As the 2018 NBA Draft nears, the Pacific Division offers one of the most intriguing groups of teams. Golden State, the lone team from the division to make the postseason, completed its quest for back-to-back titles less than two weeks ago.
The Suns (21-61) and Kings (27-55) are owners of the first two picks in the draft. The Clippers (42-40) just missed the playoffs, but own two consecutive lottery picks thanks to a midseason trade. The Lakers (35-47) don't own a lottery pick despite finishing 11th in the conference.
A number of rumours have surrounded each team in the division, meaning there could be plenty of action once the draft begins. Here's an idea of what to expect...
Golden State Warriors
Aside from the usual suspects, the back-to-back champions benefited from the contributions of homegrown talents Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw throughout the 2017-18 season. That being said, the Warriors will look to continue the trend of bringing in young, impactful players on draft night.
Golden State has been linked to former Duke All-American Grayson Allen and has also worked out Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, Tulane's Melvin Frazier and Georgia Tech's Josh Okogie - a few of the draft's most athletic prospects. Expect the Warriors to target an athletic prospect with the No. 28 pick.
There could also be movement in the back end of the draft. According to Sean Deveney, the Warriors will seek a second-round pick for the third consecutive year.
Los Angeles Clippers
Picks: 12, 13
The Clippers are in an interesting position with back-to-back late lottery selections, thanks to the late January deal that sent Blake Griffin to Detroit.
After missing the playoffs by five games this past season, LA has the opportunity to take two players that could accelerate the team's return to the top of the Western Conference. Oklahoma guard Trae Young, Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and athletic Texas A&M centre Robert Williams III are all players that could be available when the Clippers make their selections. The last time LA selected an athletic centre from Texas A&M (DeAndre Jordan), it worked out pretty well.
Conversely, the Clippers could package their two lottery picks in pursuit of a higher pick in the draft. A team like Orlando (No. 6) or Chicago (No. 7) could be willing to move down if their targeted pick becomes unavailable.
Los Angeles Lakers
Picks: 25, 39, 47
The Lakers have probably been involved in more rumours than any other team in this draft. The ability to afford more than one max contract and the prestige of the organization has resulted in a number of big names being linked to the franchise this offseason. Will it be LeBron? Kawhi? Paul George? DeMarcus Cousins?
As indicated by last year's trade of D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, the offseason plan for the Lakers begins around draft night. LA struck gold by selecting All-Rookie first-teamer Kyle Kuzma with the 27th pick last year. Can the Lakers do it again with the 25th pick in this year's draft?
Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo indicated the Lakers could take sharpshooter Kevin Huerter from Maryland, and the team has also been linked to big man Mitchell Robinson. With the team acquiring the 39th pick ahead of the draft (per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski), it could be preparing a package in pursuit of the Leonard or have its sight set on another prospect.
Picks: 1, 16, 31, 59
Arizona's Deandre Ayton is the presumptive No. 1 pick in this year's draft - even he knows it. Most would be surprised if the 7-1 centre isn't selected first. After that, things could get interesting.
Phoenix owns the 16th (via Miami) and 31st picks - two selections that hold enough value to be packaged along with another player to acquire a second lottery selection.
Devin Booker, the Suns' 21-year-old star guard, has already proclaimed the 2017-18 season was the last of his team missing the playoffs. Thursday's draft gives Phoenix an opportunity to continue to build around Booker and its other young lottery selections, including Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Josh Jackson, Alex Len and T.J. Warren.
Picks: 2, 37
If Ayton goes first as most expect, the Kings become a bit of a wild card at No. 2. According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Sacramento could use the pick to select Marvin Bagley III or trade down with hopes of selecting Missouri's Michael Porter Jr.
Despite finishing 28 games under .500 last season, the Kings enjoyed impressive rookie campaigns from guards De'Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Adding Bagley or Porter to a team that features two backcourt studs primed for big sophomore seasons would put Sacramento in a much better position to compete in the near future.
Selecting one of the aforementioned two could likely mean the end of Willie Cauley-Stein's time as a King, as the team should focus on the development of its 2018 pick along with Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere.