Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 2009 NBA lottery, redrafted

Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio and James Harden all correctly went in the top 5 in 2009, but Hasheem Thabeet at #2 overall is one of the worst draft picks in NBA history. With the value of hindsight, here's how the draft would look today, with who they actually took in parenthesis:

1. Los Angeles Clippers - Blake Griffin, PF (Blake Griffin)

He's been a human highlight reel since returning from his knee injury his rookie season, and there's little doubt the future is very bright for Griffin in LA. Kevin Love is more effective, although not nearly as flashy, but Griffin is certainly in the discussion for being the best power forward, even if he isn't quite there yet.

2. Memphis Grizzlies - James Harden, SG (Hasheem Thabeet, C)

OJ Mayo has fallen out of favor over the last few seasons in Memphis, and at this point he's nothing more than instant offense off the bench. Harden would give Memphis a great backcourt partner to pair with Mike Conley, and Harden would fit in better with Rudy Gay as well.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder - Steph Curry, PG (James Harden)

This was a tough choice between both Rubio and Curry, but since Russell Westbrook came out before the draft saying he'd be upset if the team took a point guard, Curry would be an easier pick to spin. Curry could play the 2 guard at times with Westbrook running the point, although the defensive issues would likely mean they couldn't play together for extended stretches.

4. Sacramento Kings - Ricky Rubio, PG (Tyreke Evans, PG/SG/SF)

The Kings selected Tyreke Evans, who has regressed considerably since his rookie of the year campaign. Rubio's playmaking ability wouldn't mask all of the Kings problems, but his knack for sharing the basketball and always finding the open man would likely help clear up some of the chemistry issues this team has had over the years.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves - Brandon Jennings, PG (Ricky Rubio)

Jennings jumped onto the NBA scene after a 50-point outburst his rookie season. He's only improved since his rookie season, and the playmaking ability that scouts raved about before he headed to Europe is obvious. 

6. Minnesota Timberwolves - DeMar Derozan, SG (Jonny Flynn, PG)

While the Wolves undoubtedly were thrilled when Rubio fell to them at #5, they certainly wish they could redo the sixth pick. Based on how everything fell the team could have selected Steph Curry (who seemed to be the obvious pick) or Derozan, because there was simply no need for another point guard after drafting Rubio.

DeRozan has been solid to this point, and while he doesn't look like a future star he should be a quality starting wing, which is something the Wolves were in dire need of this past season.

7. Golden State Warriors - Ty Lawson, PG (Steph Curry, PG)

Lawson has been efficient and solid since entering the league, which is what most people expected out of him. He's had stretches where he's looked even better than advertised, and considering Curry's health issues to this point I'm not even sure Golden State wouldn't prefer Lawson if given the choice today.

8. New York Knicks - Jrue Holiday, PG (Jordan Hill, PF)

Holiday hasn't been great to this point, but he's had flashes of brilliance early in his career. He's unlikely to ever be the kind of player that will turn around a franchise, but he's going to be a good starting point guard in this league. Linsanity took over New York shortly, but Holiday is a considerably better all-around player at this point.

9. Toronto Raptors - Tyreke Evans, SG (Demar DeRozan)

Evans looked lost this past season playing without the ball in his hands, and he simply doesn't have the instincts necessary to play the point, so he looks like a classic tweener. He has the size to play the small forward, which is where the Kings tried him for extended minutes this season, but he doesn't move well without the ball and it's a big enough concern that I think he'd fall this far.

10. Milwaukee Bucks - Taj Gibson, PF (Brandon Jennings)

With no elite guards left, Gibson would be a steal at this point for how well he's played thus far. He's not a future star but he's been a key contributor for the Bulls each of the past two seasons. A perfect rotation player that doesn't need the offense run through him to contribute.

11. New Jersey Nets - DeJuan Blair, PF (Terrence Williams, SG)

Blair slipped into the second round because of issues in both ACL's, but his production to this point has been great. Gibson is slightly taller so he went a slot ahead, but they've been about equally as productive per minute since joining the league.

12. Charlotte Bobcats - Marcus Thornton, SG (Gerald Henderson, SG)

Thornton has bounced around but he's been a solid player at each stop. He's been considerably more effective than Henderson, who's really only getting playing time because the Bobcats were the worst team in NBA history.

13. Indiana Pacers - Tyler Hansbrough, PF (Tyler Hansbrough)

Hansbrough has been exactly what people expected him to be: efficient, hard-working, and ultimately a starting caliber big in the NBA. The Pacers made a good selection; no point in trying to fix something that isn't broken.

14. Phoenix Suns - Danny Green, SF (Earl Clark, SF)

Danny Green has been fantastic as a 3-point shooter for the Spurs this season. He shot nearly 44% and his improvement over the last 3 years has been remarkable. The Suns, who still love to shoot the 3-pointer, would have loved to have someone like Green launching treys consistently. Green is just another example of the Spurs identifying a player that could fit in their system perfectly, and acquiring him on the cheap. They are an amazing organization to watch, no doubt about it.