Now that the NBA Lottery is set, let's predict who will go where. Keep in mind I follow the NBA Draft all season long, and I do not hop on board when it is NBA Draft season. To me, it is always NBA Draft season, as I am always evaluating collegiate players.
The biggest questions are what will the Memphis Grizzlies do? And what will they do with Mike Conley?
1. The Los Angeles Clippers won the 2009 NBA Lottery (a.k.a. The Blake Griffin Sweepstakes). Let’s face it, the Clips are loaded. I will say it again, The Los Angeles Clippers are loaded.
Their starting lineup includes star PG Baron Davis, future 20 PPG scorer Eric Gordon, super athlete Al Thorton, and a very solid frontcourt of Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. Although Zach Randolph has one of the worst contracts in NBA history ($14 million with three years left), he will still help the Clippers as a really expensive sixth or seventh man.
When you thought the Zach Randolph trade could not get any worse, it just did.
Blake Griffin will likely battle Randolph all season for the 6th man role. This team is more talented than their LA counterparts and is only a defensive mind set away from contending, just like Denver was last season. I love the LA Clippers!
Clippers Depth Chart
1. Baron Davis
2. Eric Gordon
3. Al Thorton
4. Chris Kaman
5. Marcus Camby
1. Blake Griffin (PF)
2. Zach Randolph (PF)
3. Mardy Collins (PG)
4. Mike Taylor (PG)
5. DeAndre Jordan (C)
2. The Memphis Grizzlies do not need a PG and are dire need of a big man. It is hard to justify passing on future star PG Ricky Rubio but I think they will (unless they draft Rubio and trade Mike Conley for a big man, which is feasible). Portland wanted to pair Conley and Oden last season and both teams may try to work out a deal this offseason.
There are two good big man prospects on the board, Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill.
Thabeet is a defensive presence and that is it and Hill is an athletic big man à la Amar’e Stoudemire. He is definitely not as talented as Amar’e and will never be considered for Team USA but still has solid big man tools.
The Grizzlies will pick Thabeet, a project pick based on potential and Memphis will hope he will justify their selection ahead of the guaranteed star Ricky Rubio.
**There is a high possibility Memphis can still draft Rubio. They need to find a taker for Conley, which will not be hard since Conley is a stud PG prospect. If Memphis selects Rubio, the Thunder will select Thabeet. **
3. The Oklahoma City Thunder (one of the worst names in professional sports) are also in desperate need of a big man (Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic are mediocre big men) and they drafted a PG with the fourth pick last season (Russell Westbrook). Westbrook is not your typical PG and is more of a combo guard.
If the NBA was fixed OKC would have won The Blake Griffin Sweepstakes and he would have remained in Oklahoma. The Thunder would have their nucleus in tact for the next 10 years with Durant (SG), Westbrook (PG), Green (SF), and Griffin (PF), but they got the third pick and will select...Ricky Rubio.
Rubio will be a star and OKC will be very happy if he falls. Their lineup is now Durant, Westbrook, Green, and Rubio for the next decade. They will have one of the best NBA combos with Durant and Rubio and a sensational backcourt (Rubio and Westbrook). The Thunder will have an electric offense (too easy).
4. The Sacramento Kings had the best odds to win The Blake Griffin Sweepstakes but the lottery did not work out in their favor. They and the Wizards had the best chances to win and both actually finished the worst.
This is where the draft gets tricky. The Kings were the worst team in the NBA last year and have a lot of holes. They drafted a PF and a C the last two seasons, signed Beno Udrih to a lucrative deal last offseason and have an awesome SG in Kevin Martin.
Since they have two young big men, they will pass on (PF) Jordan Hill and will likely look at SG James Harden and PG Brandon Jennings. They made a huge mistake giving Beno Udrih that much money and will try to build around their young big men, Martin and Brandon Jennings. It is a nice nucleus to build around but they are still a few years away.
5. The Washington Wizards did not think they would have the fifth pick overall after a pathetic ’09 season, but they do, and contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of talent left on the board.
By holding on to Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison at this season’s trade deadline they are letting people know they are going to try to win with those two and Arenas one more season. They do not need any help in the backcourt and wing positions and need plenty of help up front.
This is an easy decision for Washington, as they will select Jordan Hill, an athletic big man with plenty of potential. They will have a nice frontcourt to build around in the future (Hill and Javale McGee).
6. The Minnesota Timberwolves were supposed to have the sixth pick in the draft and that is what they will have come June 25. They plan on building around a menacing frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love and in a few years the TWolves will play in a game where the opposition does not record a rebound.
They will not draft a big man and need a G/F who can create his own shot or create for his teammates. Their G/F situation includes Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye, and Corey Brewer (Mike Miller is likely to be traded and is not in their future plans). None of those players are game breakers and there are a few G/F available that can create on their own.
SG James Harden, SG Tyreke Evans, SG Demar DeRozan, and PG Stephen Curry are all viable options for Minnesota and I think they will go with James Harden. Harden is not the athlete Evans and DeRozan are but he can still do it all on offense. He will be a solid guard in the NBA and Evans and DeRozan can both jump super high and that is about it.
7. The Golden State Warriors will always be one of the strangest teams in the NBA as long as Don Nelson is in control. Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins will make a few all-star teams and Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette are both good veteran forwards.
They drafted Brandon Wright and Anthony Randolph, both athletic big men and were hoping to land a young PG, but Brandon Jennings is long gone.
Nobody really knows whom Nelly is going to draft, including Nelly and I do not think he can pass up a PG that can shoot and create. The Warriors will select Stephen Curry and they will average 140 PPG next season (wink).
8. The New York Knicks just had their hearts broken, as they too wanted a PG that could shoot and create. With Evans and DeRozan still on the board it is just a matter of preference. Evans is more polished but DeRozan can fly.
Both are very young and a few years away from contributing consistently but both are loaded with potential. Evans is more of a combo guard, which Mike D'Antoni loves. Evans is the pick.
9. The ninth pick in the draft belongs to the Toronto Raptors and they will be losing a couple SFs (Marion and Parker). DeMar DeRozan and Gerald Henderson are both available, DeRozan can play both G/F and Henderson can only play G. Henderson can defend anyone, jump out of the gym and went to Duke, so his hoops IQ is way ahead of most.
Henderson’s ceiling may be more limited than DeRozan but that is only because we know more about Henderson. Henderson is ready to contribute next season and DeRozan is not. Henderson is the pick.
10. The Milwaukee Bucks need a big man to compliment Andrew Bogut badly but there is not much on the board as far as big men go. DeJuan Blair is a stretch and a few years away from contributing consistent minutes.
They drafted Joe Alexander last season and he looks like a total bust. Earl Clark is a long, athletic, and skilled SF/PF combo who likes to rebound and play defense. Sounds like a perfect Scott Skiles player. Earl Clark is the pick.
11. The New Jersey Nets selected Brook Lopez with a similar pick last season and he turned out to be a steal. They are always looking for ways to trade Vince Carter and his contract, which may happen (perhaps for his cousin) on draft day. They will draft Demar DeRozan and hope he turns into a T-Mac/VC type player.
12. The Charlotte Bobcats made a few nice trades last season which almost made them mediocre. They have a decision to make, as Ray Felton is a restricted free agent. If they let him go, they are in need of some backcourt help.
The Bobcats love taking Tar Heels and may select SG Wayne Ellington, but that is a reach. F/GChase Budinger is a sharp-shooting athlete with great size and Coach Larry Brown loves versatile players. The ‘Cats select Chase Budinger.
13. The Indiana Pacers drafted Roy Hibbert and traded for Brandon Rush on draft day last season and are building around Granger, Dunleavy, Rush, and Troy Murphy. If they lose Jarrett Jack to free agency they need help at the PG position. DeJuan Blair, a low good low-post presence is also available.
The Pacers can go a bunch of different directions but I do not think they want a SG/SF type and will take a PG if they feel they cannot resign Jack. If they lose Jack, they take PG Ty Lawson, and if Jack stays, they take DaJuan Blair.
14. The Phoenix Suns have been infatuated with Johnny Flynn for a while and he will learn plenty in the one year he plays with Steve Nash. Phoenix will be making some major moves, perhaps starting draft day.
Amar’e Stoudemire, Shaq, Jason Richardson, and Steve Nash all may be available on draft day and if Steve Kerr plays his cards right the Suns should acquire plenty of talent and draft picks.
I hope you guys like this. It is all about what will Memphis do. If you like my analysis I can finish the first round.