The 2009 NBA Draft: Who Will Succeed, Who Won't

Shady BotrosAnalyst IJune 22, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs upcourt during their second round game against the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Sooners defeated the Wolverines 73-63.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

With the NBA draft coming up in a matter of days, I have thought about this. Who will succeed, and who won’t. Teams always hope the players they pick end up having great careers and lead these struggling franchises to glory. However that is not always the case, for every Hakeem Olajuwon there is a Kwame Brown.

The future of a team hangs on a decision, in the 1984 draft the Portland Blazers were hoping to land the big prize, a Nigerian kid from the University of Houston named Hakeem Olajuwon, and they ended up losing a coin flip which meant that they would have to select another player. The Blazers go on to pass up on Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton and end up taking a seven footer from Kentucky Sam Bowie. The move is regarded as the worst decision in NBA history.Obviously we all know the rest, Jordan goes on to win 6 rings and Bowie is a complete bust. Now here are my predictions for this draft. I will go over a lot of players who I have a strong feel for and predict who I believe will pan out, and who I believe will not.


The good

Jonny Flynn- Flynn has impressed each team at workouts and could go as high as four. Flynn is lightning quick with the ball, he is a natural leader and he is a durable player. I would be really surprised to see Flynn not turn into an all star point guard.

Stephen Curry- at worst he is a situational shooter or a Derek Fisher type point guard. That is the worst case scenario. Curry can shoot the lights out; he has the highest basketball IQ in this draft, and he can still take it to the rim. Curry’s dad Dell Curry was another sharp shooter who shot 47.6 percent from three in the 1998-99 season. People complained that Curry had a boy body and he was a weak kid. That is a misconception, he is 6-3 181 pounds and surprisingly strong. He actually benched more than Terrence Williams at the draft combine.

Ricky Rubio- Rubio is in the Jason Kidd mold where he can score, but he is not afraid to pass the ball. When Kidd entered the league he did not have a great jumps hot, in fact Steve Kerr made a joke in which he said his teammates called him Ason, which is Jason without the J. Rubio is not a great shooter but he is 6-4 and he really impressed scouts at the Olympics, he only averaged about 10 points per game in Europe but remember the competition in Europe is tougher than the completion in college, and he has been playing professionally since he was about 14, or 15.

Brandon Jennings- Jennings was the high school player of the year, ahead of guys like Tyreke Evans, and Jrue Holiday. Jennings also has great speed with the ball, he is a good shooter, and he can also finish at the rim. Jennings faced tougher competition in Europe although he had a lot of DNPs, and a horrible scoring average. He is coming to the NBA with a chip on his shoulder.

Eric Maynor-a pure point guard Maynor was an absolute beast at VCU. He averaged 22.6 points per game and 6 assists. Many people say that since Maynor played a VCU he did not face anything near the completion he will in the NBA, well when he faced teams like Duke and UCLA, he brought his A game and single handedly upset Duke in the 2007 NCAA tourney. Maynor is the top senior in the draft and the biggest sleeper, he can be a great point guard since he has a high basketball IQ, and he can distribute the ball.

James Harden- Harden can absolutely score the ball, averaging 20 points per game his previous season at Arizona. He reminds scouts of Manu Ginobli, and Brandon Roy. He is the complete package, shoot, handle and pass. Harden can also drive to the rim since he has a stronger body. It would really surprise me to see the top two guard in the draft turn into a disappointment.


The Bad

Hasheem Thabeet- A 7 footer picked at two, who does he remind me of. He reminds me of guys like Emeka Okafor, Okafor is a player who never developed an offensive game, although he was a great defender, or even worse, Sam Bowie. While Thabeet can be a presence defensively, offensively he has no go to moves in the post, and if you watched him play, a lot of the times he was facing 6-7 posts, which I guarantee he will not see in the NBA. Is it me or is Thabeet a bust waiting to happen.

DeJuan Blair- Blair has raised many red flags, he had two ACL surgeries on both knees in high school, when a doctor looked at his knee he could not find his ACL. While Blair is a tough guy he is 6-7, he has no jump shot and he relies on his post play. We have seen smaller posts in the NBA like Elton Brand and Charles Barkley, DeJuan Blair is more like a Glenn Davis. Blair is a fearless rebounder, but his offensive game is raw and he may not be healthy enough to play in the NBA, plus he had some weight problems although he has worked hard to trim down.

BJ Mullens- I see Mullens as a backup center in the NBA, he has a lot of upside although I have heard he has a bad work ethic and isn’t that interested in basketball. He is about 2 years away from becoming a contributor.  He did not even start at Ohio State; he is leaving too early and will have a rough time adjusting to the NBA. Offensively he is still raw, and lacks a go to move, only averaged 4.7 rebounds, for a 7 footer that isn’t impressive, at best he is a Chris Kaman type.


The Mysteries

Blake Griffin- most people will think I’m crazy, but I don’t think Griffin is anywhere near the can’t miss status people are giving him. He is the consensus number one overall pick, but I see major holes in his game. I may take a lot of heat for this but I almost out him in the bad, he is extremely creative at getting to the basket, he is not Amare Stoudamire which is the comparison I am hearing, Stoudamire will knock down 15 footers all day, Griffin has no jumper although that can be improved. He is probably the worse number 1 pick at free throw shooting 59 percent, which by the way is sub Shaq, who shot over 60 percent. Griffin may never live up to being the number 1 overall pick and may be a product of a weak draft, like a Derrick Coleman or Kenyon Martin type player. He has a great work ethic but call me crazy but Griffin is not can’t miss in my book.

DeMar DeRozan- DeRozan led USC to the NCAA tournament. He can shoot the ball and he has a nice mid range game, he has drawn comparisons to Kobe Bryant due to his athletic ability. He is a great specimen at 6-7, but he is still a few years away from contributing at the NBA level. He only shot 17 percent from three, and 65 percent from the line. He has a lot of potential, but he won’t be the player you want him to be immediately.

Jrue Holiday- a lot like DeRozan, Holiday has a perfect NBA body; he is about two years away from being a solid contributor since he only played a year in college. Holiday is unproven but has all the tools. He has a smooth mid range jumper and out of all the point guards he is the best pure finisher at the rim. Holiday is a great handler, and has a ton of upside but he had a disappointing freshmen season considering the hype that came with him. Holiday can play both guard positions although people question whether he can be a scorer. Holiday has a ton of upside and I was leaning on putting him in the good section if he went to the right situation.