NBA Draft

2018 NBA Draft: What to expect from the Southwest Division on draft night

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Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard posts up Houston guard Eric Gordon (Getty Images)

The Southwest Division certainly had its fair share of good, bad and ugly in the 2017-18 NBA season. The Rockets were one of three teams from the division to make the postseason, winning an NBA-best 65 games before falling in the conference finals.

Ironically, each playoff team from the division fell at the hands of the eventual champion Warriors, with the Pelicans loss coming in the semifinals and the Spurs losing in the first round. New Orleans and Houston both exceeded the expectations of many with their performances this season.

Memphis (22-60) and Dallas (24-58) fell to the bottom of the division and will pick fourth and fifth, respectively, in this year's draft. Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. and Grizzlies rookie Dillon Brooks served as bright spots for otherwise dark seasons for their team.

As each team in the division looks to build - or rebuild - a number of big moves could be made on draft night…

Dallas Mavericks

Picks: 5, 33, 54

The Mavericks have the most picks among Southwest Division teams and have been linked to a number of prospects ahead of the draft.

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ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has indicated that Dallas would be willing to trade up in order to select Slovenian phenom Luka Doncic. The most likely candidate to trade down to No. 5 would be Sacramento (No. 2).

The Mavs will more than likely have to part ways with the No. 33 pick and acquire a bad contract to increase its chances to draft Doncic, who appears at a number of different spots on various mocks.

Houston Rockets

Picks: 46

Houston finds itself in a unique predicament. After falling just one game short of reaching the NBA Finals, the Rockets have three impact starters (Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza) that will be free agents this offseason.

The Rockets have also been considered as a potential free agency destination for LeBron James but would have to make a number of transactions for a deal to be possible. If Houston feels it has a legitimate shot at acquiring James, it might need to begin making offseason moves on draft night.

The No. 46 pick would not likely move the needle much for a team absorbing excess salary, so the Rockets would likely have to make a tough decision regarding 2017 Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon.

Memphis Grizzlies

Picks: 4, 32

With Mo Bamba reportedly out of the question at No. 4, the Grizzlies could also be in play to select Doncic.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Memphis might look to move their top-five pick along with Chandler Parsons, who is owed around $50 million over the remaining two years of his contract.

It is unclear what a deal centered around Parsons and the Grizzlies' pick would come to look like, but Memphis will have the flexibility to move in either direction. The Clippers could find a way to put together a desirable package, as they hold both the 12th and 13th pick in this year's draft.

New Orleans Pelicans

Picks: 51

New Orleans has one late pick in this year's draft but could be players on the trade market come draft night.

In 2016, the Pelicans traded to acquire Cheick Diallo, the No. 33 pick made by the Clippers. Last season, the team traded to acquire guard Frank Jackson, who was selected 31st overall by the Hornets.

If history is any indicator, GM Dell Demps will look to make a draft night acquisition of an early second round pick to improve the roster of a team that surprised many by sweeping the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2018 playoffs. With the impending free agency of DeMarcus Cousins, minor moves could go a long way with the development of a more complete team.

San Antonio Spurs

Picks: 18

The No. 18 pick is the highest pick the Spurs have owned since selecting Tim Duncan first overall in 1997. Such is expected for a franchise that has a winning percentage of .705 since making that can't-miss pick.

Despite San Antonio having its highest pick in years, all eyes are on Kawhi Leonard, who reportedly requested a trade less than a week before the draft. Leonard was acquired by the team on draft night in 2011 and things would come full circle for the Spurs if his time with them ends on draft night in 2018.

If the Spurs are willing to part ways with the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, their high asking price could include valuable draft selections. Any move San Antonio makes on draft night would be to retool rather than rebuild.

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