a chance to nab a couple quality players. They will likely look to bolster their wings. Rodney Hood and James Young would be excellent options for them in that area of the draft. Kyle Anderson could be an intriguing pick for them as well. He has to have the ball in his hands to be effective, but with Eric Bledsoe’s ability to play off the ball it would make him a viable candidate to diversify Phoenix’s offensive attack. With the 27th pick, they will probably look at trading it away or selecting a player they can stash overseas for a year or two. Somebody they may want to look at with that pick would be Jusuf Nurkic of Bosnia. Given time to develop, they could help take Phoenix to the next level in a couple seasons. Phoenix will have a number of options in this year’s draft and could go in a number of ways, including packaging those picks in a trade.
Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: Backup PG, Backup C
The Clippers are a team stacked with talent and they have very few holes in their roster. Darren Collison hasn’t fit in as expected as the backup to Chris Paul, and thus could be one of the team’s focuses late in the first round of this draft. The only other glaring need is for a backup center to DeAndre Jordan. Obviously, the backup point guard position is more important in the small ball culture that is NBA basketball right now. So, on draft night, expect the Clips to be keeping their eyes on names like Shabazz Napier, Jordan Clarkson, Vasilije Micic, Semaj Christon, and Spencer Dinwiddie. If they are able to land any of those players they would likely be content with their night. If they elect to select a big they could go for somebody such as Clint Capela, Mitch McGary, or Jusep Nurkic. While all are probably a few seasons away from really contributing, they could each eventually be a solid fit playing alongside a high flyer like Griffin or Jordan. With such a low pick, they may not look to fill a need, but rather, select the best player available to them or even take a flyer on a foreign prospect that they could stash overseas for a couple years.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State has a quality roster for coach Steve Kerr to take over, and it’s a good thing since they don’t have a draft pick in this year’s draft. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and David Lee they have a core to build around and Andrew Bogut, when healthy, serves as the rim protector for them. The problem is, Bogut has health issues seemingly every season. If they could somehow manage to buy a draft pick or otherwise trade for one they could look to bolster their frontcourt with the pick. Golden State’s team is pretty much set, so don’t expect to see them do much come draft day. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Golden State taking foreign prospects in the future, as Steve Kerr has a history of going overseas in the draft. While GM for the Suns he selected Rudy Fernandez and Goran Dragic: showing a willingness to take risks on European talent. That likely won’t be the case this year unless the Warriors buy a second round pick (or first as they did last year: Nemanja Nedovic) in order to take a flier on somebody.