The NBA‘s Pacific division is probably the league’s most diverse in terms of the current states of its respective franchises.
On the positive side, the Golden State Warriors are competing for championships every year, and the Los Angeles Lakers might get there soon.
On the negative side, the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings are undergoing massive rebuilding projects, while the Los Angeles Clippers are about to dive head-first into one.
The Suns, Kings and Clippers all have lottery picks this year, and below you’ll see analysis on each team heading into the draft. You can also find a mock below.
NBA Mock Draft: Lottery
1. Phoenix Suns: Arizona C Deandre Ayton
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Real Madrid PG/SG Luka Doncic
3. Dallas Mavericks: Duke F/C Marvin Bagley III
4. Atlanta Hawks: Michigan State F/C Jaren Jackson Jr.
5. Orlando Magic: Missouri SF/PF Michael Porter Jr.
6. Chicago Bulls: Texas C Mohamed Bamba
7. Sacramento Kings: Duke C Wendell Carter
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics): Oklahoma PG Trae Young
9. New York Knicks: Alabama PG/SG Collin Sexton
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns): Villanova SF Mikal Bridges
11. Charlotte Hornets: Texas Tech G/F Zhaire Smith
12. Los Angeles Clippers (via Detroit Pistons): Texas AM F Robert Williams
13. Los Angeles Clippers: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
14. Denver Nuggets: Cedevita Zagreb SF Dzanan Musa
NBA Mock Draft: Picks 15-30
15. Washington Wizards: Missouri C Jontay Porter
16. Phoenix Suns (originally via Miami Heat): Villanova PG Jalen Brunson
17. Milwaukee Bucks: Chalmette High School C Mitchell Robinson
18. San Antonio Spurs: Michigan State SF/PF Miles Bridges
19. Atlanta Hawks: Miami SG Lonnie Walker IV
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (originally via Oklahoma City Thunder): Kentucky SF/PF Kevin Knox
21. Utah Jazz: Boise State SF Chandler Hutchison
22. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans): Ohio State SF/PF Keita Bates-Diop
23. Indiana Pacers: USC PG/SG De’Anthony Melton
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Creighton SG Khyri Thomas
25. Los Angeles Lakers (originally via Cleveland Cavaliers): Oregon F Troy Brown
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Duke SG Gary Trent Jr.
27. Boston Celtics: Villanova F/C Omari Spellman
28. Golden State Warriors: UCLA G Aaron Holiday
29. Brooklyn Nets (originally via Toronto Raptors): IMG PG Anfernee Simons
30. Atlanta Hawks (originally via Houston Rockets): Villanova SG Donte DiVincenzo
Draft Game Plans: Pacific Division
The Phoenix Suns seem set at the wing positions with Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and T.J. Warren, but they need to come out of this draft with some potential answers in the post and at point guard.
That shouldn’t be a problem up top, as the Suns have great shots at landing a future franchise center (e.g. Deandre Ayton of Arizona) or a future franchise floor general (e.g. Real Madrid guard Luka Doncic).
Doncic is an intriguing pairing with new Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov. Per Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer, Kokoskov coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team, which naturally leads one to wonder if Phoenix will take him if given the opportunity.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough commented on that notion to Scott Bordow of azcentral: “It’s an easy assumption to make, but we’re going to draft whoever we think the best player is. If we do get the Number 1 pick, Doncic will certainly be in that mix. But Ayton and a few other guys will, as well.”
Regardless of whether the Suns go big or go guard with the first pick, their next selection (at No. 16) should take care of whatever need they don’t meet initially. If the Suns take Doncic, then they should look for the best big man available. If the Suns take Ayton, then a point guard may make more sense to compete with Elfrid Payton and Tyler Ulis.
If I am Kings general manager Vlade Divac, the first thing I am doing is following up with the Suns about forming a Sun Kings alliance.
Failing that, the Kings simply need to take the best player available unless that prospect is a point guard, with the spot occupied by 2017 draft pick De’Aaron Fox.
Sacramento’s books are wide open after the 2018-19 season, as guard/forward Bogdan Bogdanovic is the only player whose salary is guaranteed for that season, per HoopsHype. Otherwise, the Kings have a bunch of team options on the table that they can accept or turn down.
Fox and Bogdanovic should be given some more time to see if they can jell and form a competitive NBA backcourt. Given that notion, the best big man on the board might be the best bet, especially considering that veteran power forward Zach Randolph just became a free agent.
If the Kings hang around No. 7 post-lottery, then it seems more likely than not that a solid post player will be available. In the above scenario, Duke center Wendell Carter falls to them, so he could be the best bet for a team experience frontcourt turnover.
Los Angeles Clippers
The only player who seems to fit in the Los Angeles Clippers’ longer-term plans right now might be shooting guard Lou Williams, who signed an extension through 2020-21, making him the only player on L.A.’s payroll that season.
Williams is a lights-out shooter when he’s hot and one of the best bench scorers in the NBA (if not the best), but he’ll be 32 years old next season, so the Clippers have to find some younger talent around him and rebuild the franchise.
The Clips have two first-round picks this year, the second of which was obtained in the trade that sent Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. The issue is that pick is protected in the top three this year, per RealGM, so in an odd scenario, the Clips actually want to hear their name called early on lottery night.
Chances are that the Clippers will hold on to both selections, and if that is the case, then they should look for DeAndre Jordan’s eventual replacement for one slot. It would be a surprise if Jordan, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this year, lands back with L.A. given the direction of the franchise. He’d be a better fit on a playoff-contending team looking for a center and rebounding help.
Therefore, L.A.’s best bet is someone like Texas AM forward Robert Williams, a solid rebounder and excellent defender who has to better develop his offensive game.
Elsewhere, the Clippers should look to grab a guard with the other pick, preferably one who is adept at getting his teammates involved as well as creating his own shot. Kentucky’s Shai-Gilgeous Alexander could work out, as the 6’6″ guard impressed in his one season with the Wildcats by posting 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists.