Golden State Warriors (48-34: third in Pacific Division, missed playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 14, No. 49
PG: Baron Davis* / C.J. Watson*
SG: Monta Ellis* / Mickael Pietrus* / Marco Belinelli
SF: Stephen Jackson / Kelenna Azubuike / Matt Barnes*
PF: Al Harrington / Austin Croshere* / Brandan Wright
C: Andris Biedrins* / Patrick O’Bryant* / Kosta Perovic
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Point Guard, Power Forward, Depth
Bottom line: The Warriors earned the dubious distinction of the being the best team not to make the playoffs, and while an honor like that stings, it gives a team as talented as the Warriors a sense of urgency going into next season. Chris Mullin understands that he needs to improve his roster to compete in the Western Conference, and he’ll have a lot of decisions to make concerning his current stable of players. With Baron Davis considering opting out his contract, and Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins both looking for new deals, this could be a summer of transition for the Warriors. Don Nelson has proven capable of implementing his system quickly, and he’ll probably have a number of new players that he’ll need to integrate next season.
Draft outlook: Considering the number of potential free agents Mullin has on his roster, it seems likely that he’ll be fielding some trade offers, making the team’s pick at 14 a possible bargaining chip. Should Mullin opt to keep the pick, Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee could both come into play, with McGee having less polish, but more potential in Nelson’s offense. D.J. Augustin and Darrell Arthur are other possibilities, but may not be on the board when the Warriors pick. At 49, the Warriors would love to pick up Joey Dorsey or Nathan Jawai to add muscle up front, but neither may be available at that point. Lester Hudson would be a nice fit as well, but Mullin will have to take a wait and see approach on draft day to test if he’ll get any real value in the second-round.
Los Angeles Clippers (23-59: fifth in Pacific, missed playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 7, No. 35
PG: Knight / Dan Dickau* / Smush Parker* / Shaun Livingston*
SG: Cuttino Mobley / Quinton Ross*
SF: Corey Maggette* / Al Thornton / Marcus Williams*
PF: Brand* / Josh Powell / Tim Thomas
C: Andris Chris Kaman / Nick Fazekas* / Paul Davis*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Guard, Shooting Guard
Bottom line: While injuries to Shaun Livingston and Elton Brand effectively eliminated any chance the Clippers had to make the playoffs, Chris Kaman blossom into a force at center. With both Brand and Corey Maggette in position to opt out of their contracts, the Clippers may be forced into a rebuilding phase. Should both players choose to go elsewhere, the team would take almost $25 million off their books, enough to become a marquee destination for free agents. Elgin Baylor may not only get a franchise cornerstone in the draft, but one from free agency as well.
Draft outlook: Eric Gordon may be the best natural perimeter scorer in the draft, and has the potential to be a star. Though he lacks size, so does the Clipper’s current shooting guard Cuttino Mobley. What Gordon lacks in height, he makes up for in athleticism, strength and determination. He seems like a perfect fit in Los Angeles, which is looking for impact players at No. 7. Kevin Love is another possibility, but only if Brand terminates his deal. O.J. Mayo could come into play if he is available, but that isn’t a probable scenario. Russell Westbrook could also work his way into the equation. At 35, the Clippers may take a look at a point guard as an insurance policy for Livingston. If that proves to be the case, Ty Lawson would be a great value, as would Lester Hudson. Neither player would provide a major immediate impact, but offer quality depth. The Clippers may shop both of their picks, and should come away from the draft looking much different than they did going in.
Los Angeles Lakers (57-25: first in Pacific, advanced to NBA Finals)
Draft picks: No. 58
PG: Derek Fisher / Jordan Farmar
SG: Kobe Bryant / Sasha Vujacic* / Coby Karl*
SF: Lamar Odom / Luke Walton / Trevor Ariza / Ira Newble*
PF: Vladamir Radmanovic / Ronny Turiaf*
C: Pau Gasol / DJ Mbenga* / Andrew Bynum / Chris Mihm*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Power Forward, Depth
Bottom line: The Lakers stole Pau Gasol from Memphis. With Gasol fitting in well, Kobe Bryant seems happy with his supporting cast. The Lakers should be championship contenders again next season with Andrew Bynum returning. The offseason will prove pretty uneventful in L.A., but that’s ideal for a team as loaded as the Lakers.
Draft outlook: The Lakers have the luxury of sitting back and waiting to take the best available player – if they decide to use their pick at all. They could take an experienced player with the potential to play a small role off the bench like Sasha Kaun or DeMarcus Nelson. The Lakers are one of the few teams that may opt to take a look at Keith Brumbaugh. He thoroughly dominated as a junior college player, and just needs to show he’s improved his decision-making off the court to be an intriguing low-risk/high-reward prospect. The Lakers also did well trusting their international scout Adam Filippi last year, and may decide to do so again.
Phoenix Suns (55-27: second in Pacific, lost in first round of playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 15, No. 48
PG: Steve Nash / Leandro Barbosa
SG: Raja Bell / Gordon Giricek* / D.J. Strawberry / Eric Piatkowski*
SF: Grant Hill* / Boris Diaw / Alando Tucker / Linton Johnson*
PF: Amare Stoudamire / Sean Marks*
C: Shaquille O’Neal / Brian Skinner*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Power Forward, Center, Depth
Bottom line: Trading Shawn Marion for Shaquille O’Neal is one of the gutsier moves in recent history. Steve Kerr put all his chips and the table, and while Phoenix stumbled this season, a championship next season would absolve him completely. With no major free agents looking to leave, the Suns are a shoo-in to make the playoffs barring a disaster. What they do in the playoffs is the question. With a pick in the middle of the first round, Phoenix will have a chance to add another player to their bench to contribute to that run. Draft outlook: With their first rounder, the Suns could target a wing like Brandon Rush or Chase Budinger to solidify their backcourt, but may be better served to take a player like Marreese Speights. Speights would fill the depth chart nicely behind Phoenix’s elite frontcourt duo. Joe Alexander or Donte Greene may also receive consideration. Steve Kerr will have his choice of great prospects, and will have his work cut out for him in choosing the best player available. At 48, the Suns could add the toughness and athleticism of Joey Dorsey. He would provide instant depth and production, something that doesn’t come easy to playoff teams in the second round. Other players worth considering include J.R. Giddens and James Gist.
Sacramento Kings (38-44: fourth in Pacific, missed playoffs)
Draft picks: No. 12, No. 42, No. 43
PG: Beno Udrih* / Anthony Johnson*
SG: Kevin Martin / Francisco Garcia / Quincy Douby
SF: Ron Artest* / John Salmons
PF: Mikki Moore / Kenny Thomas / Shareef Abdur-Rahim / Shelden Williams
C: Brad Miller / Spencer Hawes / Lorenzen Wright*
*Potential free agent
Could use help at: Point Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, Depth
Bottom line: Despite missing the playoffs, the Kings were still a solid team in a great conference. Ron Artest has hinted he’s not going to opt out of his contract, but if he does the Kings may find themselves in rebuilding mode without the necessary cap space to make a big move in free agency. That raises the importance of the team’s draft pick. The franchise really needs to luck out and draft a player that can pay immediately dividends.
Draft outlook: The Kings desperately need a forward, and Donte Greene and Joe Alexander are slated to be the best available at their pick. Either player would be a nice fit for the Kings regardless of whether Artest is still around. Beno Udrih may be a starting-caliber point guard, but if D.J. Augustin is still on the board, the Kings would do well to snatch him up. Two players that the Kings may target depending on how they work out are Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights. Either player would push for minutes at power forward from day one. In the second round, the Kings will have the chance to either make back-to-back selections or shop their selections to move up. Ty Lawson, Davon Jefferson or D.J. White could provide quality depth should they fall. Pat Calathes is another player worth considering. He could be a solid role player as an oversized shooter who can spread the floor.
- The Warriors
- Chris Mullin