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News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

June 18, 2008
Draft preview: Southwest Division

The countdown begins in advance of the 60 picks on June 26.

Today: Southwest Division.
Thursday: Atlantic Division.
Friday: Northwest Division.
Saturday: Southeast Division.
Sunday: Central Division.
Monday: Pacific Division.

New Orleans Hornets (56-26 in 2007-08)

Pick: 27.

They already have many of the important pieces in place for a championship run, and there's little chance a selection so late in the first round will make a dramatic impact right away. But depth is always important and the Hornets started Morris Peterson (just shot 41.7 percent and will be 31 when camp opens) at shooting guard.

Maybe Julian Wright, the lottery pick last year, is in the line of succession, but he tracks as more of a small forward behind Peja Stojakovic or in the event Stojakovic's back problems returns. The Hornets can go wing or hope to develop a third big man behind David West and Tyson Chandler.

San Antonio Spurs (56-26)

Picks: 26, 45, 57.

There are noticeable cracks, even though the Spurs by law will win the championship in 2009 (following the odd-year parades of 2003, 2005, 2007). Michael Finley is 35 and a free agent, Brent Barry 36, Kurt Thomas is 35 and a free agent and Jacque Vaughn 35. Plus, San Antonio won't get last year's first-round pick -- Tiago Splitter re-signed with a team in Spain.

Houston Rockets (55-27)

Picks: 25, 54.

Yao Ming had his third consecutive season with significant injury problems and Dikembe Mutombo, a free agent who said he wants to play in something like his 93rd season, is getting up there in the years, the way the sun is getting up there in the heat index. Roy Hibbert, a likely lottery pick a year ago, should be in Houston's range in the first round.

Otherwise, the Rockets need an offensive kick. Having Yao for an entire season will be an obvious help. But neither starting forward, Luis Scola and Shane Battier, scored much.

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Pick: 51.

They obviously can't count on much immediate help from a selection in the 50s. The first-round pick, No. 21, went to the Nets as part of the Jason Kidd trade.

Memphis Grizzlies (22-60)

Picks: 5, 28.

They're in the middle of draft possibilities big and small, with a high pick and roster assets to package that selection to move higher. The Grizzlies also have the choice late in the first round, from the Lakers in the Pau Gasol deal, that could attract trade interest.
At No. 5, Memphis will almost surely go big.

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