Six Months Later: Grading the 2009 NBA Draft Picks (Part 1)
With the six month anniversary of the 2009 NBA draft approaching, it seems an appropriate time to look back and evaluate the decisions made by NBA teams.
In the first of four slide shows judging the quality of picks, we will be taking a look at the top ten picks and how they have performed so far.
While evaluating the picks and their respective grades, the following criteria will be taken into consideration:
Play so far of player
Fit with team
These are the assigned grades:
#1 Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
After being drafted by the Clippers, Blake has done nothing but impress on the court.
He shined at summer league, earning the tournament MVP award while averaging 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds. In fact, Blake looked so NBA ready that I'm able to overlook his injury problems.
The prize rookie has now suffered minor injuries three times this season. First at the end of Summer League, then just before training camp, and again the end of pre-season.
Clipper fans have yet to see him play a professional game and to make things worse his return date keeps slipping.
It's now being reported that we won't see him until at January at the earliest.
Regardless, Blake will wind up being the best player out of the draft, even if he is a little fragile.
#2 Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis Grizzlies
Aside from a freak broken jaw, Hasheem has had a relatively quiet rookie season.
He was averaging only ten minutes a game with modest totals in points (2.7), rebounds (3.2) and blocks (.94) before the injury, and is expected back soon.
Thabeet has shown exactly what was expected of him thus far in his NBA career, leaving us to wonder why exactly the Grizzlies drafted him in the first place?
They have a talented, young center in Marc Gasol, and neither he, nor Thabeet would make much sense in the same lineup as they are both, although different, are pure fives.
On the other hand, big men are hard to come by and with the team rebuilding it might make sense to have an extra one lying around. In a few years Gasol and Thabeet might be the best duo in the league.
It's hard to pass up big guys, especially if they are 7'3, so I understand the pick. However it's my opinion that players in need of development should be taken by teams that can wait for them to improve. The Grizzlies needed an immediate impact player it appears there were a bunch available in this draft.
#3 James Harden, OKC Thunder
There hasn't been much talk about Harden, despite his solid production overall. He's averaging 8.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 20 minutes per game.
More impressive than those stats are his 1.24 points per shot and veteran-like performances.
82games.com ranks him as the Thunder's third most effective player.
It looks like the Thunder got good value here. Harden will be a good, but unspectacular player for years to come. He also fits well with Westbrook in the backcourt.
#4 Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
I've seen Evans both live and on TV this year and I'm impressed.
Apparently I was watching on the wrong nights. Evans is putting up 19.9 points (1.27 points per shot), 5.0 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.4 steals a night, leading the Sacramento Kings to a surprising 9-10 record.
What's even more impressive is his role on the team and in the huddle. You can see is vocal willing to tell even veterans players
I remain concerned about how he will coexist with Kevin Marton when he comes back from his injury. Together they are only 1-3.
Despite the problem of him not being a pure point guard, Evans already looks like an NBA star in only his first year.
#5 Ricky Rubio, #6 Jonny Flynn Minnesota Timberwolves
If Ricky looks skeptical in the above picture, it's because he was.
It was reported almost immediately that either Flynn or Rubio wouldn't be in Minnesota next year. When a trade didn't happen, it was assured.
Rubio is still in Europe for two more years at the minimum. He sounded anything but thrilled to be a Timberwolf.
Flynn on the other hand is a prototype of a pick and roll point guard being forced to play in a triangle offense.
So far he hasn't shot well. His passing is sub-par and he has turned it over a bunch. It's hard to tell if it's his fault of the system, but he looks lost, much like the team.
Also, they also signed Ramon Sessions, another point guard.
Rubio pick: F
Flynn pick: D
#7 Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
When Curry slipped into Don Nelson's hands he must have cried tears of joy.
He's the best scorer of the class and a perfect fit for a Warriors squad who have never seen a shot they didn't like.
Now back to reality.
He's too small to play effectively alongside young guard Monta Ellis. He's also not a very good defensive player.
His stats are solid, but he's a volume scorer, a sixth man, averaging only 1.12 points per shot so far.
Golden State seems content to just be OK.
#8 Jordan Hill, New York Knicks
It's hard to tell what to make of Hill so far since he's only seen garbage time in about ten games, but he looks like he will make a decent backup big man.
Undoubtedly the Knicks wanted a star guard like Stephen Curry. They decided against hometown boy Brandon Jennings and are probably kicking themselves for doing it.
In a draft full of talented guards, the Knicks really missed out. They already have Al Harrington at the PF position.
Now don't get my wrong, Hill will be a decent player. It just wasn't a good pick.
#9 DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
DeMar has looked decent so far as a backup guard in Toronto.
He was drafted purely for athleticism. In college he put up very ordinary stats in all aspects of his game, but somehow managed to turn an incredible vertical leap into a top ten pick.
Frankly, he doesn't do anything very well. He reminds me of Julian Wright, another lottery pick drafted purely on athletic ability that never made anything of his career.
So far his defense and offense have both been sub par.
It wouldn't surprise me if is regarded as the biggest bust of the top ten within a few years.
On the other hand, if his basketball skills can catch up to his athleticism might turn into a superstar.
#10 Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
So far Jennings looks the part of a future NBA superstar. It seems pointless to even touch on his positives since it's been written about countless times, so instead lets check out whats wrong with Jennings and why he really isn't an all star.
1.10 points per shot
41 percent from the field
These numbers are just not cutting it. In time, he will improve his jumper, but right now he's just not delivering quite as much as one might think based on the hype. Despite that he's the best rookie in the league right now.