Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Updated: May 20, 4:13 PM ET
Chad Ford's Mock Draft
By Chad Ford
The Los Angeles Clippers are the big winners of the NBA's 25th draft lottery, also known this year as the Blake Griffin sweepstakes.
And now that we know the draft order, let's take our first look at how the first round might go. We will have many more editions of the mock draft between now and the 2009 NBA draft on June 25 as the teams continue their evaluation process.
Team workouts have just begun. In the next few weeks, the Chicago pre-draft combine, the Reebok Eurocamp and hundreds of team workouts will dramatically alter the face of the draft.
But for now, here are our informed guesses, after talking to numerous NBA team sources, as to how the draft will play out in June:
Analysis: This is a bit of a messy scenario because the Clippers already have a very expensive power forward in Zach Randolph. Griffin is better, but Randolph's contract will be almost impossible to move.
Griffin has said he would make the best of any situation and would be happy in Los Angeles. But I'm not sure the Clippers' situation was exactly what he had in mind.
Analysis: An NBA source told me today that Memphis was the one team that might take Thabeet instead of Griffin if it were to get the No. 1 pick -- that's how much the Grizzlies need size. So it seems likely they would take Thabeet ahead of Rubio. Marc Gasol was good last year, but he's more of an offensive player than a defensive player.
But Rubio remains an option here, and he might be a better long-term fit than Thabeet.
Analysis: The Thunder will have an easy choice here if Rubio is still on the board. Russell Westbrook can play off the ball, and he and Rubio would give the Thunder one of the best young backcourts in the NBA. Neither guy is a great shooter, but they have Kevin Durant for that.
If the Grizzlies take Rubio, Oklahoma City will have a tough choice between Thabeet and James Harden.
Analysis: The Kings are the big losers in the draft lottery, falling all the way to No. 4. They would've loved Griffin, Thabeet or Rubio. After that, it starts to get sketchy.
Hill would give them toughness and energy in the frontcourt, and they could use that. But don't be surprised if UCLA's Jrue Holiday sneaks in here. The Kings will bring him in on Wednesday. Point guard is their biggest need and the Kings are high on Holiday.
Analysis: The Wizards have to be hurting a little, falling to No. 5, but actually Harden would be a great fit. He's one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft and would be a great backcourt mate with Gilbert Arenas.
The team will look at Tyreke Evans and DeMar DeRozan, too, but I think Harden is the obvious pick here.
Analysis: The Wolves thought they had filled their need for a small forward when they drafted Corey Brewer, but he has been injured and has been a disappointment even when healthy. DeRozan has as much upside as anyone else in the draft -- he's an athletic marvel who can play the 2 and the 3, and he's more potent on the offensive end than Brewer.
Analysis: Drafting Jennings would be a swing for the fences by a team lacking a traditional point guard. He wasn't great in Italy this year, but he has all the raw tools to be a terrific backcourt mate for Monta Ellis for years to come.
Analysis: Love him or hate him, Curry would be a good fit in Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun offense. Curry has the two elements essential for a D'Antoni guard: a terrific jump shot and high basketball IQ.
Analysis: Evans' ability to penetrate and finish at the basket would make him an excellent complement to the Raptors' perimeter-oriented bigs. With Anthony Parker heading to free agency in the summer, it's time for an upgrade in the backcourt. DeJuan Blair and Jrue Holiday would be good options as well.
Analysis: The Bucks face the possibility of losing free agents Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions this summer, which would leave holes at the point and power forward. Given that, they might have a tough decision between Holiday, who has the all-around skill set to step in and play immediately, and DeJuan Blair, who could provide some real toughness on the front line. Holiday's upside combined with his defensive abilities should give him the edge here.
Analysis: Nets general manager Rod Thorn has said he needs a moose, and he should be able to find one at No. 11. The Nets have needs at both forward positions and could face a tough decision between two tough guys, Blair and Johnson. In the end, Johnson's athleticism and versatility probably would earn him the nod in New Jersey.
Analysis: Since shipping Jason Richardson to Phoenix last season, the Bobcats have needed a long-term solution at 2-guard. Raja Bell played well but can't hold down the fort forever.
Offensively, when Henderson is on, he's great. When he's off, it's ugly. But first and foremost, Bobcats coach Larry Brown should appreciate that Henderson is a terrific on-the-ball defender all the time.
Analysis: The Pacers' biggest need is an athletic big man with shot-blocking ability. Unfortunately, none of those guys is likely to be available. With Jarrett Jack heading into free agency, Indiana could end up focusing on the point guard position, and it would have a lot of options.
Flynn is the hot name right now. He has the toughness and the swagger, but he would duplicate T.J. Ford to a degree. Eric Maynor and Ty Lawson also could get a look here.
Analysis: Clark could be the second coming of Shawn Marion if he's willing to play hard every night. The versatile forward can play both the 3 and the 4, and he's amazing in transition, an excellent rebounder, an emerging shooter and capable of playing outstanding defense, even if he's not always inclined to do so.
Analysis: The Pistons will begin their summer makeover in the draft. They'd love to add a dominant low-post scorer, particularly a center, but they aren't likely to find anyone who fits the bill.
Blair could fit because of his nastiness in the paint, but the Pistons just gave a similar player, Jason Maxiell, a big contract, and it's no secret that they are looking long and hard at Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap, both of whom have the opportunity to leave Utah.
Daye could be the most talented player left on the board at this point. Adding him to the squad would be a move for the future, as he has the potential to be great someday. He has a pure game but needs to get stronger and more assertive.
Analysis: I think the Bulls will do backflips if Blair falls this far. They have the athleticism of Tyrus Thomas, the energy of Joakim Noah and the skills and size of Brad Miller on their front line. If they could add Blair's toughness and offensive rebounding, the Bulls would have an answer to every front line in the league.
Analysis: With Andre Miller hitting free agency this summer, look for the Sixers to address the point guard position. Lou Williams is nice but not really a lead guard. Maynor would give Philly the total package as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.
Analysis: The Wolves don't have a true center, and Mullens is likely to be the best one remaining on the board. At the beginning of the season, he was ranked in our top five, but he slipped because although his talent remains, he's years away from being ready. However, a lottery team with lots of first-round picks such as Minnesota can roll the dice and pray the gamble pays off.
Analysis: The Hawks have blown it repeatedly when they've needed a point guard in the draft. They passed on Chris Paul to draft Marvin Williams and passed on Rajon Rondo to draft Shelden Williams. Then, two years ago, when they finally got around to picking a point guard, they took Acie Law ahead of Rodney Stuckey.
Although Teague isn't a pure point guard, he has one of the quickest first steps in the game and is a terrific scorer and an emerging shooter. At this point in the draft, he would be a bargain.
Analysis: It feels like destiny for Hansbrough to end up in Utah. His tough, blue-collar game should work really well for Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. And with the Jazz likely to lose either Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap, or both, they'll probably have a need at the 4.
Analysis: Williams is the biggest enigma of the draft. He has lottery-pick size, athleticism and skills but was very inconsistent in putting it all together in four seasons at Louisville. At this point, he would be a risk worth taking and would fill a need for the Hornets in their backcourt.
Analysis: Jason Kidd will hit free agency this summer, and there's no guarantee he'll be back. J.J. Barea was good in the playoffs, but if Kidd looks to be leaving, the Mavericks will want a more classic point guard such as Lawson. Not only does he have the speed and perimeter shooting they crave, but he's also a proven winner.
Analysis: Beno Udrih didn't really work out so well at point guard for the Kings this season. It may seem odd that they would consider taking Calathes, a guy at least one GM has compared to Udrih. But Calathes is not Udrih: He is a better passer with a quicker, more confident offensive game. He won't play great defense, but at this stage in the draft, he'd be a good get.
Analysis: Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard's perpetual search for a point guard continues. Last year, the team acquired lottery pick Jerryd Bayless, but it's pretty clear that Bayless is more of a Ben Gordon type than a Steve Nash type. Collison's quickness, penetrating ability, leadership and defensive talent would have to intrigue the Blazers.
Analysis: The Thunder would love to get a true center, but no one worth gambling on is expected to be available at this point in the draft. Lawal is raw, but he's an athlete and a proven rebounder who could provide energy off the bench.
Analysis: The Bulls face the real possibility of losing Ben Gordon this summer, and Douglas has some similar abilities as a dynamic scorer and shooter. And, unlike Gordon, he won't cost a lot of money and be discontented coming off the bench.
Analysis: Budinger would give the Grizzlies a player who could do a lot of the things Mike Miller did for them -- in particular, spread the floor with his shooting. The question: Budinger's athleticism and stroke are impressive, but is he tough enough?
Analysis: The Wolves have tried Sebastian Telfair and Randy Foye at the point, but neither one has fit the role well enough. Mills' quickness and floor vision should be an upgrade in terms of point guard skills, at least down the road.
Analysis: With both Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza hitting free agency this summer, the forward position could quickly move from a strength to a need for the Lakers. Summers is an NBA-caliber athlete and an excellent scorer whose game really slipped toward the end of the season, as did his draft stock. On talent, though, he would rate higher, which would make him a value pick for the Lakers here.
Analysis: Young has been terrific the past two years at Pittsburgh and should be able to come in and contribute immediately to the Cavs as an athletic scorer and defender.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.