2009 NBA Mock Draft: Commitment Day Edition
The decision date for underclassmen entering the 2009 NBA Draft has come and gone—there's no turning back now.
The biggest name heading back to school is Luke Harangody although he was projected as a second round pick.
Fringe first-rounders like Damion James of Texas and Gani Lawal of Georgia Tech also returned to school to refine their offensive games.
While guys were deciding if they should stay or go, others have been working out for and talking to teams which has lead to a lot of shake-up in pick projections.
Enjoy the latest 2009 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Clippers select Blake Griffin
What hasn't been said about Blake Griffin already?
While he's not busy being huge and dunking on everybody, Griffin might be enjoying some Golden Grahams, his favorite type of cereal.
Griffin thinks Stephen Curry is the next-best player in the draft after him.
Growing up, he loved watching MJ, Shaq, Vinsanity, and T-Mac.
Griffin also had 30 double-doubles this year.
2. Grizzlies select Hasheem Thabeet
There aren't many humans walking the planet at 7'2", and most who are aren't as coordinated as Thabeet.
Thabeet can swat shots into the bleachers but he has also developed this skill of catching his blocks, like the great Bill Russell.
There aren't many teams who would pass on Thabeet with the second pick and the Grizzlies are listening to any team interested in trading up for him.
3. Thunder select James Harden
Kevin Durant hand-picked Russell Westbrook in last year's draft, and while Westbrook can play the two, he's best suited as a point guard.
Harden is ready to start for OKC. Teaming with Westbrook, the Thunder will have a backcourt that plays defense with pride and can score and set up its teammates on the other end of the floor.
In case you aren't aware, Ricky Rubio is sliding down draft boards and he hasn't exactly been receptive to playing for the Thunder.
4. Kings select Brandon Jennings
Ricky who? The Kings have been hosting point guards left and right, with Rubio nowhere to be found, which leads me to believe Sacramento is going to draft a prospect they have seen compete against other prospects.
Jennings, Jonny Flynn, and Jrue Holiday seem to be the Kings' top three right now--but it doesn't mean Rubio or Stephen Curry is out of the question.
The reason Jennings gets the nod is because he has the most rounded-out game of the group. Jennings can penetrate and finish, spot up for three, pull up inside the arc, and find his teammates with seemingly impossible passes.
He was very candid in an interview when he said that he is better than Ricky Rubio, and I believe Jennings, who was the top high-school prospect in 2008.
5. Wizards select Jordan Hill
I have had Hill fairly low on most of my mock drafts, but with the Thunder taking Harden, the Wizards may look to go big, putting Hill's ceiling at the fifth pick.
Washington is trying harder than any other team to move its pick. The Celtics might be interested in jumping Minnesota to get their hands on Tyreke Evans, and there are plenty of teams interested in Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio, including the Knicks.
Hill is a safe pick for the Wizards. He is just as ready to play as their current posts, and he can be the team’s eventual replacement for Antwan Jamison.
6. Timberwolves select Tyreke Evans
Several teams, including the Celtics, are interested in Evans, which solidifies his status as an early lottery pick.
Evans does have some gaps in his game, including a questionable three-point shot and average athleticism, but he has an innate ability to score on anyone.
He is not the biggest defender, but Evans' wingspan nearly cleared 7'0", making it very hard for anything to get past him.
7. Warriors select Stephen Curry
The Warriors have a growing interest in Jordan Hill, but if he goes at No. 5, Curry would be the next-best fit for the organization.
Golden State has Monta Ellis to penetrate on offense, and they need a deadly three-point shooter at the top of the key to knock down pull-ups and kick out in its fast paced offense.
There are still plenty of talented point guards on the board right now, and DeMar DeRozan has been getting looks from Golden State. But the Warriors seem committed to Ellis, and Curry will work best with him.
8. Knicks select Ricky Rubio
Really? How can the next great point guard be the eighth pick in the so-called "weak" 2009 NBA Draft?
NBA teams are weary of the European hype machine that produced Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Darko Milicic, and Andrea Bargnani (although he's coming along).
If it wasn't for Mike D'Antoni and the New York Knicks, last year's top Euro prospect Danilo Gallinari might have slipped out of the top 10.
A star like Rubio would be a dream from New York. He will cost them more than other prospects, but big names bring big crowds in NYC.
The Knicks will continue to restructure their roster leading up to the summer of 2010, but Rubio will add defense, rebounds, and confidence to the Knicks.
9. Raptors select DeMar DeRozan
Rumors aren't usually worth the paper they're written on, but I believe that the Raptors guaranteed DeRozan he won't fall beyond ninth.
The Raptors have a successful history of going after young athletic wings, and DeRozan can develop in Canada without his every failure being scrutinized.
The Raptors could also look at Earl Clark, Gerald Henderson, and Terrence Williams, but none have the potential of DeRozan.
10. Bucks select Jonny Flynn
With all of the premier point guard prospects in the draft, it's becoming a bit of a crapshoot trying to determine where everyone will go.
At this point in the draft, Jrue Holiday and Jonny Flynn are the last two of the top tier, and each prospect has their advantages.
In the Sacramento workout, Flynn edged out Holiday with his intensity and ability to penetrate. The Bucks needs a point guard who can create something out of nothing, and Flynn is that guy.
At Syracuse, Flynn primarily played zone defense, but there is no doubt that he's an upgrade over Luke Ridnour defensively.
11. Nets select Earl Clark
With guards getting all of the hype in the 2009 NBA Draft, Earl Clark is really flying under the radar.
Clark can play the three or the four for New Jersey, and his ability to play facing the basket, including a developing perimeter game makes him a great fit to play with a true post in Brook Lopez.
The Nets are still in the 2010 sweepstakes, and two capable bigs will help entice all suitors.
12. Bobcats select Gerald Henderson
While Charlotte is earning the nickname of the UNC Bobcats, the team can stay in state once again and get a very good player in Duke's Henderson.
Coach Larry Brown was impressed with Henderson's intensity in a workout. He is extremely explosive with the ball in his hand and works hard to lock down his opponent.
Terrence Williams is also an option at shooting guard, but he might be too cocky for Brown and Co. There are also a few Tarheels the team is taking a close look at.
13. Pacers select Jeff Teague
Basketball is life in Indiana, and nobody knows that better than former Indianapolis high school basketball star Jeff Teague.
The Pacers are entertaining point guards and shooting guards with the 13th pick of the draft, and Teague gives them both.
The perimeter scoring threat will work well with Danny Granger in the Pacers' "the best defense is a good offense" philosophy.
14. Suns select Jrue Holiday
Steve Nash won't be a Sun forever, and in Holiday they are getting a prospect who can replace Nash in the future and play alongside him now.
The Suns are still trying to figure out what direction they want to take their franchise, including what style of basketball they want to play.
Holiday is flexible and can be a strong pick in a variety of situations.
15. Pistons select Terrence Williams
Williams is very similar to the Pistons' Rodney Stuckey—but that’s not a bad thing. Both players can match up from point guard to small forward. They are strong, athletic, and devastating when going towards the basket.
The former Seattle hoops stars are contemporaries, and it never hurts to have a player pulling for you.
In Detroit, Williams would be Rip Hamilton's eventual replacement, but instead of running off screens all day, Williams thrives in one-on-one matchups.
16. Bulls select B.J. Mullens
More rumors are circulating, and this time it's that Mullens has been guaranteed a top 16 pick. The reason I'm playing into it is because there is a scarcity of seven-footers with talent in the NBA, and in this draft especially.
Mullens has All-Star talent—he is athletically inclined and has a nice offensive game. His toughness is in question, but the Bulls won't need him to solidify their defensive effort in 2009-10, and he will be coming into his prime when Derrick Rose is.
Don't be surprised if Mullens sneaks up into the lottery, either.
17. 76ers select Wayne Ellington
The addition of Jason Kapono should not stop the Sixers from taking the best shooting guard on the board. Ellington is bigger, more athletic, and a better shooter than Willie Green or Lou Williams.
The Sixers are committed to drafting a guard this year. They like Teague, who is gone, and there are some other pure point guards they are looking at.
Ellington played his high school ball in Merion, Pa. (outside Philly), and due to his college success, he would be well-received by the fans.
18. Timberwolves select Chase Budinger
David Kahn, President of Basketball Operations, has been adamant that he wants to draft players who have come in to work out for Minnesota, and that makes Budinger and Sam Young the top two prospect for the 18th pick.
Budinger has a more extensive offensive game, including a limitless three-point shot, and he is explosive attacking the rim and has good vision.
The T-Wolves have some players with similar skills as Budinger, but none of their shooters are as athletic.
19. Hawks select James Johnson
Atlanta has put Josh Smith on the market, which means they will be in need of another power forward soon.
Johnson could go nine spots higher to the Bucks, and he is considered a great value at No. 19.
With Johnson, the Hawks get a similar athlete to Smith. He isn't as explosive or comfortable facing the hoop, but he is more physical.
The Hawks have intentions of keeping Mike Bibby and Flip Murray if they can, diminishing the need for a point guard, and you can never have too much size.
20. Jazz select Tyler Hansbrough
Like Johnson, Hansbrough could go eight or nine spots higher. He has one of the best floors in the draft, and as teams continue to work Hansbrough out, his ceiling continues to grow.
Jerry Sloan will appreciate Hansbrough's work ethic, and the fact that he is ready to play from day one.
If the Jazz lose both of their power forwards this summer, Hansbrough could even come in and start, giving him a chance to compete for the Rookie of the Year Award.
21. Hornets select DaJuan Summers
The Hornets are looking to get tougher in this draft, and while DeJuan Blair is still on the board, Summers gives New Orleans a versatile forward with size to bang and a stroke from deep.
Summers is considered a 3-4 tweener, but with Chris Paul creating, he will only have to focus on hitting open shots and not doing too much offensively.
22. Mavericks select Ty Lawson
The Mavs have a team built for the present, and they need to draft players that can add to their veteran nucleus.
Dallas is comfortable playing two point guards at once because of Jason Kidd's size, and Lawson would add another dangerous three-point threat to the mix.
Once Kidd either leaves or hangs it up, Lawson is good enough to be the team's starting point guard. There are a few wings and posts Dallas is looking at, including Sam Young, but Lawson's winning edge make him an attractive prospect.
23. Kings select Austin Daye
Sacramento is very young, and they are 2-4 years from making any noise out west, which puts them in a good position to develop talent.
Daye is more of what they have in Sacramento, but he's not ready for marquee playing time right now. He can be a real asset for the Kings in the future, especially if he can develop some muscle to play spot time in the post.
As a shooter, Daye is flawless, but he is the least athletic prospect in the draft in terms of measurables. If he can become more competitive in that regard, he can be a dangerous sixth man or starter in the NBA.
24. Blazers select Victor Claver
Portland needs help at point guard, but I think they are going to try to address that through free agency.
The Blazers have a history of acquiring Spanish-born players, and the 6'11" Claver could be the next one.
Portland can afford to leave Claver in Spain for a season so he can continue to develop and then bring the silky smooth forward over when he is more NBA-ready.
25. Thunder select Omri Casspi
In individual workouts, Casspi can look questionable. But during five-on-five play, he's been outstanding, earning his the label of a "gamer".
Casspi has a very good feel for the game, and he is proficient going to the hoop. He isn't the traditional shooter that you expect from Euro prospects, but he has time (he's only 20 years old) to develop that aspect of his game.
On the Thunder, Casspi will be a good backup to Kevin Durant, and he may develop the size to bang with some of the league's smaller power forwards.
26. Bulls select Sam Young
Young is confident he can play both the two and the three in the NBA, which will benefit the Bulls, who are in jeopardy of losing Ben Gordon.
Young would be an upgrade size-wise at wing, giving Chicago a better chance of competing against the elite teams in the East.
Chicago will appreciate Young's toughness. He can also shoot the three well, take the ball hard to the cup, and rebound.
27. Grizzlies select Eric Maynor
I believe Memphis wants to let Mike Connelly get a fair shot before he blossoms on another team, but after trading away Kyle Lowry, the Grizzlies still need a backup point guard.
Maynor has great playing experience, and he's the most well-rounded point guard in the second tier of prospects.
I view Maynor as a backup in the NBA, because he doesn't have much room to grow. But if he can shoot over 40 percent from the arc, he may earn a starting role one day.
28. Timberwolves select Nick Calathes
Calathes has one of the most interesting situations in the draft. He has signed with a Greek team already, but he is still actively working out for NBA teams and is pursuing his NBA dream.
If Minnesota takes the former Gator, they can try to buy his contract out now, or wait a year while he develops overseas and then buy out the remainder of his contract. I would lean towards the later until the Timberwolves thin out their roster some.
Calathes is a combo guard, but he has the ball-handling skills and floor vision to be a primary point man, and he can really shoot the ball.
With all of the picks the T-Wolves have this year, they should be looking to trade some or draft a player who they can wait on before signing.
29. Lakers select Darren Collison
Adding another UCLA player to the mix, Collison can be a devastating shooter off the bench for LA.
As seen in the NBA Finals, Derek Fisher is still going strong, but Phil Jackson will be looking to reduce his minutes this season.
Collison is not a better point guard than Jordan Farmar, but his clutch shooting ability is not something to be underestimated.
30. Cavaliers select DeJuan Blair
There have been concerns about the health of Blair's knees, which is pushing him down the draft board, and I would not be surprised if he sees the second round.
A knee injury could mean the height-impaired Blair is even less explosive, and that he has an even greater chance of becoming morbidly obese and relatively immobile.
All that being said, Blair can help fill Ben Wallace's shoes if he chooses to retire or is traded. He works hard on defense and has a better feel around the rim than Wallace or Varejao.