Needs: Power forward, scoring, rebounding
Picks: 4, 32
The Grizzlies are a bit hamstrung in terms of what they can do with their roster. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Chandler Parsons each make over 24 million a season, which accounts for over 75% of the salary cap. Because of this, they don’t have much money to spend on free agents and have very little to offer in potential trades. There’s a chance they will move the fourth pick just to unload Chandler Parsons contract. A move that would surely frustrate fans to no end. Resigning Tyreke Evans could make sense, especially because he played so well for them. However, that might be easier said than done. Having Mike Conley miss the vast majority of the season made it difficult to truly assess the Grizzlies last year, but even with him back, it’s not likely this team has the pieces to be a factor in the West. Conley is an underrated, though aging talent at the point, Gasol remains one of the most versatile centers in the league, and Dillon Brooks showed some promise last season. However, with that being said, this is an old team that still needs a few parts in order to feel good about their roster composition. With their pick headed to Boston unless it lands in the top 8, it may be time to tear things down and rebuild. Power forward is first and foremost on that list of needs. After moving on from Zach Randolph, the team has a gaping hole in the lineup. JaMychal Green is good, but they need more at the position. Unfortunately for them, none of the top prospects outside of Wendell Carter were willing to come in and work out for them. Luckily for them, the draft looks like it may provide a couple of excellent options for them should they ignore the neglect they received and opt to use the 4th pick to fill that void. Jaren Jackson Jr. of Michigan State looks like he may be available there, and if he isn’t, Mohamed Bamba or Carter of Duke will be. Carter at 4 might be a reach, but they could also look to move down a few spots and pick up an extra asset. In addition to the 4th pick, the Grizz also have the second pick of the second round, which could give them an opportunity to get a player that could provide a scoring boost for them. Players like Josh Okogie of Georgia Tech, Moritz Wagner of Michigan, or even Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State could be options.
Needs: Scoring, inside presence, rebounding
Picks: 5, 33, 54
Dallas is a team that lacks talent up and down the roster, but has some pieces that they could potentially build around moving forward in Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. They also have the 5th overall pick and the 3rd pick of the second round. Then, in addition to that, they have a lot of cap space to use this offseason. They are looking at over 30 million available to spend in free agency, which means this offseason could potentially be very fruitful for them. In the draft, the fifth pick will give them options such as Luka Doncic, Mohamed Bamba, and Michael Porter Jr. and each one of those players could have a major impact on the team’s fortunes. Bamba might have slightly less value for Dallas than for other teams, however. That’s not to say they wouldn’t take him if he is available for them at 5, but Dallas appears to be a major player in the free agency of DeMarcus Cousins and could look to nab Clint Capela if Houston allows him to leave or DeAndre Jordan if he opts to test free agency. If Dallas can add one of the rookies mentioned and one of the center free agents, the Mavs’ scoring and rebounding issues should be much less of a problem for them moving forward.
San Antonio Spurs
Needs: Point guard, youth
Picks: 18, 49
San Antonio is at a crossroads as a franchise. After having a disappointing year (due in large part to the Kawhi Leonard issue) the franchise is in a position where they need to come to some sort of resolution with Kawhi. They also need to decide what to do with Tony Parker, who is a free agent this offseason. In addition, Manu Ginobili, is at the very end of his career, and Gregg Popovich needs to infuse some more youth in to the team in order to stay competitive. The team, as currently constructed, is led by Kawhi and older players such as Parker, Ginobili, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge. While Aldridge is several years younger than the others listed, age will be catching up to him by the end of his contract. For this reason, the Spurs need to find some younger players to infuse the team with athleticism and energy. Luckily, with a poor season in the books, the silver lining is that it allows them to pick earlier in the draft than what they normally expect to, which gives them an opportunity to draft somebody such as Jerome Robinson, Boston College, Kevin Huerter of Maryland, Troy Brown of Oregon, Landry Shamet of Wichita State, Aaron Holiday of UCLA, or Jalen Brunson of Villanova. Any of those players could play in the place of or alongside Dejounte Murray. They would also help to get Kawhi more open looks and lower his workload moving forward. The team will also have to see what happens with the player options of Rudy Gay and Danny Green.
Needs: Resign current players, bench depth
Houston had the best record in the entire NBA last season and very well could have been NBA champs had Chris Paul not been injured in the Western Conference Finals. However, he did get injured, and we saw just how important he was to the team. Now he’s a free agent, and it’s really important for the Rockets to convince him to stick around. If they want to continue last season’s success, they must sign Paul and Clint Capela to new deals. If they lose one or both of them, they would find themselves taking a major step back. Right now, they only have 7 players on the books for next season, plus Capela’s qualifying offer. For that reason, they will need to find bench depth. Resigning players like Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza to man the small forward spot would be big. Signing Gerald Green, Nene, and Tarik Black would be really nice as well. Beyond that, there aren’t a lot of options for improving the team unless they can find a trade partner willing to take on Ryan Anderson’s contract.
New Orleans Pelicans
Needs: Power Forward
New Orleans started last season as an experiment that garnered mixed results. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are two of the best big men in the entire league, and they caused a lot of problems for opposing teams. However, the team really took off after Cousins got injured and was replaced by Nikola Mirotic. If the team opts to let him leave in free agncy, they will look to Cheick Diallo a promising young bigman from Mali. In the playoffs, they swept their first round series of Portland as Rajon Rondo stepped his game up in a big way while playing alongside Jrue Holiday. Now, both Cousins and Rondo are free agents. Rondo’s play in the postseason makes it important for them to re-sign him, despite his sometimes mercurial nature, he exhibited leadership and a winning mentality. Because the Pelicans have so many large contracts, even if both Rondo and Cousins signed elsewhere, the team would lack the cap space to be able to sign replacements that are even nearly as close to what they would be losing. Cousins is a tough call and the team will have to weigh his value at his age coming off an injury, versus his contract. It could be that AD actually can grow and operate better without him.