Thursday, April 9, 2009
Updated: April 10, 3:33 PM ET
One GM's take on top draft prospects
By Chad Ford
A number of NBA executives are calling the 2009 NBA draft the weakest in years. Blake Griffin is a surefire superstar and Ricky Rubio looks like a future star as well (if he declares and stays in the draft). But after that there's a lot of confusion.
Over the course of the past few months, I've talked to numerous NBA scouts and GMs looking for some consensus for our Top 100 and our Lottery Mock Draft. But the truth is, after you get done talking about Griffin and Rubio, no two GMs or scouts agree about any of the other prospects.
Some have Hasheem Thabeet as the No. 3 pick in the draft, while others have him in the late lottery. Some GMs love James Harden, while others think he'll be a bust. Some think Al-Farouq Aminu has great upside, while others worry that he is too much of a tweener.
Those varying opinions have made it incredibly hard to put together an accurate Top 100. So, to give you another perspective on the draft, I went to one of my best sources -- an NBA GM with a strong track record in the draft -- and asked for his breakdown.
"The problem with this draft is that most of the players have pretty large flaws that could hurt their productivity in the NBA," the GM told me. "I think a number of them could be really good, but a few of them are going to be busts. It's really like, 'What's your favorite color? There are some blue players, some red players and some green players. What do you like?'"
This is just one man's opinion on this year's draft. We didn't discuss every player, but here's what he thinks about a number of top NBA draft prospects.
|Not all scouts agree on the NBA potential of Ed Davis, Ty Lawson and Hasheem Thabeet.|
Potential Lottery Picks
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
"He's special. He can come into the NBA and play right now. There are very few point guards you can say that about. I love him."
James Harden, SG, Arizona State
"I'm a fan. I think he does a lot of things really well. And I think he's a deceptive athlete. He's really intelligent. He's going to figure it out."
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina
"I wish you didn't start writing about him last month. We've had him in the top five. I thought he was a little bit of a secret. He isn't anymore. I wish he'd stay in school one more year to get stronger and more experience. But he'd go high if he comes out."
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma
"That guy can really go. I think he could be a big-time scorer and distributor in the league. He reminds me a lot of Chauncey Billups. He's strong, athletic and he can shoot it."
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn
"I'm a fan. You can't teach 7-foot-3. He'll be able to come in and be an immediate presence on the defensive end. Whether he ever gets it going on the offensive end ... that's the question."
Al-Farouq Aminu, F, Wake Forest
"I don't know what he is yet, but I really love the package of length and athleticism. He's got good skills. He needs to be on a running team. He can put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. He's obviously got to work on that jumper, but if he gets that down, he could be special. I don't see him falling out of the top 10. But I would take Ed Davis first."
Jordan Hill, F, Arizona
"I don't know if I love him. But he's going to be scrappy, grab rebounds and play really hard. He's got great hands, rebounds out of his area and, from everything we can gather, he's a great kid. He's probably a top-six player."
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas
"He's a really talented kid, a sleeper. I think if he declares and gets into workouts, he moves into the top 10. He kind of reminds me of a more offensive-minded Joel Przybilla."
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis
"I think he's a PG. He really needs the ball in his hands to be effective. I think he's got a good enough handle to play the point in our league. If he shot a little better, he'd be a pretty high lottery pick. But I think he's going to be really good."
DeMar DeRozan, G/F, USC
"He's got all the physical talent you could hope for and I think he proved he's a player late in the year. I think his unselfishness actually hurt him a little. He's a better player than most people think. He could go top five. I don't think he'll go past No. 12."
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown
"I'm not sure about him. I worry about his athleticism. I don't think he moves very well laterally. And I don't think he's got a great motor. He's really, really skilled, but I think he might have some problems in our league."
Earl Clark, F, Louisville
"He's a top-tier talent. I'm not sure if he'll get it, but if he does he's got the chance to be great."
Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
"He's terrific. He had a great run in the tournament, and I think he showed everyone that he has worked on his weaknesses and has become a complete player. He's really good."
Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
"He has great size, good speed. He's a good kid. Coaches love him. He's improved every year, which we love. If you're looking at a guy who could come in right now, he's the guy. I think we might have him ranked higher than most teams. I think he's one of the two or three best point guards in the draft."
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.