2009 NBA Draft: Grading The First Round Picks

Joe SlowikCorrespondent IJune 26, 2009

Now that the 2009 NBA draft is in the books, it's time to figure out which teams helped themselves and which teams will likely be back in the lottery next year.

I'm going to be honest, this was one of the harder drafts to figure out, so some of these grades will be fairly harsh. That doesn't mean that there weren't some odd picks that didn't really fit the team's needs.


1) Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, A

This one wasn't exactly hard to figure out, so I won't spend much time on it. Griffin was the best player in this draft and the most likely to be an above average starter in the near future. Now all they have to do is trade a big man to clear the depth chart a bit.


2) Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, B

This was easily the worst spot in the draft with one sure-fire prospect and little difference between the next several prospects. Thabeet wasn't the best player available in my opinion, but he made the most sense for the Grizzlies' roster. In a stronger draft this would be a much lower grade.


3) OKC Thunder: James Harden, A

Some were clamoring for Ricky Rubio, but I love this pick. Harden is a solid all-around player that will blend in well as the third or fourth scoring option for the Thunder. This pick also lets Westbrook to stay at the point, allowing him to keep driving at will instead of adjusting to playing off the ball.


4) Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans, C-

I'm not a fan of this pick at all. The Kings desperately needed a point guard, but they took a wing player masquerading as a point instead. Evans has far too much of a scorer's mentality to be effective running the offense, but that's what he will end up doing with Kevin Martin entrenched at shooting guard. On a team that needed a 2-guard his length and driving ability would be a big asset, but playing him at the point probably won't go well.


5) Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, A

Rubio was the best value on the board and they desperately needed some players in the backcourt after their trade with the Wizards. However, this grade drops significantly if he ends up staying in Spain, which seems like a real possibility now.


6) Minnesota Timberwolves: Johnny Flynn, F

In and of itself this isn't a bad pick, but given that they just took Rubio and have no legitimate wing players at all it makes very little sense. I have a very hard time seeing Rubio and Flynn coexisting in the backcourt, and the alternative is even worse. Rubio may not want to join the team this year if the roster is a mess and he has to fight for time at the point guard spot, which would make this pick a true disaster.


7) Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, A

While he's not really a true point guard, he'll be by far the closest the Warriors have to a point on the roster. His shooting ability will fit right in with a team that likes to run and gun.


8) New York Knicks: Jordan Hill, B

Though the Knicks could really use some guard help, Hill was the best prospect left on the board. He gives them some length and athleticism up front and insurance in case David Lee is dealt. They're waiting on free agency in 2010 anyways, so they're just accumulating young talent.


10) Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, D

Jennings seems to be a major project that won't help Milwaukee's likely rebuild in the near future. Though he's clearly talented, he needs to work on his shooting and decision making. If Sessions is retained he won't see much of the floor this year.


11) New Jersey Nets: Terrence Williams, B+

The Nets are clearly not trying to win now, so an athlete like Williams makes sense. His play can be erratic at times, but he can make plays on both ends of the floor.


12) Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson, B+

Charlotte needs some wing players with scoring ability, which is exactly what they get with Henderson. Though he doesn't have great range, he can get to the basket and hit mid-range jumpers.


13) Indiana Pacers: Tyler Hansbrough, C

I'm not particularly thrilled or disappointed with this pick. The Pacers do need to get tougher up front, but he's not an option at center and probably won't drastically cut into Troy Murphy's minutes. That said, they weren't likely to find the strong complement to Granger that they sorely need at this point in the draft.


14) Phoenix Suns: Earl Clark, C+

I'd like this pick a lot more if D'Antoni were still their coach. He has good length and athleticism, but I'm not sure he has enough basketball ability to make an impact. They'll need to push the tempo like they used in order to maximize his effectiveness.


15) Detroit Pistons: Austin Daye, F

Daye has some ability, but he isn't remotely close to ready to contribute in the NBA. I assume that they think they're getting the next Tayshaun Prince, but Daye wasn't exactly dominant even in the West Coast Conference. I don't see him being more than a jump shooter off the bench for the next few years.


16) Chicago Bulls: James Johnson, B+

As things stand right now the Bulls don't have any glaring needs, so they might as well take a shot on a guy with upside. Johnson has great size and athleticism and decent skills. He probably won't play much the way the roster is currently constructed, but that will change quickly if Deng or Thomas are moved.


17) Philadelphia 76ers: Jrue Holliday, B

Jrue clearly needs to refine his skills a bit, but he has nice upside, especially given where he was drafted. As long as they don't expect him to make an impact right away, this could turn into a good pick.


18) Minnesota Timberwolves: Ty Lawson, F

I'm not criticizing Lawson here, but rather the T-Wolves selection of yet another point guard and then trading his rights for a future pick. Who the heck is going to play on the wing for this team? Somebody, anybody that can play shooting guard or small forward would have definitely been more useful.


19) Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague, B+

Teague won't have to start from day one, which will help him develop his skills a bit. He has good quickness and shooting ability, he just needs to learn how to play the point guard position.


20) Utah Jazz: Eric Maynor, B-

I like Maynor as a player, but he won't see the court much backing up Deron Williams.


21) New Orleans Hornets: Darren Collison, D

I have to think that they Hornets could have found someone more useful than a backup point guard. Even if he does pan out, he's not going to see more than 10 minutes a game backing up Paul and can't slide over to shooting guard.


22) Portland Trailblazers: Victor Claver, C+

He won't help them now, but their roster is already pretty crowded and Claver has good upside.


23) Sacramento Kings: Omri Casspri, D-

Even if he does join the team this year (I'm honestly not sure what his plan is), the team has numerous other options at forward.


24) Dallas Mavericks: BJ Mullens, C

They traded the rights to Mullens for Beaubois. Though the Mavericks may not absolutely need immediate help, it seems like they would benefit from another potential contributor or two.


25) OKC Thunder: Rodrique Beaubois, C+

As mentioned with the last pick, the Thunder actually get BJ Mullens. Mullens is a major project, but they do need some size and he does have very good upside if by some miracle he pans out.


26) Chicago Bulls: Taj Gibson, F

This pick makes absolutely zero sense to me. The Bulls already had two lengthy big men that need to put on some weight and just drafted another forward in Johnson. I really don't see what need he fills. If you're going to add another power forward why not take DeJuan Blair? At least he adds a dominant rebounder that they need, even if he has no ACL's. Oh, and by the way, Gibson just turned 24, making him older than Tyrus Thomas and only a few months younger than Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Selecting a wing player made a lot more sense to give them another option if Ben Gordon moves on.


27) Memphis Grizzlies: DeMarre Carroll, C-

I like Carroll's toughness, but I'm not sure he'll beat out Darrell Arthur and Hakim Warrick for playing time, much less Marc Gasol and Hasheem Thabeet. It seems to me that a backup guard would have made more sense.


28) Minnesota Timberwolves: Wayne Ellington, B

I love Ellington this late in the draft. He's not going to be an impact starter, but he can hit some shots off the bench. If only they had added another wing player at some point, this would be an even better fit.


29) Los Angeles Lakers: Tony Douglas, C+

This grade is actually applicable to the Knicks, who bought this pick. Douglas gives them another option in the backcourt, though he's likely a backup at best.


30) Cleveland Cavaliers: Christian Eyenga , huh?

I'm not even going to pretend that I know anything about this guy. That was an impressive dunk they showed in his draft highlight video though.


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