June 22, 2009
With the NBA Draft just a few days away, Ball Don't Lie has decided to weigh in with its own 2009 Mock Draft, just for shots and giggles. But since we know so little about college basketball, we called in SB Nation's team experts to throw their darts at the board. Let's see what sticks ...
With the first pick in the 2009 Ball Don't Lie NBA Mock Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers select ...
Blake Griffin: PF/C, Oklahoma, Soph.
"Blake Griffin is a complete no brainer in this draft. He is a rare combination of size, skill, athleticism and work ethic, and while he is the de facto No. 1 pick partly by default, he is certainly worthy of the distinction. He was far and away the best player in the NCAA last season, averaging 14.4 rebounds and 22.7 points per game on 65.4% (!) shooting. Basically, the last guy to put up those kinds of numbers was a Wake Forest senior named Tim Duncan(notes) (14.7/20.8/60.8%). Griffin's size and athleticism compare favorably to Amaré Stoudemire, and he measures out stronger and quicker than STAT. Look, I realize I’m risking the wrath of basketball karma by invoking Duncan and Stoudemire at this point but I don’t care. Is Griffin a 'can't miss' All-Pro? There are no guarantees, but he's pretty close.
The Clippers have made little secret of their intentions to draft Griffin, so this is about the safest mock pick in history. Coach Mike Dunleavy Sr. said, 'He's our guy' directly after the lottery, and Griffin showed up on the team's website the next day. After evidently getting a mild reprimand from the league (preferring that the draft at least have the appearance of suspense), the team quickly added Ricky Rubio to the front page. But the pretense ended when the Oklahoman worked out in front of the media and about 100 LAC season ticket holders and sponsors June 6.
After finding a real gem in last year's draft in 7th pick Eric Gordon(notes), the Clippers will have two 20-year-olds with All-Star potential to build around (not 20-somethings mind you, but just 20 each, 20-nothings if you will). And I suppose they could even win now, as they've got plenty of other talent on the roster and some decent trade assets as well.
Any trade will no doubt include a big, with Griffin joining a front court already crowded with three starter level players and about $36M in annual salary; so the team would be wise to create a little space for him. Chris Kaman(notes) is rumored to be the most likely to go; Marcus Camby’s(notes) relatively friendly contract is small enough that the Clippers don’t really care to move it, and Zach Randolph’s(notes) is so huge that other teams are unlikely to touch it. That leaves Kaman as the 'just right' piece to move (too bad his goldilocks have long been cut off). Rumors continue to circulate about the Clippers trying to move Baron Davis(notes), but don't believe them. The Clippers and Baron are tied to each other for one more season at least, and they will rise or fall together.
But today is about Blake Griffin, who immediately improves the Clippers' future, even if he doesn't rejuvenate Baron Davis. Griffin would have helped any team immensely in this draft, but for the Clippers winning the lottery is the difference between a roster loaded with problems and a roster loaded with opportunities."