2009 NBA Mock Draft Version 3.0 + Updated Consensus

The draft is just a few days away, so it’s a good time to take one final stab at mocking the first round of this draft. I’ll continue to update the consensus draft this week, but this will be my last attempt at predicting what will happen this Thursday.

First, let’s take a look at the most recent consensus. Chad Ford released the most recent version of his mock draft today, NBADraft.net also updated today, while DraftExpress updated their mock yesterday.

Now I’ll go, pick by pick, through the first round, taking the consensus into account while also throwing in my $0.02 here and there.

The Clips have shown no signs of trading away their opportunity to draft Blake Griffin. There is much fluidity with the next few picks, but the Oklahoma product is pretty much guaranteed to be the first pick. The Clippers will then (reportedly) try to move Zach Randolph or Chris Kaman, though it might be wise to move forward with Kaman and Griffin in the front court, Baron Davis at the point, and Eric Gordon and Al Thornton on the wing. Randolph is going to be tough to move. (I still can’t believe that Mike Dunleavy traded for him last season.)
Pick: Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma

The consensus says that Hasheem Thabeet will be the pick and I don’t disagree, even though he just pulled out of a workout with Memphis due to a shoulder injury. DraftExpress thinks that Memphis will go with James Harden and move O.J. Mayo to the point, which they say is his natural position. I don’t know that they’ve given up on Mike Conley yet, so I think they will go big with this pick. Their biggest need is at power forward, so trading down and drafting Jordan Hill is a possibility. But if they stand pat, Thabeet could very well be the pick, even though he doesn’t seem to want to play in Memphis.
Pick: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn

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Lawson, Williams & Henderson — moving up?

On his draft buzz blog, Chad Ford lists a few guys that may crash the top 10 next week.

North Carolina’s Ty Lawson has taken some abuse during the draft workout process, but it sounds as though teams are starting to come around. Lawson was, without question, the most productive point guard in the draft. Teams are skeptical because of his size and his style of play. But he’s been great in several recent workouts according to sources and apparently is in the mix with the Knicks at No. 8 if guys like Curry and Hill are off the board. Lawson also is still on the board at No. 10 to Milwaukee and the Pacers at No. 13 and the Sixers at No. 17 are also giving him a serious look. If Lawson ends up crashing the top 10, that would probably push either Holiday or Flynn out.

Louisville’s Terrence Williams is another player who is a potential lottery crasher. The Warriors have been high on Williams all year and will seriously consider him at No. 7. And Williams also seems to have seriously moved into the mix with the Nets at No. 11 and the Bobcats at No. 12. In fact, sources say that Williams has been invited back to Charlotte for a second time. One league source says that he’s leapfrogged Duke’s Gerald Henderson on Larry Brown’s board.

The final guy to watch is Henderson, who is getting a serious look in New York, Toronto and Charlotte. In each case I think there are players ahead of him on each team’s draft boards, but under certain scenarios I think he could go 8 to 12. However, if DeMar DeRozan is on the board at No. 9, I think he’s going ahead of Henderson in Toronto. And, if the source on Williams is to be believed, it’s possible that Henderson could slide out of the lottery.

Regular readers know I’ve been high on Lawson throughout this entire process despite all the negative feelings towards his game. Given his production and performance at North Carolina, I think he’d be a steal for a team in the middle of the first round looking for a point guard. The Pacers (#13), the Sixers (#16) and the Hawks (#19) all would be good fits. I’d be surprised if he cracked the top 12, as the Bobcats (#12), the Nets (#11), the Bucks (#10) and the Raptors (#9) already have their point guards. (Though Milwaukee may be in the market if they are dumb enough to let Ramon Sessions walk.)

As for Williams, he’s not much of a scorer, but he can play defense, distribute the ball and rebound really well for a wing. I’d still take Henderson over Williams because he is just as athletic and has proved that he can improve his offensive game. Williams has the better handle and is the better passer. There is a lot of margin for error when trying to predict where these guys will go because this draft is relatively thin at shooting guard. The only true shooting guard in the top 10 is Harden. Curry, Evans and Holiday are considered to be combo guards, and DeRozan looks like a swingman. Then there are Henderson, Williams, Budinger and Ellington to round out the first round.

2009 NBA Mock Draft Version 2.0

It has been about two weeks since I published my first mock draft, so it’s a good time to check back in with all the news and rumors and take another stab.

Like I said in the intro of my first mock, it’s tough for me to make predictions about what teams will do because I’m constantly thinking about what they should do. These are obviously two very different things.

For this go-around, I’m going to try something a little different. I’ve compiled the picks for four mock drafts from sites that I respect — ESPN (Chad Ford), Dime Magazine, DraftExpress and NBADraft.net — and then I’ll provide my own picks taking their picks into account, to form some sort of consensus.

Let’s get on with it…

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2009 NBA Mock Draft Version 1.0

With the NBA Draft Lottery behind us, we now know the exact order of the first 14 picks. The Los Angeles Clippers hit paydirt when they won the right to draft Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin with the first overall pick. The Grizzlies moved up from #6 to #2, and the Thunder moved up one spot to pick #3. The big losers Tuesday night were Sacramento and Washington, who had the best and second-best shot at the top pick, but instead fell to #4 and #5, respectively.

Mock drafts are tough for me because I’m usually thinking about what teams should do instead of trying to predict what they will do. This mock will be more predictive, but if I disagree with a selection, I’ll say so. Over the next few weeks, I’ll update this mock to jive with the latest news from around the league. It’s still very early in the process so things are very fluid. One mock has a player going #11 while another may have him going #29.

I’m just going to make picks for the first fourteen slots on the first go-round and then provide the picks of a few different mocks that I respect for #15-#30, along with a short writeup for each team.

Even Mike Dunleavy can’t screw this one up. Barring something obscenely out of the blue, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin will be the first overall pick. The Clippers could use a power forward to replace Elton Brand, and Griffin is the only “sure thing” in this draft. He’s strong, skilled and athletic, and he has an improving offensive game. He has star written all over him.
Pick: Griffin, PF

The Grizzlies were reportedly one of the few teams more interested in UConn’s 7’3” center Hasheem Thabeet than they were in Blake Griffin. The Grizzlies already have 7’1” Marc Gasol, so Thabeet wouldn’t fill a need like Jordan Hill, Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings would (assuming the team isn’t sold on Hakim Warrick or Mike Conley), but Thabeet has the potential to become a dominant defensive center along the lines of Dikembe Mutombo. But will he be willing to put the work in to become an effective post player?
Pick: Thabeet, C

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Four more prospects declare for the draft

Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds, Memphis’ Tyreke Evans, Duke’s Gerald Henderson and Spanish-leaguer Ricky Rubio all plan to declare for the NBA Draft.

Once John Calipari left for Kentucky, it became clear that the ready-to-bolt Evans was probably as good as gone. Reynolds isn’t considered a top prospect; neither NBADraft.net nor DraftExpress.com project Reynolds to go in the first two rounds. With his superior athleticism and improving offensive game, Henderson is projected by both sites to be a lottery pick, so while he’d definitely benefit from another year at Duke, his stock isn’t going to go that much higher.

DraftExpress projects Rubio to be the #2 overall pick while NBADraft.net still needs to put him back in their mock. His name was removed midseason when it looked like a buyout would be too expensive, but the increasing financial pressures on his Spanish team have cleared a path for Rubio to enter the NBA sooner rather than later.

I’m not sold on Rubio as a top 5 pick. He’s being compared to Steve Nash and “Pistol” Pete Maravich, and while he does have similar ball handling skills, Nash and Maravich can/could really score. Rubio’s shot is suspect, so even if he’s the greatest passer in the world, he’s not going to be worthy of a top 5 pick unless he can put the ball in the hole as well. He fared pretty well at the Olympics against Chris Paul and Jason Kidd, but the NBA is a different game.

We’ll see.

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