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Step In The Arena: Not Your Momma's NBA Draft Preview

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Step In The Arena:  Not Your Momma's NBA Draft Preview

The NBA Draft is a glorious day. Terrible teams are instantly transformed, talented young players become millionaires, and basketball junkies are thoroughly entertained for a few hours.

While there are approximately one-billion other Draft Previews out there, this one will skip the typical player analysis and focus on how the new addition will effect the squad as a whole.


1. Los Angeles Clippers - Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

This one is a done deal. They already have pictures of Griffin on ads for season-ticket packages in Clipper land.

The Clips were extremely fortunate in the lottery. Already stocked with young talent in Al Thorton and Eric Gordon, Griffin will give the Clippers a very solid foundation to build on.

In fact, if Baron Davis can stay healthy and be even half the player he was during his days in Oakland for the Warriors, I think the Clippers will make the playoffs next year. A starting lineup of Davis, Gordon, Thorton, Griffin and Marcus Camby is simply sick. This team will be fun to watch.

 

2. Memphis Grizzlies - Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain

The big question here revolves around last year's 1st rounder, Mike Conley. Are the Grizzlies confident that he is their point guard of the future? He was pretty unimpressive as a rookie and the team traded Kyle Lowry to Houston. My guess is they will be too intrigued with the 6-4 PG from Spain to pass on him. Rubio is a wild card, and if the Grizz miss on this selection, they are all but doomed to perpetual failure. The safer option is certainly Thabeet.

O.J. Mayo looks like he's going to be a very good player, Rudy Gay is a gifted scorer and Hakim Warrick is solid down low. But overall, this team is unintimidating and miles away from contending for a playoff spot. If Rubio is the next Tony Parker, which some scouts believe he indeed is, than Memphis will have a bright future.


3. Oklahoma City Thunder - Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

Thabeet's a beast. Two things you know he's going to do - block shots and rebound. It will be quite interesting to see what the Thunder do if Memphis picks Thabeet, because they already have last year's first rounder, Russell Westbrook, slotted at the point. Perhaps scoring machine James Harden?

Although it should be Seattle that has something to be excited about (Howard Schultz you greedy bastard), Oklahoma City has a good team on the rise. With Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Westbrook, the Thunder are quietly building a formidable unit. This pick will be critical in their development. Thabeet will help them tremendously on defense.

 

4. Sacramento Kings - Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy

Poor Kings fans. They suffered through the worst season in the league, only to miss out on the chance to draft Griffin and wind up with the fourth choice. While Jordan Hill might make more sense here and the Kings will certainly take Rubio if he is still on the board (unlikely), Sacramento really needs to roll the dice here.

Not only were they the worst team in the NBA last year, from a talent perspective, I've got them ranked dead last. Kevin Martin is a ferocious scoring threat, but aside from him they are straight up weak. I like Francisco Garcia as a good role player and Rashad McCants has potential (although I see him as another Jerry Stackhouse).

Jennings is a pioneer for his decision to play ball overseas straight out of high school rather than go to college. He was rated the number one player in the nation as a high school senior. True, he did struggle somewhat in his one season in Europe, but I think he will be an excellent player in the NBA.

 

5. Washington Wizards - Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona

This pick could be Harden, whom I would personally select, as I believe he is the most NBA-ready (next to Griffin) in the draft. But the Wizards already have two players similar to Harden in Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, so Hill makes more sense here.

Much like the Clippers, this team is too talented to be picking where they are in the draft. Gilbert Arenas missed all of last season with an injury after signing a contract for 3 zillion dollars. When he returns he will remind everyone how good he is. With a phenomenal trio of Arenas, Jamison and Butler, along with last year's first rounder Nick Young and now Jordan Hill, this team will be back in the playoffs immediately and very dangerous.

 

6. Minnesota Timberwolves - James Harden, SG, Arizona St.

Finally. Harden is an extraordinary player. If he gets to the T-Wolves, they will be getting amazing value at the six spot. He would fit perfectly into the Minnesota roster.

Al Jefferson is a monster down low. If Kevin Love turns out to be the player they are hoping he will be, the frontcourt is set for the future. Harden can play small forward if they want to slot him there, or they can put him at the two with Randy Foye to form a potent backcourt. The T-Wolves might be kicking themselves for trading Mayo on draft day last year. They desperately need a relentless scorer and Harden is just the guy for the job.

 

7. Golden State Warriors - Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis

Oh boy. The Bay Area will be bonkers for a backcourt of Monta Ellis and Tyreke Evans.

Last year was a mess straight from the gate, with Monta's mo-ped madness crippling the team before it had a chance to get going. Ellis is way too talented to let last season stop him from becoming a star, and teaming him with last year's freshman phenom Evans will have Oracle Arena rocking like it's the first round and they're playing Dallas.

This is a really talented team. With Captian Jack (Stephen Jackson), Monta, Andris Biedrins and Corey Maggette, they have veterans who can ball. It will be interesting to see what happens with Jamal Crawford, who is too talented to be riding the bench. Even more intriguing is the core of young talent the W's are quielty assembling, with Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli. If Coach Nelly can get them clicking, this could be one of the most exciting teams in the league.

 

8. New York Knicks - Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson

Curry, the darling of the '08 March Madness, was an incredible college player. Will that translate into an exceptional NBA career? He was more of a shooting guard at Davidson, averaging an extraordinary 26 points per game. But the Knicks will likely use him at the point, raising some questions as to his effectiveness as a ball distributor rather than his comfortable "shoot-first" mentality.

I think the guy is going to get his, either way. You can't hold a special talent like Curry down. New York basketball desperately needs a guy who can put asses in the seats, and Curry will do wonders in that department. Still, this team is far from a contender. Nate Robinson is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the league, but New York is right next to Sacramento as the least talented team in the NBA.

 

9. Toronto Raptors - Demarcus DeRozan, SG, USC

Toronto's number one priority should be re-signing Chris Bosh, but all signs are pointing to him leaving in free agency. That's going to be problematic. Outside of Bosh, this team is not very good. Andrea Bargnani might turn out to be a solid player, but there is no way he's going to live up to expectations (Toronto drafted him with the #1 overall pick). What's going to happen with Shawn Marion? There a ton of question marks up in Canada.

DeRozan is a gifted athlete who will provide a player the Raptors can build their future around. If they lose Bosh, this team won't be a contender in the forseeable future.

 

10. Milwaukee Bucks -Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke

Not since the days of Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson have the Bucks had an intimidating squadron. Micheal Redd is an amazing shooter, but the Bucks may have overpaid for him. In my draft preview last year, I predicted that Joe Alexander would be a bust, and he did absolutely nothing to convince me otherwise in his rookie season (4 PPG, 2 RPG, bum status). This team is not looking sharp. They should simply draft the best player available, regardless of position.

 

11. New Jersey Nets - DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh

The Nets were very smart to acquire Devin Harris, who looks to be their point guard for years to come. This pick could depend on their plans for Vince Carter, who might be leaving. If so, they could go with a Wake Forest SF Jajuan Johnson. The idea of teaming Blair with Brook Lopez could give the Nets a solid young frontcourt.  If Yi Jianlian turns into the player they are hoping for, the Nets could be very competitive, especially if Carter sticks around.

 

12. Charlotte Bobcats - Earl Clark, SF, Louisville

With Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, Emeka Okafor, and D.J Augustin, the Bobcats have a plethora of talent. Blair would fit in nicely with this group, so if he's still around, Charlotte will jump on him. Henderson also could be the choice here, if he's available. If both are gone, they could be in a tough spot and perhaps even trade out of it. Clark is a good player but they really is need a big, strong frontcourt guy to team with Okafor.

 

13. Indiana Pacers - Terrence Williams, SG, Louisville

Are the Pacers set at point guard with T.J. Ford? That is the big question here. If they feel that Ford is not the long-term answer, they have some great options, as this year's draft is stocked with potential at the point in the middle of the first round. Ty Lawson could be their guy, as could VCU'S phenomenal PG Eric Maynor,  UCLA'S Jrue Holiday or Syracuse's Johnny Flynn. Terrence Williams was awesome at Louisville, leading the team to a Big East Championship and the tournament's #1 overall seed. He can score, pass, rebound and play defense. Decisions, decisions.

 

14. Phoenix Suns - Johnny Flynn, PG, Syracuse

I know what you're thinking: The Suns ain't gonna draft a point guard, they have Steve Nash! True, Nash is still one of the game's top point guards. But he's 35 years old. Phoenix needs to start planning for the future, and this year's draft is a great opportunity to draft Nash's heir apparent. Again, all the point guards listed above will be the possible selection here, with the Suns' scouts evaluating them extensively. I personally think Maynor will be the best of the bunch.

 

15. Detroit Pistons - B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio St.

The Pistons are still a very good team. My personal bias will prevent me from saying anything negative about Allen Iverson, but trading Billups was straight-up stupid. Nevertheless, they still have a really good young point guard in Rodney Stuckey alongside Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. They need a big man down low, and Mullens fits the bill. If Dajuan Blair is somehow still around, the Pistons will pounce.

 

16. Chicago Bulls - Jajuan Johnson, SF, Wake Forest

After being part of the greatest first round series in NBA history, nearly dethroning the champion Celtics, this pick is just gravy for Bulls fans. Chicago is a virtual lock to be in the playoffs again next season, with unbelievable point guard Derrick Rose leading the way. Ben Gordon might be gone, so if Terrence Williams is available, the Bulls should snatch him up. I could really see Williams in a Bulls uniform, pushing them over the top. I'm tempted to change Indiana's pick and slot Williams here, but I'm a little too lazy for that.

 

17. Philadelphia 76ers - Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth

This guy was one of college basketball's most underrated players over the course of his career. Maynor wants the ball when the game is on the line, as demonstrated by his game-winning shot vs. Duke in the '07 March Madness. He has good size and speed and is a fearless competitor, something Philly fans will no doubt appreciate. Maynor is a very good mid-range shooter who can also step back and knock down the three. He is an excellent passer and a true leader.

Andre Miller is still a very good point guard, but much like the situation in Phoenix, the Sixers need to start training the heir apparent. Maynor has the ability to be the Sixers starting point guard for the next ten years.

 

I'm going to stop at 17 for now, folks. I'm from Philly. Time for a cheesesteak. Scholar at me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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