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NBA Draft 2009: Making Sense Of It All

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

By Ron Jumper

The NBA draft came and went, with the usual mix of trades, reaches, and general head scratching. However, I have to focus on the Minnesota Timberwolves. They had a golden opportunity to stockpile some serious young talent to build around Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Instead, they take two point guards in Ricky Rubio and Johnny Flynn with the 5th and 6th picks. I’ll also take an early look at the 2010 NBA Draft. So much NBA to discuss, I better get started.

So back to the Timberwolves, it isn’t just what they added in the draft but what they gave up to get those draft picks. Consider they gave up Randy Foye and Mike Miller to draft Ricky Rubio and take on some bad contracts. When you draft Johnny Flynn with the very next pick, is Rubio really worth it? I think not. Then they trade away the 18th pick when B.J. Mullens was sitting right there. Imagine this scenario instead, they take Johnny Flynn at 5, draft DeMar DeRozan at 6, B.J. Mullens at 18, and Sam Young at 28. If that had happened, then you have your backcourt of the future in Flynn and DeRozan and your frontline is set with Jefferson, Love, Mullens, and Young. Throw Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Craig Smith into the mix, and that isn’t too bad of a young nucleus to build around.

However, something more critical to look at, is why they traded Randy Foye and Mike Miller in the first place. It seemed so out of the blue. Foye was blossoming into a solid young playmaker. Also, prior to Al Jefferson’s season ending injury, the Timberwolves had been playing over .500 basketball for the last month. They were starting to play decent basketball, actually going 9-2 over one 11 game stretch. Then Jefferson went down and they were miserable the rest of the season as expected. However, the Timberwolves front office should have noticed the improvement and not virtually blown up the roster to start again.

So basically, they did everything wrong. They were making progress and now they have blown up the team to start over. Then, they gave up way too much to get the 5th pick in the draft. After all that, they got very little out of a draft they basically mortgaged their future on. The strange part of all this is that we can’t blame Kevin McHale for any of it. He had nothing to do with it. Here is my theory, upon being hired into the front office, they beat you in the head with a baseball bat until you can no longer either spell your name or recite the alphabet. Once that occurs, the initiation is complete and you become a part of the front office. No, but seriously, what are they doing? I have no idea…

A team unlike the Timberwolves is the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they have a clear, concise plan to building a winning team. Over the last 3 drafts, they have now accumulated the foundation they need at every position. At point guard, there is Russell Westbrook. They just drafted James Harden at shooting guard. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are the forwards. B.J. Mullens is the center of the future. With time, those five pieces will become the starting five that takes the Thunder to the playoffs. I have to give credit to general manager Sam Presti for building this team the right way.


So it is never too early to take a glance at the 2010 NBA Draft. Here is my early Top 10:

1. PF Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Monroe is a very skilled big man, as he has great instincts and passing ability.

2. PF Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
The best player in the class of 2009 hopes to make an impact.

3. SF Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
Freakish length and athleticism, needs to work on his jumpshot.

4. SG James Anderson, Oklahoma State
My sleeper to break out onto the national scene in 09/10.

5. PF Ed Davis, North Carolina
Wisely, Davis didn’t make the same mistake that Marvin Williams did last time around.

6. C Solomon Alabi, Florida State
Upside, upside, upside.

7. PG John Wall, Kentucky
Elite point guard prospect in the mold of Derek Rose.

8. SG Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Big time scorer that will get plenty of shots now without Griffin around.

9. SF Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Should emerge as an elite player in the Big East.

10. PF Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Great size with impressive skills to match.

NBA Draft 2009: Mock Draft

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

By Ron Jumper

So the NBA Draft is finally here and, to be honest, I feel like I know less now than when we started. Who in the world will the Grizzlies take and do they care if that person doesn’t want to play there? Where will Ricky Rubio end up? How will the jumble of guards shake out? So many questions, yet seemingly no answers. This should be a crazy lottery Thursday night.

Before I get to the mock draft, I wanted to recap the trades that have happened in the last couple of days. Starting with San Antonio, at first you see the headline that they added Richard Jefferson and you think, “wow they just took a step forward and added an all-star small forward” but then you let it digest for a minute. They gave up Bruce Bowen, granted he is old, but he was their best perimeter defender. They gave up 2 solid inside players in Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto, making them even thinner inside after Duncan and Drew Gooden. I would say if the Spurs can also go out and sign one more big man, preferably a shot blocker, then this becomes a great trade. As their roster stands now, it looks pretty on paper but I wonder about the flaws of that lineup once they face the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and then either the Cavs, Magic, or Celtics in the NBA Finals. Who guards Kobe? Who is going to be the defensive stopper inside? Gooden isn’t that guy and asking Duncan to carry you on both ends throughout the playoffs is asking a lot. If they go get a true center, then Duncan can go back to the power forward and Drew Gooden can provide a spark off the bench.

On the flip side, I understand dumping salary but didn’t the Bucks know this day was coming when they traded for Jefferson in the first place? Why did they give up some young, affordable pieces originally to get Jefferson if they knew they weren’t going to be able to afford Jefferson, Villanueva, and possibly Ramon Sessions in 2009-10, especially considering they dumped Mo Williams to the Cavs for virtually nothing in return? It wasn’t like they were contenders hoping to win now and deal with the consequences later. Those moves all seem inconsistent with any kind of long term plan. Now, you dump salary by trading Jefferson so you can resign Villanueva and Sessions? For starters, Jefferson is better than both players combined. Secondly, couldn’t the front office have gotten out a piece of paper and mapped out the players under contract through what year and know this was going to happen when they made these moves last year? I just can’t believe the Bucks front office didn’t have better foresight to understand their own team’s cap situation and financial standing. Just think, if they had just been able to manage their pieces correctly they would have Mo Williams, Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, and Andrew Bogut plus the tenth pick in this draft and some combination of Ramon Sessions, Joe Alexander, and Luc Richard Mbah Moute off the bench. Way to drop the ball Milwaukee…

The other big trade in the NBA is much more debatable, as the Wolves gave up Randy Foye and Mike Miller for salary dumps and the fifth pick in the draft from the Washington Wizards. The Timberwolves now have picks 5, 6, 18, and 28 in the first round. On the one hand, you could say the new front office is overhauling the roster and bringing in “his guys” but, on the other hand, they are stockpiling picks in a terrible draft class. This is cut and dry for the Wizards, they aren’t a team rebuilding. They have Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison as their stars, with young guys like Nick Young, Javale McGee, and Andrae Blatch. Adding Randy Foye and Mike Miller, both proven players, makes them better immediately. The Wizards were able to both dump salary and add veterans. Minnesota is rolling the dice here, they basically gave away their backcourt and have little on the current roster past Al Jefferson and maybe Kevin Love to build around.

Now for the biggest trade of them all…

The Cavs have traded for Shaq. Why Cleveland? Why? The guy is 37 years old and has a ridiculous salary. This doesn’t help you keep LeBron in Cleveland, even if you think it does. After next season, you really think a 38 year old Shaq is going to keep LeBron James from going to New York? That is crazy talk, I am pretty confident the people around LeBron are not going to rearrange the next 10 years of his career so he can play with Shaq for 2 years. The other part to remember is that the Suns didn’t even make the playoffs with not only Shaq, but Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, and Amare Stoudemire on the roster. Now, suddenly, adding Shaq is that much of an upgrade over Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace, and Joe Smith? Do you really think Shaq will have a chance in a 7-game series against Dwight Howard or Kevin Garnett? If you do, you must be outside your mind. O’Neal’s numbers from last season were good, as he averaged 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks but look at Ilgauskas’ numbers: 12.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.29 blocks. Is that really going to make that much difference? The Suns are wanting to unload players, so I just wonder why they didn’t come up with a more enticing offer and go after Amare Stoudemire. At only 26, a dynamic duo of Amare and LeBron could wreak havoc on the league for the next decade. If that had occurred instead, I would be raving about this trade. As it is, it gives the Cavs a little better shot to win it all in 2010 but have they really caught up with Boston or Orlando? I’m not so sure.

On the other side, has anyone done a better job of driving a championship contender into the ground then Steve Kerr? I mean wow… first it was bringing in Shaq then it was letting Mike D’Antoni go, not to mention the most pitiful use of draft picks in the history of the NBA. Now, after all the commotion, the Suns are abandoning ship to start anew with Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic? Yikes… Nash is old and on the tail end of his career, same with Grant Hill. Amare is probably bouncing to the highest bidder in free agency here soon. That leaves… uh… hmm… oh yeah… Jason Richardson! They’ll be fine, heck they also drafted Alando Tucker and Robin Lopez. Life is dandy!

2009 NBA Mock Draft:

1. Los Angeles Clippers
PF Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

This is obvious pick here. In a draft full of uncertainty, this is about the only thing in this draft I can say with confidence. The real question is will Griffin be closer to Karl Malone or Shawn Kemp?


2. Memphis Grizzlies
C Hasheem Thabeet, UConn

There is so much speculation at the end of the day what the Grizzlies are wanting to do with this pick. However, if you weed through the fluff, the clear cut choice here is Thabeet. Memphis not only needs a center, but they need shot blocking. Centers with the upside of Thabeet don’t come around often, so you had better think long and hard before you pass one up. On the other hand, this pick may get traded to Minnesota and they will likely take Rubio. Anything is possible, Shaq is in Cleveland!


3. Oklahoma City Thunder
SG James Harden, Arizona State

This is a tough pick to figure out, but I just don’t think it makes any sense to take Rubio here. I will be surprised if they do. They have Russell Westbrook already and they could really use a big man but I doubt they take Jordan Hill.


4. Sacramento Kings
PG Ricky Rubio, Spain

At the end of the day, I think the Kings liked Rubio all along and he fills a position of need at point guard. While I’m not blown away by his ability, he is an upgrade over Beno Udrih right now. Watching his development will be interesting to watch next season.


5. Minnesota Timberwolves
SG/PG Tyreke Evans, Memphis

The Wolves need guards after unloading Randy Foye and Mike Miller. I think, assuming they have this pick at draft time, they will take Evans. He is a long athletic guard that finishes well at the rim and can defend when so inclined.


6. Minnesota Timberwolves
PG Johnny Flynn, Syracuse

Flynn is a tough, athletic point guard that anyone would want to have on their roster. He can do a little bit of everything, whether it be score, pass, or defend.


7. Golden State Warriors
PF Jordan Hill, Arizona

The Warriors need depth inside, as far as true big men, as they have so many slashers and perimeter players already. Word is they are going to let Monta Ellis run the point, leading to a big man being the likely choice here.


8. New York Knicks
PG/SG Stephen Curry, Davidson

This is who the Knicks wanted from the start and they land him. Curry is a shooter and a big time scorer, something the Knicks covet. I’m not a big fan of Curry, but he should provide a scoring boost none the less.


9. Toronto Raptors
SG Demar DeRozan, USC

The Raptors need more athleticism and this is a good way to start. They have plenty of shooters and fundamentally sound players, so adding toughness and athleticism should be a top priority. If DeRozan is still on the board, expect him to go here.


10. Milwaukee Bucks
PG Brandon Jennings, Italy

Why is he falling so far down the board on a lot of mock drafts? What happened? He is a talented young point guard that needs a year or two of seasoning, what has changed? The Bucks go point guard here as an insurance policy if they lose Ramon Sessions.


11. New Jersey Nets
SG Terrence Williams, Louisville

12. Charlotte Bobcats
SG Gerald Henderson, Duke

13. Indiana Pacers
PF DeJuan Blair, Pitt

14. Phoenix Suns
PG Jrue Holiday, UCLA

15. Detroit Pistons
SF Earl Clark, Louisville

16. Chicago Bulls
PF James Johnson, Wake Forest

17. Philadelphia 76ers
PG Eric Maynor, VCU

18. Minnesota Timberwolves
C B.J. Mullens, Ohio State

19. Atlanta Hawks
PG Jeff Teague, Wake Forest

20. Utah Jazz
PF Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

21. New Orleans Hornets
SG Chase Budinger, Arizona

22. Portland Trail Blazers
SF Omri Casspi, Israel

23. Sacramento Kings
SF Austin Daye, Gonzaga

24. Dallas Mavericks
PG Toney Douglas, Florida State

25. Oklahoma City Thunder
PF Taj Gibson, USC

26. Chicago Bulls
SG Wayne Ellington, UNC

27. Memphis Grizzlies
PG Ty Lawson, UNC

28. Minnesota Timberwolves
SF Jonas Jerekbo, Sweden

29. New York Knicks *From LA Lakers
PG Darren Collison, UCLA

30. Cleveland Cavaliers
PF DeMarre Carroll, Missouri

NBA Draft 2009: Combine Review

Friday, May 29th, 2009

By Ron Jumper


So the combine came and went in Chicago, not a whole lot of earthshaking information came out of it but there are always a few surprises along the way. One can argue if any of the measurements really matter much at all and, with no 5-on-5 at the event anymore, some question the relevance of the combine altogether. I tend to think the interviews and the physical are very important.


Some scouts and general managers are concerned with Blake Griffin’s lack of a long wingspan. I say it is silly to worry about Griffin’s wingspan and his potential to be a great shotblocker down the road. Remember, just two years ago, Kevin Durant was one of the worst athletes in the history of the combine. He was slow, couldn’t bench press much, and so on. Now, he is the franchise player for the Oklahoma City Thunder and a likely face of the league here in just another couple of years. Griffin is still the same dominant guy he has always been. Don’t overthink this thing if you are the Clippers and look back ten years from now and wonder how you ended up with Ricky Rubio instead.


Hasheem Thabeet measured as expected at 7’2.5’ and a wingspan of 7’6.25” so no surprises there. The measurement that just blows my mind is that Thabeet has a standing reach, meaning when he puts his hands straight up, of 9’5”… Nine feet, five inches! That means he can dunk on his tippy toes! Life isn’t fair sometimes.


On the flip side, some other Big East players measured out much shorter than expected. Jeff Adrien, DeJuan Blair, and Sam Young all measured in at just 6’5.25’ without shoes. Notre Dame’s Luke Harangody, who has been solid in workouts, measured in at just 6’6.25’ without shoes. The difference with Blair from the others is that Blair possesses a 7’2” wingspan to make up the difference in height.


A player who I think will catch the scouts attention and move up the boards is Gonzaga’s Austin Daye, as he measured in at 6’10.75” with shoes and a 7’2.75” wingspan. His upside is tremendous, as he possesses a great skill set and word has it he hasn’t been as “soft” in workouts as some scouts thought he would be. The problem is his rail thin 192-pound frame but, if a team is patient, I think the investment would be well worth the wait.


Another guy I have raved about since Georgetown made the Final Four three years ago is DaJuan Summers. In my mind, I don’t think he is a lot different from Jeff Green. Summers measured in at 6’8.5” with shoes and weighed in at 243 pounds. With his skill set (that wasn’t always on display in the Hoyas’ Princeton offense), I see a great prospect that is currently flying under the radar. Truthfully, I feel comfortable putting him ahead of guys like Terrence Williams, Chase Budinger, and James Johnson right now and by draft time, who knows…


For full coverage and a full list of measurements, check out DraftExpress’ coverage here.


NFL Mock Draft
NBA Mock Draft

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