Assuming the Grizzlies retain the services of Zach Randolph, they have one glaring need: shooting. Defensively, they are a fantastic team led by Marc Gasol and Tony Allen. Offensively, they have Mike Conley Jr. to run the show and they can play through Randolph in the high or low post. However, defenses can, and often do, sag in on them as if playing a pack line style defense because the Grizzlies can’t make them consistently pay for it. To illustrate this point, realize that the Griz ranked dead last in the league in both 3 point makes and attempts this past season. So, they have to focus on finding shooting in this draft regardless of what position that shooting comes from. With the 22nd pick they probably won’t have the pick of the litter in terms of the top shooters in this draft, but they will have options. They may have an opportunity at somebody like Cleanthony Early of Wichita St. who, while not known as a knockdown shooter, is versatile enough to do many things while being a good enough shooter to make defenses pay while benefitting from the open looks playing with Randolph and Gasol would get him. One other name they should keep their eyes on is Glenn Robinson III. He struggled a bit last season without Trey Burke setting the table for him, but Conley could get him good looks and when Robinson has time to set his feet he is a good shooter. Memphis can’t count on finding an instant starter picking as late as they do, but they can certainly fill a need and find somebody that can contribute for them right away.
Picks: 25, 42
Houston really doesn’t have much in terms of immediate needs. That is why they are reportedly interested in moving some of their young players and big money contracts in return for another star player to insert into a lineup already including Dwight Howard and James Harden. Whether they can get it done or not remains to be seen, but that is clearly their focus at the moment. The draft will give them a chance to add some young talent, but with the 25th pick there is no guarantee they will find somebody that will be a contributor for them in the near future. Their frontcourt seems to be pretty set with Howard manning the middle and Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons having developed around him. They have entertained the thought of dealing Omer Asik which tells me that in this draft they could look to grab a big like Jusuf Nurkic to replace him, but could potentially remain overseas for a year before joining the team while they explore their options. They may also simply take the best talent available which could result in them landing a lead guard in a deep class like Jordan Clarkson Tyler Ennis or Semaj Christon. Another player is Lil Big Dog, Glenn Robinson III who some feel could be available at their pick. He would fit in well as he could come off the bench behind Harden or Parsons and give them added athleticism on the wing. He has quality size at 6-6 and could be just what the team needs. Ultimately, the key question for the Rockets this off season will revolve around whether they can land the star player they covet through avenues outside of the draft.
San Antonio Spurs
Picks: 30, 58, 60
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the Spurs need anything in particular in order to continue their run of excellence outside of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Gregg Popovich to stick around. They are the best run franchise in the league and it shows. For years, people have believed their window was closing for a number of reasons – from injuries, to age, to the lack of players surrounding their big three. Yet, here they are in their second straight Finals. They have a system that allows everybody to play to their strengths. Popovich knows the team runs through Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, so the team surrounds those three with role players that possess skills that complement them. The formula is obviously working for them as they continue to contend for championships on a near yearly basis. When it comes to the draft, let’s face it, they will find somebody that can help them. Back in 2008 they drafted George Hill 26th overall, who wasn’t even included in the draft media guide. People questioned it at the time, but it worked out pretty well for them as Hill gave them some quality seasons before being traded for Kawhi Leonard, their brightest young talent. They have the 30th pick this year and regardless of who they select, we will all give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they somehow managed to get a steal. They have a great scouting department that finds talent from all over the world, making it difficult to pin down who they will select. Making it even more difficult is the fact that they think outside the box (as evidenced by the Hill pick). They do, however, like to find players that have a skill that really stands out, which means they will likely avoid those prospects that are good at a lot of things but great at none. They could give a long hard look at prospects such as Kristap Porzingis, or Josep Nurkic if either player fell to them, or even consider the Serbian PG wizard Vacilje Micic, who would be perfect to lead pick and roll situations. Whoever they select may raise eye brows on draft night, but ultimately, it’s a pretty safe bet the draft will work out for San Antonio…it always does.
Needs: Wing scorer, Center
Picks: 34, 51
The Mavericks’ main need will be to resign Dirk Nowitzki. There is little doubt it will get done as Nowitzki is one of the most loyal players in the NBA and Mark Cuban is on record as saying he will do everything possible to ensure Dirk retires a Maverick. They have some quality pieces around him, but Vince Carter and Shawn Marion (who both may resign with the team) are in the twilight of their careers. So, even if they return, the Mavericks will need to have younger guys that they can turn it over to when they retire. Monta Ellis is good, but he needs help on the perimeter. Probably the biggest concern in the immediate future for the Mavs would be the lack of a bulky big man to put beside Nowitzki. They would really benefit from having a glass-eating post player to put inside alongside him and ease his burden. With only second round picks in this year’s draft their options would appear somewhat limited, but their 34th pick should actually give them an excellent chance to add some value. freakishly long Clint Capela is an option if available and they believe they can inspire him. Also there is a good chance that someone unexpected will slide to them. They could also opt for somebody such as PJ Hairston who, although an off court risk, would provide plenty of shooting ability while having the added benefit of playing in the D-League last season, exposing him to the pro game. There are some power forwards and centers with high ceilings that can be had in the early second round. Jarnell Stokes would be a good fit, as would Mitch McGary. Khem Birch, or even Juvonte Reddic could be possibilities with their pick at 51.
New Orleans Pelicans
Needs: Depth, Center
New Orleans used their first round pick this year in a draft day deal last June that netted them Jrue Holiday, so they aren’t expected to have a very busy draft night this year. When looking at their needs, it’s important to understand that I still believe the Tyreke Evans signing will ultimately work out. If the Pelicans don’t believe that, it will be important to find a replacement for him on the wing. However, it’s unlikely that any of their needs get filled this June. Anthony Davis is the best player on this team, but his body is still developing and if the team can prevent him from having to body up against the muscle bound bigs in the league it would go a long way towards helping to keep him healthy. Ryan Anderson is a quality rebounder, but he isn’t the ideal defensive match for opposing bigs. If the Pelicans can find another front court option that can bring some strength it would help to strengthen the team as a whole. In the end though, this year’s draft happened for them last June, and they selected Holiday. They gave up a top ten pick (plus Nerlens Noel) to make the deal happen. It may or may not be worth it in the end, but at this point it’s happened and they’ve got to continue to build the team. They’ll just have to do it without a pick this year.