The 2012 NBA Draft goes down on June 28th and many teams and fans are looking forward to what’s considered to be a deep draft. However, deep or not, it’s always a hit-or-miss proposition when it comes to players transitioning from the college game to the NBA game. This week we start our draft coverage with each team’s needs and which way they’ll possibly go at the end of June. Yesterday, we took a look at the Eastern Conference’s team needs, today we check out the Western Conference.
All free agents listed are unrestricted unless noted as restricted (R), owning a player option (P), team option (T) or early termination option (ETO).
Projected Draft Picks: 1.17, 2.25 (55)
2012 Free Agents: Brian Cardinal, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Jason Terry, Delonte West, Yi Jianlian
2013 Free Agents: Rodrigue Beaubois (R), Kelenna Azubuike, Shawn Marion (ETO), Lamar Odom, Brandan Wright
Team Needs: Dirk Nowitzki will be the only valuable piece left from the 2011 championship team as many will become free agents, be traded for cap space or amnestied for cap space. It’s going to be an interesting offseason for the Mavs as they are likely to go hard after Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams. At this point, it’s safe to say that the Mavs’ draft focus will be on every position, including power forward, as Nowitzki is getting older. A solid guess for a position would have to be at the wing position to replace the (likely) departing Jason Terry, Delonte West, Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion, whose contract the Mavs will try to move in order to keep the possibility of acquiring D-Will alive. They may also amnesty Brendan Haywood to create cap space, so the Mavs could go for a big man as well, especially with Ian Mahinmi becoming a free agent.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.20, 2.8 (38), 2.20 (50)
2012 Free Agents: Rudy Fernandez (R), JaVale McGee (R), Andre Miller
2013 Free Agents: Ty Lawson (R), Timofey Mozgov (R), Julyan Stone (R), Corey Brewer
Team Needs: The Nuggets will likely match any offer made to restricted free agent JaVale McGee, so expect the hilarity and Pamela McGee staredowns to continue in Denver. The team will probably also re-sign Andre Miller, who continues to play well and provide that old man wisdom. Expect the team to draft for depth, in all likelihood at the shooting guard and small forward position to back up Arron Afflalo and Danilo Gallinari. Doron Lamb, Royce White, Moe Harkless and Terrence Jones are possibilities.
Golden State Warriors
Projected Draft Picks: 1.7, 1.30, 2.5 (35)
2012 Free Agents: Mickell Gladness (R), Brandon Rush (R), Chris Wright (R), Dominic McGuire, Mikki Moore, Nate Robinson
2013 Free Agents: Stephen Curry (R), Charles Jenkins (R), Andris Biedrins (ETO), Richard Jefferson (P), Dorell Wright
Team Needs: How about some health? In all seriousness, the Warriors gambled on Stephen Curry being their franchise player of the present and future when they traded away Monta Ellis. The problem is Curry’s consistent ability to get injured. Would the team consider drafting Kendall Marshall from North Carolina for depth at the lead guard position and have a solid backcourt rotation of Curry, Marshall and Klay Thompson? That would be interesting, but maybe they go big, crossing fingers that Andrew Bogut stays healthy, and draft John Henson to form a wall in the post. With the seventh overall pick, they’ll have some excellent options. With their later draft picks, they’ll hope for a rotation player and could possibly get them thanks to how deep this draft will be and the team’s draft position.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.14, 1.16
2012 Free Agents: Courtney Lee (R), Earl Boykins, Marcus Camby, Goran Dragic
2013 Free Agents: Chase Budinger (R), Courtney Fortson (R), Diamon Simpson (R), Samuel Dalembert, Kevin Martin
Team Needs: The Rockets are going to have a lot of cap space available. They may try to package Kevin Martin and Luis Scola once again, possibly even renting Dwight Howard in hopes of convincing him to stay. That said, the Rockets will have needs everywhere, except at the point guard position if they don’t trade away Kyle Lowry. So with the 14th and 16th picks, the Rockets can add excellent pieces to the puzzle. You can never have enough bigs, especially with Kevin McHale as coach, so we’ll assume they look to go big with at least one of their picks and shooting guard with the other.
Los Angeles Clippers
Projected Draft Picks: 2.23 (53)
2012 Free Agents: Chauncey Billups, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Kenyon Martin, Bobby Simmons, Mo Williams (P), Nick Young
2013 Free Agents: Ryan Gomes, Chris Paul
Team Needs: If the Clippers bring back players such as Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Randy Foye and Nick Young, they’ll be pretty much set all around and it’d be a good move to keep a team together that made it to the second round of the playoffs before running in to the San Antonio Spurs. The team has a very low pick, so they’ll probably go for best talent available. If they want to focus on a position, perhaps a legitimately-sized center to back up DeAndre Jordan. Someone like Robert Sacre could be available.
Los Angeles Lakers
Projected Draft Picks: 2.30 (60)
2012 Free Agents: Devin Ebanks (R), Darius Morris (R), Matt Barnes, Jordan Hill, Troy Murphy, Ramon Sessions (P)
2013 Free Agents: Andrew Goudelock (R), Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts, Metta World Peace (ETO)
Team Needs: Now that the Lakers are out of the playoffs, expect them to make moves, such as (finally) successfully trading Pau Gasol for some assets, be they players or draft picks. The team only has one draft pick, the Mr. Irrelevant pick, and will likely try to draft a big or point guard and hope that player can contribute. Especially a point guard that can defend. It’ll be an interesting offseason for the Lakers as I’m sure heads will roll, maybe even head coach Mike Brown’s.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.25
2012 Free Agents: Darrell Arthur (R), Lester Hudson (R), O.J. Mayo (R), Marreese Speights (R), Gilbert Arenas, Hamed Haddadi
2013 Free Agents: Jeremy Pargo (R), Tony Allen
Team Needs: The main question going into the offseason is probably whether or not to re-sign/match any offer for O.J. Mayo. The qualifying offer is $7.4 million and the Grizzlies will already be a bit over the potential salary cap of about $60 million. Or should they save some money and select a shooting guard in the draft and not worry about Mayo? Either way, the team will be looking to draft for depth, and if they plan to match any offer for Marreese Speights and Darrell Arthur, they’ll look for a combo player such as Tony Wroten or a three.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.18, 2.28 (58)
2012 Free Agents: Michael Beasley (R), Anthony Randolph (R), Antony Tolliver
2013 Free Agents: Wayne Ellington (R), Nikola Pekovic (R), Martell Webster
Team Needs: The Timberwolves are set at the point guard with some real depth — Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour — which helped when Rubio went down during the season. They’re also good at the four and five with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, so look for the T-Wolves to go for a wing, especially if they let Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph go, although the team has cap space and can likely match any offers.
New Orleans Hornets
Projected Draft Picks: 1.4, 1.10
2012 Free Agents: Eric Gordon (R), Darryl Watkins (R), Marco Belinelli, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry
2013 Free Agents: Trevor Ariza (P), Jarrett Jack, Emeka Okafor (ETO)
Team Needs: The Hornets are going to have a lot of cap space, which will allow them to keep Eric Gordon, a restricted free agent, who was the main piece coming back in the Chris Paul trade. They will likely let Chris Kaman go and look to fill the four and five position through the draft. They may have a chance at either Thomas Robinson or Andre Drummond with the fourth overall pick, but should grab Michael Kidd-Gilchrist if he’s there. They can deal with the big man position later with their 10th overall pick with the possibilities of John Henson, Tyler Zeller or Jared Sullinger. With their cap space and draft picks, the Hornets can be on the rise again in the next couple of seasons.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected Draft Picks: 1.28
2012 Free Agents: Derek Fisher, Royal Ivey, Nazr Mohammed
2013 Free Agents: James Harden (R), Serge Ibaka (R), Eric Maynor (R), Daequan Cook
Team Needs: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have the Thunder set at the one and three for the next several seasons. Of course, next year they’ll have to worry about keeping James Harden and Serge Ibaka, so with their lone pick, do they draft a shooting guard or four/five? Maybe, but if there’s a five available, they’ll likely draft there to replace unrestricted free agent Nazr Mohammed.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.13
2012 Free Agents: Aaron Brooks (R), Robin Lopez (R), Shannon Brown, Grant Hill, Steve Nash, Ronnie Price, Michael Redd
2013 Free Agents: Sebastian Telfair
Team Needs: The Suns could possibly lose their starting guards, Steve Nash and Shannon Brown, and their back-ups in Ronnie Price and Michael Redd. So, it’s fairly safe to say that the Suns will look to draft a backcourt player with their lone pick, unless they move up into the top three, in which case, they’ll likely draft a big man or Kidd-Gilchrist.
Portland Trail Blazers
Projected Draft Picks: 1.6, 1.11, 2.10 (40), 2.11 (41)
2012 Free Agents: Nicolas Batum (R), J.J. Hickson (R), Jamal Crawford (P), Jonny Flynn, Raymond Felton, Joel Przybilla, Hasheem Thabeet, Shawne Williams (P)
2013 Free Agents: Kurt Thomas
Team Needs: The Blazers will likely keep restricted free agent Nicolas Batum to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge for the future. After this duo, they’ll probably earmark J.J. Hickson, who played very well during his time Portland, and Wesley Matthews as part of the building blocks moving forward. The Blazers have a lot of picks in this draft, but may lose that sixth overall pick because of the limits (top-three protected) of the Gerald Wallace to Brooklyn Nets trade. However, they’ll have their own pick and could go with Kendall Marshall to be the point guard of the future. Otherwise, they’ll need someone to man the five spot, but may very well just draft best talent available with their second round picks.
Projected Draft Picks: 1.5, 2.6 (36)
2012 Free Agents: Donte Greene (R), Jason Thompson (R), Terrence Williams (R)
2013 Free Agents: Tyreke Evans (R), Francisco Garcia (T)
Team Needs: Small forward! The guard rotation is fairly set and DeMarcus Cousins will be the man in the middle for as long as the Kings can tolerate him. The team will likely retain restricted free agent Jason Thompson, so all that they need is a three. Well, and a city to play in. In any case, with the fifth overall pick, the Kings have a great chance of selecting Harrison Barnes, the second-best small forward in most draft experts’ eyes after Kidd-Gilchrist. However, Barnes’ offensive ability is better, so the Kings won’t be complaining. Well, not about drafting Barnes, anyway.
San Antonio Spurs
Projected Draft Picks: 2.29 (59)
2012 Free Agents: Daniel Green (R), Patrick Mills (P), Boris Diaw, Tim Duncan
2013 Free Agents: DeJuan Blair (R), Gary Neal (R), Tiago Splitter (R), Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson
Team Needs: Don’t expect Tim Duncan to go anywhere, first of all. Second, the Spurs are really deep and won’t have any immediate needs. Third, even though they only have one pick at the end of the second round, the player will be a gem. That’s really all you need to know about the Spurs and their draft history.
Projected Draft Picks: 2.17 (47)
2012 Free Agents: Blake Ahearn (R), Morris Almond (R), Jeremy Evans (R), Josh Howard, C.J. Miles, Jamaal Tinsley (T)
2013 Free Agents: Raja Bell, DeMarre Carroll, Devin Harris, Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, Earl Watson
Team Needs: The Jazz are set at the four and five with Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson for at least one more season before the duo become free agents the summer of 2013. Luckily, the Jazz also have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter to take their place, should either or both of them bolt. The team, as of now, has no commitments to any player for the 2013-14 season, but own four team options on players. Since the team only has one pick in the middle of the second round, they may just go the ubiquitous best talent available regardless of position.