With the NBA Finals (along Cleveland’s long championship drought) finally coming to a close, Adam Murray and Andrew Riche of Place To Be Nation’s NBA-Team Podcast are teaming up to provide the great readers of Place To Be Nation a comprehensive preview of the 2016 NBA Draft, which will accompany a podcast preview as we wait for the first pick of the NBA Draft to be announced on Thursday, June 23rd. In this edition, Riche and Adam tackle all 15 teams in the Western Conference regarding team needs, pick positions, strategies, and possible good fits.
PICKS: Second Round – 46
FREE AGENTS: Dirk Nowitzki (player option), Deron Williams (player option), Chandler Parsons (player option), Raymond Felton, Zaza Pachulia, David Lee, Charlie Villanueva, Javale McGee, Dwight Powell (restricted)
TEAM NEEDS: Youth, Center, Point Guard
ADAM: Mark Cuban has never been one to put all his eggs on building through the draft in recent memory, if ever. Last year he spent his second-round pick on Santam Singh, who couldn’t qualify for the NCAA because of the marketing opportunities. I don’t see that this year, but I also don’t see anyone that can help them right away. Maybe a high energy guy like New Mexico State center Pascal Siakam can fall to them in the mid-second? He seems like a guy that teams might be willing to buy a second-round pick for.
ANDREW: It feels like every year Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks are more than willing to sacrifice a solid draft position in order to leave cap space on the table to sign that big time free agent that always seems to shun them. Last year, they had a first-round pick and got a good one in Justin Anderson, but his youth showed how badly the Mavericks need to tilt back into the draft. That won’t happen this year thanks to the Rajon Rondo trade with Boston, but they still have the 46th pick. Dallas absolutely needs a center, especially after the DeAndre Jordan fiasco and Pachulia being a free agent. Maybe they will consider China’s Zhou Qi, the tallest player in the draft, and hope he is more than just a publicity stunt this time. They already have a Canadian big man in Dwight Powell, so how about add another one in Siakam? Point guard is also a need, so maybe Kay Felder from Oakland would be nice.
PICKS: First Round – 7, 15, 19, Second Round – 53, 56
FREE AGENTS: D.J. Augustin, Joffrey Lauvergne (team option), Darrell Arthur (player option), Mike Miller
TEAM NEEDS: Best Player Available, Power Forward, Shooting
ADAM: Has Denver’s doormat status come to an end? The Nuggets have a formidable Center Euro triangle with Nikola Jokic, Josuf Nurkic, and Joffrey Lauvergne) and developing players at each position … and Wilson Chandler was out for the year. This is a seven-player draft, so they can’t really complain who they get with the seventh pick. With that said, their excitement level should be: Cal’s Jabari Brown, then Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, then Kentucky’s Jamal Murray, and then Providence’s Kris Dunn. Otherwise, in the first, they can take one of the developmentals, as they have that luxury (Skal Labissiere or Cheick Diallo) and maybe someone like Michigan State’s Dayonta Davis can fall into their lap at 15? I see a second-round Euro for sure, and with a team that has had great success with their overseas scouting department, I would keep an eye on whomever that is.
ANDREW: It almost feels like the Denver Nuggets are ahead of schedule on their roster reboot under GM Pete D’Alessandro and head coach Michael Malone, winning 33 games and staying in the playoff hunt longer than most imagined. They still have Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, along with some interesting prospects in Emanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris, but their calling card in the draft has been finding international talent like Nurkic and Jokic. They are set at small forward thanks to an inspired trade that got them Will Barton, who excelled last season, so now they have to improve their shooting and their man-to-man defense. They have three first-round picks to try to get this right, and I bet they will keep them all. Denver is in a good spot at No. 7 because it looks like one of the premier prospects between Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, or even Marquese Chriss will fall to them and they are certain to take the odd one out of the top six. Any of those above mentioned can fit in Denver, but Hield would be great for them because he can improve their poor shooting back court. I definitely expect a Euro to go here, so if Furkan Korkmaz is still there at number 15, the Nuggets can definitely use him for defense. I would not be shocked if they also took rising prospect Juan Hernangomez out of Spain, because they are somewhat bare at the 4 spot after Faried.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
PICKS: First Round – 30
FREE AGENTS: Harrison Barnes (restricted), Festus Ezeli (restricted), Mareese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo, Anderson Varejao
TEAM NEEDS: Center, Small Forward (if Barnes departs), Anti-depressants
ADAM: So what do the Golden State Warriors do with a stacked roster already and a developmental player from last year’s draft? Simple: Best player available. They’re going to spend most of their time in Santa Cruz anyway, so they can hope a player like Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin IV or Seton Hall’s Isaiah Whitehead falls so they can phase out Shaun Livingston. Maybe North Carolina’s Brice Johnson or Baylor’s Taureen Prince to replace Andre Iguodala? Maybe go for depth with a Stephen Zimmerman, Diamond Stone, Damian Jones, or Ben Bentil to replace Ezili, who will replace Andrew Bogut. They can pick anyone and it’s pretty much “Well, yeah. Okay.”
ANDREW: What a rough turnaround for GM Bob Meyers to make this pick four days after a mentally and emotionally draining postseason ended in the most nightmarish fashion for the Golden State Warriors. Even through last season and the upcoming decisions to make about free agents on a team that came within one win of what could have been the greatest single season of all-time, the Warriors do have a tendency to hold on to their first round picks. Last year, they picked up Kevon Looney from UCLA, and he sat injured and learned from the bench. With Ezeli and Speights possibly out, his number might get called just like James Michael McAdoo’s did at times this season. I would imagine the Warriors — if they don’t trade the pick for max cap room to make a big push in free agency — to pick a big man with some refined offensive game. The first two I think of who could be there at 30 are Providence’s Ben Bentil and Maryland’s Diamond Stone. Both players have struggled with rebounding at times but can score in different ways — Bentil with pick and pop, and Stone around the cylinder with brute force and soft touch.
PICKS: Second Round – 37, 43
FREE AGENTS: Dwight Howard (player option), Josh Smith, Terrence Jones (restricted), Jason Terry, Donatas Montiejunas (restricted), Michael Beasley (team option)
TEAM NEEDS: Defense, Center
ADAM: Oh, what to do with a team that’s a dumpster fire and whose big free agent acquisition couldn’t wait to get out of there and then hired a coach that is a bad fit for 95% of the roster? Either way, they need bodies to fill and Houston has been known to score with their second-round talent, so I think, given their history with the great land of China, maybe you take a flier on Zhou Qi and then maybe a spark plug like Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis could fall to them in round two?
ANDREW: Yikes. First of all, hiring Mike D’Antoni makes any decision by Daryl Morey seem suspect, but there has to be a game plan for the post-Dwight Howard era. Even if D’Antoni cannot coach defense, there needs to be an emphasis there in this draft, and Morey has done well with bigs by drafting Motrezl Harrell and Clint Capela in the past. Go back to the well at 37 with either Croatia’s Ivica Zubac or Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones if either one slips that far. A back-up point guard would be helpful too, as Jason Terry played way too many minutes for my liking. NC State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber and Oregon State’s Gary Payton II will be hanging around then.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
PICKS: First Round – 25, Second Round – 33
FREE AGENTS: Jamal Crawford, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers (player option), Wesley Johnson (player option), Cole Aldrich (player option), Luc Mbah a Moute, Pablo Prigioni
TEAM NEEDS: Small Forward, Rebounding
ADAM: The window is still open, but just a crack. Next year might be the last for the Clippers before the window closes for them, as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will opt out of their deals and J.J. Redick will be a free agent. So what do you do with two 32-year-old guards then? This might be the last time to contend, but the problem is that Doc Rivers the Coach has been resourceful, but Doc Rivers the GM has been a different story. Both of his signings last year (Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith) fizzled out and the bench is non-existent as Crawford, Green, Rivers, and Mbah a Moute are all free agents. Paul Pierce has nothing left in the tank. So, they really need bodies and they need to develop some young talent instead of getting veteran minimums. On one hand, you could take one of the Skal Labissiere, Thon Maker, or Cheick Diallo developmental routes as you sort of have the luxury to wait. But at the same time, you need someone to come in as injuries just killed the team. I think if Saint Joseph’s forward DeAndre Bembry and Wade Baldwin IV fall to them, they would be ecstatic as that provides some of the back court depth they’ve been sorely lacking.
ANDREW: Let’s start off with some truth telling: The Los Angeles Clippers have stunk with their draft picks since Doc Rivers has gotten there. Rivers has been a believer in finding help for his awful bench in L.A. with veterans and trades instead of trying to build up prospects like C.J. Wilcox or Reggie Bullock. It wouldn’t stun me, especially with how close they are to the cap, if they simply trade the 25th pick; but if they keep it, a good wing is a must. If Baylor’s Taureen Prince is there, he would a great glue guy at the three position for the Clippers instead of the creaky Pierce or the inadequate Wesley Johnson. They also need to improve their team rebounding, so no matter who they pick at 33, it needs to be somebody who can box out and get a little dirty. I sort of see that in Wayne Selden from Kansas, but he needs a motivator as a coach.
PICKS: First Round – 2, Second Round – 32
FREE AGENTS: Jordan Clarkson (restricted), Brandon Bass (player option), Roy Hibbert, Metta World Peace, Marcelo Huertas, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Tarik Black
TEAM NEEDS: Everything but Point Guard
ADAM: The Los Angeles Lakers used to be the No. 1 destination for NBA players. Hollywood, movies, celebrities, glitz and glamour, and yet the best free agents they could come up with last year were Brandon Bass and Lou Williams? There’s a difference between tanking like the Sixers and being just plain bad like the Lakers. Tanking is letting your horrible rookies play and learn from their mistakes, just plain bad is having your coach calling your No. 2 pick “spoiled,” and starting The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest over Larry Nance or Julius Randle just because. Well, good news is in a two-player draft, L.A. can get its cornerstone and with a top second round pick, the Lakers should get a cheap role player as well. So, the Lakers will take Duke small forward Brandon Ingram and a big, maybe Bentil, Stone, Jones, or Zimmerman; one of those late 20’s falling centers. If a project like Maker or Diallo falls, they will snatch one of them up quickly. They have the luxury to let them sit in the D-League for a few years.
ANDREW: Since Kobe Bryant went “Mamba Out” with a 60-point abomination to finish his career, the Lakers have totaled some small victories — from firing Byron Scott to keeping their lottery pick — by staying in the top three. They did not get the No. 1 pick overall, but No. 2 gives them plenty of options after de facto No. 1 prospect Ben Simmons is off the board. Small forward, in fact, is a great need for the Lakers (along with, well, a lot of other things after going 17-65), so it is happenstance that the next best prospect on the board after Simmons is a 6-9 small forward in Duke’s Brandon Ingram. Ingram is very different from Simmons (better shooter, not as good a passer, not as athletic), but the ceiling on Ingram is pretty high because you could switch him to the two spot sometimes and cause tons of mismatches on screens and kick outs. The Lakers were awful in so many ways, but shooting is a big deal too, so if they actually passed on Ingram, Jamal Murray would be a great plan B. For the 32nd pick, the Lakers are actually in decent shape. Luke Walton might want a shooters and they are losing Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert down low, so Providence’s Ben Bentil and Kansas’ Perry Ellis will be available by then.
PICKS: First Round – 17, Second Round – 57
FREE AGENTS: Mike Conley, Lance Stephenson (team option), Mario Chalmers, Matt Barnes, Chris Andersen, Jordan Farmar, P. J. Hairston
TEAM NEEDS: Point Guard (if Conley departs), Shooters
ADAM: Everyone sort of waited for the wheels to come off the Memphis wagon and this year it did. Everyone said they need shooting and their answer was, “No, we’re going to double down on ground and pound.” Last summer, they should have added shooting, and then they signed Brandan Wright and drafted a power forward. By the end of the fire, Xavier Munford was their starting point guard. At the end of the season, they had five guys 34 years of age or older. They jettisoned head coach Dave Joerger and now have to sort of hit a soft reset, but have not had the best of luck with the draft. The old Grizzlies definitely hope for Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis or Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, but that’s the old Grizzlies right? Every year, everyone says “Get a shooter!” and this year, maybe they can hope for Florida State shooting guard Malik Beasley, who could be that guy. Their other pick in the second round is super late, and that’s usually Euro time, but I say if Oakland point guard Kay Fielder is still around, scoop him up.
ANDREW: Out goes one Dave, and in comes another, as Dave Joerger was fired as the head coach after a merciful four-game sweep in the first round, and former Miami Heat assistant Dave Fizdale gets a crack at some Grit ‘N Grind. It does seem, however, that the roster will be getting some serious grinding before Fizdale even gets a shot at coaching them. Conley is one of the most sought-after free agents this summer, and time is running out on Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. It’s hard to judge that triage unit of a playoff roster that Memphis had due to injuries, but if Fizdale sticks with defense like I am thinking, I can see Memphis going with a point guard at 17 to avoid situations like Xavier Munford and Briante Weber starting games. You can take your pick between Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson and Kentucky’s Tyler Ulis in this case, but both are leaders and would provide on both ends. If they want shooting in the second round, I would consider Iona’s A.J. English or Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije at 57.
PICKS: First Round – 5
FREE AGENTS: Tayshaun Prince, Damjan Rudez (team option)
TEAM NEEDS: Shooting, Defense
ADAM: Another year, another lottery pick for the Wolves. It almost sounds like a broken record at this point. The difference is that this year they are getting logjams due to all their high first-round picks. So what should the Wolves hope for this year? I’m going to say the best case for them is that Oklahoma shooting guard Buddy Hield slips to them because this could help them with two things: shooting and leadership. I don’t think they’re going to find that with any of the other top prospects. Hield allows them to move Zach LaVine to play point if the choose to move Ricky Rubio … or they still have Rubio. With Hield and fellow Rookie of the Year winners Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the mix, who needs him to shoot?
ANDREW: Tom Thibodeau comes in after a year-long sabbatical to become the new head coach and president of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that lost plenty of games but won a lot more than they did the previous season (A 13-game improvement from 2014-15 season). Thibs has a superstar anchor down low in Karl-Anthony Towns, along with a future superstar in Andrew Wiggins at small forward. If the Wolves score on this fifth-overall pick (their only pick), don’t be surprised if by 2017, fans will be calling Minnesota the next great team. The Wolves were near the bottom of the league in three-point shooting and I doubt that will change under the hard-nosed, defensively-minded Thibodeau, whose teams rarely take threes. That is why many see Providence’s Kris Dunn, the best defensive guard in the draft, as a potential choice if he is available. As with any Dunn discussion, Jamal Murray is right there because he would become the best shooter on Minnesota’s team overnight, while Dunn’s shooting is his Achilles heel. What might win it for Dunn, however, is that he is also a very good rebounding guard, and Minny was second-to-last in team rebounding, despite the presence of Towns. I simply don’t see Dragan Bender being picked here; but then again, Thibodeau was in love with Nikola Mirotic in Chicago, and Bender is basically a younger, more athletic Mirotic.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
PICKS: First Round – 6, Second Round – 39, 40
FREE AGENTS: Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Norris Cole, Kendrick Perkins, James Ennis, Tim Frazier, Toney Douglas, Luke Babbitt (team option), Alonzo Gee (player option)
TEAM NEEDS: Wing, Rebounding, Shooting Guard
ADAM: This is a seven-player draft with a top two and then a five-player second tier. So they really can’t lose here. Of those five players, four of them fit needs and the fifth player, big man Dragan Bender, should be gone by the time NO picks. So, in order of most-excited-to-land to least, I would rank them: Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, and Jabari Brown. However, the Pelicans can’t lose with any of those. With their two high second-round picks, they need to target a rebounding big man like Maryland’s Diamond Stone or UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman or Providence’s Ben Bentil or Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, one of the many falling centers, and then Isiah Whitehead or Tyler Ulis, depending upon who they get in the first.
ANDREW: At the No. 6 spot, the Pelicans have their first lottery pick since they had two in 2012 (The first one was perennial All-Star Anthony Davis … and the other was Austin Rivers). New Orleans struggled under new head coach Alvin Gentry, as pushing the offense only made them less efficient on both ends, while the injury curse continued to haunt them as the starters missed more games than any other team in the league. You can’t draft health, but the Pels can go in a lot of directions here. A true small forward is needed, so Jaylen Brown from Cal actually plugs in nicely for them. If Jamal Murray falls to this spot, the Pelicans would be crazy to pass him up because he gives them the three-point shooter they are losing in free agency with both Anderson and Gordon possibly out of the door. Even Dragan Bender as a stretch four would be a good fit for Gentry’s system, but I see Brown, Murray, or Buddy Hield being picked here. The Pelicans also have back-to-back picks in the second round, and they need to improve their defense inside. If Chinanu Onuaku or Brice Johnson are on the board, I would not hesitate to pick either of them if I were GM Dell Demps.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
FREE AGENTS: Kevin Durant, Dion Waiters (restricted), Randy Foye, Nazr Muhammed
TEAM NEEDS: Shooting Guard, Three-Point Shooting, Better Fourth Quarters
ADAM: This is the team that drafted Kentucky standout Dakari Johnson last year (Wow, imagine how much better UK would have been last year?) where he made the All D-League rookie team! They also drafted Josh Huestis in the first round two years ago. So, let’s just say maybe don’t buy a pick and worry about re-signing Durant.
ANDREW: Mine will be just as brief as Adam’s because although Sam Presti has proven his worth with draft picks like Andre Roberson and Steven Adams, there is simply no room with the Durant sweepstakes to take on a rookie contract. If they felt the need to get a rookie, another three-point shooter like Florida State’s Malik Beasley could work, but there is simply no time now for development in OKC. If Durant stays, the roster is already locked, loaded, and knuckling up for next season.
PICKS: First Round – 4, 13, 28, Second Round – 34
FREE AGENTS: Mirza Teletovic, Jon Leuer, Ronnie Price, Chase Budinger, Cory Jefferson
TEAM NEEDS: Small Forward, Power Forward, Defense
ADAM: Phoenix overachieved a few years ago, thanks to its guard play. The Suns then doubled down by signing Isiah Thomas, and it blew up in their faces. They traded away both Thomas and Goran Dragic, then doubled down again (!) by trading for Brandon Knight and it blew up in their face tenfold. The owner threw the team under the bus, everyone sold out everyone else, head coach Jeff Hornacek’s top two assistants got fired because they were inefficient, and then he was fired for being inefficient too! Earl Watson gets promoted by default, and the Suns then signed the corpse of Tyson Chandler for four years. Phoenix used to be a wonderland for the older player. Elder statesmen like Shaq, Grant Hill, and Steve Nash all somehow found the fountain of youth in Arizona, but somehow it has alluded Chandler, who had his worst season since 2009-10. One glimmer of hope, fortunately, is Devon Booker. I’ve been writing the best case scenario for everyone, but for Phoenix, the WORST case would be taking another guard. The good news is that by picking at No. 4, they’re going to get either Dragan Bender or Jaylen Brown, but the Suns need to put on their poker faces. Yes, both guys fill needs, but they can’t fall in love with one of the two since Boston is going to try to sell either Bender or Brown to the highest bidder. So, you can’t go all in on the Bender train only for the Celtics to trade down to a team ready to swipe him up. Nevertheless, just stay away from the guards and all will be well. For the other picks, they need to fill out depth or go for broke. So, Brown/Bender at No. 4, followed maybe by Skal Labissiere at 13, and Ben Bentil or DeAndre Bembry at No. 28 (depending what is done earlier) and a high Euro (“Juancho” Hernangomez or France’s Guerschon Yabusele?) at No. 34. The Suns are looking up, but they need not rush to hasty decisions like they have over the past few years.
ANDREW: I honestly think Adam hit the nail on the head with the Phoenix Suns putting themselves in this position with some sketchy trades and signings that cut the team off before they could really soar under Jeff Hornacek. Now, Earl Watson is in charge, and they are staring down any player who has “forward” in their résumé. The only forwards under contract for the Suns are P.J. Tucker and T.J. Warren, and the Tucker experiment as a starter has floundered. Jaylen Brown will be the next best small forward available, but Dragan Bender can give them the 7-1 foreign wunderkind they were blanked out on previously with Alex Len. The problem with their guard play (which does include two studs in Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker) is that they are low on assists, so Phoenix has to find facilitators in other positions. If Bender can provide that off the dribble, he would be a safer pick over Brown. There is a lot of chatter about Washington’s Marquese Chriss going here, which makes sense because they lack athleticism at the four spot, which means the Suns would need to find a good wing with the 13th or 28th pick. Timothé Luwawu from France might be a good gamble since you still have that 28th pick to get a Juan Hernangomez or DeAndre Bembry.
FREE AGENTS: Allen Crabbe, Gerald Henderson, Moe Harkless (restricted), Meyers Leonard (restricted), Chris Kaman, Brian Roberts
TEAM NEEDS: Stopper, Power Forward
ADAM: Portland does not have a draft pick this year, which is sort of a an anomaly for a team that was supposed to be building for the future. But needless to say, the Trail Blazers did stock up on cheap assets last year and have former top high-school recruit Cliff Alexander, community-college wonder Luis Montero, and college veteran Pat Connaughton on the roster, and they have young talent such as Harkless, Crabbe, and Leonard whom they need to make roster decisions on. So if they were to purchase a pick, I would expect them to get a big Euro like Andrey Desyatnikov from Russia or Gracin Bakumanya from the Congo, maybe?
ANDREW: The Blazers are in a similar position to the Detroit Pistons in the East, but with two key differences: Portland has had more recent playoff success and Detroit still has draft picks. I don’t see a reason for Portland to rattle the cages with its young lineup, led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, unless they feel the need for a defensive player at the power forward position to go with Al-Farouq Aminu in the front court.
PICKS: First Round – 8, Second Round – 59
FREE AGENTS: Rajon Rondo, Seth Curry (player option), Quincy Acy (player option), Caron Butler (player option)
TEAM NEEDS: “3-and-D” Player, Point Guard
ADAM: Sacramento has two major problems going for them: one is the the obvious disaster the Kings have in the front office, while the second is that they are picking eighth in a seven-player draft. Sacramento has become the L.A. Clippers of the 90’s and Cleveland of the 2000’s: Basketball Purgatory. Go there, play out your contract, and leave. Say what you want about George Karl and his disastrous stay there, but he did manage to get those ragtag players to 30 wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season (ouch). So what can they hope for in the draft? They need bodies. They only have eight players on contract for next year. Their current starting back court for next year is Darren Collison and Marco Belinelli, which is … not … good. The best case scenario would be for Buddy Hield to somehow fall to No. 7, but that might be too much of a slip, and with a more realistic best case scenario would be if Kris Dunn falls to them. With their second-round pick being the second-to-last, it’s really a crapshoot, but I would look at players like Wayne Selden out of Kansas and Sheldon McClellan out of Miami. Between bad luck (Ben McLemore, Thomas Robinson) and bad decisions (“Sauce Castillo,” Jimmer Fredette), I don’t think there’s a team that needs a home run more than the Kings do.
ANDREW: I have a sinking feeling that no matter what they do in the draft, the Sacramento Kings are somehow going to screw it up. I don’t want to be that negative, but they have kind of earned it. No matter who is calling the shots, between owner Vivek Ranadive, GM Vlade Divac, or disgruntled superstar DeMarcus Cousins, there always seems to be a hang-up with their pick. This year, it’s the fact that the Denver Nuggets are in the cat-bird seat of taking one of the upper-tier prospects that falls out of the top six, with the poor Kings praying that one of them falls past No. 7. I still like Willie Cauley-Stein, so hopefully fortunes are turning for Sacramento. but they need more than just luck this time. Even with Rudy Gay there, Ben McLemore is not cutting it at small forward. Jaylen Brown played at Cal and has a lot of interest as a pure slasher, but the Kings have been snakebitten when it comes to selecting wing players in the past. A defensive presence in the paint alongside Cousins would not hurt, so they might seriously consider Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis or Utah’s Jakob Poeltl here, as well. My gut, however, says Brown will be the pick. The 59th pick is the second-to-last one, so if they can find a decent point guard like Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet, it will at least be a helping hand in the event Rondo leaves in free agency.
PICKS: First Round – 29
FREE AGENTS: Manu Ginobili (player option), Tim Duncan (player option), David West (player option), Kevin Martin, Johnathan Simmons (team option), Andre Miller, Matt Bonner
TEAM NEEDS: Athleticism, Center, Point Guard
ADAM: Three words: Best Euro available.
ANDREW: To the shock of no one, my entry will be longer than Adam’s. Although the M.O. of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich’s has always been to go with an international player they can stash with their first rounders, the 67-15 Spurs do have some immediate needs. They were killed athletically by the Thunder in the playoffs, and franchise icon Duncan might have one foot out of the door already. Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy would be a great fit there. The Spurs love players with high basketball IQ’s, so Saint Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry or Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon might be good fits, but I would go with an athletic wing like Miami’s Sheldon McClellan who can make threes and jump out of the gym. But knowing the Spurs, they’ll probably just take Petr Cornelie and call it a night.
PICKS: Second Round – 42, 52, 60
FREE AGENTS: Shelvin Mack (team option), Trevor Booker, Chris Johnson
TEAM NEEDS: Point Guard, Shooting
ADAM: The Jazz are in the same boat as Orlando and Minnesota: Too many draft picks over the years, no room on the team for all of them. They have young players at pretty much every position and they just need to let them develop. They overachieved on defense last year, and only really need to get more offense So, who needs to fall to them in order for them to think, “Okay, we won’t just draft Furkan Korkmaz and stash him overseas for a year or two”? I have no clue. They could use a big off the bench and local product Jakob Poetl fits, but that’s way too high for a lottery pick who’s not going to get a ton of minutes. They could reach for Washington’s Dejounte Murray or Syracuse’s Malachi Ricardson since they have the luxury of letting them sit for a year. As for Utah’s second-round picks, I expect those picks to either be sold or go international. This might be the toughest one to forecast.
ANDREW: The Utah Jazz are the only team so far in this preview that has shopped their lottery pick on draft week, dealing the No. 12 pick in a three-way deal to Atlanta in exchange for veteran point guard George Hill. The last time Hill was traded for a draft pick, that turned out to be Kawhi Leonard, so let’s hope Utah doesn’t have a similar regret. But with the first round being bypassed by Utah, they do have three second-round picks, and shooting or offensive firepower is a must. Paul Zipser from Germany has potential offensively as a small forward, and anything that keeps Joe Ingles off the floor in tight games might be a great idea. Another player who has impressed in workouts is Buddy Hield’s Oklahoma teammate Isaiah Cousins. His long frame at point guard and work ethic would be a great fit in Utah in case they trade Trey Burke and/or Dante Exum is slow to recover from knee injury. He should be around at No. 52. For the 60th and final pick, go international with Greek big man Georgios Papagiannis. The last time they took a big man from a foreign country, it did not work too badly for the Jazz; they got Rudy Gobert.
And with that, we’ll wrap our NBA Draft preview. The waiting is all but over and we’ll see what happens tonight at the Barclays Center!