More than years past, this draft is completely up in the air. Even the No. 1 pick. The economy is forcing organizations to make atypical decisions on the the future, meaning lots of trades and out-of-the-box moves. Griffin is the sure first pick, but even though the Clippers said they would take him, there are no guarantees.
We could set a record for the number of trades and have fewer international picks then in years past. After Ricky Rubio, there is not another recognizable non-US player – besides Brandon Jennings. On the ESPN list of the top 20 prospects, you will not see any other foreign born, besides Rubio, in the Top-20. And finally at No. 30 we see another international player, 6’9″ small forward Omri Casspi from Israel.
So that being said, it will make for an interesting night. And my Top-6 have at least one surprise.
1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
Everything about this is pointing to an epic failure. One, it’s the Clippers. Two, the choice is too obvious. Three, they have too many post players with too much money tied to those players.
This is the third time the Clippers have had the first pick of the draft, first in 1998 – Michael “I am a total bust, what the hell is giving the idea I will be good” Olowokandi and ten years earlier in 1988 with Danny Manning.
But Griffin is the obvious choice. There is no debate. But two random thoughts. 1. Will the Clippers make any kind of trade around this pick – i.e. the pick or other players? 2. Would Griffin have been the No. 1 pick in last years draft?
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
While I picked Thabeet at this pick, Ricky Rubio is a better pick and player, and I am positive the Grizzlies are looking to trade down.
But if they keep the pick, Thabeet does make sense as Mike Conley seems to have the backing of the organization. Thabeet will give them a shot blocker and a decent rebounder. But is still very early in his basketball development. He is 7’3″ and is much more athletic than people give him credit, and be able to get easy buckets on put-backs and in the lane dunks.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden, Arizona State
I have seen Jrue Holiday at this pick who is very similar to Russell Westbrook but I am not sure that you can skip over Rubio at this spot. Thabeet works here, but I am not sure he will drop down to No. 3. The major needs are at the PG/SG and C spot but no other center is worth a top-ten pick.
The Thunder must decide if Westbrook is a true point guard, shooting guard or a combo guard. If they come to the conclusion that Westbrook is the man at point, then they will pick Harden. If he is a SG/Combo guard, they will pick Rubio. Both are ready to contribute from day one.
4. Sacramento Kings: Ricky Rubio, Spain
If Rubio is available at No. 4, new coach Paul Westphal will need smelling salts. Kevin Martin is the teams best player at the two spot, Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes are going to be a solid, yet young, front court, and there is a need at the small forward spot. But Westpahl can not ignore the fact that Beno Udrih was the starter for the majority of the year, then 36-year-old Bobby Jackson started the last ten games of the season and Will Solomon is your back-up.
Rubio = Instant upgrade.
5. Washington Wizards: Jordan Hill, Arizona
At No. 5, the Wizards could go anywhere. They need to draft a highly-qualified doctor to put the team up mid-season when the fall apart.
Hill is high energy and low basketball IQ. He would help right away, but does not have the up-side that many other picks. But he is something the Wizards need to win now with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison.
I could see them going with Steph Curry or Jonny Fylnn or trading this pick.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyreke Evans, Memphis
The T’Wolves need talent, plain and simple. Evans is a great fit as someone who can handle the ball, create his own shot, is over 6’4″ tall, and has monster upside.
Minnesota has needs at point guard, shooting guard, and center, but are not going to find a productive center anywhere near this pick. I have seen Curry and DeMar DeRozan at this pick, I like Curry, but not here. The Wolves will trade the pick unless they can get Thabeet or Rubio.
If they keep this pick, they need to pick Evans. This team is young and if they can keep the mature and grow through the remainder of Al Jefferson’s contract, this team will be a force.