Tag Archives: James Harden

DTP 2009 NBA Mock Draft: Picks 1-6

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.

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Chad Ford’s Mock Draft: Picks 1-5

Here is the latest Chad Ford mock draft with the first five picks.  You need to be an ESPN insider – which I am – to see the remainder of the first round.  I agree with a four of the five picks, but I think that the Hasheem Thabeet and Ricky Rubio could switch and I am not convinced that James Harden is the fifth best player in this draft, but he is more NBA ready than most other shooting guards.

I can tell you that with No. 6 – the MN Wolves pick is predicted to take Tyreke Evans.  I am warming to Evans, I will explain more later.

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
L.A. Clippers Blake Griffin Position: PF
Height: 6-10
Weight: 248 pounds
Age: 20
School: Oklahoma

 Analysis:For the past several years, we’ve been blessed with at least a little suspense when it comes to who will be the No. 1 pick. Not this year. Griffin is going to be a Clipper. Sources around the league say that trade talks with the Clippers are virtually nonexistent when it comes to Griffin. Instead the Clippers are focusing on finding a new home for Chris Kaman or Zach Randolph. 
 

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Memphis Hasheem Thabeet Position: C
Height: 7-3
Weight: 267
Age: 22
School: Connecticut

 Analysis: The Grizzlies’ situation continues to be an enigma.

They are talking to a number of teams about a potential trade, and the Kings, Wizards, Knicks, Rockets and Celtics have shown interest in moving up to No. 2.

At the same time, the Grizzlies continue to publicly pursue Ricky Rubio, although a well-placed source in the point guard’s camp said it’s likely (though not definite) that Rubio will skip Memphis when he goes on a three-city U.S. tour next week. And there have been rumblings that Tyreke Evans is in the mix in Memphis.

But when the dust clears, it looks as though the most likely scenario has Thabeet in Memphis on draft night, if the Grizzlies keep the pick. If they move down, add Jordan Hill to the players who would be under consideration.  

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Oklahoma City Ricky Rubio Position: PG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 180
Age: 18
Country: Spain

 Analysis:The Thunder have been their typical quiet selves. GM Sam Presti has told a number of agents that he is interested in their players, but it has been difficult to ascertain the direction the team is leaning.

We continue to hear that the Thunder have expressed interest in Rubio, Thabeet, James Harden, Jordan Hill and Stephen Curry.

Rubio likely will make a visit to OKC some time before the draft, but major questions exist about how he would fit there. The team sees Russell Westbrook as its point guard of the future and isn’t sure how he would fare without the ball in his hands.

Maybe more importantly, Presti is an opportunist. If he can get a couple of good assets in return for the No. 3 pick, he won’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

But if he doesn’t, or if Rubio is off the board, the team will have to make a tough decision. Thabeet would give the Thunder the shot-blocking they desperately need. Harden would give them the savvy of a veteran. Curry would give them shooting. Hill would give them rebounding and energy. Oklahoma City could use all those things, but our guess is that it would settle on Harden or Curry. 

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Sacramento Jrue Holiday Position: PG
Height: 6-4
Weight: 199
Age: 18
School: UCLA

Analysis:At this point I think it’s safe to say the Kings have narrowed it down to Holiday, Flynn and Rubio. In Sacramento this past weekend, Flynn, Holiday (his second visit) and Brandon Jennings went head-to-head in front of the entire Kings brass.

Sources say Flynn was probably the best of the three in the workout, but that Holiday still holds a slight edge on their board. Flynn would provide immediate help and is a real floor leader. But Holiday’s size, upside and defensive ability give him a razor-thin edge.

If the Grizzlies and Thunder both pass on Rubio, the Kings could be in an interesting situation. Sources in Sacramento say the Kings have reservations about Rubio and that it’s far from a done deal that they will take him if he is on the board. Is it possible Rubio could slip past No. 4? Ultimately, I don’t think so. The Kings would be nuts to pass on him. But who would’ve thought a month ago it was even a possibility?  

PICK TEAM PLAYER VITALS
Washington James Harden Position:SG
Height: 6-5
Weight: 222
Age: 19
School: Arizona State

Analysis:As we’ve been reporting since draft lottery night, the Wizards are shopping this pick. A source in Washington told me the Wizards have had a number of interesting offers. Their goal is to get back a veteran who can play right now — and to shed a few million dollars off their payroll, if possible. A number of teams including the Knicks, Rockets and Pacers are possibilities here.

If the Wizards keep the pick, they’ll have a tough choice between Harden and Hill. From the intel I’ve received, it sounds as though Harden might be slightly ahead, though Hill and Davidson’s Stephen Curry are still very much in the mix.

Quick Hits 4/10/09

Draft Declarers – Round 3

  1. Jeff Teague, guard from Wake Forrest
  2. DeMar DeRozan, guard from USC
  3. Taj Gibson, forward from USC
  4. Daniel Hackett, guard rom USC
  5. Jrue Holiday, guard from UCLA
  6. Jordan Hill, forward from Arizona
  7. Nic Wise, guard from Arizona
  8. James Harden, guard from ASU
  9. Jonny Flynn, guard from Syracuse
  10. Paul Harris, guard from Syracuse
  11. Eric Devendorf, guard from Syracuse

Rumor has it that DeRozan, Hachett, Holiday, Harris and Devendorf have all hired agents.  The Syracuse boys are making a mistake is that pans out.  Neither Harris or Devendorf guaranteed to be drafted and the Orange have a great chance at making a run to the Final Four next season if they return with Flynn.

There is a ton of talent in this group, but other than the the players from the PAC-1o (minus Wise), everyone should come back for another year.  I understand the desire to leave the craziness of Arizona, and USC is the OJ Mayo/Reggie Bush “Amatuer” Sports Prep School, so it is natural that the three best players want to jump – they may have a couple years ago.

I have also read that PITT forward and Big East Co-Player of the DeJuan Blair has hired an agent.  That is a mistake.  There is little chance of him being a first round pick, but I am sure he is being sold on the idea that the media is calling this a “weak draft” and he better strike while he is hot.

Good Luck.

Duke Fans Meet John Wall

This could be your point guard future.

If Wall signs, Duke would have 3 out of the top 17 draft picks in 2009 classes.

ESPN 2009 Top Recuiring Classes

ESPN was had a list of the top-25 classes coming in next year. It looks to not have adjusted for the coaching moves and recruits de-committing.

A couple highlights.

1. UNC

2.  Texas

3.  Florida

6.  Duke

7.  Indiana

10. Minnesota