It strikes me with this year's draft (2009) that the consistent early entry of players has caught the league in a basketball assessment gap because there has been too little development of players due to their lack of playing experience in college basketball. Thus the draft has been an exercise in risk avoidance rather than risk taking. That's why some teams have been hoarding certain positions-- if one of the players chosen meets with expectations then the draft choice has an economic benefit, need is not a consideration when risk dominates reward.
This is probably more true now that economic uncertainty hangs over professional sports in general.
The salary cap forces teams to eventually make draconian decisions considering their rosters. That's why a big market team like the Lakers can land Pau Gasol for essential for peanuts. This is because those players deemed essential to making the playoffs are paid so much that there is no possibility of a wage/skill structure that makes consistent team performance possible- a yo-yo pattern develops: a few years of winning basketball followed by a few years of rebuilding.
The future for the NBA appears to be a seesaw between parity or inbalance.
How can a more league wide competitive system be developed?