The NBA's annual Draft Combine has wrapped up and without the five-on-five play, most of the focus was on how big and athletic the prospects were.
The NBA Draft is not nearly as influenced by the Combine as the NFL Draft, but the Combine is gaining credibility--although it's in question how much preparation and effort the prospects put into the Combine, as the teams start to use it more, prospects will start to care more.
This version of the 2009 NBA Mock Draft has integrated the results of the NBA Draft Combine as well as the feedback on the prospects received from scouts and GMs around the NBA.
With the highest floor and highest ceiling in the draft there is no disputing that Griffin is the man in LA.
There have been rumors that the Clippers may be shopping the pick but it was also rumored that Marilyn Manson was Paul from The Wonder Years.
At the Pre-Draft Combine Griffin did not post any overly impressive numbers (35” max vert, 22 reps bench reps of 185) but he was a legit 6'10" in shoes with an average 6’11” wingspan.
You can't teach size, and it's very hard to find 7'2" centers with a 7’6” wingspan (9’5” standing reach). With those long limbs it's no surprise he's so effective at picking off shot attempts.
The Grizzlies still have a decision to make between Thabeet and Ricky Rubio. Thabeet is readier to help a team win, he's defensive minded, and is committed to improving his game--especially his jumper.
It's too early to turn the page on the 21 year-old Mike Conley at point guard, the position with the biggest NBA learning curve. Supports of Rubio in Memphis need to realize he will also take some time to develop, by the time he does O.J. Mayo might be looking for a new home.
What will the best young team in the league do in the NBA draft?
Rubio might be the second coming of Jason Kidd, with a Spanish flair instead of Bay Area funk.
Russell Westbrook has committed himself to being a NBA point guard and the Thunder will still need him to be that.
Rubio has an amazing highlight ability but he also has a propensity for turnovers and until he learns to contain his game his minutes will be on lock.
The Thunder could use help down low but they have plenty of scoring power which is why a pass-first, rebounding, defensive point guard is a great selection.
I still feel Brandon Jennings is the second-best point guard in the draft but without the teams getting a real chance to see him compete with the other prospects he carries a high risk factor.
If you're looking for a prospect who stands a head above the rest it's Holiday—at 6’4” he's the tallest point guard in the draft.
Holiday is extremely competitive and he is very savvy for only being 18. Had he played in a run-n-gun system like Memphis he would have been one of the stars of college basketball.
With quality wings and posts on Sacramento, the team will welcome Holiday with open arms.
Since breaking onto the scene at Arizona State scouts have nitpicked Harden for his size and athletic ability.
After measuring in at 6'5" with a 6’10” wingspan and recording a 37” max vert with 17 reps on the bench what will they complain about now?
Harden is NBA ready. He has the size, ability, and most importantly, the game to make an impact for Washington right away. Harden generates points through steals and he can finish dunks in traffic.
Gilbert Arenas will be the one for Washington to start the year but if something were to happen to him Harden is suited to be the primary ball handler from the shooting guard position.
No player’s body impressed scouts more at the 2009 NBA Draft Combine than Tyreke Evans. With a freakish 6’11” wingspan and 8’8” standing reach the 6'5" combo-guard is able to cover a lot of space without even moving.
When he does move, Evans is a force to be reckon with. He is a very talented ball handler and those long arms allow him to display an impressive array of shots.
Randy Foye has provided quality production for the T-Wolves in the front court but the team still needs more. Evans can play three positions with his size and he may be the Brandon Roy pick that they missed out on in 2006.
Minnesota does need to upgrade their small forward and point guard positions but in the NBA Draft, picking the best player on the board is never a bad move.
With the de-emphasis on five-on-five play, the Draft Combine is devalued for some players, but not Curry.
Teams and Scouts have had questions about Curry's size, strength, athletic ability, and ball handling.
Starting from the back, Curry looked polished in ball-handling drills, showing no signs of hesitation. He can play above the rim with his 35” max vert and has a good strength-base displayed by his 10 reps. Not bad for a 6'3" point guard.
Did I mention he can shoot?
Curry will fit in well in Oakland, being the yang to Monta Ellis' yin. Until the Warriors have finalized a deal to bring back Baron Davis they need a guard to keep defenders honest.
As the son of former pro Dell Curry, Stephen has learned lessons about the game no other prospects have experienced, giving him a unique edge.
The only prospect to break the 40-inch max vertical mark was the diminutive Jonny Flynn. That's 3-1/2" inches less than Nate Robinson recorded in 2005 and Flynn makes up that difference with the three inches he has on Robinson.
Teams have been falling in love with Flynn because of his pit bull mentality. Players like Flynn who have always been told they are too small play with a chip that propels them to excel—Flynn's chip is bigger than any of the rocks we'll see in the green room come Draft Day.
If Stephen Curry is off the board the Knicks could also look at Brandon Jennings, but until he improves his stock with individual workouts it's not foreseeable that he will jump Flynn in the draft.
New York seems to have a master plan approaching the summer of 2010 and with a thick point guard class in 2009, Flynn may be one piece to their puzzle.
Toronto brought their franchise from nothing to something by drafting prospects with amazing athletic ability (Tracey McGrady and Vince Carter) and it's time they do it again.
It looks like Toronto will be losing Anthony Parker and Shawn Marion this year and Chris Bosh next—DeRozan will help bridge the gap between the present and the future.
At the Draft Combine, DeRozan leaped 38” inches and measured-in with. It's just a matter of if he is the next McGrady, Carter, or Darrius Miles, because the potential is there, including a developing three point shot.
Clark is the prototype for the new-age power forward in the NBA. Silky smooth offense with he ability to post or face-up and he has the size (6'10" & 228 pounds) and athleticism (33" max vert) to rebound and block shots.
One red flag was his five reps on the bench, which may have come down to effort--one thing scouts question about Clark.
If the Bucks cannot bring back Charlie Villanueva, whose halftime tweeting created rifts in the franchise, Clark could be the guy and he's a great value at 10.
In this scenario the Bucks will also be taking a hard look at Brandon Jennings to run the point or Jordan Hill.
Hill is not overly athletic (35" max vert) and while is straight line speed is competitive, he recorded the Draft Combine's worst time in the agility drill. Strength wise, 11 reps of 185 pounds were matched by A.J. Price.
At 6'10" Hill does have the size and hustle that scouts are looking for in a power forward and his overestimated athleticism proves he gets the most out of his ability.
Unfortunately, that also lowers Hill's ceiling in the Draft.
Hill could fall anywhere in the draft but 10-through-13 has three teams all looking at power forwards.
It's difficult to determine how he would blend with Brook Lopez because they are both back to the basket players. Hill is the top post on the board at this point but New Jersey could trade down for James Johnson or even reach for him, adding a more versatile forward.
Depending on Michael Jordan's opinion of him, Terrence Williams could be the 12th pick of the draft.
At the Combine, Williams tested good (6'6" & 37" max vert) but not great (9 reps of 185). He was the best athlete on the court at all times last season which puts his effort in tests in question, much like Clark.
While Charlotte doesn't need help at point guard, Williams can play three positions which allows the Bobcats to go big or small and he will naturally play the small forward.
Williams learned how to give effort on defense from Rick Pitino and he knows how to get easy points in transition. Shot selection is suspect but he's very effective when playing in rhythm.
Unless one of the posts falls to them, the Bobcats should be looking at a wing.
My intuition tells me Jordan would pick the Tarheels' National Champion Wayne Ellington over Gerald Henderson of Duke so it's just a matter if the former UNC star can climb the board enough to surpass Williams—unless the Bobcats trade down.
The Pacers should be ecstatic if they get a shot at Jennings, who could be the most productive player in the 2009 NBA Draft when it's all said and done.
Scouts haven't had an opportunity to see enough of Jennings in the past year, and none of his physical stats have been verified.
In Indiana, Jennings would be the perfect fit for Jim O'Brien's up-tempo system that puts a premium on the three.
Jennings' cocky style has been humbled some overseas and is has stated that he is committed to being a pass-first point guard—who happens to have an elite scoring ability.
The Suns' star-studded lineup may not be together much longer, especially the big apostrophes Shaq O'Neal and Amar'e Stoudemire. Blair will team with Robin Lopez to head the Suns' frontcourt of the future.
Blair, who has tipped the scales at over 300 pounds in the past, came to the Draft Combine with 277 pounds (12 percent body fat) on his 6'6" frame. His height is a concern but a 7'2" reach allows him to play bigger than he is.
If Blair can drop another 10-15 pounds it will greatly improve his 33" max vertical, and make him more athletic overall.
Blair is a prospect that worries me, if he's not playing quality minutes every night, he may not be able to keep the weight off his body and his nutritional discipline is a concern.
Physically, James Johnson is the most impressive post prospect not named Blake Griffin. He is almost 6'8" and carries 257 pounds (12 percent body fat) but still managed a 35" max vert. On the bench, 18 reps shouldn't be ignored for the trained kick boxer.
Johnson's style is perfect for blue collar Detroit. He can play either the three or the four, and even step-back to hit the three.
From the 10th pick on, Johnson could hear his name called anywhere, and I wouldn't expect him to fall much further than 15.
Another prospect with a very good NBA body (6'5", 215 pounds, 4.4 percent body fat, & a 6'10" wingspan), Henderson will be able to step in for the Bulls if they cannot afford Ben Gordon's free agent contract.
Henderson is dedicated to defense, and he is explosive (35" max vert) on offense with a developing three point shot.
Chicago could also use another post but without Gordon then need to make sure they have their back court needs met.
Not only is Teague one of the best scorers in the draft, but he is also one of the best athletes (36" max vert, 13 reps of 185, & 4.5 percent body fat).
The Sixers could use a little more size in the front court, but he has a bigger wingspan than Chase Budinger, and he is much more competitive.
There are some purer point guards in the Draft, but Teague's versatility gives the Sixers two players in one.
Insurance doesn't always come cheap in the NBA but with three picks in the first round the T-Wolves can take out a policy on Al Jefferson by drafting Mullens, the freshman from Ohio State.
Mullens joins Thabeet as the only seven-footers in the draft (6'11 3/4" in w/o shoes, 7'1 1/4"). He managed 10 reps of 185 and jumped 32 inches which is a good athletic base for an NBA center.
Over the past year, Mullens has gone from being a lottery-lock to a fringe first-rounder. Due to the scarcity of true centers, he could go to any of the double-digit draftees.
In Minnesota Mullens could learn and contribute at the same time and a small media market would help keep pressure off his back. He is a skilled basketball player who appears to be a dedicated pro.
There is no timetable for how much longer Mike Bibby will be in Atlanta, or the NBA, and Acie Law has been a bust to date.
Lawson is one of many point guards the Hawks could select here.
He officially measured in at 6'0' with arms of the same length but he was one of the fastest, and quickest point guards at the Combine. Lawson is strong (14 bench reps) and explosive (36" max vert) not to mention experienced.
The Hawks need a point guard who can knock down threes, especially in the clutch, which is something Lawson is very experienced at.
It seems too good to be true, but Hansbrough may just go to Utah, or even higher.
Scouts had been down on Hansbrough's size and athletic ability—not sure why the way he dunked on people—but at the Combine he confirmed both at 6'9" with a 34" vertical. He's strong too with 18 reps on the bench.
We know Hansbrough can rebound and score and after the Combine it just reconfirms that he is one of the most NBA ready players in the draft.
There is a good chance that Carlos Boozer will leave Salt Lake City in free agency and the Jazz will insert Hansbrough into the lineup immediately.
There are a lot of goods and bads that come with Budinger.
Some good things are his 38" vertical, three point shooting, and ability to play either wing position.
On the other end of the spectrum, his wingspan is the same size as his height (6'7") and his commitment to defense and dedication to the game are in question.
A team like New Orleans would be a great fit for Budinger. In the half court he could focus on spotting up for threes, and filling the lanes Chris Paul creates.
The Hornets also like to run and Budinger is at his best on the break.
The Draft Combine solidified that Ellington is a first round talent. Scouts were impressed with his 38" vertical leap and he's in shape with 5.5 percent body fat.
Ellington is one of the best shooters in the draft. He has a diverse scoring ability and he will add a boost for the Mavericks off the bench.
There is still a chance that Ellington will slip out of the first round because some teams don't think he can ever fulfill a starting role.
The Kings need to replace some of the strength and toughness they lost with John Salmons going to Chicago and the experienced Sam Young can do just that.
Young was injured in a private workout, preventing him from benching but all you need to know is he's 6'6" and 223 pounds with 4.9 percent body fat.
At Pitt, Young developed a reliable three pointer. He works hard to grab rebounds.
What you see is what you get with Collison, and what you see is a 6'0" 166 pound point guard with unlimited range.
Brandon Roy will facilitate most of the offense in Portland, diminishing the need for Collison to penetrate or score inside the arc.
Collison is faster and quicker than current Blazers PG, Steve Blake, they have a similar shooting ability and while Collison is small he gets after it on defense.
Daye will continue the youth movement in Oklahoma City, and he is the most two-faced prospect in the draft.
The picture perfect 6'10" shooter seems like a can't-miss prospect in drills.
During tests at the Combine, the 192 pound 20-year-old Daye couldn't get the 185 pound bar off his chest and his max vertical was 28".
On the bright side, Thunder star Kevin Durant couldn't press 185 pounds coming out of school either.
Where Daye will land is the toughest prediction in the draft. On Oklahoma City, he can develop coming off the bench and fill a role at the two, three, or four.
The Bulls want to continue to add big, physical posts and at 6'9" with a 34" vert and 17 reps on the bench, Lawal could be a future starter in the NBA.
If Lawal would have stayed in school, and develop his offensive game, Lawal could have snuck into next year's lottery.
With two picks in the first round, I would not be surprised to see Chicago try to package one, or both into a trade because their roster is pretty full.
Even if the Grizzlies feel Mike Conley is their point guard of the future, they still need depth at the position after trading away Kyle Lowery.
Maynor has great playing experience, and while he doesn't do anything outstandingly, he is very good at everything he does.
Maynor was a little taller than expected (6'3") and he has good speed and agility.
Mills may not be the solution for Minnesota at point guard, but on the other hand he just might be.
After holding his own in the Olympics, the Rookie Combine, and individual workouts, the diminutive Australian is making a name for himself.
With so many picks, it will be interesting to see how the T-Wolves blend their needs with the best player available.
The Lakers need a power forward they can bring off the bench if Lamar Odom decides to leave and the 6'10" 240 pound Pendergraph will be ready to play.
Overshadowed by James Harden at ASU, Pendergraph is a very good player in his own right. A 35" vertical leap accompanies his back to the basket post game, and he works hard on D.
If Pendergraph slips into the second round he could be the next Leon Powe or Paul Millsap.
Another prospect who could go 10 slots higher, Summers would give Cleveland the size the need to take on Orlando next season, and some perimeter shooting ability as well.
Summers' 34" max vert was competitive with the rest of the prospects and his 15 reps confirms that he is able to play both forward positions.
If Summers is off the board by the 30th pick, Cleveland may pick Xavier's Derrick Brown or Gonzaga’s Josh Heytvelt to add size to their rotation.