NBA Draft 2020: Southwest Division Team Needs
The NBA’s Southwest Division had a relatively good season last year, sending two teams to the NBA playoffs, and the ones that missed it were only a couple games shy.
The Houston Rockets are expected to undergo more changes this offseason after the firing of head coach Mike D’Antoni and GM Daryl Morey. It is looking increasingly likely that Houston will ship both of their stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden within the next few months.
The Dallas Mavericks are one of the youngest up-and-coming teams in the NBA. Mark Cuban definitely has another superstar on his hands in Luka Doncic, who NBA athletes will be dying to play with.
The New Orleans Pelicans are yet another intriguing but young team in this division. Last season, they shipped out the best player they have had in years with Anthony Davis. But they now have Zion Williamson, one of the brightest young stars this game has to offer. With the emergence of the most Improved Player of the Year last season in Brandon Ingram, as well as Lonzo Ball, who still has more room to grow, New Orleans should be a threat this season.
The Spurs may also soon be shipping out their star player in Demar DeRozan. Gregg Popovich’s group always tends to play better than how they look on paper. The Spurs almost made a run at the No. 8 seed last year, but they have the most draft needs heading into Wednesday night.
While the Pelicans get the pleasure of running their franchise through Williamson, Memphis also hit the jackpot, selecting Murray State’s Ja Morant with their 2019 first-round selection. Morant was unbelievable last season with amazing highlight-reel finishes and unreal dunk attempts. Like the Pelicans, Memphis also has a young talent that many think has a chance to be one of the greats.
With all that hype being said about this division, there are still team needs that have to be filled in order for each team to compete in the Western Conference.
Dallas Mavericks: Defensively reliable guard / athletic two-way forward
We all know that the Mavericks are going to run their offense through the strengths of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but for Mark Cuban to snag a defensive guard to compliment Doncic would be a big step for this roster. Picking 18th overall on Wednesday night, the Mavericks could flirt with the idea of taking a guard like Tyrese Maxey, R.J. Hampton, Tre Jones or Cassius Winston.
The teams of the NBA seem to be collecting more two-way forwards than ever on their rosters right now. The Mavericks have more forwards with size and strength like Porzingis and Dwight Powell. But Dallas is going to need more help with defense on the perimeter, as well as providing shooters on the wings for Doncic. There are three guys that the Mavericks cannot pass up when addressing this need at pick No. 18: Patrick Williams, Saddiq Bey and Issac Okoro.
Houston Rockets: No more small ball!
At the end of their playoff run this season, the Rockets were using Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker as their primary big men. They were exposed defensively during their series against the Lakers, in which they were not able to control Anthony Davis whatsoever.
Houston needs a center more than anything, and it would be difficult to see them pass on one in their draft. Even though the Rockets’ prior regime gave away their draft capital, it would be no surprise to see them buy their way back into this draft, especially if they find a way to ship both Harden and Westbrook. Expect Houston to get some type of pick for Wednesday night that would most likely be a center or a forward with size.
San Antonio Spurs: Consistent scoring to replace aging superstars
Unfortunately, the consistent theme of winning seems to be coming to an end in San Antonio. They need to get as many assets as possible in both this draft and future drafts to help bring back dominant Spurs basketball.
The problem with the Spurs currently is that too many of their building blocks have been inconsistent. Both Lonnie Walker IV and Derrick White have shown flashes of brilliance, but at the same time, neither has proved that they are becoming a lead option. San Antonio needs more players who can be reliable from distance. If they have a shot at Devin Vassell, Saddiq Bey or Aaron Nesmith, expect the Spurs to take one of them.
New Orleans Pelicans: Combo guard to replace Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday will be in a different uniform next season, as New Orleans shipped him to Milwaukee on Monday. The Pelicans will need a guard that can both control the offense when Williamson takes breaks and can score off Ball and the other facilitators that the Pelicans have.
New Orleans has one of the best young cores in the NBA. With the 13th overall pick in the draft, the Pelicans have a chance to cement that young core with a second-tier combo guard. A player that they might want to keep in mind is Cole Anthony. Anthony has the ability to both score from outside and handle the ball as a lead guard. He could be a very productive pro that can help replace the production of Holiday, as well as add some competition for Ball at the point guard position.
Memphis Grizzlies: More perimeter threats
It was surprising to many to see that Dillon Brooks was the Grizzlies’ leading shot taker at 14.6 attempts per game last year. For Memphis to remain competitive in a loaded Western Conference, it is going to need to find more scoring to compliment Morant and Brooks.
The Grizzlies are full of young, scrappy players with raw talent that could possibly lead them in the right direction. That being said, in this NBA, you need at least three players who can be a consistent threat to score the basketball if you want to win games. Like many other teams in this division, Memphis needs more scoring from the perimeter. Memphis will look to add more pieces both through the draft and free agency.
Even though it will be difficult for the Grizzlies to get back into the first round since the Boston Celtics own their pick, it won’t be impossible. If they are unable to get any new additions to their young team, it will be tough for the Grizzlies to stay in contention in a loaded Western Conference.
Sam Kirk is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Sam Kirk is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is a writer and podcaster for the CommRadio sports department. He is also featured weekly in the CommRadio news department on Thursday newcasts. Sam has written articles all across the board that deal with baseball, football and basketball. He is also working for a football media company called Inside the Hashes, writing articles, interviewing players and contributing to their YouTube channel.