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NBA mock draft 2009

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  • 1. Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma: The grand prize for winning the NBA lottery was going to be Griffin, no matter which team got the lucky ping-pong ball. It turns out to be the Clippers, who, oddly enough, don't need another big guy with Marcus Camby(notes), Chris Kaman(notes) and Zach Randolph(notes) already on board. What this means is that one of the three – probably Kaman or Randolph, if the Clippers can find a suitor – will be trade bait to make room for Griffin. On the other hand, Camby, Kaman and Randolph combined to miss 103 collective games last season. Maybe the Clippers will keep all four. The 6-10, 250-pound Griffin has bounce to his legs, excellent touch around the basket, strength and explosiveness. He'll make an immediate impact on a team that, if healthy, should be much improved next season.

  • 2. Memphis Grizzlies Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain: Second-year point guard Mike Conley(notes) had a nice season for the Grizzlies in 2008-09, but he's barely 6 feet while Rubio, by some accounts the best prospect ever out of Europe, stands 6-4. Rubio, 18, beat out the Trail Blazers' Sergio Rodriguez(notes) for a spot on the Spanish national team last summer. Skinny and not a great shooter, Rubio is nevertheless a find, based on a court savvy beyond his years. He'll be effective on a young Memphis nucleus that includes center Marc Gasol(notes), small forward Rudy Gay(notes) and shooting guard O.J. Mayo(notes).

  • 3. Oklahoma City Thunder Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut: The Thunder are set for the future at both forwards with Kevin Durant(notes) and Jeff Green(notes) and at point guard with Russell Westbrook(notes). The 7-3 Thabeet is a godsend, providing Oklahoma City with a defensive presence on an offensive-minded club. Thabeet has a long way to go with his offensive game, but he made huge strides in his three years at Connecticut. If he scores eight points a game on three dunks and a layup, then contributes 10 rebounds and three blocked shots per outing, he'll have made a difference for a team that could get better in a hurry.

  • 4. Sacramento Kings – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona: The Kings, who entered the lottery with the best probability of gaining the No. 1 pick, got unlucky again. Oh well. The 6-10 Hill is a nice addition who will help another pair of young big men, Spencer Hawes(notes) and Jason Thompson(notes), man the middle in the coming years. Hill has a nice package at both ends. He is comfortable in the interior offensively, is a decent mid-range shooter and is a good finisher. Not a great defender, but his development will come over the next few seasons for a team sorely in need of help everywhere but at shooting guard with Kevin Martin(notes).

  • 5. Washington Wizards Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy by way of Los Angeles: The Wizards are in an odd position, because they're not sure if Gilbert Arenas(notes) will ever be Gilbert Arenas again. If he is, they're set at shooting guard, and Jennings is a promising youngster who can grow in the backcourt with the former All-Star. If Arenas weren't going to be whole in the future, the pick here would likely be Arizona State shooting guard James Harden. We'll say new coach Flip Saunders will opt for Jennings, the former high school star out of Compton, Calif., who played professionally last season with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian League. Jennings didn't have a great season in Europe but remains blessed with great potential as a left-handed point guard with wheels and great court vision.

  • 6. Minnesota Timberwolves – James Harden, SG, Arizona State: Harden fills a need for the Timberwolves, who will build around big men Al Jefferson(notes) and Kevin Love(notes) and point guard Randy Foye(notes). The 6-5 Harden slumped some at the end of last season but possesses a world of ability as a southpaw shooting guard who can create for himself off the dribble and score with either hand going to the basket. He has excellent range and is thick enough that he will probably be able to play defense in the NBA right away.

  • 7. Golden State Warriors Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina: Who knows what Don Nelson is thinking? Does the veteran Golden State coach want a set-up point guard to work with Monta Ellis(notes) in the backcourt, or would he prefer to add one of a plethora of available shooting guards in the draft? Seventh is probably a little high for Lawson, but he's an intriguing talent with lightning quickness in the open court, one of Nelson's delights. The Warriors could also opt for Davidson combo guard Stephen Curry, but we'll plug the 5-11 waterbug Lawson in here.

  • 8. New York Knicks Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis: Coach Mike D'Antoni wants to upgrade just about everywhere, and Evans will be a smooth fit in New York's up-tempo offense. The 6-5 freshman is a premier shot creator who can get to the boards and actually played the point for the Tigers. Evans is still early in his development and will probably go through some growing pains in the NBA, but his upside makes him a good pick here.

  • 9. Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan, SG, Southern Cal: For now, the Raptors will build around point guard Jose Calderon(notes) and big men Chris Bosh(notes) and Andrea Bargnani(notes). DeRozan would be a welcome addition. At 6-6, he has nice size and excellent athleticism, but as a freshman at USC he was inconsistent and lacking in some areas at both ends of the court. He should be able to score right away in the NBA.

  • 10. Milwaukee Bucks – Stephen Curry, PG, Davidson: Curry will be one of those hybrid players who can fit in with several different lineups with the Bucks, a team that sees Michael Redd(notes), Richard Jefferson(notes) and Andrew Bogut(notes) as its anchors. Curry will probably play point guard as he did this season at Davidson, but it's his shooting ability that sets him apart from the rest. The son of ex-NBA sharpshooter Del Curry can fill it up from anywhere, but he won't wow anyone with his physicality, athleticism or defensive ability.

  • 11. New Jersey Nets – Earl Clark, PF, Louisville: The Nets could use help at either forward position, particularly if they trade Yi Jianlian(notes). The 6-9 Clark, a kind of combo forward with length and impressive physical ability, fills the bill. Quick for a big man, he can create some and is good scoring around the basket. He'll need to develop and become a more consistent producer than he was for the Cardinals.

  • 12. Charlotte Bobcats Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke: It might grate on Larry Brown, the old Tar Heel, to take on a Blue Devil, but the veteran coach could use an upgrade at shooting guard. Henderson is 6-5, athletic and versatile enough to help the Bobcats right away. He has become a good shooter and was an excellent defender at the college level, a skill Brown will cherish from a rookie. If the Bobcats decide to trade Gerald Wallace(notes), Henderson's stock rises even higher.

  • 13. Indiana Pacers – Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse: Indiana is looking for help at every position at small forward, where Danny Granger(notes) has emerged as one of the best in the business. The Pacers could try to take on Flynn, who is only 6 feet but can fly, handle and set up teammates. Flynn is erratic but performs well at the fast pace at which coach Jim O'Brien prefers.

  • 14. Phoenix Suns – James Johnson, SF, Wake Forest: The Suns might be looking for a young point guard as an eventual replacement for Steve Nash(notes), but they also could need somebody to replace free agent Grant Hill(notes) as soon as next season. Johnson is 6-8, can score with a variety of moves out to mid-range, and shows the versatility coach Alvin Gentry desires in a young player.

  • 15. Detroit Pistons: DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh. Pistons will need help at power forward, especially if free agent Rasheed Wallace(notes) isn't retained. The 6-7 Blair is undersized but has a large wingspan and plays physically at both ends of the court. He'll get to the offensive boards, another weapon that comes in handy on a team that really has no legitimate post threat. Wake Forest's James Johnson makes sense at this pick, too, if he's still on the board.

  • 16. Chicago Bulls Terrence Williams, SG, Louisville: Rumors are the Bulls are looking at trading Kirk Hinrich(notes). Shooting guard Ben Gordon(notes) could leave, too. That means the Bulls need help at shooting guard. Williams has a lot of natural attributes – he's rangy, versatile and is a leaper who can defend. NBA scouts love his competitiveness.

  • 17. Philadelphia 76ers Eric Maynor, PG, Virginia Commonwealth: No matter whether Andre Miller(notes) is re-signed, the 76ers are looking for help in the backcourt. Maynor was one of the best scoring points in college basketball last season, with ability as a creator and as a long-range bomber. He also is a suitable playmaker, which would come in handy on a team that needs shots for such players as Andre Iguodala(notes) and Thaddeus Young(notes).

  • 18. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jrue Holiday, PG, UCLA: If Maynor were still on the board, the Timberwolves would probably jump at taking him. If not, Holiday is another talented young point man who can add to the Minnesota backcourt picture right away. Didn't have a great freshman season for the Bruins, but is a smart, savvy player beyond his years who can create well for teammates and is more than willing to.

  • 19. Atlanta Hawks Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest: Regardless of whether the Hawks re-sign Mike Bibby(notes), 31, they'll probably be looking to add at point guard. Teague is a fine scorer, an athletic player who came up big in big games for the Demon Deacons. He'd be a comfortable fit in a backcourt that features Joe Johnson(notes).

  • 20. Utah Jazz– B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State: The situation is unsettled in Utah, with Carlos Boozer(notes), Mehmet Okur(notes) and Kyle Korver(notes) all holding player opt-out potential. That would leave a need everywhere but at point guard (Deron Williams(notes)) and small forward (Andrei Kirilenko(notes)). Jerry Sloan hasn't had great luck with young big men in the past, but Mullens owns some natural skills – strength, athleticism, the ability to finish with either hand – that might make the veteran coach pull the trigger.

  • 21. New Orleans Hornets Chase Budinger, SG, Arizona: The Hornets are missing a big-time shooting guard, so Budinger makes perfect sense here. One of the nation's top volleyball players, his athleticism is off the charts, and he's a decent perimeter shooter with excellent instincts at the offensive end. He might never become an All-Star, but he should be a productive NBA player for many years.

  • 22. Dallas Mavericks Austin Daye, PF, Gonzaga: If Jason Kidd(notes) is re-signed and Josh Howard(notes) recovers from his ankle problems, the Mavericks could look to strengthen their frontline. Daye would be a welcome addition who could help in many ways off the bench early in his NBA career. The son of former NBA player Darren Daye, Austin Daye would have been a top-five pick in 2010 if he'd stayed in college another year. Not yet much of a scorer or shooter on a consistent basis, he is rangy and court savvy. Needs badly to build strength and improve at the defensive end.

  • 23. Sacramento Kings – Sam Young, SF, Pittsburgh: The top senior in the draft goes to a team that needs immediate help. Young is physical, fairly athletic and an accomplished scorer who could fill a bench role right away for the Kings.

  • 24. Portland Trail BlazersGani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech: It wouldn't be surprising to see the Trail Blazers, one of the NBA's youngest teams, trade out of the first round. On the other hand, owner Paul Allen loves the draft and general manager Kevin Pritchard might keep the pick or even move up. Portland covets a player who can provide some toughness inside. Lawal is a strong rebounder who could fill a garbage-player role as early as next season for the Blazers.

  • 25. Oklahoma City Thunder Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina: The Thunder have Nick Collison(notes) in a role as an undersized inside banger. Hansbrough is a younger version, one of those high-motor guys who works his tail off every second he's on the court. Maybe not the most athletic guy, but a quality piece as Oklahoma City works its way to respectability.

  • 26. Chicago Bulls – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA: If Hansbrough is gone, the Bulls will look to add a point guard to the backcourt. Collison is a big-game player with poise and a high basketball IQ. Though only 6-1, the kid plays good defense, can shoot long distance and create things off the dribble.

  • 27. Memphis Grizzlies – Marcus Thornton, SG, Louisiana State: This falls into the best-player-available category. O.J. Mayo is entrenched at shooting guard, but Thorton is a terrific scorer who adds depth to a thin roster.

  • 28. Minnesota Timberwolves – DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown: With their third pick in the first round, the Timberwolves might be looking to trade this selection. If they keep it, the 6-8 Summers – an explosive wing with a versatile offensive game – makes sense.

  • 29. Los Angeles Lakers – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina: If Lamar Odom(notes) is re-signed, the Lakers aren't looking for a lot of immediate help. Ellington could fill a bench role with his shooting and scoring talents.

  • 30. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nick Calethes, SG, Florida: The Cavaliers could use more front-court depth, but there won't be much available this late in the draft. Calethes is a 6-5 combo guard with excellent passing and finishing skills.