Brian Patrick

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Western Conference Draft Needs

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Like the past few seasons, the balance of power in the NBA tilted towards the West, while even the non-playoff teams were stocking a lot of young talent. Some of those younger teams may make their move this year, like Minnesota or Denver, and they will look to add more pieces in a very deep draft. Others, like the Lakers, Suns, and Kings will try and get back on track, adding talent to what they’ve amassed the past couple of years.   



Dallas Mavericks

Picks: Round 1: No. 9

Needs: Backcourt help; big who can stretch floor

The Mavericks have done a good job adding some young players to the mix over the past few years, but with the end of Dirk Nowitzki’s career on the horizon, it is time for the team to find their next star, though number nine may not be the spot. Either way, they should still get a quality player, and with need in the backcourt, they could hope to that one of the top five point guards drops to them, likely Frank Ntilikina, who is still a few years from being NBA-ready, but has a lot of potential on both ends of the floor. Another option could be to look for one of the numerous floor-stretching bigs in this draft, with players like Lauri Markkanen, a seven-foot long-range threat, or maybe reach for Zach Collins, a versatile seven-footer who can also make an impact on the defensive end.



Denver Nuggets

Picks: Round 1 – No. 13; Round 2 – No. 49, 51

Needs: Athletic wing scorer/shooter; stretch four, center depth

The Nuggets have loaded up on some great young players in the past few drafts, including Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, and Juan Hernangomez. Leading scorer Danilo Gallinari has a player option for this upcoming season, and could test free agency, so looking for a long-term replacement could be possible, though there may not be any strong options at number 13. They could look to add another big who can stretch the floor, like Zach Collins, or opt to go for one of the young, athletic big men, like Jarett Allen, Justin Patton, or Ike Anigbogu, all who provide some back-up athletic ability and defense for Jokic. With the depth in this draft, the Nuggets could still find some quality at 49 and/or 51, with them likely to take at least one draft-and-stash.



Golden State Warriors

Picks: None

Needs: Bench depth

With their second title in three seasons, the Warriors are expected to challenge for titles at least for the next few seasons, so adding some young depth to help the team long-term. They did a great job last year with Patrick McCaw, who was getting time in the title series, and Damian Jones. There is a chance they could try to secure a second-rounder from a team like Philadelphia, who has multiple picks in the round.



Houston Rockets

Picks: Round 2 – No. 43, 45

Needs: Back-up big men; more frontcourt shooting; defense

The first season under Mike D’Antoni was a success, with the already high-powered Houston offense taking it up another notch, and James Harden a potential MVP. Most of last year’s team is still under contract, other than Nene, so the Rockets could look for some help behind Clint Capela. Rookie Chinanu Onuaku has potential, but if another big with upside is available at 43 or 45, they might jump on it, though there aren’t many in this draft, other than maybe Thomas Bryant. With the draft loaded with stretch fours, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rockets look at one in these spots, with guys like Alec Peters or Jonah Bolden possibly available. Of course, any defense would be appreciated by Rockets’ fans, at any position, so if there is a player like South Carolina’s PJ Dozier or Sindarius Thornwell available, they are definite possibilities, or a player like Jonathan Motely or Jarron Blossomgame who can guard multiple positions.



Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: None

Needs:  To Be Determined

The Clippers could have a lot to deal with this summer regarding their roster, with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both holding player options for this upcoming season, JJ Redick a free agent, and DeAndre Jordan having an option the following year. The possibility of a rebuild in the near future could become reality, so there is a lot up in the air right now. Unfortunately, the Clippers have no picks this year, though like Golden State, could try and find their way into the second round.



Los Angeles Lakers

Picks: Round 1 – No. 2, 28

Needs: Keep adding talent

The Lakers have added some quality young talent over the past couple of years, with Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance, all playing significant minutes during this rebuild. Now, with a new front office of Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s former agent, and Magic Johnson, the goal will be to continue to add young talent, while trying to entice a veteran star or two to join them. At number two, the Lakers have a lot of options, though adding a point guard is a likely scenario, allowing Russell to move to the two, where he would be much more effective. Local product Lonzo Ball would be a very popular pick in the Los Angeles area, but for all his vision/passing skill, there are a lot of questions, not to mention the shadow of his father hanging over him. The Lakers could look to De’Aaron Fox, a quick point guard with lockdown potential on defense, though his perimeter shooting is a concern. The wildcard is wing Josh Jackson, who supposedly made a great impression on the organization. Jackson is a high-level athlete, with some versatility to his offense, and the ability to cause problems on defense. Near the end of the first round, the Lakers could look to add one of the stretch fours available, like a Tyler Lydon, TJ Leaf, or DJ Wilson, if there, or look for some more help at the point guard position, if they take Jackson at two, with a guy like Derrick White a possibility.



Memphis Grizzlies

Picks: None

Needs: Frontcourt depth; shooting

The Grizzlies have seemingly been on the cusp of transition from contender to lottery team for a few seasons, but they still hold on to hope with the core of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The addition of Chandler Parsons last year hasn’t panned out yet, and the rest of the roster is wither too young to make a difference, or veterans who could be replaced easily. It would have been nice for Memphis to add some more young talent this year, especially in a draft deep with it, but they have no picks, but may look to find their way in at some spot if there is a player they love.



Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks: Round 1 – No. 7

Needs: Build around Towns and Wiggins; bench scoring; the point guard question

The Timberwolves are another Western Conference team that has done a great job adding young talent as they build into a playoff team. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are the core, with Zach LaVine starting to show he could do a little bit more than just dunk. While number seven isn’t usually an ideal spot, in this draft, the Timberwolves have the possibility of adding another quality young player, though with a lot of different options, it is tough to say what they may do. The future of the point guard position has been in question for a little bit now, with Ricky Rubio trade rumors a constant, but the addition of Kris Dunn last year as a possible heir to the position didn’t seem to wow anyone, and with some possibilities available in their slot, the Timberwolves might pull the trigger on a guy like Dennis Smith, Jr. or Frank Ntilikina, both who could learn a lot under Rubio. An intriguing possibility is Jonathan Isaac, a raw, but athletic and versatile forward, with as high a ceiling as you may find in this draft. Another possibility is to go big with Lauri Markkanen, a seven-footer who could stretch the floor and play alongside Towns. One player they should avoid, if available, is Malik Monk, because if Minnesota fans were driven crazy by Zach Lavine’s shot selection, wait until you see Monk.



New Orleans Pelicans

Picks: Round 2 – No. 40

Needs: Perimeter shooting; point guard, bench scoring/defense

The Pelicans won’t have their first round pick this season, given to Sacramento in the deal for DeMarcus Cousins. Jrue Holiday is a free agent, and his return is far from certain, so looking to shore up the point guard position is possible at number 40, with potential back-ups like Monte Morris or Frank Mason, or a still-developing point with size, Edmond Sumner, being possibilities. Adding some shooting around Cousins and Anthony Davis is also a need, and they can look at a guy like Josh Hart, if available, Dwayne Bacon, who improved a lot as a shooter last season, or a more versatile scorer like Damyean Dotson or Dillon Brooks.



Oklahoma City

Picks: Round 1- No. 21

Needs: Perimeter shooting, stretch four, bench depth

Year one without Kevin Durant was certainly interesting, with Russell Westbrook stuffing the stat sheet all season long. If anything was obvious during the playoffs, it was that for all the defense Andre Roberson gives the team, the lack of shooting on the wings hurt the Thunder. Also, they could use another four who could stretch the floor, with hopes that Doug McDermott takes another step forward this year. They could look at guys like TJ Leaf, DJ Wilson, or maybe stretch for a guy like Kyle Kuzma. Another option is a versatile scorer like Semi Ojeleye. If they want to look to the backcourt, they could take a shot on Terrance Ferguson, though he is another year or two from even being a rotation player. An outside possibility is to find a point guard option to give Westbrook a rest, and a guy like Oklahoma State’s Juwan Evans an intriguing player.



Phoenix Suns

Picks: Round 1 – No. 4; Round 2 – No. 32, 54

Needs: Shooting forwards; toughness in the frontcourt

The Suns have added a lot of young talent through the draft, including numerous guards from Kentucky, but unsurprisingly, it hasn’t come together yet. Devin Booker continues to show flashes as a big-time scorer, and the team hopes to get big step forwards from recent lottery picks Alex Len, Dragan Bender, and Marquis Chriss. They could have a chance to add a polished young forward in Jayson Tatum, if he makes it past Philadelphia, or Josh Jackson, an athletic wing who can pick up the intensity on defense. The last thing the team needs is another guard from Kentucky, so I would rule out De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk. In the early second round, the Suns could hope that a guy like Bam Adebayo (yes, another Kentucky player) falls, to give them a tougher option than Alex Len in the middle. Another interesting possibility would be Caleb Swanigan, a versatile scorer and big-time rebounder.



Portland Trail Blazers

Picks: Round 1- No. 15, 20, 26

Needs: Backcourt depth, frontcourt shooting, rim protector

The Trail Blazers don’t have many open spots on their roster, and I’m sure they would love to try and package these three picks to possibly move up. If they stay put, they could look to find a solid back-up option to Damian Lillard, as well as one more guard to add to the rotation with CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe. They could also look to add one of the young, athletic bigs available, especially if they provide a better defensive option than Jusuf Nurkic. If they go for the backcourt at 15, they could hope that a guy like Donovan Mitchell makes it to them, though he is very similar to McCollum, but with more defense. If they go for center, they may have their pick of guys like Jarrett Allen, Ike Anigbogu, Justin Patton, or even a high upside guy like Harry Giles, if he can stay injury-free. At 20, they can still likely find at least one of those bigs if they opted for a guard or wing at 15. If they look for the backcourt help, a guy like Terrance Ferguson is a possibility, or they could look at the potential of OG Anunoby, who can help them defend multiple positions. At 26, I’d expect the Blazers to go for draft-and-stash Isaiah Hartenstein, if available, or go for a big like Tony Bradley, or defender/rebounder like Jordan Bell.



Sacramento Kings

Picks: Round 1 – No. 5, 10; Round 2 – No. 34

Needs: Point guard, wing scorer, frontcourt depth

The Kings have two lottery picks, and I’d expect them to jump on one of the available point guards at five, with De’Aaron Fox being the player rumored to be on the top of the list. There have been rumors that they would deal five and ten to move up and snag Fox, but they may not have to do that. At ten, the Kings may not find many wing scorers, unless they reach for a guy like Justin Jackson, but they could add to the frontcourt with a versatile big like Zach Collins, who has the potential to be a more complete player than either Willie Cauley-Stein or Skal Labissiere. They could get a could value on a wing scorer in the early second round, with players like Dillon Brooks, Damyean Dotson, Sindarius Thornwell, or Jarron Blossomgame, all possibilities.



San Antonio Spurs

Picks: Round 1 – No. 29; Round 2- No. 59

Needs: Bench scoring and depth

The Spurs are still in a transition phase, though they didn’t seem to miss a beat. Tim Duncan retired last season, and Manu Ginobili could be next, as well as Tony Parker getting closer to the end. It will be Kawhi Leonard’s team now, but they will need to add more talent around him. Pau Gasol has an option this for this year, and may want to try free agency again, and while Dewayne Dedmon played well as a back-up, the team could use more in the middle. They could hope that a young big like Bam Adebayo, Harry Giles, or Tony Bradley is available. Another option could be to add a four who can stretch the floor a bit more than LaMarcus Aldridge, with guys like Tyler Lydon or DJ Wilson a possibility.



Utah Jazz

Picks: Round 1 – No. 24, 30; Round 2 No. 42, 55

Needs: Point guard; wing depth; back-up big man 

The Jazz have continued to improve the past few seasons, but face some questions this off-season, with Gordon Hayward likely to become a free agent, and George Hill also unrestricted. With two late first round picks, the Jazz could address the point guard position with a guy like Juwan Evans, who could easily supplant Dante Exum, if Hill isn’t re-signed. They could look to add a big man at either spot, with Bam Adebayo, Harry Giles, or Tony Bradley, all possibilities. They won’t find a replacement for Hayward here, but in the second round, they could look at the guys like Jarron Blossomgame or Dwayne Bacon, or a point guard possibility with Monte Morris, Frank Mason, or Edmond Sumner, or more of a combo guard like Frank Jackson or Tyler Dorsey

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