NBA Mock Draft: First Round Breakdown

D.Michael LeeSenior Analyst IMay 21, 2009

DETROIT - APRIL 06:  Wayne Ellington #22 of the North Carolina Tar Heels moves the ball while taking on the Michigan State Spartans during the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Ford Field on April 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

In my last NBA Mock Draft update nearly a month ago, I posted my “Big Board,” which boasted the top 20 players as of that date, regardless of team need that would be selecting at that spot. Now that we know the Clippers are on the clock first, it is much easier to break down who is going where, and why.

Through much of the uncertainty around the NBA Draft, one thing I can bet on is that there will be movement in the top 10. While this draft lacks the star power of some in recent past after the top two selections, it is deep in backcourt players, and teams picking late may very well find themselves a steal.

This year’s postseason is proof that franchises that do their homework and select well will do well down the road. How many people wish they had Von Wafer or Glen Davis right about now? What about Rajon Rondo, or Courtney Lee?

All of these guys were passed on by teams that had need in those areas, but did not do enough homework to draft the right player. Hopefully, for those armchair GMs like myself, I can shed some light on a player or two.

Editors Note: the following takes into account possible trades that I believe may occur. For the latest trade rumors regarding the NBA Draft, refer to the Rumor Mill.

1. Clippers—Los Angeles has a few options heading into draft day, including taking Blake Griffin (which is expected), and rebuilding around Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton.

The vets that were brought in last year, such as Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, and Marcus Camby, could wind up being trade bait. Of course, they could trade the pick, and move down to select the point guard who would take over the reigns sooner than later, like Ricky Rubio or Tyreke Evans.

My gut feeling—Clippers keep the pick, select Blake, and move Chris Kaman and/or Zach Randolph.

The Pick: Blake Griffin

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2. Grizzlies—Memphis has a core of young talent that seemingly is only a player or two away from truly competing for a playoff spot.

Their obvious need would be a game-changing point guard, however when you have a defensive threat like Hasheem Thabeet out there, it would be hard to pass on that. My gut says the Grizz take Thabeet, and look to free agency or a trade to address the point guard issue.

The Pick: Hasheem Thabeet

3. Thunder—Kevin Durant expressed his pleasure for OKC getting the third pick in the lottery on his Twitter page, and I believe he was genuine with it.

The Thunder have been rumored to be looking to move up to No. 1, so they could be able to bring Blake Griffin to the home team, however, the only way L.A thinks twice about the Thunder’s proposal is if Russell Westbrook is packaged with the third pick.

Too much to give up in my view, but hey, this is the team formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics.

My gut says OKC stays at three and drafts a slashing scorer to play alongside Westbrook, James Harden.

The Pick: James Harden

4. Kings—Sacramento had the best chance to land the top pick, however just like the Kings luck this past season, they came up short. Now Sacramento will find themselves in an opportunity to decide between size (Jordan Hill) or a floor general (Ricky Rubio), and my gut says Ricky doesn’t slip past fourth.

The Pick: Ricky Rubio

5. Wizards—Washington’s short list includes Ricky Rubio, James Harden, and Blake Griffin. The problem they will have is that all three will be gone by the time they select.

The Wiz could use depth at the point guard spot, and a big body to help up front.

My gut says the Wiz takes the best player available, which at this spot would be Jordan Hill. Don’t be surprised if Washington takes a long look at Tyreke Evans here.

The Pick: Jordan Hill

6. WolvesMinnesota took O.J Mayo last year, then shipped him to Memphis for Kevin Love on draft night. While it’s too early to tell who will get the upper hand on that deal(Memphis, easily), this year they are picking in nearly the same spot.

This time, Minnesota picks up an electric backcourt player, who may need some time to develop into being NBA-ready, but Minnesota isn’t competing for a title next year anyway.

Brandon Jennings becomes the reincarnation of a young Stephon Marbury for fans in Minnesota.

The Pick: Brandon Jennings

7. Warriors—Golden State doesn’t really need a point guard, but just like Washington, will play it safe, and take the best player available.

Tyreke Evans is a good fit for Don Nelson’s system, and he can slide in to play alongside Monta Ellis in the fun-n-gun offense. Hopefully for Evans, he will have a better fate in Golden State than Marcus Williams did.

The Pick: Tyreke Evans

8. Knicks—The fans in New York already know who the Knicks want, and if New York does not select Stephen Curry, all hell will break loose on draft night in Manhattan.

By far, the easiest pick to predict in the top 10.

The Pick: Stephen Curry

9. Raptors—The Raptors need an explosive backcourt player who can help out Chris Bosh in crunch time.

There are some who feel Toronto may move this pick, but if they keep it, look for one of Louisville’s two big-time players, Earl Clark or Terrence Williams, to go here.

The Pick: Terrence Williams

10. Bucks—The Bucks will be getting Michael Redd back healthy next year, and with Ramon Sessions in the backcourt as well, the future is bright.

There will be one player that will be there at 10 that is my early sleeper for Rookie of the Year, and that is Demar Derozan.

Watch out for him next season; if he gets in the right system, he will put up solid numbers.

The Pick: Demar DeRozan

The Rest of the First Round:

11. Nets—Earl Clark
12. Bobcats—Jonny Flynn
13. Pacers—Jrue Holliday
14. Suns—DeJuan Blair
15. Pistons—Gerald Henderson
16. Bulls—Chase Budinger
17. 76ers—James Johnson
18. Wolves—Austin Daye
19. Hawks—Ty Lawson
20. Jazz—BJ Mullens
21. Hornets—Gani Lawal
22. Mavericks—Eric Maynor
23. Kings—Wayne Ellington
24. Blazers—Marcus Thornton
25. Thunder—Sam Young
26. Bulls—Tyler Hansborough
27. Grizzlies—Nick Calathes
28. Wolves—Darren Collison
29. Lakers—Jeff Teague
30. Cavs—Derrick Brown

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