RCP NBA Mock Draft Part II: Lottery Explanations

Here’s Part II of our 2009 NBA Mock Draft (Part I, the results, are here). Since we put the mock together last Sunday, picks like Blair, who has seen his draft stock drop recently, might seem a little off, but we’re sticking with what we have for now. Part III will be coming soon and we’ll do a final mock just before the draft since things change on an hourly basis. I took care of the even picks, while SJ handled the odd. But if you don’t agree with something, just yell at both of us on Twitter/in the comments.

1. Los Angeles Clippers — Blake Griffin
In a draft full of question marks and mysteries, Blake Griffin going #1 is an absolute no-brainer. I mean it is not even a question, to the point where not even Mike Dunleavy and the Clippers could botch this one. Try as people may to knock his game down a peg but there is no question that this man is the crown jewel of the 2009 NBA Draft. The Lottery was named the Blake Griffin Sweepstakes for a reason. I think we all know Griffin is just an absolute monster so need to describe why he’s here. The moves that LA makes after drafting Blake will be telling but no doubt about it they have to go with Mr. Griffin. Absolutely, positively have to.

2. Memphis Grizzlies — Hasheem Thabeet
This is just a personal beef of mine, but how long are teams going to draft impressively big, obviously raw center prospects with the apparent reasoning of “But he could be the next Dikembe Mutombo!”? It might sound hypocritical from a guy who is still 100% behind the Oden pick, but one thing that was never said about Greg that is often written about Thabeet is “soft”.
Now, Memphis does still need a big, and they are far enough away from contention to be able to afford a project, but that’s also the logic that got Portland Martell Webster instead of Chris Paul. Ricky Rubio is the clear value pick here, and if the Memphis front office could find a way to trade down and still get Thabeet or even Hill while adding some extra assets, that’s a winning day for them. As it stands, if they stay at No. 2, all indications are that they’re taking Thabeet. And even if he becomes the next Sam Dalembert, that’s still a nice frontcourt with him and Gasol.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder — Jordan Hill (Trade Down)
Now this was a tough pick to wrap our brains around. Oklahoma City could go about three or four different directions with this one. You could make an argument that OKC needs a PG, perimeter scoring to help Kevin Durant or a big man to make them forget their depth chart reads Malik Rose/Robert Swift/DJ White and co. We chose to go with them taking Jordan Hill to put alongside Krstic. Hill gives them rebounding, defense, size, shot blocking and all of the things they have lacked in the post. I guess I should explain why we didn’t go with Rubio here. Two words: Russell Westbrook. I’m not so sure the Thunder should take Rubio when they have Westbrook who has proven that a) he can perform (15/5/5 down the stretch) and b) he needs the ball in his hands to be at his best. Selecting Rubio moves Westbrook off the ball and I’m not sure that is for the best when you know how well he plays with it in his hands. Why change something when you don’t have to? Plus, Rubio needs some time to develop, why not get someone who can help you immediately.
Even if he’s raw you can’t say Hill isn’t an upgrade over the names I just listed above. OKC could go with James Harden or trade down to get Stephen Curry but the Thunder are going to hit a ceiling until they pick up some decent muscle. Surely the Kings would offer something to move up and take Rubio…

4. Sacramento King — Ricky Rubio
If Rubio falls, this is as easy as it gets. There’s no science to it. In fact, it makes sense for Memphis to dangle their pick to Sac-town and pick up a backup power forward. This is a best-case scenario for the Kings.

5. Washington Wizards — James Harden (Trade Down)
At No. 5 with the players we have going ahead of him and the iffyness of the rest of the draft, the Wizards would be wise to go ‘Best Player Available’ route and snag James Harden. It would actually be a real nice spot for him as he’ll quietly be the No. 4 scoring option and won’t get as much defensive attention. Plus he gives the Wizards another offensive creator outside of the Big 3. Stevenson needs help to get his shot and Nick Young is usually just good at getting his own shot off. At Arizona State with a limited cast and tons of defensive attention, Harden proved that he can set the table for himself and others. I have some reservations about Harden in Washington, thus the trade down is also an option. As stated he could fit in easily, but then again…what can he do that Nick Young can’t do? And Nick Young hasn’t exactly worked out to say the least. Also, rumor has it that the Wiz want Stephen Curry so keep an eye on that.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves — Jonny Flynn
Randy Foye is the determining factor for the Wolves, as he will always be a combo guard, not a full-time point (at least from what we’ve seen). So Minny will first have to ask itself whether it wants another combo guard to pair with Foye and split the PG duties, or just make Foye a shooting guard and bring in a true point. If they want another combo, they can take Evans, but it makes more hoops sense to give your team an identity at the helm. Holiday is an option, but Flynn is probably the most polished lead guard available and the sooner their pick can play the better.

7. Golden State Warriors — Brandon Jennings
What this season made clear is that Golden State needs a PG to drive the NellieBall Express. And that guy is definitely not named Monta Ellis, CJ Watson or Jamal “Don Nelson might pull a Tonya Harding to get me out of here” Crawford. His name could be Brandon Jennings. Despite the fact that his stock is falling faster than…is it too soon to make stock market jokes? I vote yes. Anyways, despite the fact that his draft stock is falling by the wayside, we believe he would be a great fit for the Warriors. His upside is tremendous and a year in Europe should make him a better pro. How so? The NBA is a PG’s playground these days. Europe is the opposite. You can bump people all over and clog the lane. Not over here. Jennings’ ability to make plays could really compliment Ellis and co. and he could help make Warrior fans Believe all over again. If Jonny Flynn is still on the board on draft day than this becomes an interesting debate, but I feel like Jennings is the right guy in Oakland.

8. New York Knicks — Stephen Curry
The Knicks get what they want, or at least what everyone thinks they want. They’re a tough team to figure out because they could see about an 80% roster overhaul over the next 18 months, thus making any “Best Fit Pick” look loco. With the information floating around the web right now, anyone picking the Knicks to pass on Curry either has wiretaps at the Garden or is screaming for attention.

9. Toronto Raptors — DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan in Toronto makes sense on a couple different levels. One, because Toronto says they would take him if he was available. The second is that Toronto has no wing players to speak of. None. With the exit of the Matrix, they are looking at Anthony Parker, Jason Kopono (Editors note: this was written before Kopono was traded for Reggie Evans) and Joey Graham as their wings. I’m being a little harsh but you definitely don’t want Parker and Kopono to be ‘the man’. They can contribute but you don’t want that to be all you have in the cupboard. DeRozan here could be a home run for the Raptors. DeRozan didn’t really impress me that much this season until his play in the Pac-10 Tournament and boy did he explode then. To me it seems like he may pull a Derrick Rose and his game will end up being tailor made for the league instead of college. He has all of the tools in his toolbox to be a really good pro. Either way the Raptors need to pick him here.

10. Milwaukee Bucks — Jrue Holiday
All the PG prospects make this late lottery somewhat redundant, and with the Bucks their decision is going to hinge on whether they will lose Charlie “Twitter is a way of life” Villanueva and/or Ramon Sessions. Earl “Don’t call me Candyman” Clark is the option if they have to go big, but Holiday is the BPA at the guard spot.

11. New Jersey Nets — DeJuan Blair
I think Blair to the Nets is a pretty easy pick. New Jersey needs a beast in the post and that is exactly what Blair is. A monster. Even more impressive if you ignore his comparison to Tractor Traylor and him recently being red-flagged for bum knees. If you look at the Nets roster you can see that Blair would fit in nicely. Brook Lopez cannot do all the banging and low post scoring by himself. Ryan Anderson is talented but not really a banger and at this point I think the Nets would call Sean Williams and Josh Boone failures. And even if they wouldn’t, it’s clear that you don’t want to run plays through them in the post. Enter DeJuan Blair. They’re ok on the wing and a PG isn’t necessary with Devin Harris running the show so you get to fill a need without having to make much of a reach.

12. Charlotte Bobcats — Gerald Henderson
Call us crazy for not slotting Tyreke Evans in here, but the Bobcats have a history of drafting local boys (which could be a call made by ownership) and Gerald Henderson certainly fits that mold. That, coupled with the fact that Larry Brown almost always wants mature players who can contribute right away, makes Henderson a logical pick. You have no idea how hard it is not to trash MJ’s recent drafting, but our hunch is he’s going to play it safe with a familiar player from a traditional big-name school.

13. Indiana Pacers — Tyreke Evans
The Pacers need a PG and can get it with Tyreke Evans. One of the question marks around Evans is what position is he? 1? 2? Combo? What makes this work here is that the Pacers have a history of making combo guards work. Look at the Jarrett Jack/TJ Ford combo they ran with this year. Neither were a 1 or 2 but it almost got them to the playoffs. With Evans you get youth, ability and a strong skill set. In Indiana he gives them another playmaker to take some pressure off of Danny Granger. His size allows him to play both positions to give Jim O’Brien some flexibility when (if) Dunleavy comes back.

14. Phoenix Suns — Earl Clark
Hmmm, what versatile forward has always projected to excel in an up-tempo system? Oh, that’s right, Lamar Odom. And what draft prospect compares to Odom? Mr. Clark. Sure, a successor to Steve Nash makes sense, too (Teague) but if the Suns are still in win-now mode (a big question with both them and Detroit) then Clark looks like the best plug-and-play option.

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