The NBA Draft, like other pro drafts, marks the time of year when every team has a chance. From the Clippers to the Lakers, every team hopes to add a missing piece and propel themselves to championship glory.
The NBA Draft may not have the hype of the NFL Draft, but it is a quick, two-round affair with many surprise trades and story lines. Last year saw multiple trades between draft picks, and it was a highly entertaining if confusing event.
This year brings more of the same—except for the sure-fire selection of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, everything else is up for grabs. Where will Ricky Rubio go, and will he play? Where will sniper Stephen Curry end up, and will he be a bust like Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick?
I will try my best to sort out the madness in my NBA mock draft.
1. LA Clippers: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
The Clippers have openly stated that they will pick Griffin, so there is not much analysis required here.
While I do like Griffin, I have some doubts as well. He is a great physical player and can score at will, but can he lead a team?
His Oklahoma team, which had a strong supporting cast, lost in the Elite Eight, albeit to North Carolina, but will Griffin be able to lead the Clippers back to the playoffs? I don't think he is that kind of player.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
The Grizzlies are in a win-win situation at No. 2.
If they pick Ricky Rubio, which they won't because of the buyout and the reports he doesn't want any part of Memphis, they would get a player who as proven able to perform against the NBA's best players.
If they select Thabeet, they get another young talent who can complement Marc Gasol in the post and bring a defensive presence night in and night out.
I think the right choice is Thabeet anyways, and Rubio is doing Memphis a favor by saying he doesn't want to play there.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio, Spain
Life's just not fair. The Thunder have the best young team in basketball and showed so much promise at the end of last season, leading many to believe they are playoff-bound in 2009-10. And on top of that they get the third pick in the draft.
They will take Rubio because he is the best player on the board—possibly in the entire draft. With Russell Westbrook already excelling at the point, Oklahoma City will have an embarrassment of riches.
The Thunder have the most potential of any team in the NBA, and with the addition of Rubio, they will only get more people on their bandwagon.
4. Sacremento Kings: Jrue Holiday, UCLA
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.
Jrue Holiday is the lucky guy who will take his high spot at point guard.
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.
Being outfitted with quality wings and posts on Sacramento, they will welcome Holiday with open arms.
5. Washington Wizards: Tyreke Evans, Memphis
You don't have to take an SAT to know that Tyreke Evans is good.
Evans has a freakish wingspan and can play both guard positions, which gives the Wizards two of their needs: a point guard and a replacement for Gilbert Arenas if he is to get injured.
James Harden is a great player, but Tyreke Evans is the total package.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Harden, Arizona State
James Harden was one of the best players in the NCAA last year, and he led his Sun Devils to the Sweet 16.
While he put up impressive numbers throughout the season, he struggled during the NCAA tournament and also had his fair share of critics stating his lack of size and athleticism will be a factor.
I think Harden may just be the bust in this draft, but only time will tell.
7. Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, Davidson
The more and more I thought about where Steph Curry could go and actually succeed, the more I thought about the Golden State Warriors.
They play a run-and-shoot style of play that is perfectly suited to Curry's abilities as a small, fast, and dead-on shooting combo guard.
It is a tossup as to where Curry will land. He could go to any of the teams picking seven through nine, but he is the best match for Golden State, and I think Don Nelson notices.
8. New York Knicks: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Flynn is an athletic, hard-driving point guard with a great vertical leap. Sounds like Nate Robinson, right? Flynn had the highest vertical in the combine and showed great skill in using that vertical during his stay in Syracuse.
New York has eyes on 2010, and Flynn may be the point guard to help lead that revival in the Big Apple. Put money on Flynn staying in-state for his pro career.
9. Toronto Raptors: Jordan Hill, Arizona
Hill is a power forward who, despite a criticized lack of athleticism, hustles and gets the most out of his skill. He can rebound, play defense, block shots, and score. All are things the Raptors desperately need.
The Raptors have a reputation for drafting outside the box, so don't rule out Terrence Williams and Brandon Jennings, but I think the Raptors are going to pick the hard-working Hill to give them a new modus operandi in Toronto.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Europe
Brandon Jennings could have been one of the top picks in the draft, but he decided to protest the NBA eligibility rule and play one year abroad. I applaud his decision, but there is no doubt it will cost him a few dollars at the end of the draft.
Jennings is a good young point guard, and may be the best point guard in the draft. The Bucks are lucky to get him at the 10 spot.
11. New Jersey Nets: Terrence Williams, Louisville
Williams is a great point-forward who can do it all: play defense, distribute the ball, attack the rim, and is not too shabby on the glass.
He made a name for himself on Rick Pitino's Louisville squad and could be a Richard Jefferson and take some of the load off Vince Carter, who must be getting tired of carrying the load on these mediocre Nets teams.
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Ty Lawson, UNC
It will be either him or Psycho T. Lock it down as a guarantee that a UNC player will be selected before number thirteen.
Michael Jordan is a UNC alum, and they take care of their own. I think Tyler Hansbrough would make more sense, but Lawson is undoubtedly the better player and is a great pick at No. 12.
13. Indiana Pacers: Earl Clark, Louisville
Clark is a good player who can play in the post or on the wing, much like his teammate Terrence Williams, and would be a great complement to Danny Granger. The Pacers could seriously retool their team and get back into playoff contention with a smart pick.
Also look for guard Gerald Henderson from Duke as the Pacers have been having problems at point guard and T.J. Ford is injury-prone.
14. Phoenix Suns: Chase Budinger, Arizona
The Suns love athleticism, and Chase Budinger brings plenty of that to the table. Budinger received much hype entering college but did not live up to the unrealistic expectations. Much of that could be blamed on the dysfunctional setting in Arizona.
Budinger does have the tools, though. He could have been a college volleyball player and has a nice vertical. Also, he could fill the small forward spot once Grant Hill decides to hang up the sneakers.
The NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25 and can be seen on ESPN. Check out my non-lottery list sometime later in the week.
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