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2009 NBA Draft pick-by-pick analysis
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Updated Jun 30, 2009 2:36 PM ET
DRAFT TRACKER: Follow every pick of the draft
DRAFT CENTRAL: Draft news, rumors, analysis, history, etc.
PHOTOS: Snapshots from NBA Draft night
NBADraft.net: More draft coverage and analysis
2009 NBA DRAFT: First Round
This was the only sure thing about tonight. Griffin is the best player in the draft, and it's a distant second. He will give the Clippers immediate production, especially on the offensive end. Now, they have to move one of their big men (Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, or Chris Kaman) to clear up some minutes for the 20-year old Griffin, and he will be the clear-cut favorite for win Rookie of the Year.
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Now that Mr. Foregone Conclusion is wearing his L.A. Clippers hat, the real intrigue can begin. The Memphis Grizzlies have held the key to the rest of the draft since the lottery order was decided six weeks ago. Will they trade the pick, or will they take Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, James Harden, even Tyreke Evans? Nobody knew for certain until now. Thabeet, the enormous shot-blocker out of UConn by way of Tanzania, will be heading to Tennessee. He will be a beast on the defensive end and contribute immediately with his shot-blocking, but the Grizz must prepare to play four-on-five offensively until he learns a couple of post moves. Also, what does this mean for Marc Gasol -- a player Memphis GM Chris Wallace called "the key" to his infamous Pau Gasol deal? Does Memphis have another trade or two in the works?
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Drafting Harden gives the Thunder four young studs (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green). Not too many NBA teams can match that kind of youth and talent. Harden is a mature player who can shoot it from distance and is underrated athletically. He should be able to contribute to Thunder immediately. He won't make OKC an immediate winner, but they sure have a bright future and are headed in the right direction. Plus, anyone who wears that bowtie has to have a boatload of confidence.
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Kings fans were mighty disappointed when the lottery results were announced. With the worst record in the NBA, Sacramento had a 25 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick, but fell all the way to No 4. They decided to draft Tyreke Evans out of Memphis, passing up on Ricky Rubio. Evans is an explosive slasher who some NBA scouts believe can transition to point guard. He's much better than Beno Udrih, but he has a tendency to play one-on-five. The Kings might regret passing up on Rubio at this spot.
This was best case scenario for the Timberwolves. Rubio was who Minnesota was hoping for at five. He has the type of flashy game that will win over fans in Minnesota right away. With the T'wolves dealing away guard Randy Foye and forward Mike Miller a couple of days ago, there should be minutes for Rubio right away, even at the age of 18. The team as a whole will be young, but right now they are stockpiling talent. They will go through their struggles next year, but after a few years of bonding with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, and whoever they draft with the next pick, this team will be dangerous in a few years.
After lucking into Rubio with the No. 5 pick they acquired from Washington, the Timberwolves followed that up by taking another point guard. Either new Minnesota GM David Kahn has another trade in the works, or he just took two point guards with back-to-back lottery picks. I really like Jonny Flynn (excellent athlete, terrific leader, explosive) and think he has a Terrell Brandon-esque ceiling, but how will Flynn and Rubio develop together? Neither guy is going to want to play second fiddle in Minnesota. If they hang onto Flynn, the T-Wolves have an exciting (if extremely young) core of Flynn, Rubio, Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. ESPN's Ric Bucher reports that Minnesota plans to keep them both, but we'll see if the T'Wolves field an offer they can't refuse.
Curry was the most exciting player in college basketball this year and it was for good reason. He led the nation in scoring and is a lights-out shooter with unlimited range, but also can find the open man. The only question about Curry will be which position he is going to play. Is he a point guard in the NBA or a shooting guard? Current Warriors guard Monta Ellis is in a similar situation. But, between Curry and Ellis, they will have an explosive backcourt no matter who decides to play the point guard. With Hill available, this pick is a vote of confidence for talented PF Brandan Wright. The Warriors have officially entered the 2010 LeBron James free agent sweepstakes.
Knicks fans are still clearly reeling from Golden State snagging Curry out from under them, so they unfortunately took their frustrations out on Hill. Hill didn't start playing organized hoops until his junior year of high school, so his development curve has been exponential. Hill has a lot of natural ability and could develop into one of this draft's premier players. He has a lot of Chris Bosh in him. If he adds more strength, he could be a real load on the interior. Plus, he gets to play for Mike D'Antoni, which should help boost his stats.
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DeRozan is a super athletic two-guard and has very good size at 6-7. Only played one season of college basketball, so this draft pick is more about potential than immediate production. This previous season's shooting guard Anthony Parker started 70 games, but he is 34 years old and a free agent. Drafting DeRozan will add some youth to the Toronto roster, which is much needed, especially on the wing. He has as bright as future as anyone in the draft not named Blake Griffin. Good selection for the Raptors.
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What does a team do when it needs a little bit of everything? At No. 10, the Bucks go with Jennings, the draft's biggest "boom or bust" prospect. He was the first teenager to bail on the NCAA to play in Europe and help his draft standing. He didn't show much in Europe, but he was one of the best high school players at Oak Hill Academy. He possesses elite-level quickness and athleticism (think Allen Iverson), but there are serious questions about his decision making and jump shot. But Milwaukee isn't going to contend anytime soon, so Jennings will be able to develop at his own speed under a proven NBA point guard in head coach Scott Skiles.
By trading away Vince Carter earlier in the day, the Nets told us they are not serious about putting an immediate contender on the court for next year. This pick was about selecting the best player available regardless of position. Williams does a little bit of everything, minus an outside shot. He could be an excellent defender in the NBA, guarding both shooting guards and small forwards. Offensively, he was the best passer on a Louisville team even though he was playing on the wing most of the time. Playing under former NBA coach Rick Pitino is a bonus, and he should be earning minutes right away for the Nets.
The Bobcats maintain their tradition of taking proven college guys (especially ones who played in the state of North Carolina) by taking Henderson. He's one of the draft's top athletes and has a Jason Richardson type of ceiling. He'll have the perfect mentor in the hard-nosed Raja Bell at the 2-guard spot. He's not the best ball handler, which might hurt his ability to create his own shot, but he'll fit into Charlotte's personality. With Henderson, Bell, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, this team can wreak havoc on the defensive end. Hey, did you know the Bobcats were only four games out of a playoff spot last season? It's true.
Some questioned why Tyler Hansbrough was even in the green room tonight. Now we know. Hansbrough style should fit in well with the Pacers. Most of Indiana's big men tend to step away from the hoop and shoot over people. Hansbrough fills a need for the Pacers because he is going to do all the dirty work in the paint. Probably not going to be a superstar, but should be able to stay in the league for 10+ years because of his work ethic. Underrated athletically and plenty of experience with four years under coach Roy Williams.
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The Suns, in the midst of a fire-sale of epic proportions, add Earl Clark instead of selling the pick, as they've been known to do in the past. There is a lot to like about Clark. He's exceptionally long with a tremendous skill set. There isn't anything he can't do on a basketball floor. However, he doesn't always put everything together all the time. He isn't the most assertive player. Clark reminds scouts of Lamar Odom -- a tantalizing talent, if he could only figure out a way to play to his capabilities 82 games a year.
Daye is a very long forward that is probably going to play on the wing for his NBA career. He is a skilled player, able to shoot from distance and put the ball on the floor when needed. Detroit's starting perimeter is set with point guard Rodney Stuckey, shooting guard Rip Hamilton, and small forward Tayshaun Prince. After that there is not much certainty. Daye will not be forced to play right away because of Detroit's veteran bunch. He will have to put on some weight in order to be effective at the next level. Some question his toughness and say he is not a great athlete. But going to Detroit is a great fit for him because he can learn from Prince who also faced the same type of criticism when he was entering the league.
The Bulls, desperately in need of an interior scoring option, take kind of a 3/4 hybrid who will play power forward on this roster. The Bulls are one of the most exciting, up-and-coming teams in this league, and Johnson is an excellent fit for them. He'll be able to play pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop with Derrick Rose, thanks to his perimeter shooting ability and his varied offensive attack. He's not a terribly explosive leaper, but that's what Chicago has Ty Thomas for. He can also back a guy down and score in an isolation situation on the block. Solid pick.
With Andre Miller's status up in the air for the 76ers, Holiday was a no-brainer at 17. Holiday is a bit of a tweener, not exactly a point guard or a shooting guard, but he is young enough (just turned 19) to learn the position and become their future point guard. How quickly he will help the 76ers is something that will be figured out, but Philly will still most likely try to re-sign the veteran Miller because it would be asking too much to hand the reigns over the Holiday so early in his career. He had inconsistencies at UCLA as a freshman, but showed enough talent to be drafted in the first round. After a season of grooming or two, Holiday could be one of the best players to come out of this draft when all said and done.
Minnesota has to be planning a trade, right? David Kahn knows you can't play three point guards at the same time, doesn't he? OK, good. Ric Bucher comes on as the voice of reason and lets us know that Ty Lawson has been traded to the Denver Nuggets for a future Charlotte Bobcats pick. This is an excellent move for Denver, given the glaring need for a backup point guard behind Chauncey Billups. With the current hand-check rules in place, Lawson is almost impossible to guard one-on-one. He was the driving force in North Carolina's title push, but his lack of height pushed him down to No. 18. He'll spend the first couple years of his career learning from one of the best in the business.
This won't cover up for the 2005 blunder when they passed up on Chris Paul for Marvin Williams, but Teague should be able to help immediately. Earlier Thursday, the Hawks acquired Jamal Crawford, who plays both guard positions, and they have to decide whether or not to re-sign current point guard Mike Bibby. Teague's value to the team next year could depend on how the Hawks decide to treat the Bibby situation. But overall, he is a good player and an explosive scorer with good range and able to get to the basket with ease during his college career.
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The run of point guards continues, as Utah tabs Maynor to back up Deron Williams. He doesn't have the measurables of some of the other top-flight points, but he might be the most advanced pure point guard in this draft. He possesses tremendous leadership abilities and has that innate sense of what it takes to play the one-spot. He also made a name for himself hitting game-winning shots for Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Tournament. Maynor and Williams could turn into one of the league's best point-guard tandems right away, and he gives Utah extra roster flexibility, as Williams can easily play 2-guard against most teams.
This is a bit of a shocker. Drafting a point guard when the best player on your team plays the same position doesn't make sense at first glance. But, the Hornets lack overall playmakers as a team and Collison can create offense out of nothing. He also shot well in his last two years at UCLA. Early in his career he will back up Chris Paul and bring energy off the bench, especially on the defensive end. But the pick still really does not make much sense when you consider that Rasual Butler started 73 games at shooting guard last year, and UNC's Wayne Ellington, Arizona's Chase Budinger, and FSU's Toney Douglas were all available.
Kevin Pritchard has been relatively quiet this year. He did throw in a second-round pick to move up two spots into Dallas' No. 22 slot, but the Trailblazers' GM typically makes somewhere between five and 500 trades on draft day. It was widely speculated that Portland had its sights set on Claver. Portland plans to stash him away in Spain for a year or two while the squad looks to extend the contracts of franchise cornerstones Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. Claver is a hard-nosed kid with a deep bag of offensive tricks, but his lack of foot speed will hurt him as he tries to defend other small forwards.
After drafting a guard in Tyreke Evans, they chose the bigger Casspi to possibly play on the other wing. Casspi is only 21 years old and is a very good athlete. His outside shot needs improvement, but he still should compete for minutes next year for the lowly Kings. After winning only 17 games last year, the Kings are not in a position to draft for need, so they took the best prospect available. His game is very similar to current King Andres Nocionni and should see minutes backing him up.
Headed to Oklahoma City. Mullens didn't start at Ohio State, but his per-minute numbers were terrific. His stamina and basketball IQ need serious work, but there's no questioning his natural ability. Few 7-footers can match Mullens' athleticism and quickness. He'll be able to learn at his own pace in Oklahoma City, and he'll fit in with that team's up-tempo, athletic philosophy. He won't contribute a lot right away, but Mullens should figure into the Thunder's long-term plans.
Picked to be traded to Dallas. The Mavericks have their starting lineup pretty much figured out, so Mark Cuban decided to grab a project with tremendous upside. Beaubois is a phenomenal athlete at the point guard position, with otherworldly leaping ability and terrific quickness. The Mavs originally selected Ohio State's BJ Mullens, but sent him to Oklahoma City, picking one spot later. Dallas will leave Beaubois in France as he continues to feel his way through becoming a point guard.
The Bulls go with a post guy once again, Gibson to go along with their earlier pick of James Johnson. Gibson is a hard-nosed guy who'll rebound, block shots, take charges and do all the dirty-work stuff inside. At 24, Gibson doesn't have much upside left, but he has an enormous wingspan and has proven himself against top-level competition. He's not going to be much of a scorer and he gives up a lot of weight to most of the NBA's interior players, but he'll find many ways to contribute.
The Grizzlies drafted center Hasheem Thabeet with the second overall pick, giving them a possible starting team of Thabeet and Marc Gasol as big men, and Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay around the perimeter. Drafting for the second time in the first round, they selected Carroll, who should be able to earn minutes right away at both forward positions. Carroll has incredible energy and is a very tough kid, but this is far too high for him. Carroll is an undrafted free agent type of talent and with guys like DaJuan Summers on the board, this is a very questionable pick.
Outstanding pick for Minnesota. Wayne Ellington is one of the premier sleepers in this draft. The questions surrounding his athleticism were answered after a surprising showing at the combine, and he might be the second-best shooter in this draft (after Stephen Curry). He's not a lockdown defender, but he'll immediately contribute in Minnesota. He's a perfect fit for what the T'Wolves are trying to build and will likely be better than Mike Miller was for them last season. Getting a player of this caliber at the No. 28 pick is a steal. A+.
New York bought this pick from the Lakers earlier today, throwing in a future second-round pick. Drafting a big man in Arizona's Jordan Hill with the eighth overall pick, the Knicks decide to go with a combo guard in Douglas. Nate Robinson played major minutes for the Knicks last year at both guard positions and could be out the door via free agency, so drafting Douglas could be insurance for a Robinson departure. Douglas should be able to get some minutes at the two-spot regardless of the roster. Point guard Chris Duhon needs a backup because he logged lots of minutes for the Knicks, and Douglas should be able to fill a need there as well. In Mike D'Antoni's system, Douglas will be able to put up some numbers next year.
Will the Cavaliers add the missing link to their title hopes with the final pick of the first round? With Shaq and LeBron on board, expectations were high for this pick. Eyenga is a jaw-dropping athlete, but he hasn't had much experience against top-level competition. He might give them something down the road, but he won't be taking part in any crazy pre-game dance rituals in Cleveland this season.
For second-round analysis, visit our Draft Tracker.
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