With just a under a week before the 2009 NBA Draft, after numerous individual workouts, teams are starting to figure out who they can see hanging out in their locker room and wearing their jersey. As long as unknown draft day promises don’t surface, this is how we see it all shaking out.
1. L.A. Clippers — Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma
Team USA has already planned on inviting him to Las Vegas after the Draft and they know the type of talent they’re getting. Whether or not the Clippers keep or trade this pick, one thing is certain: Blake Griffin is going to be the No. 1 pick.
2. Memphis — Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
Building around O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies would be crazy to pick anybody but Thabeet. While a lot of teams are extremely high on James Harden, last time I checked, they still only play with one basketball.
3. Oklahoma City — James Harden, SG, Arizona State
If they can’t land Griffin, Harden is a more than acceptable second option. Fitting into the two-spot alongside Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Western Conference GMs are certainly going to be worried for years to come.
4. Sacramento — Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
Ricky Rubio is exactly what the Kings need to bring excitement back to Arco. Pairing him with Kevin Martin means buckets galore.
5. Washington — Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA
Catapulting up the charts, Jrue Holiday is exactly the guy Washington needs to play alongside Gilbert Arenas when he returns.
6. Minnesota — Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Memphis
With a team that basically consists of Al Jefferson and 14 other bodies, you need a playmaker to get things going. After an impressive second half of the season from Tyreke Evans, whoever you put around him will benefit.
7. Golden State — Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
Word out of The Bay is that they will not let Jordan Hill fall below them. While that’s bad news for Knicks fans that would love a shot at the 6-10 power forward, Warriors fans are excited that they’ll have someone over 6-7 on the roster.
8. New York — Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson
The closer we get to draft day, the more and more likely it is that Stephen Curry will don a Knicks uniform on opening night.
9. Toronto — DeMar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC
If DeMar DeRozan can live up the potential he came out of college with, then he could be Toronto’s reincarnation of Vince Carter. They just hope that he sticks around.
10. Milwaukee — Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
Despite Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour on the roster, if you can get Jonny Flynn at the No. 10 spot, he could be the biggest steal since Paul Pierce over ten years ago.
11. New Jersey — Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
As good as Devin Harris and Vince Carter are, the Nets need an explosive player who can play some defense â€“ kind of like what they had in Richard Jefferson. With Gerald Henderson, they get the best of both worlds.
12. Charlotte — Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina
After such a surprising season in Charlotte, Larry Brown could probably do whatever he wants. And more often than not that means taking a guy out of UNC.
13. Indiana — Earl Clark, SF, Louisville
As Andrew said in the office, “If the Pacers get Earl Clark, they will be me new favorite team.” Let’s just hope that he becomes more Danny Granger than Jonathan Bender.
14. Phoenix — Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy
If Brandon Jennings drops this low, there is no doubt the run-and-gun system will be back in Phoenix. Learning from Steve Nash and playing alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Jason Richardson, he could very well be Rookie of the Year.
15. Detroit — James Johnson, PF/SF, Wake Forest
A relatively unknown in terms of name recognition, James Johnson is a perfect piece to bring the soul back to Motown.
16. Chicago — B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
The one thing the Bulls were missing this postseason was a true center, so if they can get a 7-0, 258-pound work in progress with the 16th pick, that’d be a steal.
17. Philadelphia — Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth
With Andre Miller clearly gone in Philly, the Sixers need a PG they can build around and one that can get the job done right now. Eric Maynor is that guy. After four years at VCU, Maynor is ready to step in and push the Sixers to that next level.
18. Minnesota — Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona
If Kevin McHale was still in Minnesota, he would love to see this pick. An athletic guard/forward with unbelievable hops, Chase Budinger could work his way into the starting lineup by opening night. If they get Tyreke Evans earlier, building around him, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson should have the T-Wolves back on the right track.
19. Atlanta — Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest
While Mike Bibby is a free agent, it’s clear that every year the Hawks have had a chance, they’ve tried to select a PG in the Draft. This year, where there is a plethora of them available, the Hawks will walk away with a steal at the 19th pick.
20. Utah — DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
Once the Jazz lose Carlos Boozer this summer and promote Paul Millsap, Jerry Sloan needs the next Millsap waiting in the wings. And that guy is certainly DeJuan Blair. With freakish numbers in the pre-draft measurements, he should come right in and work his way into the rotation.
21. New Orleans — Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
If Ty Lawson drops this low, the Hornets will only have to spend 15 seconds of their allotted time to make a decision next Thursday. While the Hornets may need other position players that could be available, they couldn’t find a better backup for CP3.
22. Dallas — Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
The Mavericks have been looking for a guy like Tyler Hansbrough ever since they lost Eduardo Najera years ago. A blue-collar player who will leave it all out on the floor on both ends, that is exactly the type of player Dallas needs.
23. Sacramento — Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh
After gambling on Rubio earlier in the Draft, the Kings need a proven guy that can score, defend and bring toughness to the squad (so it can hopefully rub off on Spencer Hawes). Young brings all three.
24. Portland — Omri Casspi, SF, Israel
Knowing Kevin Pritchard, he’s had a file on Omri Casspi ever since he was in eighth grade. Although the last thing the Blazers need is another SF, drafting Casspi gives them some flexibility to move some guys if need be.
25. Oklahoma City — Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
The Thunder have the ability to fill a lot of holes in this Draft. After picking up Harden with the 3rd pick, they can solidify their point guard situation in bringing in Russell Westbrook’s former UCLA mentor in Darren Collison.
26. Chicago — Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
While I would love to see Terrence Williams go earlier in the Draft, if they Bulls can snag him this late, they’d be getting a real steal. After getting on and off court tutelage from Gary Payton, Williams could be just the guy to push the Bulls over the top next season.
27. Memphis — Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary’s
Walking away from the draft board and seeing you got Thabeet and Patty Mills means you’re scoring an A in the grades the next day. While many people never got to see Mills play this season as he was relegated to the West Coast TV schedule, the Grizzlies need a tough-minded point guard to get things done in Memphis.
28. Minnesota — Austin Daye, SF, Gonzaga
Some mock drafts have Austin Daye as high as No. 15, while others have him being drafted in the second round. But at 6-11, 192 pounds, you might as well take a chance on the kid and see how he pans out. Minnesota would actually be the perfect situation for him, as he would have a chance to play right away.
29. L.A. Lakers — Taj Gibson, PF, USC
Despite winning the NBA Championship on Kobe’s shoulders, the Lakers need depth and athleticism in the frontcourt. And this late in the first round, they’d love to see 6-10, 214-pound Gibson still on the board from the local USC.
30. Cleveland — Derrick Brown, SF, Xavier
While many people have never heard of Derrick Brown, the 6-8 225-pound SF could be considered LeBron-lite. If the Cavs are going to make moves, it’s not going to necessarily come in the Draft, so chances are they’re going give a chance to the local product from Dayton.