2009 NBA Mock Draft – UPDATED 6/23


If you just wanna see my picks and don’t care about no analysis, just skip to the bottom. For the rest of y’all, here we go:

First off, lemme make clear that the list below is not who I think each team SHOULD take, but rather who I think they WILL take. Second, this list also of course assumes that absolutely no one trades picks, which is highly unlikely. Obviously if just one team trades its pick, this whole house of cards will crumble. Like I’ve got Memphis picking Ricky Rubio with the second overall pick because I think not only have they been very happy with Marc Gasol, but also he has a nice relationship with Rubio (similar to how when Pau was in Memphis they brought in his bud Juan Carlos Navarro). On the other hand, if they trade their pick to Washington, the Wizards would be more likely to pick Thabeet ‘cuz they’re more in need of a big man.

Anyway, in addition to my picks at the bottom, my boy Shai has given his analysis of the top draftees on my list.  I posted the first half of his comments over the weekend, and he had some comments on MY comments.  My comments are between [brackets] and his additional comments/rebuttals will be between {these thingys}.  Hopefully it won’t be too confusing.  Here’s his basic overall rebuttal:

{Shai:  yikes!  I didn’t think this would be read by anyone.  I wasn’t editing or anything.  I don’t mind…but wait, I just looked at your blog, and you actually criticized my comments.  damn that’s cold.  not that I expect any better.

I’ll make one general comment, that when I compare Evans to BD, or whoever I said was Nash-like, I don’t mean that’s their talent level or potential, just comparing for skill. like if I said a center was more like Dwight Howard, or more like Andrew Bynum, I’m not saying their potential Defensive players of the year or whatever Laker fans are hoping Bynum will be. I’m just saying, if it’s a Howard comparison, they’re super-bouncy, crazy athletic centers, or a Bynum comparison (at this stage for Andrew) means a post player with height, back-to-the-basket skills, maybe questionable attitude. on that basis, I stand by my Curry-Nash comparison. not dominant athletes, but great shooters and passers.

anyhow, I’ll write some more quick, no-editing notes below, but this time I know you’ll be attacking me unfairly and in public 😉   }

Okay, now onto Shai’s analysis of the top 14 (with add’l comments by both me & him):


Other than Blake Griffin, this is a pretty crappy draft. [Ranking these players] would be really hard for me, since it’s clear that even pro scouts do a terrible job of evaluating talent once you get past the top five or eight.

1. LA Clippers Blake Griffin PF Oklahoma

– he’s amazing. huge, powerful, ‘NBA body’, great spin move, kinda weird personality.

2. Memphis James Harden SG Arizona St.

– great wing, decent shooter, long arms, 6’4″, good skills, totally disappeared in the NCAA tourney, so again, weak-ass draft. he’ll be a good player soon though. one of the best wing prospects in this draft.

[Alex’s Update: I’m now thinking with both Rubio and Thabeet kind of snubbing Memphis and making it clear they don’t wanna play there, that the Grizz won’t go for either. As a result I bet they trade down and end up going for Harden. If they can’t find an amenable partner, then I think they might even go for Harden here.]

3. Oklahoma Cty Hasheem Thabeet C UConn

– super-raw. almost no offense. he had tons of blocked shots at UConn, but the NBA bigs will kick the crap out of him. if he never develops an inside game, he could be a Shawn Bradley level disappointment. but he didn’t start playing hoops until his teen years, so it’s possible his ceiling is still well above him.

[Alex’s note: I read somewhere that they thought if Thabeet improved his offensive game, he could become a solid O player in the mode of Mutombo. I don’t think the writer was being sarcastic. If that’s his peak, what’s his nadir? A similar offensive game as Mark Madsen’s one-legged epileptic brother?]

4. Sacramento Ricky Rubio PG Spain

– foreigner. the foreign PG’s are still only doing OK. but he’s so young, maybe still 17, so people are ready to roll the dice. problem is you have to buy out his Euro contract, but the word is he wants in to the NBA, so he’s this high.

[Alex’s note: even though Rubio’s young, people aren’t high on him because of his potential down the road, ala Darko. Rubio can make an immediate impact now, and in the Olympics the world saw that he can still shine even under a big ol’ spotlight with tons of pressure.]

[Alex’s Update: With both the Grizz & the Team-Formerly-Known-As-Sonics seeming unlikely to snag Rubio, Sacramento will be thrilled for him to fall in their lap at #4. Assuming they don’t trade up with Memphis. Although they could still take him at #2 if they can resist the standard GM’s overwhelming desire for height & potential (aka, Thabeet) over proven prospects.

5. Washington Tyreke Evans SG Memphis

– raw PG, better at getting in the lane and getting his own shot than as a distributor. but he has real NBA PG potential, I’m thinking Baron Davis but a less gifted passer (unfair because I love Boom Dizzle’s game, ignoring 08-09, but I’m just going for ballpark).

[Alex’s note: No way he becomes as good as le Baron. Unless we are indeed only talking ’08-’09 B Diddy.]

6. Minnesota Jrue Holiday PG/SG UCLA

– I don’t get these picks. maybe because Russell Westbrook was also raw and out of UCLA and not a prototypical PG, they think Holiday will be good. but he’s only one year through UCLA, and was by no means a star. or a shooter. or a PG. he’s a good athlete and a solid defender-for college.

7. Golden St. Stephen Curry PG/SG Davidson

– one of my favorite college players in 08, and then everyone loved him this year. ridiculous dead-eye shooter (dad is Dell Curry) but at 6’3″, had to prove he could play PG. but then in 09, he did that too. not a super athlete, but great hands, can pass, has every skill in the book. Steve Nash?

[Alex’s note: You crazy, Steve Nash-like? I’m thinking at best, Sam Cassell but without the clutch shooting and big balls dance. And much less alien-looking.]

{Shai’s add’l comments:   there was a college game last season where the opposing coach double-teamed Curry the entire game (college rules, no illegal D) and so he just stood in the corner and let the team play 4 on 3.  blame the coach, but that has to tell you something about how scared of Curry they were.}

8. New York Jonny Flynn PG Syracuse

– could be the best PG in the draft. could be the best pick in the draft after Griffin. great athlete, can drive, shoot distribute. no idea why he’s not ranked higher or talked about more. Syracuse players under the radar, maybe?

[Alex’s note: Word is scouts are concerned about his basketball IQ because he always forgets the “h” when he spells his first name.]

{Shai add’l comment: oh, one other note; I heard Jonny Flynn is only 6 foot, so that’s a fair concern. despite the success of a bunch of short PG’s in the L, it is still a defensive issue in most cases.}

[Alex’s comment on Shai’s add’l comment:  I disagree that it’s a liability to be a shorter PG.  These days the only PGs who use their height and strength to back down smaller PGs are old-school PGs Billups, B-Diddy, and JKidd.  Most of the younger PGs in the league are all about speed.  Even a big PG like Deron Williams rarely posts up, he just uses his strength to absorb contact on fouls and still get a steady clean shot off.  That being said, I do however think that many coaches still have the old school mentality of wanting height, so I could see them being concerned as Shai said.  But I think they’re dumbies.]

9. Toronto    DeMar DeRozan – I was no fan of his until I remember he went off in the NCAA.  As a humongous Tourney fan, I do give credit to players who pick up their game on the big stage, which is why I’m a little nervous about Harden above, while DeRozan gave SC 18 ppg, and got better and better over his freshman year.  He could be a star-type wing, but he could also be Von Wafer (who’s contributing now, but is a total headcase).  This reminds me again how unbelievably good NBA players are.  I can’t tell you how many great college guys I watched who I thought would make it in the NBA, but either never got drafted or never had a serious shot even though they were on a team.

10. Milwaukee     Jordan Hill – I like this guy.  Good size, good energy, strength and power,started developing a jump shot towards the end of his AZ career.  AZ players have a pretty fantastic resume in the NBA, guys who were good to decent at AZ but had very solid NBA careers – Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Gilbert Arenas (incomplete).  could be a Ronny Turiaf or better.

11. New Jersey     DeJuan Blair – I LOVED Blair in college, but I don’t know how effective he’ll be in the pros.  huge barrel chest, fantastic hands, long arms, but like a 6’7″ PF with no jump shot.  got all his points on offensive rebounds and put-backs.  when he led Pitt to defeat UConn when UC was #1, he put up 20 and 20 with a couple blocks.  just terrific.  but in the NBA, no way he gets all those rbs, and he needs to learn to shoot.  Could be an effective Fwd off the bench, different skills from Carl Landry, but similar impact, hopefully.  as much as I love him, I can’t imagine he’ll bring more impact to his NBA than Landry does for the Rockets.

12. Charlotte    Gerald Henderson – here’s another player I think is overlooked.  maybe it’s a justifiable anti-Duke bias, whether you have seen too many Dukies fail in the NBA, or just have a healthy dislike for all things Duke.  But Henderson may be the best athlete in the draft, and he’s a 6’4″ wing who can shoot and defend.  he’s not a top-notch shooter, just good, and his biggest problem is he doesn’t have a great handle.  he played at the 3 at Duke, but he’s going to have to learn to play better off the bounce and to shoot.  but he took a big step forward his last year at Duke, and I think he has the potential to improve on all his weaknesses (unlike Blair, who I doubt will magically learn to shoot from 15 feet anytime soon).  maybe there are other concerns I don’t know about.

13. Indiana     Earl Clark – very interesting player.  Like Antoine Walker at Kentucky.  6’9″ but can handle and pass beautifully.  it’s not clear he has the ‘fire’ for the game, but playing in Pitino’s system doesn’t always give great players an opportunity to shine.  at the same time, Pitino takes mediocre players and makes them look amazing sometimes.  My biggest concern is that NBA coaches all tend to coach the same way (high P/R, anyone) at the same time, so Clark needs the right situation to allow his skills to blossom, if he’s forced to be a rebounder/defender PF/SF, he’s going to struggle.  needs to improve his shot regardless.  ceiling is very high (remember the Pierce/Walker duo led Boston pretty far, I think Eastern Conference Finals or semi’s, around 2001), but it will depend on his situation.

[Alex’s comment: It was the Eastern Conference Finals.  Although I’d say the fact that Boston made it there had less to do with how good Walker was than the fact that the Eastern Conference was pretty darn weak.  As proof of Walker’s mediocrity, see every season since.]

14. Phoenix    Ty Lawson – is Phoenix seriously going to draft another PG?  Jeez.  Another point against NBA GM’s is that they seem to draft similar players all the time.  PHX has been looking for a back-up to Nash pretty much as long as Nash has been there, but they keep picking (or trading for) awful players.  if you can’t get who you want, rolling the dice with a low pick is unlikely to work.

Having said that, the entire tourney (including my bracket) was won (or lost) on Lawson’s toe.  everyone who thought he was hurt thought NC was in trouble, but it turned out after skipping the first round, Tywon led them all the way.  he’s a great dribbler, ok outside shooter, fantastic speed.  but he’s under 6′, not a great 3 pt or mid-range shooter, only a good passer.  so it’s leadership and running the team that he really brings.  then again, I might have said similar things about CP3 when he was at Wake, and we know how that turned out.

LA Clippers
Blake Griffin
James Harden
Arizona St.
Oklahoma Cty
Hasheem Thabeet
Ricky Rubio
Tyreke Evans
Jrue Holiday
Golden St.
Stephen Curry
New York
Jonny Flynn
DeMar DeRozan
Jordan Hill
New Jersey
DeJuan Blair
Gerald Henderson
Earl Clark
Ty Lawson
North Carolina
Tyler Hansbrough
North Carolina
James Johnson
Wake Forest
Eric Maynor
BJ Mullens
Ohio State
Brandon Jennings
Austin Daye
New Orleans
Terrence Williams
Chase Budinger
DaJuan Summers
Jeff Teague
Wake Forest
*Oklahoma Cty
Toney Douglas
Florida St.
Wayne Ellington
North Carolina
Sam Young
Darren Collison
LA Lakers
Taj Gibson
DeMarre Carroll