Assessing the 2009 NBA Draft

Jay KingCorrespondent IJune 25, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 27:  Jonny Flynn #10 of the Syracuse Orange moves the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regionals at the FedExForum on March 27, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

I’ve read that the 2009 NBA Draft is the worst draft in a long time, and after hearing all the analysts, you would think this draft class was just a horrible collection of inferior talent.


Marc J. Spears of the Boston Globe recently wrote an article about the draft that was really my source of inspiration for this response to all the 2009 NBA Draft’s naysayers.  Not to criticize Spears, who I find to be a very good writer and an excellent reporter for the Globe, but his take on this draft is all wrong. 


In his article, “Give This Year’s Draft a One-Star Rating,” Spears wrote that the draft was one player deep, completely divided between one great star (Blake Griffin) and the rest of the players. 


If you listen to Spears, picks two through 60 might as well not even be selected. He actually quotes Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace, whose team owns the second pick in the draft, as saying, “We are thinking about forfeiting our selection because Griffin is the only player in this draft worth a damn.”


OK, I made that part up, but Spears did write, “This draft is so weak that someone selected at No. 12 could end up being as good as someone drafted No. 4.” 


To me, this draft’s depth is its greatest strength. 


The fact that someone selected at No.12 might be as good as the player drafted No. 4 speaks more to the fact that this draft is rather deep with probable contributors than to the collective weakness of the prospective draftees. 


In our mock draft, we had Ricky Rubio being drafted fourth and Gerald Henderson taken 12th. I can see both players being contributors right away. 


Rubio is a point guard who has already performed at a very high level in the best league in the world not named the NBA. He projects to be a solid point guard right away and certainly has star potential.


Henderson, unlike Rubio, may not have star potential, but he's projected to be a terrific role player with terrific athleticism and tough defense.


My point is, this draft is very deep, with potential star power at the top and bountiful role players in the later stages.


Even the top of this draft is underrated. 


Griffin isn’t the only player in the draft with the potential to become a star in the NBA.


Hasheem Thabeet is a 7’3” center whose athleticism has never before been seen in someone at that height. The aforementioned Rubio is a steady point guard who has already won the Spanish ACB League’s Defensive Player of the Year and started for the Spanish National Team, despite being only 18 years old. 


James Harden is a pro’s pro capable of being a go-to-scorer and dependable defender, while Tyreke Evans is one of the most physically talented point guards to enter the draft in recent history, with a 6’11” wingspan and the ability to create his own shot at will. 


Then there is Brandon Jennings, who is often overlooked because of his year spent in Europe, but he is a jet with the basketball and can penetrate the lane against any defender. DeMar DeRozan is probably the best athlete in the draft, with elite NBA athleticism similar to a young Vince Carter.


After the top, there are plenty of players who will help a team right away or will almost certainly develop into worthy role players. 


Point guards alone include Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Eric Maynor, and Ty Lawson. I could see all those players getting solid minutes during their rookie seasons and helping their teams win games. 


But it doesn’t stop at just point guards. 


Players who I am almost positive will become valuable, if maybe limited players in the NBA, include: Jordan Hill, Dejuan Blair, Earl Clark, Chase Budinger, Jeff Teague, Terrence Williams, and Tyler Hansbrough. 


This draft has gotten an unfair assessment of being a very weak draft. Will it be as good as the 2003 draft, where Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were picked in the first five picks? 


Probably not. 


But will it be a dud like the 2000 draft, which is what everyone has been saying?


No way.


See this article and more at Celtics Town.