Here’s our first take at projecting the 2009 NBA Draft.
1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma – The consensus No. 1 overall pick in this draft will undoubtedly go to the Clip Show. Fantasy-wise, this is not a great landing point for Griffin to put up stud numbers right away. Zach Randolph is under contract for another two years and he is virtually immovable, plus the Clips also have Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby in the frontcourt. Griffin is a fairly polished prospect and will definitely still see a lot of action next year and can still compete for Rookie of the Year. If you are in a keeper league, the former Boomer Sooner is fairly close to a can’t-miss, and he will help your squad for the next decade.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn – The Grizzlies are one of the few teams that may pass on Ricky Rubio at the second pick. Mike Conley showed great improvement last year and he teams up nicely with O.J. Mayo in the backcourt. Thabeet would give Memphis a nice inside presence rotated with Marc Gasol, who is more of a defensive liability. As Thabeet continues to become more offensively potent, he could round into a solid centre. The Grizzlies’ owner has already declared he prefers the big man, and Michael Heisley usually calls the big shots with this franchise.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden, SG, Arizona State – This is a pretty good scenario for the Thunder. It gets to pick between Ricky Rubio and a couple of other highly touted prospects. I think OKC will pull a bit of a shocker and take Harden. The Thunder seems content with the development of Russell Westbrook and Harden gives them another silky smooth scorer to go with Kevin Durant. Rubio will get high consideration, but I think he is much farther away from contributing than many people think. Harden deserves Fantasy consideration immediately, especially in deep leagues.
4. Sacramento Kings: Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain – The Maloofs would go gazooks if this scenario played out. They really need a point guard for the future and it would take them no less than 10 seconds to submit the pick for Rubio. He would join a rather young team that likes to run and he would be allowed to play right away. The Kings are building for three years from now and Rubio would be the cherry on the sundae. He could put up big assist numbers right away, but he will not fill up the scoring column.
5. Washington Wizards: Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson – Yes. I just went there. I could easily see the Wizards taking Jordan Hill here, but I am not sold on the big man from Arizona. Harden, another option, is a silky smooth lefty who is a NBA ready scorer, but he may be off the board. Although the Wizards have been grooming Nick Young at SG, I think Curry is a lights out prospect that will at the very least be a gunner off the bench. Washington’s outside game struggled at times last year and Curry would make this a much more dynamic team. Wherever Curry goes, he will be a Fantasy commodity in roto leagues due to his long range shooting.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: DeMar DeRozan, SF, USC – With Corey Brewer not really panning out for the Wolves, look for them to go with the swingman out of USC. DeRozan really came on late last year and would be a good fit on this roster. Randy Foye will enjoy having an athletic wingman that can contribute in multiple facets of the game.
7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona – Last year, the front line of the Warriors seemed short handed whenever Andris Biedrins was out of the lineup. Hill slips a little to No. 7 in my mock, as many have him as the fourth-best prospect. He is athletic enough to keep up with the pace of Nellie ball and he gives them some active size to pair Biedrins.
8. New York Knicks: Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy – Jennings is a lightning quick point guard who I think hit a bit of culture shock in the Euroleague. Teams over there do not really play on potential as much as what you can do in their system. Jennings would have free range of the court in New York and could develop into the superstar that he was destined to be. New York, in my opinion, would be the best place for Jennings to land. Consider him a Fantasy sleeper for next year, as if he gets court time he could put up much better numbers in the NBA than he did in Italy last year.
9. Toronto Raptors: Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis – Evans is an explosive scorer who would certainly be an upgrade over the likes of Anthony Parker. Jose Calderon could also get some time off from bringing the ball up, keeping the Raptor rotation fresh. I really like Evans to come in a make an immediate impact in Raptorland if selected here.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holliday, PG, UCLA – Holliday would give the Bucks a stud PG which they sorely need. Luke Ridnour’s contract is up after next season and Ramon Sessions is a free agent. Holliday could step in and be an immediate contributor. Also, he is a good defender which will certainly help his case with head coach Scott Skiles.
11. New Jersey Nets: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh – I think this could be the biggest reach in the draft. In my opinion, Blair is one of those college studs that will not translate to the NBA. How many moose-like undersized power forwards have worked out in the NBA? I am pretty sure Blair is not the next Charles Barkley.
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke – The fact that he’ s a solid defender, a capable shooter, and a fan favourite all come into play here. The Bobcats would appease many of their loyal fans by taking the Duke product with the 12th overall pick.
13. Indiana Pacers: Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse – The Pacers would be quite happy to see Flynn on the board here at 13. I think they’ll pick a point guard no matter what as there are many to choose from in this draft. Jeff Teague, Patrick Mills, Eric Maynor, and Ty Lawson are also possibilities. Flynn is lightning quick and will love feeding the ball to Danny Granger.
14. Phoenix Suns: Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina – Steve Nash is on his basketball deathbed. Well not quite, but enough so that the Suns need to prep the future by taking a legit point guard in the draft. Lawson gets the slight edge over Flynn and Maynor largely due to his post-season performance this year. I think he has proven what kind of leader and floor general he can be and the Suns’ management will be intrigued enough to select the Tar Heel guard.
15. Detroit Pistons: James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest – Johnson is a super athletic big man would can play all over the court. He was quite inconsistent last year and I think he lacks the intangibles and overall basketball IQ to be a lottery pick. I do not see him contributing much next year from a Fantasy perspective, but he could earn court time if he outworks some guys in front of him.
16. Chicago Bulls: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville – Talent-wise, Clark is a lottery pick, but you never really know what you are going to get. The Bulls might fall in love with him during the pre-draft leadup only to see him get complacent after he has a contract locked up.
17. Philadelphia 76ers: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU – I think this is a steal if Maynor slips to 17. He can contribute right away and even make some Fantasy noise.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State – The Wolves could use another big man to complement Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. I think Mullens is somewhat of an overrated stiff, but being seven feet tall usually gets you drafted high. I would not touch him in a Fantasy league.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s – Mills may opt to return for his senior season, but there is a surely a spot in the late first round for him if he stays. Mike Bibby may be leaving Atlanta as a free agent and the Hawks do not seem sold on Acie Law taking over the reins. Mills is very quick and skilled and could become a nice Fantasy sleeper for next season.
20. Utah Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina – With the possibility of Paul Millsap leaving via free agency, Hansbrough could immediately fill in the void. Somewhat undersized and relying on his motor, this would be a storybook fit. I think Jazz fans would go nuts for Psycho T.
21. New Orleans Hornets: Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona – Budinger could fall anywhere from 15 to 25 in my eyes and rightfully so. He is a very athletic scorer who can thrive if placed in the right system. A year or two ago, he looked like a top 10 pick on potential alone, but he never really took the bull by the horns and relished the go-to guy role at Arizona. Budinger could take over the role that Peja Stojakovic currently fills if he can prove he can hit the NBA three ball. Peja has one more year left on his huge contract.
22. Dallas Mavericks: Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest – There is no secret that the Mavericks need to bring in a point guard to develop under Jason Kidd. Teague is certainly talented, but I am not sure he will have much value next year if he goes in this spot.
23. Sacramento Kings: Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville – Williams has all the talent in the world, but you never know what you are going to get. He reminds me somewhat of cross between Donte Greene and Corey Maggette. This is a high-reward, low-risk pick here, so Williams is definitely worth the price. My prediction is that he turns into a headache wherever he goes and he fades into oblivion within five years. I would not touch him in a Fantasy league with somebody else’s 10-foot pole.
24. Portland Trailblazers: Darren Collison, PG, UCLA – Collison is a much different point guard than Jerryd Bayless and Steve Blake. Collison is more of a defensive minded, quick penetrating guard that could give the Blazers an added dimension they desperately need. I love Blake, but can he really play lock down defense?
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech – There is a good chance Lawal could return to school, but he is most likely a late first rounder if he stays. The Thunder could use his ability to rebound, although he is at least a year or two away from being an offensive threat in the NBA.
26. Chicago Bulls: Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State – Douglas is a gamer who I think can make it in the league. The Bulls would also have another scorer who could replace Ben Gordon if he leaves via free agency. If you have seen Douglas play at Florida State, I am sure you would think he is a first round talent.
27. Memphis Grizzlies: Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh – A crafty lefty scorer can certainly be a nice addition to Memphis’ stable of young talent. The future is bright in Memphis and Young could be a part of something special in two years. I like his ability to create shots off the dribble, something that is needed to be a consistent NBA scorer.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga – Daye is a long and skillful big man who could be special if he puts it all together. He was very inconsistent in college, but his game may be more suited to the NBA. He is someone who could be a solid pro in three-t0o-four years, but don’t touch him next year.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Dajuan Summers, SF, Los Angeles Lakers – Summers is a good passer with a decent overall skill set who should be able to produce in the Triangle Offense. He should be ignored for Fantasy purposes next year, though, as the Lakers have their skilled guys locked up.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier – A definite upgrade to aging Wally Szczerbiak would help add depth the Cavalier bench. Brown was a great scorer and defender for what seems a decade at Xavier. Cleveland sorely misses someone like Brown and he could actually be a key for them to win a championship. This would be a great pick and a great spot for Brown to start his career.
Look for Take Two of the NBA Draft in a couple weeks.