The Top Ten Basketball Players Selected in the 2009 Draft
This year's draft won't be as great as the famous 1996 and 2003 NBA drafts, but it is still a solid class with Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet leading the way. This draft is unique because it has a complementary mix of both big men and guards at its disposal. I am going to give you the top ten players in the draft and why they are going to be the most respected rookies in the past years
# 1: Blake Griffin - LA Clippers
Oklahoma Sooners sophomore Blake Griffin won the 2009 John R. Wooden Award as the College basketball’s top player. This award came to him only three days after he decided to leave college and turn pro. Griffin was Oklahoma's first player to ever win this prestigious award and led the nation with 30 double-doubles. This year Griffin also won The Associated Press College Basketball of the Year and the Naismith award. In this upcoming draft it is almost certain that Blake Griffin will be selected number one overall. Last year Griffin was considered a lottery pick but both he and his brother decided to return to college in pursuit of winning the NCAA Championship. Unfortunately the Sooners lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the regional finals.
# 2: James Harden - Memphis Grizzlies
After his freshman year, Harden was named first team all-Pac-10 and was named to the conference all-freshman team. Harden was also named first team All-District by the NABC and the USBWA.
Entering his sophomore year, Harden appeared on many pre-season All-American lists and appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated college basketball preview issue. He was named to the Wooden Award preseason watch list. On November 30, 2008, Harden scored a career-high 40 points in an 88-58 victory over UTEP. On the Tempe campus, a popular t-shirt emerged for his fans. It read, "Die Harden Fan."
Harden was named to the 2009 All-Pac 10 Tournament Team following Arizona State's defeat by USC at the Staples Center to capture the title.
Following the 2008-2009 Pac-10 season, Harden was named the Pacific-10 Conference's Player of the Year. He was also named a consesnus 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans. After the conclusion to the season (a second-round NCAA tournament loss to Syracuse), Harden declared his eligibility for the NBA Draft. He has employed Rob Pelinka as his agent.
# 3: Hasheem Thabeet - Oklahoma City
It's no question that Thabeet fits the Thunder's most pressing need of interior defense. What's up for debate is whether OKC can afford to take a chance on Thabeet's limited skill set with such a high pick. Thabeet isn't likely to come in and supplant Nenad Krstic as the starter. The Thunder would be banking on the 22-year-old Thabeet to develop into a more complete player down the road. But assuming Robert Swift doesn't return, Thabeet would give the Thunder some much-needed front court depth behind Krstic, thus making him the only player that would make opponents think twice about coming into the lane.
# 4: Ricky Rubio - Sacramento Kings
Rubio is regarded by some as the best European guard prospect since Dražen Petrović. Rubio has been compared to Pete Maravich by some. Says former NBA guard Pepe Sánchez, who at the time played at the point guard position for Spanish ACB League rivals Unicaja Málaga Despite his notability, he has been carefully shielded. Both DKV Joventut and the Rubio family agreed not to make him available for interviews until he reached his 18th birthday on October 21, 2008. However, the restrictions were ended a few months early once he was selected for the Spanish national team that would play at the 2008 Olympics.
Rubio held his first press conference in early June 2008. During the event, he criticized what he saw as the NBA's emphasis on individual play and blamed poor team play for the recent struggles of the US national team.
# 5: Jordan Hill - Washington Wizards
Hill is considered one of the top prospects for the 2009 NBA Draft. There is not much information about him except he is clearly one of the nation's top college forwards. A decent scorer and a terrific rebounder, he is expected to go fifth in the 2009 NBA draft to the Washington Wizards.
# 6: Stephen Curry - Minnesota T'Wolves
After Davidson's loss in the NCAA Regional Finals against Kansas, Curry announced that he would return for his junior year. Curry said he wants to develop as a point guard and be able to create his own shot to get ready for the NBA. On November 18th, Curry scored a career-high 44 points in Davidson's 82-78 loss to Oklahoma. He extended a career-long streak by scoring at least 25 points for seven straight games. On November 21, Curry registered a career-high 13 assists, to go along with 30 points, in Davidson's 97-70 win over Winthrop. He was held to 0 points in a 78-48 win over Loyola on November 25. Loyola double-teamed Curry constantly in a historic game in his career — it was the first time he was ever held scoreless and only his second collegiate game without double digit points. Eleven days later, in Davidson's next game, Curry matched his career-high of 44 in a 72-67 win over North Carolina State. Scoring Davidson's final 10 points, he helped his team clinch the game in the last moments with a three-point shot from 30 feet, and two clinching free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining. He also had a team-high 3 steals. On December 20th, Curry went cold in the John Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis. Going 5-for-26 field goals, including hitting only 2-of-12 threes, he finished with only 13 points against Purdue and its defense (led by Chris Kramer), resulting in the Wildcats' second loss of the season, a score of 76-58.
# 7: Brandon Jennings - Golden St. Warriors
On July 16, 2008, Jennings signed with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian Lega A. The contract he signed with Roma was for $1.65 million net income guaranteed and after earning the contract with Lottomatica, Under Armour gave Jennings a $2 million contract to showcase their products in the Euroleague. Jennings was the first player to play for a European team rather than playing for a college basketball team since the NBA's age restriction rule was implemented.
In the Italian Lega A 2008-09 season, Jennings averaged in 27 games, 5.5 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.5 steals in 17.0 minutes per game. He shot 35.1 percent from the field and 20.7 percent from 3 point range in Lega A play. In 16 Euroleague games, Jennings averaged 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in 19.6 minutes per game. In the Euroleague he shot 38.7 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from 3 point range.
# 8: Jonny Flynn New York Knicks
Flynn was named to the preseason All Big East team and started the season with a 27-point effort against Richmond on November 18, 2008. Seven days later, Flynn scored 25 points and hit a 3-pointer with 6.4 seconds left in regulation as Syracuse defeated then-No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, Kansas 89-81 in overtime in the championship game of the CBE Classic. Flynn was named MVP of the Tournament.
Flynn's leaping ability was on display on a January 11, 2009 game against Rutgers. With Syracuse clinging to a 52-48 lead, Flynn drove to the hoop and threw down a monstrous dunk over 6-foot-3 Rutgers guard Michael Rosario as Rosario attempted to draw a charge.
In the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big East Tournament on March 12th and 13th, Flynn led the Orange to a 127-117 win in six overtimes over the favored University of Connecticut Huskies. Flynn played 67 minutes on the floor that evening, leading the Orange by scoring 34 points, adding 11 assists and making all 16 of his free throw attempts. Flynn then played all 45 minutes of Syracuse's 74-69 overtime victory over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Big East semifinals. He scored 15 points and had 9 assists. For his efforts, Flynn was named the 2009 Big East Tournament's MVP.
# 9: DeMar DeRozan - Toronto Raptors
In November 2007 DeRozan signed a letter of intent to play basketball at USC. He chose USC over Arizona State and North Carolina. He joined his friend, musician-actor-basketball player Romeo Miller.
In his first game for the Trojans, DeRozan scored a team-high 21 points with seven rebounds in an exhibition game against Azusa Pacific, a 85-64 victory, at the Galen Center.
DeRozan had 14 points in his first career regular season game in a win over UC Irvine. He grabbed 12 rebounds in the Pac-10 Conference opener, in which USC defeated Oregon, 83-62, on January 2, 2009, and scored a career-high 22 points in a 61-49 win over Arizona State on January 15.
# 10: Tyreke Evans - Milwaukee Bucks
In April 2008, Evans announced that he would attend the University of Memphis, after also considering Villanova University and the University of Texas.
Evans struggled at times at the beginning of his freshman season until coach John Calipari inserted him as the starting point guard in the 11th game of the season, a 60-45 win over the University of Cincinnati. In 33 minutes, Evans nearly put up a triple-double, with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. The Tigers would not lose another game until falling to the Missouri Tigers in the NCAA Tournament.
Through February 23rd, following conference victories against SMU and UTEP, Evans was named the Conference USA Rookie of the Week eight times.
Evans was the only freshman finalist for the 2009 U.S. Basketball Writers of America National Player of the year award, named in honor of Oscar Robertson.