Draft looks as fluid as ever
After the one given of Thursday’s NBA draft – Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin to the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 1 pick – things continue to remain unsettled.
“It’s the most screwed-up draft ever, as far as knowing which teams are going to take which players,” said an executive who has been in the NBA for nearly three decades. “Most years, [observers] can nail down all but two or three of the lottery picks. Nobody is going to do that this year.”
It starts with Memphis, which is refusing to give away whether it will take Connecticut giant Hasheem Thabeet or Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio with the second pick.
Perhaps Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace is merely duping the media and is intent on Arizona State shooting guard James Harden or a local guy, Memphis guard Tyreke Evans.
What the Grizzlies decide will have a trickle-down effect through the remainder of the lottery.
1. Los Angeles Clippers – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma: Coach/GM Mike Dunleavy said the Clippers aren’t closing the door to a potential trade of this pick. “Obviously, if the word ‘LeBron’ was spoken, the door would open,” he said. Chances of that are about as high as the Clips taking someone other than the 6-10, 250-pound power forward, of whom Dunleavy said, “There are certain things on his shot that he’ll need to work to get better at.” Even Tim Duncan(notes) wasn’t perfect out of college, and he had four years at Wake Forest.
2. Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut: The 7-3 skyscraper canceled a workout with the Grizzlies, but had already visited twice with Memphis officials. The chance to get the Dikembe Mutombo(notes) of this generation of players will probably be too much to pass by for GM Chris Wallace, who also likes Ricky Rubio and Tyreke Evans.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – James Harden, SG, Arizona State: Kevin Durant(notes) blossomed last season after moving to small forward, which means the Thunder could choose Harden to fit next to him. They’ve taken a liking to the athletic, swashbuckling shooting guard, but if Thabeet is available, he probably is the choice here instead. The Thunder also have met with Spanish guard Ricky Rubio and could pick him for themselves or trade him and move down.
4. Sacramento Kings – Tyreke Evans, PG, Memphis: The Kings were a bit turned off when Rubio didn’t take part in a workout session for them. They like the 6-5 Evans, but just aren’t sure how quickly he can make the conversion to point guard, their big need. With Kevin Martin(notes) entrenched at the shooting guard, Evans would get most of his minutes at the one-spot.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain: The Timberwolves acquired the No. 5 pick after sending Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington. The big question: Do they keep it? Or, send the fifth and sixth picks to Memphis for No. 2? The T’wolves need a point guard; moving up to No. 2 guarantees they can get Rubio. Of course, there’s always a chance Rubio will fall to them at five.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves – DeMar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal: Though DeRozan’s scheduled Monday workout in Minneapolis was canceled because of illness, he is a logical choice here for the Timberwolves, who watched him perform in a “super workout” a couple of weeks ago. The T’wolves can use a shooting guard, and DeRozan is a physically skilled two with plenty of upside. This is assuming they keep the pick.
7. Golden State Warriors – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona: Golden State needs all kinds of help at the power positions, and Hill is the logical guy here. The Warriors have also looked at a group of point guards, including Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and Jonny Flynn, and could go in that direction. Hill’s stock has dropped since the draft process began, but he’s still a talented big man with toughness and an ability to finish around the basket.
8. New York Knicks – Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson: The Knicks are salivating over Rubio, and his agent, Dan Fegan, is drooling over the thought of placing his client in the Big Apple fish bowl. Curry, who averaged 28.6 points as a junior and is one of the nation’s top shooters, would be anything but a consolation prize. He is the type of player who could flourish in coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense, and his defensive liabilities wouldn’t be as big a problem.
9. Toronto Raptors – Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse: The Raptors would prefer that Hill or DeRozan fell to them. Failing that, they’ll be happy with Flynn, a 6-foot point guard with remarkable physical talents.
10. Milwaukee Bucks – Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA: The Bucks’ most pressing need is probably at the point, and they have worked out plenty of candidates, including Holiday, Jennings, Flynn, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague. Despite a less-than-impressive freshman year with the Bruins, Holiday is a true point with good potential offensively, excellent defensive skills and an NBA body.
11. New Jersey Nets – DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh: He’s listed at 6-7, but his actual height is about 6-5 while carrying 275 pounds on a solid frame. There are questions about his knees, too, but the Nets could use a player of his talents on the boards.
12. Charlotte Bobcats – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke: This could come down to a choice between Henderson and Terrence Williams, who both returned for a second workout Monday. Henderson is bigger and stronger, a better passer and a better shooter than Williams, who is versatile and is outstanding in the transition game.
13. Indiana Pacers – Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina: Hansbrough, who has moved up the charts in recent weeks, impressed Pacers officials in his personal workout. Indiana president Larry Bird said the biggest needs are at a power position, point guard and wing. If Blair is gone, the pick will be Hansbrough, who has the toughness to help a team off the bench immediately.
14. Phoenix Suns – Earl Clark, SF, Louisville: The 6-10, 230-pound Clark has a lot of qualities that would work in Alvin Gentry’s high-velocity transition game. All things being equal, the Suns would like to draft big. Clark is the best remaining in that category.
15. Detroit Pistons – Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy: The Pistons had planned to take a front-court player but can’t pass on a talent like Jennings, who has fallen and may be out of the lottery for a variety of reasons. Jennings’ ability to create off the dribble and get into the lane make him a prospect who might not help immediately but has great upside in the long run.
16. Chicago Bulls – Terrence Williams, SG, Louisville: If Ben Gordon(notes) is lost to free agency, Chicago will need a shooting guard. Williams, long and explosive, is an intriguing prospect with some shooting issues that could be taken care of over time.
17. Philadelphia 76ers – Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth: The 76ers will probably go for a point man if they keep this pick. Most likely possibilities are Maynor, Ty Lawson or Jeff Teague. Maynor is a true point guard with a great basketball IQ, considered one of the best decision-makers in college basketball last season.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina: Nobody is quicker baseline to baseline than Lawson, who could go higher but is more likely to be available here. Lawson is smallish and isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but he’s strong and can push the ball in transition.
19. Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest: Teague is a natural scorer who has thrived in an up-tempo game for the Demon Deacons. Not a great shooter or defender, but would be a nice addition to the Hawks’ backcourt.
20. Utah Jazz– B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State: There are better athletes available at this spot, but Mullens is an intriguing post player who is early in his development. Coach Jerry Sloan would enjoy the chance to work with the 7-footer, who some compare to Chris Kaman(notes).
21. New Orleans Hornets – James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest: A combo forward who is competitive and versatile, Johnson is talented enough that he could probably fit immediately in the Hornets’ rotation. He can score and rebound but will need work at the defensive end and is a bit of a tweener.
22. Dallas Mavericks – Omri Casspi, SF, Israel: Casspi graded out well in a workout in Italy, is a high-octane worker who gets after it at both ends of the court. His biggest question is whether he is quick enough to guard NBA players at the three spot.
23. Sacramento Kings – Austin Daye, PF, Gonzaga: Kings officials aren’t enamored with Daye’s lack of strength or poor defensive skills, but they believe he has the talent to one day be an exceptional NBA player. He’ll fit in with a number of their young nucleus as they build for the future.
24. Portland Trail Blazers – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA: Collison shined in a workout for Blazer execs and coaches last week. If the club trades a point guard – likely Sergio Rodriguez(notes) – as expected, there will be a spot open for a point man like Collison, who has the high basketball IQ coach Nate McMillan prefers.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona: Budinger has fallen on draft charts in part because NBA scouts question his toughness. He’s a solid shooter and great athlete who can jump out of the gym and is smart and unselfish offensively.
26. Chicago Bulls – Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh: More of a ready-made NBA player than most. Strong defender and rebounder who is tough and athletic.
27. Memphis Grizzlies – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina: The kid showed he can shoot from almost anywhere, and he’d come in handy on a Memphis team that can use almost everything.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonas Jerebko, SF, Italy: Has emerged late in the draft process; a potential late first-round pick, but he might not arrive in the NBA for another year. Has good size and knows how to use it on the court.
29. Los Angeles Lakers – Rodrigue Beaubois, PG, France: Lakers’ biggest need is at the point, and Beaubois’ workouts have shown his ability is of NBA quality. Very quick and athletic, he’s only 20 and is in the early stages of his development as a player.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nick Calathes, PG, Florida: Calathes announced last month he plans to play professionally in Greece next season, but he still could be a first-round pick.
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