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Monday, July 6, 2009

Grading the 2009 NBA Draft: Potential vs. Proven Value

I know, I know, it’s been a couple weeks since the draft was held. It’s just that I wanted to let it stew for a bit in my brain before commenting. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m in the OBX and am slowly wasting away into a vegetative state. OK, I admit it’s probably the latter. Anywho, before we begin there’s something I want to get off my chest. Why, oh why, do teams draft based on potential rather than proven value? For instance, it seems that for every guy chosen without proving himself (say Kevin Garnett) who end up being successful, there are ten guys who don’t, like Kwame Brown. Shane Battier is an excellent example. Everyone pretty much knew what he could do and what kind of pro he’d be – solid, hard-worker, good defender, etc. Still, Kwame, Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry all went ahead of him. That’s why the Euros get picked so high as well. The NBA teams fall in love with the POTENTIAL. Seems like too much of a gamble to me in most cases.

But let’s get to this year’s draft. These are just my takes, but I’ve seen most of these guys play, some more than others. Here we go . . .

1. LA Clippers – Blake Griffin. Pretty much a no-brainer, as he was obviously the best player out there. Still, it bothers me j-u-u-u-s-t a tad that he doesn’t seem to have a pull-up jumper. Seems like a real character guy though, so even the Clippers can't screw him up. Then again . . .

2. Memphis – Hasheem Thabeet. Virtually no post game, and he’s going to find out that blocking shots is a bit harder with the big boys. Sidenote: Did anybody see DeJuan Blair absolutely destroy him this year? Anyone? Bueller? Random observation – he looked like a complete prima donna/dork at that NCAA tourney game wearing his giant sunglasses indoors.

3. Oklahoma City – James Harden. A 6-5 shooting guard, I really like this kid. In my opinion he’ll step right in and contribute. He’s my pick for surprise Rookie of the Year.

4. Sacramento – Tyreke Evans. He’s a pretty physical guard who can get to the rim. Not a great shooter but I think that can come. Good pick.

5. Minnesota – Ricky Rubio. Wow. Alarm bells are going off in my head like crazy. Yeah, he looks like The Pistol, makes fancy passes, and seemingly has great court awareness. Still . . . he’s small, thin, and doesn’t look that quick to me. I may be eating my words in 2-years, but I sense trouble with this kid. UPDATE: He apparently isn’t even going to sign with the T-Wolves and is going back to Spain for a couple of years. Sounds like a diva to me.

6. Minnesota – Jonny Flynn. I would have picked Flynn over Rubio in a heartbeat. Reason #1? Quickness.

7. Golden State – Stephen Curry. I know this kid is a media darling, but I’m not sold yet. I know, great shooter, intelligent, blah-blah-blah. But again, is he quick enough to get off shots in the pros? Also, is he a real NBA point guard? If not, is he big enough to play the 2-spot? I just don’t know. The doubts won’t quit nagging me. Man, my head hurts.

8. New York – Jordan Hill. Although the Knick faithful hated missing out on Curry, I truly believe they got the better player in Hill. He’s big ( I refuse to use the term long) and athletic. Talk to me in 3-years, but I think he’s going to be a great pro.

9. Toronto – DeMar DeRozan. Big upside as they say, and he should be able to step right in and play for the Raptors. With their recent signing of Hedo, they’re going to be pretty good next year. That is, until Chris Bosh leaves the following year.

10. Milwaukee – Brandon Jennings. Big risk here in my humble opinion. He’s quick as hell but can’t hit the water when pissing out of a boat. Plus, he hasn’t played a minute with the big boys and he’s talking trash like Gary Peyton on crystal meth. The Bucks are taking a big chance on this cat.

11. New Jersey – Terrence Williams. I watched this guy close up and personal this year twice, and trust me on this one. There is no player more athletic in the ’09 draft, but he takes a LOT of plays off. And when I say a lot, I mean around 2 out of 3. When he wants to defend he can defend anybody. When he doesn’t, which is often, he can really hurt his team.

12. Charlotte – Gerald Henderson. I hate Duke, but you can compare Henderson to Battier in a lot of ways. You know exactly what you’re getting with this kid – a hard-worker who is smart, strong, and dependable. He’s going to have a long career in the league as a solid third or fourth best player on whatever team he’s on. Thought: That elbow shot on Hansbrough a couple years back was intentional, no matter what Billy Packer said at the time.

13. Indiana – Tyler Hansbrough. You know, I’ve completely changed course with this guy. I now think he’s going to be a good pro. I believe he’ll be a solid big man for the Pacers. Plus, the fans in Indiana will love this guy.

14. Phoenix – Earl Clark. Again, I watched this cat up close, so trust me on this one kids – this guy can play. He’s tall, has l-o-n-g arms, and a nice touch from 12-feet in. I like him a lot. Bonus observation: His name sounds like a Supreme Court Justice.

15. Detroit – Austen Daye. Kid can shoot lights out, but he’s as skinny as a 6-11 Bulimic Ethiopian with a touch of anorexia. I worry for the dude’s health, I’m just sayin’. He seems to me rather soft as well. Still, he’ll be a nice backup for Prince in the Motor City.

16. Chicago – James Johnson. My friends, James Johnson is a hoss. He’s a banger, and a rebounding demon with an NBA-ready body. Downside? He’s inconsistent and sometimes plays with a lack of, well, smarts.

17. Philadelphia – Jrue Holiday. I like this PG from UCLA a lot. He dropped a bit in the draft, apparently due to concerns over a shoulder injury, but I think he ultimately has a chance to be better than all the guards picked above him.

18. Denver – Ty Lawson. Lawson is another guard I really like. He’s lightning fast and can get to the paint any time he wants, even in the NBA.

19. Atlanta – Jeff Teague. The folks in Hotlanta are going to like this pick. He had what could have been the quickest first step in college hoops last year. Negatives? Doesn’t come to play every night, plus I can see him hitting the wall around game 50 next year.

20. Utah – Eric Maynor. I confess I haven’t seen this guy much, but the Jazz are expecting him to be a nice backup for Deron Williams. They say he’s a character guy as well, which is always a plus when playing for Jerry Sloan.

21. New Orleans – Darren Collison. Wait. What? Don’t the Hornets have a point guard named Chris Paul and isn’t he pretty good? Also, Paul is tiny, so is Collison, and they needed shooters and rebounders more than another PG. I’m baffled and flummoxed.

22. Portland – Victor Claver. Who?

23. Sacramento – Omri Casspi. Can’t comment much here, although I owned an Omri Casspi once in college and it got fabulous gas mileage. Or was it an island I visited off the Greek coast once? Again, I’m befuddled. Never mind.

24. Oklahoma City – BJ Mullens. I’ve seen BJ play several times, and simply put, he doesn’t know how to play. He’s kind of a bad Darko Milicic, which is not good in any way. Sure, he’s athletic, but he’s also lazy, uninspired, and let’s see, how can I put this kindly . . . dumb. I’ll be shocked if this pick pans out for OK City.

Alright, I’m stopping here because A) I just wanted to get to our boy BJ Mullens, and B) I know nothing about the rest of the guys picked in Round 1. I mean, the Cavs picked some dude from The Congo. The Congo? I will say that I believe two guys in the draft were completely undervalued, and they were both from the same team – DeJuan Blair and Sam Young from Pitt. To go back to my argument up top, BJ Mullens over DeJuan Blair? Please.

Anyway, get back to me in a couple of years and we’ll discuss how I graded this year’s draft. Hell, maybe BJ Mullens will be an All-Star and James Harden will be out of the league.

Nah . . .


  1. I totally agree with you on Thabeet. He reminds me of a scaled-down version of Manute Bol. Just lanky and tall. He could barely score in college - he will never score in the NBA. Just for the record, I'm going with Ty Lawson for Rookie of the Year. And as far as the Cavs picking Congo-Man, I would bet I could find ten college players from Cincinnati that could beat the guy at a game of one-on-one. But I'm sure he has a tremendous upside!

  2. I'd heard this about Mullen before. I take it you guys are close to the situation so it sort of backs up what I'd heard. Good post.

  3. B. J. Mullens could become a fine pro player!.....if he had stayed for 4 years of college basketball. He'll never average over 4 points-a-game in any year. He's developed himself to about 1/10th of his potential, and probably will only improve to about 2/10th's of it before his NBA career is over. But it's his career.


Man, that chick beside me is smokin'.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

3:30 AM, after the Louisville game.

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