Los Angeles Lakers
Needs: A new superstar, everything else
Picks: 2, 32
The Lakers lucked out in a huge way in winning a top 2 pick and not having to surrender their (top 3 protected) pick to Philadelphia. With the NBA cap reportedly set at 92 million, there is going to be a lot of cash flying around the league this offseason. With just over 23 million on the books for next season, the Lakers will have all kinds of money to fill holes through free agency. In the draft, the Lakers are assured to have the chance to draft either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, whoever the Sixers pass on. Both would fit well on a Lakers roster that is devoid of talent. Mitch Kupchak and company will be looking to build around the #2 pick, D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle. With a roster featuring a point guard that ranked 74th in assists per game this season (3 centers ranked ahead of him), the Lakers need somebody on the roster that can create shots for teammates and be a playmaker. Randle averaged a double-double last year in his de facto rookie season. However, Randle has less than ideal size and needs to be paired with a lengthier big man in the frontcourt.
So, no matter who the Lakers land with the second pick, they are going to have some serious work to do with the rest of the roster. Were they to land Ben Simmons they would add a talented playmaker to a team that was dead last in the league in assists. If they get Brandon Ingram they would add a shooter / scorer to a team that was dead last in 3 point shooting percentage despite attempting the 13th most in the league. They are assured to get a quality player in the draft, but it’s going to come down to free agency to see how well they rebuild this roster. They will likely look to land one of the “big fish” free agents such as Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, or Hassan Whiteside. If they strike out there, it will be important that they spend their money wisely , and remember that the team has always been a desirable spot for players to go and they can always attract players in the future as their core of Russell, Randle, and Ingram (most likely) develop (and mature).
Needs: Forwards / Center, a trade partner
Picks: 4, 13, 28, 34
Phoenix is in good shape when it comes to their guards. They have Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Devin Booker. Their frontcourt, on the other hand, is in need of help. In particular their power forward position, as the team moved Markieff Morris to Washington for the 13th pick and currently doesn’t have a 4-man on the entire roster. Luckily for them, with 4 picks in the first 34 selections, they will have plenty of options to strengthen the roster. They won’t need to add four rookies to the roster though, so there’s a very good chance they will look to move one or two of the picks. If we assume that they stay at 4 and 13, they could add players such as Dragan Bender or Jaylen Brown at number 4 depending on whether they want somebody at the small forward or power forward spot. They also know there likely will be a lot of value available at 13 at the four position so they should probably disregard need completely at 4 and just take the player they like best, whether that be a guard such as Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray or Kris Dunn. The fourth pick is considered too high for someone as raw and unproven as Washington’s Marquese Chriss, but if the team were really enamored with him, they could look to trade down a few spots, and add some additional value, to grab him. At 13 they will be hoping that a player such as Damontas Sabonis (who they recently worked out) or Jakob Poeltl fall to them, but if not they could still have the opportunity to add someone such as Brice Johnson, Deyonta Davis, or a project like Skal Labissere. If they are unable to move picks 28 and 34, it’s quite possible they will look to take foreign players to stash overseas.
It’s unlikely that Phoenix will be a playoff team next year, but if they can add a couple of the aforementioned players through the draft and use their cap space wisely, they will have a solid roster to develop into a contender. They hit a homerun at 13 last year with Devin Booker, who appears to be the steal of the draft at this point. This team isn’t as far away from contending as last season’s 23-59 record would lead one to believe. Bledsoe missed over half the season, Knight missed 30 games, TJ Warren missed 35, and Tyson Chandler 16. With an upgraded frontcourt and a little luck in terms of health, the Suns could accelerate the rebuilding process.
Needs: Consistency, SG/SF, PG
Picks: 8, 59
The last couple of seasons the only consistent things surrounding the Kings have been dysfunction and the rumors surrounding if the team would trade DeMarcus Cousins and if/when the team would change coaches. With Dave Joerger taking the helm, the coaching rumors should subside, but the team will have to make a decision on if they feel moving forward with Cousins, a top tier big man, is the way to build this team. It’s likely they opt to build around Cousins and strengthen the roster around him. They could really use a wing player, but they also could find themselves in the market for a point guard depending on if they resign Rajon Rondo, who led the league in assists this year. The only other point guard currently on their roster for next season is Darren Collison, who is facing a domestic violence charge. With the current climate in the sports world regarding athletes and domestic violence, that’s not a good look for a team that is already failing to market themselves at anything other than a mess. The Kings will have some cap room, but they’ve not been a major free agent destination in the past, so outside of overspending to attract free agents, it will depend largely on the draft for them to add talent.
Sitting in draft lottery "purgatory" they sit at the the same 8th pick after taking Willie Cauley-Stein with the same spot last season and assuming they retain Cousins, they will be looking to fortify their perimeter. The best pick the team made over the past few years, Isaiah Thomas at the 60th pcik, slid out the back door, and became an all star this year. With the 8th pick, Jaylen Brown would be an ideal candidate, as would Buddy Hield if he were to fall. With a bunch of future picks traded away, the Kings are in a position where they have to start putting things together or they risk losing Cousins for nothing after the 2017-2018 season. Whoever they add this offseason in the draft and free agency need to help the team finally take a step forward. They haven’t had a winning record since 2005-2006 and they are a few pieces from being a true contender for the playoffs in a tough Western conference.
Los Angeles Clippers
Needs: Small forward
Picks: 25, 33
The Clips have three players making north of 20 million next season in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and having such a top heavy payroll really limits their flexibility in terms of adding players. Because of their record, the draft isn’t a huge help either, especially in a weak overall draft class. With that being said, the Clippers have a glaring hole at the small forward spot. They tried to plug Paul Pierce into that spot last year but the aging vet’s career is coming to a close. If the Clippers look to fill the spot with the 25th pick in this year’s draft they will have a number of options. Taurean Prince of Baylor has been a player projected at their pick and would be a good fit as he is a good defender whose athleticism is a big plus. Also, with Chris Paul leading the team, Prince’s lack of ball handling ability would be negated as he wouldn’t have to create his own shot as Paul could set him up. If the Clips aren’t enamored with Prince or he’s off the board, they could look at players such as Timothe Luwawu, Patrick McCaw, DeAndre Bembry or even Caris LeVert.
Golden State Warriors
Needs: They won 73 games, “need” is not a word that applies here.
Golden State has been an incredible, "must watch tv" team the last two seasons and they show no signs of slowing down. They’ll have the right to match any offer, but Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli could very well leave through free agency, with Mo Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, and Anderson Varejao also possible departures. The Warriors core will remain intact for at least next season though. There are really no weaknesses for this team. There have been rumors circulating about Kevin Durant joining the team if they can clear cap space, but that appears to be only a remote possibility. In all likelihood, the Warriors may add some role players through free agency and hope to get lucky with the final pick of the first round. My guess is they will look to land a backup big man if they decide the amount offered to Ezeli is too much to match. If that’s the case, a bigman with a high skill level when he’s motivated is Diamond Stone, who could be a potential value pick for them. Another very intriguing player who opted to leave his name in this year’s draft and could be available is New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam. Besides a mysterious name, he’s a strong character guy with an intriguing skill set and some potential, despite the fact that he’s already 22 years of age. However, they could also take a look at other positions, as they very well could just opt for the best player available. Other four men such as Joel Bolomboy, preps to pro Thon Maker seem to be logical fits as well. It seems likely that the Warriors are going to lose a couple of players from this season’s "greatest team of all time", but it’s unlikely that Golden State will take much of a step back with their nucleus remaining intact. That nucleus being their big three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, all of whom are arguably top 10 players in the league.