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NBA Team Pre-Draft Needs - Southwest Division

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The draft remains the cheapest and smartest way to build a team, though (assuming the GM knows what he's doing), and the past few seasons have seen large numbers of rookies contributing immediately. Some (including DraftExpress) have called this year's draft extremely strong, so that trend should continue. When evaluating team needs, I'll look at who will/will not be under contract next season, as well as the team's recent draft history. Any contract information I use comes from ShamSports. The previous divisions can be found here: Atlantic/Pacific/Central/Northwest/Southeast

We've finally come to the end, the final division.  Unlike the last two, the majority of teams here missed the playoffs, but overall I think everyone's in decent shape for next season.  New Orleans will have a healthy Chris Paul to go along with Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison for a dynamite backcourt (plus David West et al.).  Houston may have Yao Ming in the middle once again.  Memphis made some real strides this year under coach Lionel Hollins, they just need Zach Randolph to repeat his performance.  Add to that San Antonio, who we're still supposed to be on the lookout for, and Dallas, who will do everything they can to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki, and this could be a formidable division once again.  But, of course, it all starts with the draft.

New Orleans Hornets [picks: lottery (0.8% chance at #1)]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Chris Paul/Darren Collison
SG: Marcus Thornton/Morris Peterson
SF: Peja Stojakovic (Early Termination)/James Posey/Julian Wright
PF: David West/Darius Songaila (Early Termination)
C: Emeka Okafor/Songaila/Aaron Gray (Qualifying Offer)

Recent draft picks: PG Darren Collison (2009 1st round); F Darrell Arthur, 2008 1st round; F Julian Wright (2007 1st round); SG Adam Haluska (2007 2nd round)

The Hornets actually have a little less roster flexibility than I expected, but they still have some areas of need.  Some more athleticism and shotblocking up front would be welcome, and the Hornets were in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency.  The former should help the latter, I would think, particularly since the Hornets allowed the third-highest field goal percentage at the rim and sixth-highest within 10 feet (via Hoopdata).

Needs: Someone who can jump higher than Darius Songolia, which is everyone in the draft, and also everyone reading this.

Memphis Grizzlies [picks: lottery (0.7% chance at #1), 25, 28]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Mike Conley/Lester Hudson (Unguaranteed)
SG: O.J. Mayo/Sam Young/Ronnie Brewer (Qualifying Offer)
SF: Rudy Gay (Qualifying Offer)/DeMarre Carroll/Young
PF: Zach Randolph/Darrell Arthur
C: Marc Gasol/Hamed Haddadi/Hasheem Thabeet

Recent draft picks: C Hasheem Thabeet (2009 1st round); F DeMarre Carroll (2009 1st round); G/F Sam Young (2009 2nd round); PF Kevin Love (2008 1st round); F/C Donte Greene (2008 1st round); PG Mike Conley (2007 1st round)

This will be the last year on Conley's rookie deal, and he's never had a PER above 14.3 (15 is the league average).  They might not find a standout point guard barring some miracle where they get the first pick, but they probably could land someone who would help, at any rate, and Lester Hudson is more of a scorer anyway.  And not to lean too heavily on PER as a determinant, but they also could look for a backup for Randolph, as Darrell Arthur hasn't been that guy - his PER last season was worse than Steven Hunter's.  Furthermore, the Grizzlies were towards the bottom of the league in three-point shooting (33.7 percent), so someone who can shoot would be good.  Three needs, three picks, sounds like a plan.

Needs: Backup point guard, backup power forward, three-point shooting

Houston Rockets [picks: lottery (0.5% chance at #1)]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Aaron Brooks/Kyle Lowry (Qualifying Offer)
SG: Kevin Martin/Shane Battier/Jermaine Taylor
SF: Trevor Ariza/Battier/Chase Budinger/Mike Harris (Unguaranteed)
PF: Luis Scola (Qualifying Offer)/Jordan Hill/Chuck Hayes (Team Option)/Harris/Jared Jeffries (Early Termination)
C: Yao Ming (Early Termination)/Hayes/Scola/David Andersen/Hilton Armstrong (Qualifying Offer)

Recent draft picks

If the Rockets keep all the players they should (Hayes, Lowry, Scola) and get rid of those they shouldn't (Jeffries, Armstrong), they'll still have 12 players on the roster, and that doesn't include Harris.  So this pick will pretty much be gravy, and possibly someone they can send down to their D-League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley.  Looking ahead, both Scola's and Battier's deals expire after next season (as does Yao's), so if Houston decides to move on from those players for age or any other reason, it would be nice to have some in-house frontcourt options.

Needs: Frontcourt defense and flexibility, maybe a back-up point guard in case they don't extend Lowry's deal past next season

San Antonio Spurs [picks: 20, 49]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Tony Parker/George Hill/Curtis Jerrells (Unguaranteed)
SG: Manu Ginobili/Malik Hairston (Unguaranteed)
SF: Richard Jefferson (Early Termination)/Alonzo Gee (Unguaranteed)
PF: Antonio McDyess/DeJuan Blair
C: Tim Duncan/Blair

Recent draft picks: F/C DeJuan Blair (2009 2nd round); SG Jack McClinton (2009 2nd round); G Nando de Colo (2009 2nd round); PG George Hill (2008 1st round); PG Goran Dragic (2008 2nd round); F James Gist (2008 2nd round); F/C Tiago Splitter (2007 1st round); G/F Marcus Williams (2007 2nd round); F Georgios Printezis (2007 2nd round)

The Spurs, on the other hand, have a fair amount of flexibility.  I doubt Jerrells will have his contract picked up for the full season - he's not ready for the NBA yet, but might be towards the end of the year or next season - but I could see Gee sticking.  He played well in his stint for the Washington Wizards, at least.  Hairston is questionable, because while I think he can play, he hasn't yet distinguished himself.  That could come with greater opportunity, however, and the Spurs certainly have invested time in his development.  I also expect them to bring Marcus Williams into training camp as a point guard/point forward option, but whether he makes the team will be entirely up to him.

There's one name I haven't mentioned yet, Tiago Splitter.  He's expected to come over to the NBA next season after playing in Spain, and to contribute in the frontcourt.  Another big man still would help, either to contribute now or a year or two down the road when McDyess goes the way of Theo Ratliff.  You may also be surprised to learn that the Spurs shot poorly from outside, sixth-worst in the league at 34.3 percent.

Needs: A big man to develop in Austin, some three-point shooting if Hairston or Gee (or both) are to be let go.

Dallas Mavericks [picks: 50]

Players under contract for next season:

PG: Jason Kidd/Jose Juan Barea (Team Option)/Rodrigue Beaubois
SG: Jason Terry/DeShawn Stevenson (Player Option)
SF: Shawn Marion/Caron Butler/Matt Carroll
PF: Dirk Nowitzki (Early Termination)/Marion/Eduardo Najera
C: Erick Dampier (Unguaranteed)/Najera

Recent draft picks: F/C Byron Mullens (2009 1st round); PF Ahmad Nivins (2009 2nd round); G/F Shan Foster (2008 2nd round); PF Nick Fazekas (2007 2nd round); SG Renaldas Seibutis (2007 2nd round); C Milovan Rakovic (2007 2nd round)

The Mavericks will need a center, but I highly recommend re-signing Brendan Haywood to fill that role.  They'll also need a shooting guard, either to backup Terry or let him come off the bench (because Stevenson is awful); again, a free agent will take care of that.  With only one pick deep into the second round, the Mavericks may look for a player who can help jumpstart their new D-League affiliation with Frisco (I refuse to use their actual name, at least until the season starts).  I haven't been recommending specific players for these picks, but 50 is a decent place to look at the two D-League players eligible in this draft, forward Latavious Williams and guard Jeremy Wise.  Wise in particular might be an interesting pick to be assigned and learn from coach Nancy Lieberman, a former point guard.

Needs: One to grow on, so to speak