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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NBA Rumors: Rubio, Boozer, T-Mac and more

Chad Ford writes about why Ricky Rubio is being so selective in his workouts.

First of all, the idea that Rubio is the only one doing it is silly. James Harden has only worked out for four teams. Even the Knicks couldn’t get him in. Hasheem Thabeet will likely only work out for three. DeMar DeRozan has been really selective, and so has Stephen Curry.

It’s pretty simple as to why Rubio is being selective: He is going to have to pay a lot of money for the privilege to play in the NBA next season. His buyout will cost him something between $5 and $7 million of his own money. That’s a lot of money, especially when you consider that Rubio wasn’t making a ton of dough in Spain. He essentially will be signing over his paychecks for the next couple of years to his team in Spain.

The Kings have an obvious hole at point guard on a young team. It seems to be the place his camp wants him to land. If the Kings draft him, I don’t think there’s any question that Rubio would pay the buyout and come. The question is, will the Kings draft him? I think the odds are in Rubio’s favor, but it sounds like some in the organization still need to be convinced.

Rubio’s future might depend on something he has no control over — is Russell Westbrook a point guard? A statistical study I did a few weeks ago revealed that he was turnover-prone and shoot-first, though obviously as a young rookie, there is room for improvement. If the Thunder think he’s a point guard, then I doubt they take Rubio. They’ll take James Harden, who averaged 4.2 assists during his senior year even though he was taking 13 shots per game.

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NBA consensus mock draft (6/16)

Chad Ford and Draft Express updated their mocks, so it’s a good time to take another look at the consensus. I also added Rotoworld’s most recent mock to the equation, and added a column (“consensus”) that makes a pick if two or more of the mocks agree on a player.

A few random thoughts…

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NBA Draft & Free Agency Rumors: Monta unhappy, Cavs looking at Jamison and more

With the Finals behind us and the draft and free agency looming, the rumors are flying fast and furious. Here’s a rundown of the latest scuttlebutt…

Things are rumored to be getting worse in Golden State.

The talk is that Monta Ellis is unhappy with the direction the organization is heading in, and still holds a bit of grief over the way they held his contract status in limbo for months following his moped injury. For weeks we’ve heard that Ellis is no longer interested in playing for Golden State, and apparently it had reached a point where it was “close to popping off” in the words of one NBA executive—meaning going to the media and publicly demanding a trade.

Let me get this straight — the franchise gives Ellis $66 million over six years and he rewards them by tearing up his ankle in a moped accident, missing 57 games this season. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about the 30-game suspension he served with no pay, but he wasn’t going to play in those games anyway. Shouldn’t he be punished for being boneheaded enough to tool around on a moped?

It sounds like the team has promised Ellis that he’ll be running the point next season and may have promised that they wouldn’t take a point guard at #7, prompting several prospects — Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio — to refuse to work out for Golden State. Suddenly, Jordan Hill looks like a stronger possibility if he’s still on the board when the Warriors pick.

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Oklahoma City explores its options

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman had this to say about the current trade winds in the NBA…

With just 10 days remaining until the June 25 NBA Draft, one league source said there has been an unusual silence around the league regarding substantial trade talks. The source said the economy is likely the culprit, with the majority of teams primarily interested in shedding high-dollar contracts.

“Dumping contracts is going to be the principal thing in this draft as far as trades go,” the source said. “You’re not going to see pick-for-pick (trades). You’re going to see pick and bad contract for pick.”

Outside of the run of the mill free agents, I think there might be a few big names changing teams this summer, but my bet is that they’ll mostly be the second-tier stars with bloated salaries. The playoff teams that are willing to spend won’t shy away from adding the salary given that the player may be the missing piece to the championship puzzle.

In another column, Mayberry discusses the importance of different positions in the NBA…

Nine of the 10 teams that finished the season ranked in the top 10 in opponent scoring made the playoffs. The common denominator: all had an interior defender or shot-blocker at the center position. (Nine of the 10 teams that finished at the bottom 10 in opponent scoring missed the playoffs. All but two — Chicago and Phoenix — lacked a difference-maker defensively at center.)

But on the flip side, with its roster under construction, the Thunder isn’t in a position to draft for need. Many observers around the league think the Thunder should select the best player available, regardless of position and in spite of Oklahoma City’s gaping hole in the middle.

“A lot of teams feel it’s way more important to have a Brandon Roy than a center,” said the scout. “A guy who can run the high pick-and-roll, get to the free throw line, make plays for others. It’s not even close. You’re dead in the water if you don’t have that guy.”

The Thunder pick third, so they’re likely looking at Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet and James Harden. The Rubio/Harden decision comes down to what the team has planned for Russell Westbrook. Is he the point guard of the future (as Chad Ford keeps reporting)? If so, it doesn’t make sense to draft Rubio. If they feel that Westbrook is better suited for off guard, then a Rubio/Westbrook backcourt could also be formidable. I’m guessing that the Grizzlies are going to go with Thabeet at #2, so OKC may very well have to make this decision later this month.

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