NBA Mock Draft 04-24-09
The NBA Draft is one of my favorite events of the entire calendar year, and although it is still about two months away, I am more excited than ever. A few weeks back I posted up my thoughts on the first lottery picks in the draft with their recent averages from several sites. This week, using what I have learned from other major sites, I will make my first-ever lottery mock draft. I hope you enjoy!
Note: I apologize but this is an incorrect and out-dated draft order from April 1, 2008 when I made my first look at the draft. I hope to do another mock draft just before the lottery sometime next month, and I apologize for the inconvenience.
#1 Sacramento – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma: The Kings need a little bit of everything right now. The only two pieces of their future they have locked up are Kevin Martin and Spencer Hawes, and Griffin is the most sure-thing to come to the NBA in a couple of years. He will be an immediate force, and a perennial All-Star. Jason Thompson was not a smart pick at their spot last season, but Griffin should compensate for that selection by bringing in a dominant presence in the paint. He is smart, humble, and a fierce competitor, and I have a good feeling that with his help, the Kings will not win the Lottery next year.
#2 Washington – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona: Washington is bringing Flip Saunders to coach up this team in 2009, fresh off a miserable past 2008 season. Gilbert Arenas is still the future, and their goal this off-season should be to develop the youngsters they have, and find a long-term replacement for Antawn Jamison. Hill fits the bill, and although Rubio will be better in the end, he is a solid pick here. With Jamison, Butler, Arenas and Hill, along with healthy contribution from Brendan Haywood, I think Washington should be in the giant mix of competitive Eastern Conference teams next season. Their prime winning seasons are over, but anything less than 30 wins next season should be considered yet another disappointment.
#3 LA Clippers – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain: Rubio will not fall past the third pick in the Draft no matter what, and could possibly be the first pick if Sacramento does not feel comfortable with Beno Udrih for the next couple years. The Clippers need a go-to player and Rubio should help to make Baron Davis feel a little more pressured next season. A great position for the young Spaniard, as he will be surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Davis struggled this past season with injuries and because of a lack of team focus. Al Thornton and Chris Kaman are the two other strong players for the future, but Rubio, just like Griffin, gives the Clippers a face of the franchise for many years to come.
#4 Memphis – Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut: Although Thabeet is not a great fit for the Grizzlies considering they have Marc Gasol for the future, he is the best available player at this point in the draft. They already have Mayo and Gay for a long time, and thus, they do not need any more pure scorers like James Harden or Demar DeRozan at this pick. Thabeet and Gasol should be a powerful combination for many years to come, much like the combination of Bynum and Paul Gasol in Los Angeles. It will take a while for both players to develop to All-Star caliber contributors in the NBA, but the pieces are definitely in place for Memphis to improve drastically in 2009.
#5 Minnesota – Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy: Jennings started the trend of American high school players jumping to Europe, and he will be in a very good position to succeed in Minnesota. The T’Wolves were one of the best teams in the NBA around New Years this season, before Al Jefferson was lost for the year with an injury. Randy Foye is not a true point guard, but the combo of Jennings and Foye looks pretty intimidating. I think they are a dark horse to make the playoffs in the West next season if they can sneak Jennings at this spot. He was one of the best high school players of the class of 2008, and will be a great player in the future for some team.
#6 Oklahoma City – James Harden, SG, Arizona State: Although the Thunder would absolutely love to have Thabeet fall to them, Harden makes a lot of sense for this young team. They have great building blocks in Westbrook, Durant and Jeff Green, but their shooting guard play is suspect at best. Thabo Sefolosha is a great defensive stopper, but Harden gives them a solid offensive option for many years to come as long as he gets rid of that nasty slump he had at the end of the year. When they will their big three plus Harden on the court next season, it will cause a lot of match-up problems for other teams, and Nenad Krstic should be good enough to service as a center for this team for another year or two at least.
#7 Golden State – Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis: There is an ugly situation going on right now in Golden State without Baron Davis around anymore, and I believe they need a face of the franchise. Monta Ellis might not be a Warrior for much longer, as the team still seems upset with him from that non-basketball injury last season. Tyreke Evans has huge potential, and is a common sense pick for the team to complement youngsters Morrow, Azubuike, Randolph, Wright and Biedrins. I loved what Evans did for Memphis all season, especially after New Years or so this season. He proved that he was one of the top freshman in the nation, and is a fierce player that Golden State desperately needs.
#8 Toronto – DeMar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal: Toronto has two great players on their team right now that should be able to compete for an All-Star position soon. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are two of the best players at their respective positions in the NBA, but the Raptors are right now one piece short from being a playoff contender. Their shooting guard play is not very good, and DeRozan, just like Evans, is filled with upside and should be a great player in the Toronto system. Anthony Parker is not very young anymore, and DeRozan is a pure scorer that should succeed as long as Calderon remains healthy in the immediate future.
#9 New York – Earl Clark, SF, Louisville: What concerns me about the New York Knicks is their lack of direction right now. I know that David Lee and Wilson Chandler should be their two building blocks for the future, but I am not really sure as Nate Robinson, Chris Duhon, Al Harrington and others played integral roles on the team this season. They need a viable small forward to step in and contribute immediately, and Earl Clark fits that role. He is versatile, can play many different positions, and would be great in a Mike D’Antoni offense. Danilo Galinari might still be a few years away from consistent NBA production, while on the other hand, Clark could step in this coming season and be a regular piece of their rotation.
#10 Indiana – Stephen Curry, SG, Davidson: I don’t think the Knicks are seriously interested in Stephen Curry, despite what media reports are saying right now. He doesn’t fit with their system very well, but would be a great fit for the Indiana Pacers. Ever since Reggie Miller retired, they have not had a go-to scorer, and Curry fits that role precisely after averaging 29 points this past year for Davidson. TJ Ford, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy and Roy Hibbert are the future for Indiana and Larry Bird, and Stephen Curry would almost be a dream pick for them this season.
#11 New Jersey – DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh: New Jersey does not need a point guard, and for all of the mock drafts out there right now picking Lawson, Flynn or the other guards at the this position, it just does not make sense. Vince Carter and Devin Harris are the best two players on this team, and Yi Jianlian and Brook Lopez are building blocks for the future. If Stephen Curry is not available, I think the Nets add up another big man and Blair is an absolute beast on the boards. he reminds me a lot of Paul Millsap when he was at Louisiana Tech, and I think he could have a similar career in the pros.
#12 Milwaukee – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke: If Henderson is avilable in the draft, he is a perfect fit here for the Bucks. With Michael Redd coming back next season, they will be a hot choice in the Eastern Conference next season, to complement the improved play of youngsters Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. I really like this ball club, and they need another scorer for the future. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a great defensive stopper, but I think the team now realizes that Joe Alexander was not a very good selection last year.
#13 Charlotte – James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest: Charlotte is dying to get one of the top shooting guard/scorers at this top half of the draft, but in case any of those ideas do not fit, they need another versatile scoring option. Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor are cornerstones for this team’s future, but are not that great offensively. With Johnson, a versatile forward with a knack for scoring that can backup Boris Diaw in the coming season, the Bobcats look pretty talented on paper. They will still need some more help to counteract the loss of Matt Carroll last season, but I think they have a great chance to make the playoffs next year.
#14 Phoenix – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina: Is there a possible better fit for the Phoenix Suns looking forward to the future? Amare Stoudamire and Leandro Barbosa are the only two young great players on this team, and Lawson will give them a focused edge for the future. He is the perfect point guard in every way, and his toughness would help to bring a mean streak to the fading Phoenix Suns. Backing up Steve Nash for a year or two will do wonders for his game, which is so close to being All-Star-like already. I love this pick here, and the Suns are just hoping the cards fill in for them to pick him at this position.
Check out these other great NBA Draft Web sites: