Needs: Point Guard, Power Forward
Picks: 18, 32
Houston looked like they were missing something in the Conference Finals, but part of that was the fact that Patrick Beverley was injured and they were more reliant on Jason Terry who, although more skilled on offense, struggled to hold it down on defense the way Beverley typically does. The Rockets would really benefit from adding somebody to their backcourt that would be able to slide in to either guard spot. James Harden had a tremendous season, but played more minutes than anybody else in the league this season (and second most per game behind Jimmy Butler) and Beverley was third on the team in minutes per game. The next two guards in minutes per game on their roster will be 38 next season. They have to find a guard that can come in and play minutes immediately.
They are likely to be eyeing players like Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant or Delon Wright of Utah. Even better would be to have Murray State’s Cameron Payne fall to them, or find a way to move up a few spots, if necessary, to grab him. Any of these point guards would fit nicely into Houston’s needs, and each has the size and skill to be able to man the point alongside Harden, or slide over to the shooting guard spot while Harden rests. This type of flexibility would go a long way in helping Houston manage the minutes of their two guards.
Needs: Point Guard, Power Forward
Picks: 21, 52,
Is it time for Dallas to rebuild? Dirk Nowitzki’s career is in its twilight. They tried for one last homerun move when they brought in Rajon Rondo and that experiment failed miserably, setting the franchise back. Now, it would appear Dallas is an aging team lacking the flexibility to make major changes. This can make it difficult to rebuild a team when the time comes. Everybody knows how loyal the Mavs are to Dirk, and Mark Cuban has said he wants him to be with the team until he retires. The problem is, it takes time to get a team back to the pinnacle of the league, especially in the Western Conference.
So Dallas must ask itself whether it seriously believes it can still contend, or start drafting for the future. Either way, the name of the game for them has to be the old adage: best player available. At 21, it’s unlikely they find somebody that is going to come in and set the world on fire his rookie year. They will have a chance at someone that could develop into a quality player, though. With the rise of non-traditional lineups, Dallas could look at Montrezl Harrell or Kevon Looney, if still on the board, dominant rebounders that could complement Dirk. They may also look to add depth on the wing with relatively NBA ready players like Virginia’s Justin Anderson or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of Arizona.
Needs: Shooting Guard
Memphis has their own style. They look to use their interior advantage to bully other teams into submission. In order to continue this, they need to make sure they bring back Marc Gasol. However, this style based off of interior strength and defense is limited in that the team simply cannot shoot. Memphis needs to add some shooting to their lineup in order to diversify their attack. Someone that can compliment Tony Allen, with offensive firepower when called upon. A shooting guard such as Rashad Vaughn or [Player:RJ Hunter] would be a really nice fit. Both players are among the top shooters in the draft and show the potential to become contributors over time. Vaughn is younger but has the better body, while Hunter has more experience but will need to get stronger.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely that Memphis fans will look back at this offseason and think of the draft. At 25, it’s going to be difficult to land a player that will significantly alter the path of this franchise. This offseason is all about whether they keep Gasol. If they can, Memphis will continue to be a player in the Western Conference. However, if Gasol slips away, Memphis will struggle to find a replacement and it could lead to drastic changes.
San Antonio Spurs
Needs: Center, Shooting Guard
Picks: 26, 55
San Antonio is picking late in the draft as usual. At 26, they likely won’t be pin pointing a certain position or skill that they want from a draft pick. Instead, San Antonio will look for value and there’s a good chance that it will be somebody from overseas. The Spurs are one of the best organizations when it comes to identifying talent. They also do a tremendous job in developing their talent, which obviously makes their scouts look good. They typically look for players that have one or two skills that fit what they like to do as a team. It really is that simple for them, but it’s anything but simple to figure out just which direction they will go.
With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili about to put an end to their careers and the Spurs looking to fill players in around Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. This draft will give them an opportunity to do that. The Spurs’ ability to be a contender every year for, essentially, the duration of Duncan’s career makes them unique, and so much of it is because of how they handle offseasons like this one. They don’t have a high draft pick and so they will have to find value late. European prospects such as skilled Spanish bigman Guillermo Hernangomez, lengthy French forward Alpha Kaba and Turkish point forward Cedi Osman are all possibilities with their pick at 26. Although, they are expected to chase LaMarcus Aldridge, and if they land him, well, nobody will care about what they do in the draft – they will be the big winners in this offseason.
New Orleans Pelicans
Needs: Point Guard
The Pelicans snuck into the playoffs based off the stellar play of Anthony Davis. They proceeded to change coaches, and that will likely be the biggest change they see this offseason. Without a first round pick in this year’s draft, the coaching search will likely be the biggest story for them. The team made the playoffs, but if Oklahoma City had any modicum of good health last season the Pelicans would have found themselves on the outside looking in. The good news for any potential new coach is that the Pels have a number of quality players. Davis is a top five player in the league, and Tyreke Evans looked to regain his form last season. Eric Gordon was really good a few years ago, and if he could find that again, the team could be dynamic. Jrue Holiday averaged almost 15 and 7 last season despite missing nearly half the season. Finding a coach that can fit those pieces together is the biggest goal for them this offseason.