The Western Conference has emerged in the past few seasons as the NBA’s power base, but there are also a good amount of teams looking to rebuild, or in the process of rebuilding, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. Smart drafting has helped a lot of Western Conference teams get to where they are, so expect these picks to be used very judiciously as teams try to stay on top. Here is a look at the Western Conference team needs, and possible choices. Click here for yesterday’s analysis of Eastern Conference team needs.
Picks: Round 1 - None; Round 2 – No. 34, No. 51
Needs: Big men, perimeter scoring and defense, young talent
Signing Dirk Nowitzki will be the Mavericks’ priority, but at number 34, they will have a chance at adding a scorer who could help them immediately off the bench. DeAndre Daniels may not have the body yet to handle the NBA, but he has a lot of talent and can learn from a veteran Mavericks’ team. They can also look at some big men to help, including Johnny O’Bryant, Dwight Powell, Patric Young, or Khem Birch. At number 51, they could have a shot at scorers such as Jabari Brown or Markel Brown, or an athletic big like Baylor’s Cory Jefferson.
Picks: Round 1 – No. 11; Round 2 – No. 41, No. 56
Denver returns most of their players from last season, and the needs aren’t very glaring. They are one of the teams I’d target to take one of the International players in their range – Dario Saric or Jusuf Nurkic – and wait for them to develop a few more years overseas. Either could fit a need in the frontcourt long-term for Denver. If they choose to go in a different direction, they can look at one of the young wings available – Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, possibly Nik Stauskas or James Young. At #41, they can still find their draft-and-stash player, including Vasilije Micic, Damien Inglis, or big man Artem Klimenko.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors’ focus may be on acquiring Kevin Love, but re-signing Andrew Bogut will also be a priority. I don’t expect them to add a pick in this draft at this time, unless it’s from a larger deal.
Picks: Round 1 – No. 25; Round 2 – No. 42
The Rockets took a big step forward with the addition of Dwight Howard, and now they just need to look to add some more pieces around Howard, James Harden and Terrence Jones. If they re-sign restricted free agent Chandler Parsons, the priority would then be to add an established player. Alternatively, if they are looking for talent in the draft, they can find some players who could fit in easily, like PJ Hairston or Jordan Adams on the wing, or an athletic big, such as Jerami Grant, who could then spend time with the Rockets’ D-League team to continue his development. In the 2nd round, Houston may elect to think long-term and look at an International option such as Nikola Jokic or Artem Klimenko who can help in a few years. If they want to add some help now, big men like Patric Young or Johnny O’Bryant could be available and would help on the boards.
Los Angeles Clippers
Picks: Round 1 – No. 28; Round 2 - None
Needs: Frontcourt depth
The Clippers return most of the players from one of the West’s top teams, so any value they can get at number 28 will be a bonus. Adding some depth behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan could help, though they might not find what they want late in the first round. Jerami Grant is the kind of athletic big who seems like he would fit in well with the Clippers’ system. They can look at the best available player at any position, including point guards Jordan Clarkson or Shabazz Napier, or an athletic wing like KJ McDaniels, who would be a steal that low.
Los Angeles Lakers
Picks: Round 1 – No. 7; Round 2 - None
Needs: Pretty much everything
The Lakers are in full rebuild mode, though they still have the end of Kobe Bryant’s career to get through before they can take the next step. At number 7, the Lakers need to just take the best available player, and they could have a choice between power forwards Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon, or they could look to add their point guard of the future in Marcus Smart or Elfrid Payton. I don’t know if it’s possible, but do the Lakers take Joel Embiid if he falls to them? I think they have to go for it.
Picks: Round 1 – No. 22; Round 2 - None
Needs: Perimeter shooting, frontcourt depth
Memphis’ biggest priority is seeing if Zach Randolph exercises his option to stay with the team. If not, the Grizzlies could be looking for a long-term replacement with their pick, though the options are slim. They have a better chance of finding help for their shooting woes with players such as James Young, PJ Hairston, or maybe even reaching for Cleanthony Early, who would fit in on the defensive side also.
Picks: Round 1 – No. 13; Round 2 – No. 40, No. 44, No. 53
Needs: Trade Kevin Love, three-point shooting
The Timberwolves would love to unload Love now, though they are unlikely to get what they want this early in the process. Assuming he will still be with the team, at least early in the year, the priority for the Timberwolves should be adding shooting, especially from deep. Like other teams who are looking for the same, the names are familiar – Rodney Hood, Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, James Young, maybe a long-term project in Zach LaVine. They can look at different options with their three second-round picks, maybe adding depth on the wings or in the frontcourt. They could get some help immediately with a player like Patric Young or Johnny O’Bryant, or hope that a player like Jarnell Stokes falls to them. I would also expect them to use at least one second-round selection on a draft-and-stash player.