Thursday, June 25, 2009

2009 NBA Mock Draft – Top 20

It's been said many times, many ways: this draft stinks. In fact, one news source called this the “worst class in 20 years.” However, the situation is not as dire as these pundits will have you believe.

In the "average" draft class, there will be five or six star players and a slew of role players. This draft clearly lacks the surefire talents, but there are a number of players that will contribute for a number of years in the Association. When we look back, it is very likely that this draft will be better than average because of the role players picked. There will be so many role players that I propose calling this the "Tyler Hansbrough Draft" not because of how great he will be, but rather because of what he represents, a hard-nosed, competitor that finds ways to help his team wins.

Top 20

1. Clippers: Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma - Ho hum. This has been a done deal for weeks. The Clippers will try to deal one of their big men (anyone want Zach Randolph? Anyone?) to clear the way for Griffin to dominate from Day One.

2. Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn – With OJ Mayo entrenched as the point guard of the future, Thabeet is the choice over any of the guards. If Thabeet can develop any type of offensive game, the foundation will be built in Memphis (Mayo, Rudy Gay).

3. Thunder: James Harden, SG, Arizona State - Like the Grizzlies, the Thunder already have a point guard of the future (Russell Westbrook). Harden would start from Day One and provide another scoring option along with Kevin Durant. The nucleus of Durant-Westbrook-Jeff Green-Harden would be dynamic for years.

4. Kings: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain - Four reasons why this is the best case scenario for Sacramento:
--They need a point guard in the worst way. Beno Udrih will not cut it.
--Rubio happens to be the best point guard in the class.
--He’s a marketer’s dream and will help the Kings sell tickets.
-- Rubio has a lot of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams in his game. Williams had his best years in Sactown.

5. T-wolves: Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson - Minnesota now owns four first round picks. (First year GM must be in heaven.) With a nice foundation of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, you have to think they will lean toward the guards early. Curry is the draft’s best shooter and a younger, cheaper replacement for Mike Miller, one of the two guys traded for this pick.

6. T-Wolves: Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis - I love the idea of a Curry-Evans backcourt as both can handle the rock and score if needed. A nice combo.

7. Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona - Since Monta Ellis apparently runs the draft for the Warriors, the team will steer clear of any point guards. If this is the pick, I expect Golden State to make a deal or two to rid their gut of athletic fours.

8. Knicks: Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse - The Knicks have been tied to Jrue Holiday, but I just don’t get that thinking. Flynn is a proven commodity while Holiday struggled for much of his only season at UCLA. Flynn also played one of the most impressive games in college basketball history at Madison Square Garden (6-OT thriller in Big East Tournament), home of the Knicks.

9. Raptors: DeMar DeRozan, SG, USC -DeRozan is an athletic freak and a nice replacement for Shawn Marion. His outside shooting has been questioned but he shot over 50% from the floor in his year at USC.

10. Bucks: Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA - Back-to-back one and done players from the Pac-10. Holiday, as mentioned above, struggled at UCLA but is seen to have incredible upside. If Holiday goes here, do the Bucks re-sign Ramon Sessions?

11. Nets: Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville - Williams was plagued by inconsistency throughout his collegiate career. At times, he dominated, at times he looked awful. At 11, he seems like a worthwhile risk.

12. Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke - Although Larry Brown has no affinity for rookies, he loves good defenders, something for which Henderson is well-known.

13. Pacers: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh - A beast in the paint that manhandled Hasheem Thabeet to the tune of 20 rebounds, Blair fits in nicely to the four.

14. Suns: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy – The most polarizing player in the class, Jennings could be the heir apparent to Steve Nash in Phoenix. I will reserve judgment until I see him play in a game.

15. Pistons: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville - Eric Musselman, former NBA head coach, called Clark "a poor man's Tim Thomas." That's about as damning as it gets.

16. Bulls: James Johnson, F, Wake Forest – Johnson, a black belt in karate, brings a toughness that the Bulls crave. A trade up into the top-12 has been rumored here.

17. 76ers: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina - With Andre Miller a free agent, Philly is doing backflips if Lawson is still available at 17.

18. T-Wolves: BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State - Big men take longer to develop than guards in large part because they are constantly adjusting to a changing body. Mullens, a legit seven footer, has a ton of potential and is a lotto ticket for Minnesota.

19. Hawks: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU - Acie Law has not panned out, and the Hawks can use some solid guard play. Maynor won’t blow you away but he’ll be dependable for a number of years and is more than capable of replacing free agent Mike Bibby.

20. Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina - A match made in heaven.

Other Thoughts

**Best Available:
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary's
Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga: Most embarrassing stat I heard this offseason - At one point this season, Daye went six games without an offensive rebound. He played in the (weak ) WCC and stands almost seven feet tall. That’s awful.
Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona
Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh

**The Mavs won’t let Jeff Teague slip by them if he’s still around at 24.

**DeMarre Carroll seems like a cheaper version of Anderson Varejao. He makes a ton of sense in Cleveland.

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