White Hat Sports Headlines

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 NBA Draft Preview

UPDATED: 06/24-The final 20 picks are attached to this. I figured this is easier to read than two separate articles. Also, the top ten picks are not changed to show the any trades that have taken place since they were published.

For anyone that doesn't know, every year I do a lot of NBA draft coverage. It all culminates with what I call my "Little Black Draft Diary" where I pick players that I feel will outperform their draft position. I have a set of guidelines that I follow that are explained here. That page also contains a link to look at my past Diary selections, I suggest you take a look. I'm not one to brag, but I am normally really accurate.

Anyway, this post is not the Diary, because that has to happen after the draft. This post is simply my first take on which player will be taken where in the upcoming draft.

1. Los Angeles Clippers select Blake Griffin: I don't think there's any doubt on this one. The Clippers have essentially already announced they will be taking Griffin, and he clearly has the most potential. His problem? He needs to develop low post moves. We've seen how Dwight Howard has been exploited for his offensive inefficiencies, and Griffin has the same ones. If he can develop a consistent 15 footer and a Tim Duncanish turnaround he will be a great player. Well, that and keep him away from Zach Randolph.

2. Memphis Grizzlies select Hasheem Thabeet: Let me first say this is not the player they should pick; in fact, they should not pick at all. They need to trade this pick for either a future pick or a talented young player back. I don't see Thabeet ever being the player people think he will be, especially offensively, and all the other top ranked guys that could be taken here are guards. They haven't given up on Mike Conley yet, and obviously O.J. Mayo has the 2 spot . All that said I believe they do draft Thabeet because, well, they are the Grizzlies.

3. Oklahoma Thunder select Ricky Rubio: This is quickly becoming my favorite team to watch, although I say this after watching very few of their games due to their lack of TV appearances. That will change soon though, as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green are quickly coming into their own as very good players. Westbrook played the point last year, but moving him to the 2 frees him up to be a scorer, which he has proven to be. Adding a talent like Rubio to this team, in my opinion, makes it a contender within the next 3 years. On a side note, when you type in Thunder on google the second link is for www.nba.com/sonics. Real classy David.

4. Sacramento Kings select Jonny Flynn: Some have Jrue Holliday here, others James Harden. This seems awfully high for Holliday, and while I like Harden, he is a 2-guard and the Kings have Kevin Martin filling that slot nicely. By default it makes sense to me that they would take Flynn. He's going to have to learn to be less of a scorer and more of a facilitator, but I think that can come with time. I also like Jeff Teague with this pick, but he seems to have fallen as of late.

5. Washington Wizards select Jordan Hill: Hill has talent, and is a big body, which the Wizards need. They are in a very weird spot here, as they have the talent to be a top 4 team in the east next season, but are picking high in the lottery. Regardless, Hill is raw and probably won't play much because of the talent the Wiz already have. I think DeJuan Blair fits their needs better, but most teams are shying away from him because of his lack of height.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves select James Harden: I'm not really sure exactly what the Wolves do here. The top of this draft is guard heavy, but other than Rubio it's mostly scoring guards that look to pass second, which they have in Randy Foye. In the end I think they pick strictly on talent, which means Harden.

7. Golden State Warriors select Tyreke Evans: And I thought the Wolves pick was hard. The Warriors are loaded with guards, but they are willing to consistently play small, meaning they need more guards than most teams. Evans really fits the mold of this team; quick, versatile, good size, and seems to have the smarts to play the point when needed.

8. New York Knicks select Jeff Teague: This team needs a point guard, but they have time to wait for one to develop. It's a perfect situation for Jeff Teague, a player that dominated at times for Wake Forest, but also disappeared at times. He has the potential to be a great player though as long as he is given time and guidance, which Mike D'Antoni will be more than happy to provide.

9. Toronto Raptors select Stephon Curry: This is a team that needs to win now, and as such should try as hard as they can to trade this pick off for some established talent. If they can't do that Curry is a pretty good consolation prize. This guy can just flat out score. I've been following him for 2 years (yes, I am the guy in your office pool that picked Davidson to go as far as they did in the tourney two years ago), and I can tell you he can contribute to an NBA team right now. Having a player like Chris Bosh to take the pressure off will help significantly too.

10. Milwaukee Bucks select Dejuan Blair: Assuming Michael Redd comes back healthy, they hold on to Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut continues the improvements he was making before his injury this team has the potential to be contending for a playoff spot. Blair is a guy that knows who he is (a wide body that is ridiculously strong), and can probably provide a 15 and 10 if given the opportunity. My only concern with him is his size (6'6"). He should fit well with their team. The other player I could see here would be Brandon Jennings, but I don't think most see him as a true point guard, which he would have to play with the Bucks. Plus, scouts don't seem to like his work ethic or attitude much.

11. New Jersey Nets select Demar Derozan: Athletic swing-man that can play the role of a Richard Jefferson type player. Doesn't need to be the top scoring option, but can carry a team at times. Should be a good fit with Vince Carter and Devin Harris.

12. Charlotte Bobcats select Gerald Henderson: It's either him, Ty Lawson or Tyler Hansbrough. This team always takes the Carolina product if it makes any sense at all, and those three players could all be considered here. Personally, I think Gerald Henderson will be a HUGE bust because he doesn't have much of a jumper and never dominated a game in college. Regardless, Bobcats ownership seems to go for the local guys.

13. Indiana Pacers select Tyler Hansbrough: Obviously, as a Tar Heel fan I love Hansbrough. Say what you want about him, but he was able to dominate the best conference in college basketball for four years. Players that dominate consistently in college for long periods of time generally do well in the pros, unless they are injury prone. Even if he is injury prone he is tough enough to play through him. I could see him averaging 15 and 10 over a 11 plus year career.

14. Phoenix Suns select Terrence Williams: Athletic swingman with tons of potential. He is the type of player that will either be a superstar or a bust, and at this point the Suns need to take a chance. Hopefully they actually keep this pick.

15. Detroit Pistons select Ty Lawson: I'm not sure they are sold on Rodney Stuckey anymore, and while I still think he will be good, they may want to take a player that can help out at the point. It's not waisting a pick to do that, because if both pan out Stuckey can easily play the two guard.

16. Chicago Bulls select Earl Clark: This is a team that doesn't really have a position of serious need. Clark represents an extremely talented player at this point, and it's possible he could be a superstar in the Lebron James mold in that he can dribble, shoot and pass well.

17. Philly 76ers select Brandon Jennings: Andre Miller isn't getting any younger, and Jennings, while his attitude isn't the best, he has the talent. He also has a year of experience, albeit in a foreign league.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves select James Johnson: Decent shooter with good athleticism that needs time to develop, something the Wolves have plenty of, especially given their recent moves. They could also go guard here, but it's a guard heavy draft, so they should be able to get a decent one later in the draft.

19. Atlanta Hawks select Eric Maynor: I'm a big fan of Maynor. He is extremely fast, has a great runner, and can get shots off from positions you wouldn't think possible. Think Rajon Rondo. Perfect fit for a Hawks team that needs leadership and speed at the point.

20. Utah Jazz select Chase Buddinger: Matt Harpring is past his prime (if he ever had one), and Buddinger can easily do most of the things he did. Plus, he's white, and we all know how the Jazz love white players.

21. New Orleans Hornets select Wayne Ellington: Definitely a favorite for my diary. Excellent shooter, has learned when and how to drive, underrated defender and overall just a smart player. This guy could end up being the best player in this draft.

22. Portland Trail Blazers select Jrue Holliday: I don't really see a player that fits a need, mostly because the only need they have is at center. Holliday will probably spend some time in the D-League, because I don't think he's ready now to contribute. The Blazers have enough talent they can do that.

23. Sacramento Kings select Omir Casspi: Don't really know a whole lot about him, but it seems the Kings like him.

24. Dallas Mavericks select B.J. Mullens: Unathletic center, but he's 7 feet tall. Probably won't ever make it in the league long term, at least in any type of substantial role.

25. Oklahoma City selects Taj Gibson: Good rebounder that can score at a decent rate. Could be a good 6th man or fringe starter.

26. Chicago Bulls select Victor Claver: Prototypical foreign player with a little more bulk.

27. Memphis Grizzlies select Toney Douglas: Great scorer that can also handle the ball. Good player that can play alongside Mayo at times as well as give him a breather.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves select Darren Collison: Another player that should be higher up, but isn't because scouts have had so much time to watch him that they have gotten bored. He has top 5 talent defensively, and is a good floor general.

29. Los Angeles Lakers select Dajuan Summers: Polished player that can play now but has limited upside. Could be a solid contributor off the bench.

30. Cleveland Cavs select Josh Heytvelt: Was probably a top five pick until the drug bust, then dropped off the face of the earth for a little bit at Gonzaga. Great size and athletic, could definitely play right away for the Cavs.

I'm hoping to do a running diary tomorrow night but am not sure it will be possible because of work. If not, I'll have my Little Black Book on this draft on here soon.

~Aaron Jackson

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