NBA Team Needs: Southwest Division

NBA Team Needs: Southwest Division
Jun 24, 2008, 11:02 pm
An in-depth look at the roster situations of San Antonio, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, and Memphis--what they have, where they are going and who are the players that may be targeted in this upcoming draft.

NBA Team Needs: Northwest Division
NBA Team Needs: Southeast Division
NBA Team Needs: Central Division
NBA Team Needs: Atlantic Division
NBA Team Needs: Pacific Division

Dallas Mavericks (51-31 in 2007-08)

Draft Picks: No. 51

Depth Chart:

PG: Jason Kidd / Jose Juan Barea* / Tyronn Lue*
SG: Jason Terry / Eddie Jones* / Antoine Wright*
SF: Josh Howard / Jerry Stackhouse / Devean George*
PF: Dirk Nowitzki / Brandon Bass / Malik Allen*
C: Erick Dampier / Juwan Howard* / Jamaal Magloire*

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Center, Shooting Guard, Point Guard

Bottom line: The Mavericks took a small step back this season, while a handful of teams in the Western Conference collectively took a step ahead of them. Trading for Jason Kidd was a gutsy move that may not pay off until next season. It is tough to say whether Kidd will begin to mesh better with his teammates or begin the physical decline that he’s been able to avoid for the last few seasons. Mark Cuban loves a competitor, and will give Donnie Nelson the green light to make the move necessary to put Rick Carlisle in position to lead this team to a championship. There could be wholesale changes in store.

Draft outlook: The Mavericks have fallen in love with lottery players before and it is possible, but not probable, that they will do it again. Dallas has some nice assets, but they aren’t comparable to those that they used to trade up for Devin Harris. Ultimately, Dallas will probably wind up using their second-round pick and then exploring the trade market after the draft is complete. At 51, there won’t be that many exciting players left on the board. Mantas Kalnietis or Goran Dragic are two European point guards they can stash overseas for a few season, while Semih Erden can be left to develop at the center position. It is very possible that Donnie Nelson will move the pick on draft day if he doesn’t like the talent available.

Houston Rockets (55-27 in 2007-08)

Draft Picks: No. 25, No. 54

Depth Chart:

PG: Rafer Alston / Bobby Jackson / Aaron Brooks
SG: Tracy McGrady / Luther Head / Steve Francis
SF: Shane Battier / Steve Novak* / Mike Harris*
PF: Luis Scola / Chuck Hayes* / Carl Landry*
C: Yao Ming / Dikembe Mutombo* / Loren Woods

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Power Forward, Point Guard, Depth

Bottom line: It was a wild ride for the Rockets this season. From an improbable winning-streak to an early playoff exit, 2008 was exciting despite its early finish. With a solid lineup that survived Yao Ming’s absence for a large portion of the season, Houston may not be an elite Western Conference team, but they are certainly competitive. Without a lot of cap space, the Rockets will rely heavily on Daryl Morey’s savvy to land them a steal in the draft. More than anything, though, this is a team that just needs to stay healthy.

Draft outlook: The Rockets want to compete, and their first-round pick may be included in a trade to land the team a legitimate third-option. Should the team choose not to trade the pick in an attempt at competing, they’ll apparently be looking to shore up themselves up on the wing, where they don’t seem to have great depth. With Brandon Rush long gone, Courtney Lee might be the best overall fit here—as his defensive skills, passing, mid-range shot and basketball IQ would all be helpful in the Rockets’ current lineup. Courtney Lee is another player the Rockets will probably look at. Considering Yao Ming’s injury history and Dikembe Mutombo’s advanced age, it might not be a bad idea to take advantage of this draft’s depth at the center position to try and land someone who provide productive minutes down the road. Devon Hardin could add athleticism and defensive intensity to Houston’s front line. Roy Hibbert would also be a nice fit, although he might not be available. Late in the second round, the Rockets are likely to take the best player available—maybe an international player they can stash overseas for the next few years.

Memphis Grizzlies (22-60 in 2007-08)

Draft Picks: No. 5, No. 28

Depth Chart:

PG: Mike Conley / Kyle Lowry / Javaris Crittenton
SG: Mike Miller /
SF: Rudy Gay / Casey Jacobsen*
PF: Hakim Warrick / Kwame Brown* / Brian Cardinal / Andre Brown*
C: Darko Milicic / Jason Collins

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Center, Shooting Guard, Power Forward, Depth

Bottom line: It isn’t easy to rebuild in a division featuring four 50-win teams, but Memphis is making a run at it. The package they received for Pau Gasol was questionable at best, but will only be viewed that way temporarily if the team improves substantially over the next two seasons. Though that might not look incredibly likely with the way things look at this moment, Chris Wallace has assembled a team with a lot of potential. Marc Iavoroni’s offense will allow the Grizzlies to use their athleticism to their advantage, and they’ll have the chance to add a player that can flourish in that system in the draft. How much this team’s owner is willing to spend in one of the toughest markets in the NBA may be the biggest key for the Grizzlies moving forward.

Draft outlook: The Grizzlies selection may be the turning point of the draft. The team has a number of needs, and will have even more if they consummate any trade including Mike Miller. Memphis would jump at the chance to jump up and pick Michael Beasley or maybe even O.J. Mayo, but probably won’t get that chance. After the two players they covet, they’ll almost certainly take the hardest look at Kevin Love. Love might not look like a player who has incredible value at 5, but once you break down his game, you realize just how many things he can bring a team with his rebounding, passing, shooting, and overall skill-level. He would actually be a great fit in Memphis’ system, as his ability to clean the glass, ignite the break and space the floor from the perimeter will help make all his teammates better. However, O.J. Mayo may be viewed the player that Memphis needs to push its rebuilding process to the next stage. Selecting Mayo would also allow Wallace to trade Mike Miller, something that has been thrown around in the media all season. With their late first-rounder, Memphis could very well target a shooting guard who looks like he can bring versatility to the table—such as Courtney Lee. The Grizzlies might have to move up to select him, and there are indeed talks that they will do just that by trading with Denver. There could be some big men with potential still lingering around this pick—someone like Serge Ibaka would probably fit the bill quite well and wouldn’t involve much risk at all.

New Orleans Hornets (56-26 in 2007-08)

Draft Picks: No. 27

Depth Chart:

PG: Chris Paul / Jannero Pargo*
SG: Morris Peterson / Mike James
SF: Peja Stojakovic / Bonzi Wells* / Rasual Butler
PF: David West / Julian Wright / Ryan Bowen*
C: Tyson Chandler / Melvin Ely / Hilton Anderson* / Chris Andersen

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Shooting Guard, Depth

Bottom line: New Orleans is one of the best put together teams in the NBA. Despite the questions marks that surrounded some of the signings when they made them, everything has come together perfectly. Chris Paul is the main reason for that, as he makes everything work for the Hornets. He proved to be a transcendent talent this offseason, and may be able to carry New Orleans into the finals in the near future. It seems entirely likely that the Hornets use their draft pick to begin to add young talent to their already competitive roster.

Draft outlook: The Hornets will be taking the best player available at 27—maybe a wing if things work out as expected. Brandon Rush, Chris Douglas-Roberts or Courtney Lee may be the most talented available at that point if any of them slide (CDR is the most likely), and also fill a definite need with the inconsistency the Hornets suffered at the shooting guard position at times. Each player could step in and handle some minutes in New Orleans’s backcourt rotation and offer some of the qualities that Byron Scott loves in his players. If none of them are there, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens will receive strong consideration as well. There are rumors that the Hornets have promised to select Mario Chalmers if he drops this far, and that makes sense as he has all the makings of a solid backup PG. Jeff Bower will have a lot of work to do, since the Hornets lack any truly dire needs and will be able to draft anyone on the board. They decided not to conduct many workouts this year, so it will be interesting to see how things play out.

San Antonio Spurs (56-26 in 2007-08)

Draft pick: No. 26, No. 45, No. 57

Depth Chart:

PG: Tony Parker / Jacque Vaughn / Damon Stoudamire*
SG: Manu Ginobili / Michael Finley* / Brent Barry
SF: Bruce Bowen / Ime Udoka / DerMarr Johnson*
PF: Tim Duncan / Robert Horry* / Matt Bonner
C: Fabricio Oberto / Kurt Thomas*/ Ian Mahinmi

*Potential free agent

Could use help at: Center, Small Forward

Bottom line: This Spurs team is battle tested and will remain in the mix for a championship until Tim Duncan starts to slow down. R.C. Buford has built a fantastic group, and will use this draft to try and prepare for the future—which is approaching faster than ever. He’ll do his best to keep his free agent role players around, but may need to dip into free agency to fill the remaining spots. The Spurs seem to run like clockwork, and whoever they fail to retain will be seamlessly replaced. However, it would be beneficial for them to start stashing some additional young talent on their bench, as the loss of last year’s draft pick Tiago Splitter hurt, and they don’t have as many assets as many of their counterparts around the league.

Draft outlook: There is one player in the first-round that seems to really stand out as a ‘Spurs type of player.’ Courtney Lee has the talent, versatility, and demeanor that Gregg Popovich gets from his veteran role players. If Lee isn’t available, Chris Douglas-Roberts would also be an ideal pick. Ryan Anderson is also a possibility, as he brings a few qualities (toughness, skill-level, basketball IQ) that make him attractive here. It’s almost inevitable that the Spurs will move one of their second rounders. Buford may opt to add a future pick if there isn’t a player on the board that he’s interested in. Should the Spurs keep their pick, they may pick up an “older” player like Malik Hairston, Trent Plaisted or Pat Calathes. Maarty Leunen is another possibility. Each of those players would provide an additional body in practice with the potential to be a system role player in the future.

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