NBA Draft Team Needs: Southwest Division
The 2020 NBA Draft is upon us. The NBA's version of Christmas morning will take place over several hours on November 18th as teams take their chances on new, young players to help them build for the present and future.
And just like how every kid doesn't want the same new toy, not every team needs the same players. Each team has a specific set of holes on its roster, and will approach its draft pick(s) accordingly. Some will be looking for immediate help, some for long-term upside, and many a combination of both.
While our own Joe Makar takes care of the Eastern Conference teams, I'll be outlining what holes need to be filled on western Conference rosters. The Northwest needs dropped on Monday and the Pacific on Wednesday, which means it's time for the Southwest division.
Luka Doncic's ideal backcourt buddy would be able to defend opposing lead ball handlers while spacing the floor on offense. The Patrick Beverley's of the world come to mind.
They know this is a need, evidenced by the acquisition of Delon Wright last summer, but that didn't work out. At their draft slot of 18th overall, guys like RJ Hampton, Josh Green and Tyrese Maxey come to mind.
Every team could use one of these. Wing bodies who don't hurt you on either end are integral to a championship team, and the Mavericks would be wise to add one while they still have the flexibility to do so.
The draft may be their cheapest way to fill this need too. Patrick Williams and Saddiq Bey are mocked slightly higher than 18 should they look to trade up, but Desmond Bane, Jaden McDaniels and Tyler Bey expect to be available if they stand pat.
In case you haven't heard, the Rockets' deployment of centers last year was a bit unorthodox. Robert Covington and PJ Tucker soaked up nearly all minutes at the 5 as the front office opted for spacing and switchability over rim protection.
Then the Lakers happened, and Houston's model was crushed. Anthony Davis at center is a nightmare for most teams, especially those with no one over 6'8". Houston needs someone who can bang with the bigs again; it doesn't have to be a big name, but it has to be someone legit.
In the background of Harden's prime, the new Rockets' front office needs to play the long game. Their asset cupboard is as empty as can be, and Harden's days in Houston may be numbered. The front office needs to prepare for a rebuild.
They may actually be able to kill two birds with one stone this offseason. Philly is looking to move on from center Al Horford, and draft compensation expects be attached to his albatross contract.
The most direct way to say this is "someone better than Dillon Brooks." Brooks is not a bad player, but he was their leading shot taker on a per-game basis (14.6 field goal attempts a night). That can't be the case in 2021.
Unfortunately it'll be tough for Memphis to address this need in the draft. Their only pick is 40th overall, because their first round pick belongs to the Boston Celtics. With that pick, other needs can be satisfied.
This need is also on the roster—so long as the Grizzlies can keep him around. De'Anthony Melton was a menace defensively last season, wreaking havoc in a specialized bench role that was more than effective for this upstart squad.
But now it's time to pay him. As a restricted free agent he doesn't expect to get a huge payday from someone else, but Memphis should make it a priority to retain him. Otherwise they have to replace him, which won't be easy at 40th overall.
New Orleans Pelicans
Rumors have swirled around a Jrue Holiday trade for quite some time, and now there's concrete reporting that New Orleans is shopping him. What he garners in a trade is probably just youth and picks, which the Pelicans will gladly take, but that would also leave a hole in their offensive hierarchy.
This draft class isn't the best one to fill such a need, nor is the 13th overall slot; the Tyrese Maxey's, Tyrell Terry's and Cole Anthony's of the world all come with warts. But if given the right environment, which New Orleans seems to have, one of those guys could pop.
The Pelicans have plenty of good players and good young players. But do they have that true cornerstone yet? Zion Williamson was dominant when on the court, but his rookie season was bookended by injuries to where he only appeared in 24 contests.
And even if he is the real deal, New Orleans will need another pillar next to him. Poaching a high-level scoring guard would be a nice marriage of both of NOLA's needs, but it may have to move up in the draft—or out of it entirely—to make that happen.
San Antonio Spurs
The league's worst kept secret is that the Spurs are heading for a rebuild. The Kawhi Leonard trade was the beginning of the end, and now the end of the end is near. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge can both be free agents after next season, and committing to either of them long-term doesn't make sense just to push for the 8 seed.
To make matters worse, none of San Antonio's youngsters are true building blocks. Lonnie Walker IV looks like a legit scorer at times, but also looks like more of a change-of-pace guy than a lead option. Derrick White was a good fit as a ceiling-raiser on the contending Spurs of yesteryear; his next extension may be worthless on a rebuilding team, especially since Dejounte Murray is already locked up.
The Spurs' outlook isn't completely dark, but they'll need to push the right buttons to leapfrog the mediocrity treadmill. Swinging for the fences with their pick (11th overall) is a good start.