Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 NBA Lottery Mock Draft 1.0

Here's my first edition of what I think the teams in the lottery SHOULD do. It's way too easy to predict how all the stupid GM's in the NBA will screw up

Los Angeles Clippers - PF Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)
I don't think the clips will take Rubio after (quite foolishly) throwing all that money at Baron Davis. Griffin is the most sensible choice: He's a physical specimen who absolutely dominated College Basketball, and in such a weak draft class he has to be considered the best prospect. Of course, considering that this is the freaking Clippers, anything could happen. I lived in Oregon during the late 90's/early 2000's and got to see the destructive power of Mike Dunleavy and Zach Randolph first hand. Dunleavy will probably reason that because his team's biggest need is at the 3 then he should spend the number one pick on an unproductive small forward like Demar Derozan. Every game he'll sit Derozan for 45 minutes, then tell him to guard Lebron on one end and then at the other end make the game winning shot on a play in which he holds the ball for 20 seconds at the half court line and then takes a fadeaway 3 from 45 feet. Regardless of who gets picked, that player will have his life changed by Randolph for the absolute worst. Next thing you know, that player will have more nightclub incidents than pacman jones, get 50 drug related arrests, bring an AK-47 to the only practice that he ever attends and shoot up all his teammates, and play defense as if you lose money every time you move your feet or try to stay in front of someone. Good times for the Clippers.

Memphis Grizzlies - PG Ricky Rubio (Spain)
I love Hasheem Thabeet's game, but anybody who seriously considers drafting Thabeet over Rubio (a franchise point guard) ought to be fired on the spot (of course, based on Chris Wallace's decisions as GM he is probably trying to get fired, which makes Thabeet the perfect pick!). Rubio is clearly the second best player, and nobody else even comes close to being a justifiable pick at this slot. Perhaps the Grizzlies think Mike Conley is their future. I don't see how anyone with an ounce of common sense (this excludes about half the current NBA executives and Isiah Thomas) could possibly make that conclusion: In the Olympics Rubio went toe to toe with Chris Paul and Deron Williams and more than held his own; at just 18 years old he looked like an above average point guard against the two point guards tied with each other as the best NBA point guards behind Derrick Rose (Seriously, other than Rose, what point guards in recent memory would not have been embarrased by those two at the age of 18?). While Conley made strides last year, he still can't shoot and isn't great at creating offense for others. The smart move would be to trade Conley (and possibly Rudy Gay) for big man help and then draft Rubio, and even if they decide Conley is better than Rubio (very possible given the fact that Chris Wallace is the GM) then they ought to trade the pick to either the Thunder or the Kings (two teams that covet Rubio) and pick Thabeet at a lower spot while picking up more pieces.

Seattle SuperSonics - C Hasheem Thabeet (UConn)
(I absolutely refuse to use the new name. I do not endorse douchebag millionaires hijacking a team from a city)
If Rubio is available, TAKE HIM!!!!!!!!!!! Russell Westbrook will be much better if he plays off the ball. The Rubio-Durant Combo would be unstoppable on offense, while Rubio, Westbrook and Jeff Green give them terrific permieter defense to complement Durant's skills as a weakside shot blocker. If Rubio is gone, Thabeet is the right pick. People keep hating on him, but it's rare to find a prospect with Thabeet's combination of size, athleticism, defensive skills, and basketball IQ. He will be better than all the other flops out of UConn (Emeka Okafor, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, etc.) because he is bigger, much more athletic, and he didn't maxe out on his talent in college (he has only been learning the game for a few years). Thabeet immediately makes OKC's defense better, helps cover up for Durant on the the numerous occasions when he gets beat on the perimeter, and while he develops his offensive game he can generate offense through offensive rebounds, put-backs, alley-oops, and pick-and-roll lay-ups. It's important to note that Thabeet is NOT the 3rd best player; that would be Tyreke Evans. Its just that the Thunder have absolutely no need for Evans, but rather they really need som size to complement their perimeter oriented players.

Sacramento Kings - PG/SG Tyreke Evans (Memphis)
Sacramento is set at the front line with Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes, and Donte Green; now they need some guards to complement Kevin Martin. In such a putrid draft class teams cannot afford to draft strictly on need. First of all, its not as if Evans doesn't improve Sacramento at the point guard position (its biggest weakness by far); he has point guard skills, and Memphis was actually a better team when he played the 1. More importantly, Evans is incredible. How can you watch him play and not rank him as the third best player? His ability to handle and pass the ball, dominate in transition, relentlessly attack the glass and finish at the rim beautifully, and his ability to run the offense like a true point guard are surreal. The only downside is the jump shot, but the can be fixed (see Tony Parker, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, etc.). Even better, I love how he came through well when his team needed it most. In Memphis' biggest games, especially the NCAA tournament, Evans absolutely carried the team. Laugh at me all you want, but I see him eventually becoming a bigger Dwayne Wade.

Washington Wizards - Jordan Hill (U of A)
the Wizards have the worst slot because all the good players will be gone by now. I think Hill makes the most sense. He's got nice of upside, and the Wizards need some big man help.

Minnesota Timberwolves - SG/SF Gerald Henderson
Minny could use a wing player that can score. I don't understand why anyone would ever take Demar Derozan ahead of Henderson, the one Duke player who wasn't overrated. Henderson plays great on-ball defense, is a nice slasher and complements his athleticism with the ability to hit the 3. He's very underrated.

Golden State Warriors - PG Ty Lawson (UNC)
How are teams ranking Lawson behind the likes of Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, and Jrue Holliday? Among that group, Lawson was most productive in his pre-NBA career and Lawson enjoyed the most team success. Not enough emphasis is being placed on the fact that Lawson (NOT Tyler Hansbrough) was the leader and best player on a team that made 3 straight Elite Eight's, 2 straight Final Four's, and won a National Title. Lawson has complemented his tremendous speed and quickness with an improved jumper and better defense. His athleticism and skill in transition makes him perfect for the Warriors "system" of organized chaos.

New York Knicks - PG Eric Maynor (VCU)
The Knick need a point guard (I'm not Mike D'antoni's biggest fan, but I know he's smart enough to realize that Chris Duhon is a career backup). Maynor is the best available. Nice size, true point guard skills, and really came to play against VCU's best opponents.

Toronto Raptors - SG/SF Demar Derozan(Duke)
Toronto has a point guard and a big man, so the next step is to find good wing players. I'm not sold on Derozan. He came in with a lot of hype but never dominated a single game. He looked way too passive, especially during the NCAA tournament when he was facing teams that should never have been able to match up with him. Still, Derozan is a freak athlete with a complete game and a ton of potential. Again, not real an exciting pick but really, what else can Toronto do?
Milwaukee Bucks - PG/SG Jrue Holliday (UCLA)
the Nets have plenty of bigs and wing players, so the biggest need is a point guard who can help create offense for Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson. Of the guys remaining, Holliday makes the most sense. Flynn and Jennings weren't productive enough to convince me that they can overcome their lack of size. I had big expectations for Holliday at the start of the season, but I'll be the first to tell you that he was a collosal disappointment who should've stayed in school. Still, if it's true that he is pure point guard (as opposed to being a 2-guard, which he was used as at UCLA), then he is intriguing because he has above average size and athleticism for the position, he is a really great on-ball defender, and he brings the versatility of being able to play the 2 or even thye 3 in a small lineup.

New Jersey Nets - SF Earl Clark (Louiville)
Clark represents great value here. Any 6'8-6'10 player with a point guard's athleticism and skill set belongs in the lottery. Clark will fill the void left by the trade of Richard Jefferson.

Charlotte Bobcats - SG James Harden (ASU)
For all the hype about Harden being a great player, he was extremely inconsistent and never really took over any games the way a top five pick should. I'm especially troubled by his complete no-show against Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. Still, at the 12 pick its hard to pass up on a scorer as polished as Harden.

Indiana Pacers - SG/SF Terrence Williams (Louiville)
I love this pick. Williams can do everything: He shoots the three, is good in transition, plays great defense, and has some point guard skills. He's useless on a bad team, but he can really put a good team over the top, much like James Posey, Bruce Bowen, etc. Pair him with Brandon Rush and you have to love the Pacers wing trio of Williams, Rush, and Danny Granger.

Phoenix Suns - PG/SG Stephen Curry (Davidson)
The Suns should've started grooming Steve Nash's replacement 3 years ago, but they traded Rajon Rondo for a bag of peanuts. Nice work Robert Sarver. Now they have to choose between Curry (who played noticeably poorly against his best competition, doesn't play much defense, and isn't a threat to score of dribble penetration), Brandon Jennings (a complete no-show in Europe) and Jonny Flynn (a player who wasn't dominant enough to erase questions about his severe physical limitations). Curry seems like the best option; he showed that he has point guard skills, and he's a lights out shooter who can create his own offense. If Curry is gone and it comes down to Flynn and Jennings then I'd go with Flynn. At least he was moderately productive on a team that enjoyed decent success. Jennings looks like a bust in the making; if he had lottery talent, why did he struggle so mightily just to get playing time in Europe? In any case, I knew that this was a pretty bad draft, but it wasn't until I did this mock draft that I realized just how putrid the talent level is. If I were a GM and I couldn't get Griffin, Rubio, Thabeet, or Evans then I would try to trade this year's pick either for an established player or a future pick.