With the 2009 NBA Draft on Thursday night, like the rest of the sports world, I took my chance at predicting which teams will take which NBA prospects. Unlike years past, this draft is much less foreseeable.
One NBA executive called this year’s draft, “The most screwed-up draft ever.”
The top 20 is wide open; guys that could go 10th could very well slip to 20th.
We have already seen one trade, as the Wizards shipped the fifth pick to Minnesota, and I expect to see a plethora of others before David Stern takes the podium.
Barring any further swapping of picks, here is my 2009 NBA mock draft:
1. LA Clippers – Blake Griffin – PF Oklahoma
There isn’t much to say about this pick. The Clips know who they’re taking, the whole world knows who they’re taking. Blake Griffin is an absolute freak … the Clippers need a lot of help.
.2. Memphis – Hasheem Thabeet – C Connecticut
The dilemma between Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet lies here. Rubio has already expressed his disinterest in going to Memphis, a place where the Grizzlies are already committed to Mike Conley. ESPN’s Chad Ford hinted that the Grizzlies will most likely select the Tanzanian big man with the second pick. The Grizzlies need a lot of help, and a defensive anchor like Thabeet is a great place to start.
3. Oklahoma City – Ricky Rubio – PG Spain
Most recent mocks have James Harden at this spot. But it seems unlikely that the youthful Thunder would pass up on the the Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio. The Thunder have already hired a well-known Barcelona law firm to essentially help them negotiate Rubio’s buyout. Although they already have a point guard of the future in Russell Westbrook, Westbrook can play the two as well (6-3 with a 6-8 wingspan) much like he did next to Darren Collison at UCLA. Oklahoma City would have one of the most exciting young cores in the NBA with Rubio, Westbrook, Durant, and Jeff Green.
4. Sacramento – Tyreke Evans – SG Memphis
Sacramento is in dire need of a point guard. Along with Evans, the Kings have expressed interest in Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday and Jonny Flynn with this pick. But Evans’ length (6-5 with a 6-11 wingspan) and ability to get to the hole make him my pick for Sac-town. Although he may not be a pure point guard, Evans has all of the tools to be an All-Star in this league for years to come. The drive and kick to Kevin Martin for three could be deadly.
5. Minnesota (from Washington) – James Harden – SG Arizona State
As expected, ESPN has reported that the Washington Wizards will trade the 5th overall pick along with Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, and Oleksiy Pecherov to the Minnesota T-Wolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. This gives the Wolves the 5th and 6th overall picks. Expect Minnesota to snag James Harden with their newly-acquired pick. As Harden has answered questions about his athleticism and quickness in the combine (37-inch vert) and in workouts, the all-purpose shooting guard is the best player available on the board. As Minnesota has moved two of its major pieces, Harden, Love, and Jefferson will be nice building blocks.
6. Minnesota – Stephen Curry – PG Davidson
Now that the T-Wolves have dealt their starting point guard, Stephen Curry slides up to the 6th pick. Minnesota reportedly covets Tyreke Evans, but with him going to the Kings, they will most likely go with Curry. Curry has developed from just a shooter to a terrific passer and will only get better at running the offense. We all know how he can shoot it, but his work ethic and attitude should allow him to make major strides. Minnesota will now have Curry, Harden, Love, and Jefferson to work with … not bad.
7. Golden State – Jonny Flynn – PG Syracuse
As Monta Ellis has proven to be more of a two guard, the Warriors are in need of a floor general. Flynn is everything you would want in a point guard: he’s a terrific leader, a win-first guy, and quick and explosive enough to constantly get to the rim and make plays. If the Kings don’t snag him at four, I can’t see the Warriors passing on him.
8. New York – Brandon Jennings – PG Italy
With Donnie Walsh’s buddy Stephen Curry gone to Minnesota, Brandon Jennings appears to be the choice here. Jennings has already expressed his interest in the Knicks, and D’Antoni’s club could certainly use a point guard with superstar potential. Jennings was once thought of as a consensus top-three pick in this draft, but questions about his character arose, dropping him out of the top five. Jennings, a big personality, would flourish in the spotlight at Madison Square Garden, making it a match made in heaven.
9. Toronto – Jordan Hill – PF Arizona
In a draft so focused on guards, Hill is the odd man out. He could very well go to Golden State at seven or even New York at eight, but if they say “no thanks” to the big man, than Hill will be a steal at nine. He is a very athletic and explosive big man who has a surprisingly nice shooting touch. As Chris Bosh seems all but out the door, Hill could be their PF of the future.
10. Milwaukee – DeMar DeRozan – SG Southern Cal
With Richard Jefferson now in San Antonio, DeRozan would step right in and fill the void. The Bucks could use a point guard, although Ramon Sessions could very well develop, but DeRozan is too good of a talent to pass up. He is a long (6-9 wingspan), a freak athlete (38.5-inch vert) and has a terrific mid-range game. Michael Redd may opt out after next season, opening the door for DeRozan to be the face of the Bucks franchise.
11. New Jersey – Earl Clark – SF/PF Louisville
Earl Clark is a guy that NBA scouts have fallen in love with. He can put it on the floor, shoot the three, and defend several positions. A young nucleus of Devin Harris/Earl Clark/Brook Lopez could put the Nets on the map.
12. Charlotte – Gerald Hernderson – SG Duke
The Bobcats are in desperate need of a shooting guard, and Henderson’s defense, athleticism and shooting ability will prove too much to pass up on. Henderson returned to Charlotte for a second workout on Monday and seems to be Larry Brown and MJ’s choice at 12.
13. Indiana – DeJuan Blair – PF Pittsburgh
The Pacers could really use a solid big man, as Jeff Foster and Rasho Nesterovic are just not going to cut it. Blair is a top-five talent, but his knee concerns and limited offensive game have him falling to the Pacers at 13.
14. Phoenix – Terrence Williams – SG Louisville
As is evident by our latest poll, I am clearly alone with this pick. Regardless of popular belief, Williams is a perfect fit for the Gentry’s system. He is a freak athlete who can handle the ball, rebound, and distribute to his teammates. He thrives in the open court and can defend almost anyone on the floor. While shooting guards like DeRozen and Evans are rated solely on potential, T-Will is a proven commodity.
15. Detroit – B.J. Mullens – C Ohio State
16. Chicago – James Johnson – SF Wake Forest
17. Philadelphia – Ty Lawson – PG North Carolina
18. Minnesota – Austin Daye – SF Gonzaga
19. Atlanta – Jrue Holiday – PG UCLA
20. Utah – Wayne Ellington – SG North Carolina
21. New Orleans – Eric Maynor – PG VCU
22. Dallas – Chase Budinger – SG Arizona
23. Sacramento – Jeff Teague – PG Wake Forest
24. Portland – Derrick Brown – SF Xavier
25. Oklahoma City – Tyler Hansbrough – PF North Carolina
26. Chicago – Taj Gibson – PF Southern Cal
27. Memphis – Dionte Christmas – SG Temple
28. Minnesota – Omri Casspi – SF Israel
29. LA Lakers – Sam Young – SF Pittsburgh
30. Cleveland – DaJuan Summers – SF Georgetown