NBA Mock Draft: The Lottery

Jay KingCorrespondent IJune 3, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners claps in the first half while taking on the North Carolina Tar Heels during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

1. LA Clippers- Blake Griffin

The Clippers cannot afford to make another mistake at No. 1. Griffin is as good as and possibly better than advertised. With Kobe Bryant entering the latter part of his career, Beckham likely ending his career in Europe, and steroid allegations surrounding Manny Ramirez, the city of Los Angeles needs a savior.

Griffin has all the tools in his box to be that savior, and with him going to a team filled with veterans, the pressure will not solely be on him. He is the dominating force inside that a franchise needs to succeed in the Western Conference.

Clipper fans need to cross their fingers and hope the front office pulls the trigger on this future NBA all-star. The frontline of Kaman, Randolph, Camby, and Griffin could be a deadly mixture of BIGS needed by “the other” LA team in order to get back into the post season.


2. Memphis Grizzlies- Hasheem Thabeet

In a tough toss-up, I believe the Grizzlies must select the most dominating defensive player in the draft. This super-long, athletic big will be able to impact the game on the defensive end immediately.

Thabeet is a better fit for the NBA game than the college game for a variety of reasons. For one, he will not see as many teams playing zone defenses, which will enable him to play more one on one down on the blocks. Secondly, the NBA game is not as guard-oriented as its college counterpart.

With Thabeet, “baby” Gasol, and Gay on the frontline, and Conley and Mayo in the backcourt, the Grizzlies may be able to get out the NBA’s basement..


3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Ricky Rubio

This pick is determined by what Memphis does. It’s simple; if Memphis selects Thabeet, then OKC gets Rubio. If Memphis decides to go with Rubio, OKC gets whom they ideally want in Thabeet.

But with Thabeet off the board Rubio is no slouch as he is considered the best player in Europe. He has the ability to create for teammates as well anyone in this year's draft. Rubio held his own in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing against the best players in the world.

He started for a Spanish team that consisted of at least five other NBA players, including the guy he took over for as starter, Jose Calderon. That team finished with the silver medal, losing to United States in the gold medal game.

Because he is unknown by many, the pressure will be on him to contribute and live up to the hype almost immediately. He will be a perfect addition to the Thunder, as he and Russell Westbrook could be the ingredients to a potentate defensive backcourt.


4. Sacramento Kings- Tyreke Evans

Evans has all the tools that NBA GM's look for in top-five draft picks. He has great size and if he can somehow make a smooth transition to the pg he could be extremely lethal. Evans is known primarily as a shoot-first point guard but, with his quickness and playmaking abilities, could be a far more typical point guard in the NBA.

The Kings are the big losers in this draft, as they had the best opportunity to land the No. 1 selection. However, the GM can make up for some tough luck in the lottery by doing his homework and taking a serious look at Mr. Evans. Evans has a unique ability to create his own shot and make plays for others seemingly on command.

In my opinion, Mr. Evans has the most potential in this year’s draft of any player not named Blake Griffin. Evans can flat out play; however with all of drama surrounding the Memphis basketball program his stock could take a fall.


5. Washington Wizards- James Harden

Looking at this selection makes me think of what happened in 2003 with the fifth pick. The Miami Heat selected Dwayne Wade out of the University of Marquette. Although Harden’s game is not really identical to Wade's, I see many similarities.

They are both good all-around scorers, solid defenders, and have a high basketball I.Q. (The Dwayne Wade I am referring to is the guy right out of college, not the Final MVP or Olympic gold medalist D Wade.)

I understand that the Wizards have Gilbert and Caron but adding Harden to that back court could help the Wizards get back to the playoffs. The thing I like about Harden the most is his play making ability along with his old-school savvy. He already plays more like a veteran than a soon-to-be NBA rookie.

If he is on the board when the Wizards make there selection at five, expect them to take this left-handed assassin.


6. Minnesota Timberwolves- Demar DeRozan

In his first season at USC, Demar showed both his rawness and why critics have been raving about him. This athletic freak defies gravity when he attacks the basket. Add that to a supposedly great work ethic and you have the formula to create an NBA All-Star.

He is not the best defender in the country; however he has the size, athleticism and strength become one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. The sky is the limit for this kid but he will need some time to come into his own in the league.

He is the perfect selection for the T’Wolves with the sixth pick because he can easily to be added to that young rotation.


7. Golden State Warriors- Brandon Jennings

This is an easy selection for the Warriors at No. 7 because Jennings gives the team a true point. Although Monta Ellis did not get a whole season at the 1, I believe his shoot-first nature is better-suited for the 2 guard position.

Jennings has all the tools that Nellie would love about a point guard in his high octane, up-tempo system.

His tremendous quickness and athleticism put him a head of most point guards in this class. He attacks the basket confidently and he will finish above the rim in traffic. He has a certain swagger with him that he is the best, which can really benefit him in this league.

He is also a product of Oak Hill Academy, the noted basketball breeding house. (Notable Players from Oak Hill Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Stephen Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse, Josh Smith, and Rod Strickland) That list puts him in great company of successful basketball players at the next level.


8. New York Knicks- Stephen Curry

ACC schools truly missed out on this sharpshooter as he carried an undersized Davidson team to the Elite Eight a year ago. This year, he faced double and triple teams all season long. One game this year against Loyola Maryland the opposing coach decided to play a triangle and two, with two guys on Steph!

Literally they had two defenders guarding him the whole game, even when he did not have the ball. Even facing gimmick defenses throughout the year, he still managed to finish No. 1 in the country in scoring, averaging 28.6 ppg.

Although he did not lead Davidson back to the NCAA tournament he did make a smooth transition from the 2 guard to the point, showing point guard skills nobody was sure he possessed.

Mike D'antoni, whose team has been rumored to have promised to select Curry if he falls to them, must feel like he is heaven with this selection at No. 8 because Curry is he ideal player to fit his up tempo run and gun system.

Some people do not understand how talented this kid is, and time will only reveal his talents as he laces them up for New York come late next fall, unless another team ahead of them pulls the trigger on selecting him.


9. Toronto Raptors- Jrue Holliday

Holliday has great size for a point guard, assuming he makes that transition. He was overshadowed this season with Ben Howland's club, due to seniors like Dareen Collison and Josh Shipp, and his play was stifled by Howland’s offense and by playing off-ball.

Holliday is a lock-down defender and will prove that during his rookie campaign. He is another one of the young talents with the rare characteristic of a great work ethic. With his athleticism, versatility and work ethic, he should be be able to reach his potential in the league.

Jrue is the prototypical pick-and-roll guard, and teaming him up with Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani could really benefit him a lot in his first few seasons.

The Raptors can go a few different ways with their selection at No. 9, but since they are in rebuilding mode getting a guy like Holliday, who possesses tremendous upside despite not being “NBA-ready” right now, could really help the franchise gain momentum in the right path.

I don't see Holliday making them good enough to make the post season next year, but he could help them get further and further away from the lottery.


10. Milwaukee Bucks- Jonny Flynn

At Syracuse this year, Jonny Flynn showed scouts why he is considered a lottery pick by most experts today. He is fearless attacking the basket, possessing a tremendous amount of heart and swagger.

Only standing about 6'0" and weighing in at 200 pounds, Flynn makes up for his lack of size with all of the intangibles and great athleticism. With the possibility of Ramon Sessions leaving due to free agency, the Bucks cannot afford to put the ball back into the hands of Luke Ridnour.

If not Flynn, expect the Bucks to select a point guard with this selection. Flynn may be the most well-rounded point guard in this year’s draft and he should be able to contribute right away wherever he lands in this league.

I think the NBA game will benefit and maximize his skills because he has the ability to make plays and get to the free throw line. If the Bucks can stay healthy, they have a good chance of getting back into the postseason.

Flynn could help their cause, adding him to a potential starting lineup of Richard Jefferson, Michael Redd, Charlie Villanueva and Andrew Bogut would give the Bucks the opportunity to keep playing in June.


11. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Hill

Hill emerged into the lottery this season at the University of Arizona. He is a monster on the boards and a solid interior defender. Most NBA mock drafts have him going somewhere in the top five; however, I do not see the need for those team selecting that high to take him at that point.

In college, he could score inside, he could bang inside, but in the NBA can he be as effective as you want in a top-five pick? I mean, I guess you never know—Michael Olowakandi went No. 1 overall, Sheldon Williams went No. 4 in a more recent draft, so Jordan Hill will be among that company of raw big men with a great amount of potential.

At No. 11, this would be another steal for New Jersey as they obtained Brook Lopez last year with the No. 10 pick.

He was supposed to go in the Top Five, but in these days you never know where you will go and how long you will be sitting in the green room. On the plus side, Hill will be able to compete for the starting job and, if not, he will definitely see ample playing time as New Jersey is looking to get themselves back into the post-season.


12. Charlotte Bobcats- Gerald Henderson

He went to school in North Carolina and the Bobcats should be thrilled to get a talent like this with the No. 12 selection. He has as much versatility and athleticism as anyone in this draft. His improved shot-making ability is what puts him in the discussion of the NBA lottery, opposed to just the first round.

He also played at Duke University which means he is probably a high-character guy and willing to play for the name on the front of the uniform as opposed to the name on the back. Gerald also showed that he can be a great defensive presence and this will only get better when his potential fully kicks in.

He is no stranger to finishing over defenders and above the rim. Last year, the Bobcats were a few games from making the post season for the first time in the organizations history.

Look for them to draft someone that can help contribute right away as they will use last year’s momentum to make another run at the Eastern Conference playoffs.


13. Indiana Pacers- Earl Clark

This super-long, athletic freak of nature in my opinion will be the steal of the draft, so long as he is taken anywhere outside of the Top Five. Mr. Clark has big upside as he is extremely athletic and very versatile; he can play up to four positions.

The Pacers would be getting a great prospect with this selection. He’s not necessarily needed by them, but at this point they would be selecting the best available player. With the emergence of all-star Danny Granger the Pacers have the chance to find another diamond in the rough with one of their mid-first round selections.

At Louisville, Clark showed at times the ability to be a top-five pick, though he was inconsistent throughout the season. With his inconsistency, teams will be afraid to draft him in the Top 10, but after that GM's will have their fingers crossed hoping this potential stud will land in their lap.


14. Phoenix Suns- Terrence Williams

Back to back Cardinals taken off the board here with Clark going first, followed by Williams. Williams is a good fit for any team. He is built like a forward, but plays like a guard.

He has great defense, which fits perfectly into Phoenix’s needs. The Window of Nash, O'Neal, and Stoudemire is closing fast (if it hasn’t already closed), so they do not have the time to take a project.

Drafting Williams here would ensure them of getting a well-rounded veteran player. He had Shawn Marion-like stats in his senior campaign at Louisville. With Stoudemire’s return, Phoenix should be able to get back into the postseason next season and drafting an all-around player such as T-Will will only increase their chances.


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