Needs: PG, SG, Backup PF
Picks: 17, 55
You could probably make the case that there isn’t a single position except starting power forward that Dallas can say isn’t a need for them. Much of this is because they only have 5 people under contract for next season (with team options for Yi Jianlian, Brandan Wright, Vince Carter, and Lamar Odom). The Mavericks have made no secret of the fact that they’re attempting to shed as much salary as they can so that they can land a big fish in free agency. The rumor is that they’re looking at adding Deron Williams. That would likely mean letting Jason Kidd Leave as a free agent.
Even if they do manage to pair Dirk Nowitzki with Williams –who originally hails from Texas—they’ll have a lot of work to do to surround them with enough players to be a contender. Most of this will be done through free agency as, even if they can flip Lamar Odom for a draft pick, they’ll probably only have one pick that will be able to make an impact in this upcoming season. They can get a talented player at 17, as this is a draft with good depth through the top 20 or so picks. Moe Harkless is a high upside pick that figures to have a good chance to be available for them.
Needs: PG, C
Picks: 14, 16
The Rockets will have two picks in the middle of round one with which to enhance their team. With Goran Dragic entering free agency, the Rockets are faced with potentially losing him. Starting point guard Kyle Lowery is under contract for the next two seasons but recently made his disdain for playing for Kevin McHale public. It was very clear that he would be happy moving on to a different team in the offseason, making point guard a potential need for the Rockets.
With Kevin Martin at shooting guard, the small forward position managed by Chandler Parsons and Chase Budinger, and the power forward position belonging to Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson and Donatas Motiejunas the Rockets have a strong nucleus. They’ve been looking for a quality center since Yao Ming was forced to retire and will have a chance to add a center prospect like Meyers Leonard or Tyler Zeller in this draft.
Needs: Backup PG, Possible replacement at SG for Mayo, Backup C
The Grizzlies will have the option to return most of their team from last season. O.J. Mayo will be the biggest story for the team this offseason. They’ve attempted to trade him before and as he enters restricted free agency they may have to decide how much he is really worth to their franchise. With that said, they may not be able to let him walk if they can’t find a shooting guard to replace him either through the draft or free agency. They have Tony Allen, but he’s more of a defensive specialist.
They also need to find a backup for Mike Conley, as they used Gilbert Arenas and Josh Selby in that role last season. They could also look to fortify their frontcourt, as they could use depth behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. If they go that route, they will likely look to find an athletic big man, to complement the bruising style of their current starting bigs.
New Orleans Hornets
Needs: PG, PF
Picks: 1, 10
The Hornets have some needs, including depth at nearly every position. However, their most pressing need will be retaining restricted free agent Eric Gordon. With the first overall pick the Hornets will select Anthony Davis, which will help replace Carl Landry if he signs elsewhere. They’ll have a dominating inside duo of Davis and Okafor. With Gordon doing the scoring, the team will be in good shape moving forward.
In addition to that, though, they will also be able to add another top ten pick. At pick ten they will probably be hoping Damian Lillard is still somehow there so that they can take a step towards replacing Chris Paul. Austin Rivers is another player the team could be looking at. This team is not in position to be a contender next season even if they nail the draft, but they will have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for a quality team moving forward.
San Antonio Spurs
Needs: PF/C, Depth
R.C. Buford and the San Antonio Spurs regularly find a way to nail the draft every year despite lacking a high pick. Well, this year they will not. With only the 59th pick, AKA the second-to-last pick, they won’t have many options and could very well use it on a foreign player that they stash overseas.
The Spurs, believe it or not, only have 7 players under contract for next season (but have a team option on DeJuan Blair and Patty Mills owns a player option.) Tim Duncan is a free agent who has stated that he is a Spur for life, and thus can be expected to return. The Spurs will be looking for depth this offseason, preferably some youthful depth. Kawhi Leonard was a nice injection of youth this season, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to add someone like him in the draft, meaning free agency will be their best bet at improving the team this offseason.