What the Toronto Raptors can do to improve this off-season

raptors dancers

Year two of the Toronto Raptors’ post-Chris Bosh re-building effort yielded a similar result as year one.  The Raps once again finished well out of the playoff picture and now enter the off-season in need of an influx in talent.  They will Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas, their 2011 first round pick, but what else can Toronto do to improve their roster and get themselves back as a relevant Eastern Conference team?

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Turkoglu Bringing More Euro to Toronto

hedo_turkoglu

By: David Kay

In recent years, Toronto has become the “Euro” team of the NBA.  That transformation began in 2006 when the club hired former Benetton Treviso general manager Maurizi Gherardini as the first European to hold a senior management position in the league.  With his knowledge of overseas basketball, the Raptors began to stock their roster with unfamiliar names like Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, Carlos Delfino, and Roko Ukic.  Now, Hedo Turkoglu is continuing that trend by bringing his Turkish roots to the Raptors.

After he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Magic that would have paid him about $7.3 million, everybody expected Turkoglu to join the on-the-rise Portland Trailblazers this off-season since Orlando already moved on by trading for Vince Carter.  Once the free agency period began, Blazers head coach Nate McMillan wasted no time in courting the Turkish star and a deal between the two sides seemed imminent.  Instead, Turkoglu spurned an all but done deal with the Blazers and agreed to a five-year, $53 million with the Raptors.  This decision was reportedly made because Turkoglu and his wife preferred living in Toronto where there is a larger Turkish population.

This is a huge get for the Raptors who were desperate to land an impact wing player.  Turkoglu proved to be a go-to scorer with the Magic this past season, especially during their run to the NBA Finals.  His size and shooting ability make him a difficult match-up for opposing teams.  Combine his versatility with Bargnani’s capability to step out and knock down the three-pointer and Calderon’s three-point range, and Toronto should be one of the most dangerous outside teams in the league.

hedo-and-wife1His signing is even more crucial with the likely departure of Chris Bosh, who is entering the final year of his contract.  If the Raptors decide to trade Bosh during the season (which they are likely to do as to ensure they don’t lose him to free agency and get nothing in return), Turkoglu can help fill the massive void he would leave.  If somehow Bosh ends up staying in Toronto past this season, the Raptors suddenly have an effective one-two punch of Bosh and Turkoglu with productive players like Bargnani, Calderon, and first-round pick Demar DeRozan who is loaded with potential.

The one major down-size that results from this signing is how thin Toronto will be on their bench.  Assuming they trot out a starting five of Bargnani, Bosh, Turkoglu, DeRozan, and Calderon, their bench will consist of Reggie Evans, Patrick O’Bryant, Kris Humphries, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Nathan Jawai, Quincy Douby, Roko Ukic, and Marcus Banks.  None of those eight projected bench players averaged more than 6 points per game last season.  And by signing Turkoglu, Toronto’s cap space shrinks making it more difficult to land any other free agents to strengthen their depth.

By the way, if you are a Blazers fan, you mind as well start referring to Hedo’s wife, Banu, as Yoko Ono for breaking up what could have been the missing piece in launching Portland to contender status in the Western Conference.

Stellar USC Duo Leave Scandalous Program for NBA

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By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

With all the turmoil surrounding the USC basketball program and head coach Tim Floyd’s recent resignation amid allegations of paying an associate of O.J. Mayo $1,000, former Trojans Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson undoubtedly made the right decision to leave school early and enter the NBA Draft. They may have been on the fence earlier in the process, but there’s no more “testing the waters” for these two men of Troy. With the USC program possibly degenerating into a real life version of the early ‘90s film “Blue Chips,” Gibson and DeRozan know returning to Los Angeles (unless the Clippers and Lakers draft them) is out of the question.

Like Mayo, DeRozan entered Southern Cal with a lot of hype.  His early season struggles in acclimating himself to the college game left many wondering if he could truly make a Mayo-type impact during his freshman campaign with the Trojans.  As the season progressed, DeRozan came into his own averaging 19.1 points per game over his last seven games. Playing in the rugged Pac-10 motivated him to take his game up a notch.  “Every year, the Pac-10 always had the greatest amount of NBA prospects come up, going through that each year is great- preparing you for what the NBA is going to be like night in and night out,” DeRozan told me at the NBA Draft Combine.usc_floyd_basketball1

Athleticism has never been a concern for DeRozan.  He is as gifted with his quickness, explosiveness, and speed as any wing player in the college game.  His strength is getting to the basket with his driving ability, but he also showed an improved mid-range game during the course of the season.  Three-point shooting is still a major area of concern as DeRozan connected on just 17% of his attempts from downtown.

With his un-tapped potential, DeRozan is high on many NBA teams’ radars.  He could possibly go as high as number six to the Timberwolves and shouldn’t drop out of the top ten.  His impact in the NBA may not be felt right away, but in a few years; he could be a special player.


Taj Gibson

Teammate Taj Gibson is the opposite of DeRozan in terms of what he can bring to the table at the next level.  Despite just finishing his junior season, Gibson is already 23 years old and should be able to contribute off the bench right away.  He will likely make a living as a professional thanks to his rebounding and shot blocking ability which is helped out by his somewhat freakish 7’4” wingspan. The only combine attendee to have a larger wingspan was the 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet, so when Gibson goes up for a rebound or to block a shot his arms reach towards the sky like the spires of the Taj Mahal.

Offensively, Gibson is no slouch either.  He has a decent mid-range game and is effective with his back to the basket.  Developing his pick and roll game will be a must if Gibson is going to contribute on the offensive end. The now embattled Floyd has NBA coaching experience with the Chicago Bulls (a team that is showing a lot of interest in Gibson) and served as a primary mentor to Gibson. “My coach has been a big factor in my life, going through the NBA system, just learning and watching; and he told me I was ready,” Gibson said.

Top NBA Prospects: Shooting Guards

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Here are the top 3 shooting guards in this year’s NBA Draft, for the full list click here

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbadraft2009shootingguards.php

Tyreke Evans, Memphis

Height: 6-5. Weight: 220. Year: Fr.
Projected Selection: 4-9.
In my opinion, has superstar possibilities… Probably the best slasher in the draft… Makes getting to the basket look effortless… Strong, NBA-ready body… Handles the rock well as he played the point at Memphis… Lacks consistency with his jumper and often has poor shot selection on the perimeter.

James Harden, Arizona State

Height: 6-5. Weight: 222. Year: So.
Projected Selection: 3-9.

Crafty left-hander with a complete all-around offensive game… Has great body control when weaving through traffic in the paint… Solid outside shooter… High character guy with tremendous basketball IQ… Needs to work on his movement without the ball… Was too unselfish at times when his team needed him to be a scorer.

Demar DeRozan, USC

Height: 6-6. Weight: 211. Year: Fr.
Projected Selection: 6-11.
Blessed with ridiculous athletic abilities… Can jump out of the gym and is very fast… Showed steady improvement during his freshman season… Tenacious defender on the wing… Decent mid-range jumper, but needs to work on his shot from three-point range… Might have the highest upside of any American player in the draft.

Here are the top 3 shooting guards in this year’s NBA Draft, for the full list click here

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbadraft2009shootingguards.php

NBA Draft Early Entrants

By David K.

The NBA released the official early entries for this year’s NBA Draft which will be held on June 25th (coincidentally enough, that is my birthday.  It’s only fitting.)  The college players who have declared but not signed an agent, thus keeping their eligibility open in case they decide to return to school, have until June 15th to make the decision to stay in the draft or pull their name off this list.  The NCAA recently moved that date to May 8th for next year with the intention of not hand-cuffing college coaches who are waiting on a player to make a decision while figuring out what to potentially do with that scholarship that would open.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2009 NBA DRAFT

*Darion Anderson-Northern Illinois, 6-2, Sophomore
*Ryan Anderson-Nebraska , 6-4, Junior
*Dominique Archie-South Carolina, 6-7,  Junior
DeJuan Blair-Pittsburgh, 6-7, Sophomore
*Derrick Brown-Xavier, 6-8, Junior
Chase Budinger-Arizona, 6-7, Junior
*Nick Calathes-Florida, 6-6, Sophomore
Earl Clark-Louisville, 6-9, Junior
*Dwayne Collins-Miami, 6-8, Junior
*Kareem Cooper-Texas-El Paso, 7-0, Junior
*Kenneth Cooper-Louisiana Tech, 6-10, Junior
*Brandon Costner-North Carolina State, 6-9, Junior
Stephen Curry-Davidson, 6-1, Junior
*Bryan Davis-Texas A&M, 6-9, Junior
*Austin Daye-Gonzaga, 6-10, Sophomore
DeMar DeRozan-Southern California, 6-7, Freshman
Eric Devendorf-Syracuse, 6-4, Junior
*Devan Downey-South Carolina, 5-9, Junior
*Osiris Eldridge-Illinois State, 6-3, Junior
Wayne Ellington-North Carolina, 6-4, Junior
*Chinemelu Elonu-Texas A&M, 6-10, Junior
*Tyreke Evans-Memphis, 6-6, Freshman
Gary Flowers-Chipola JC (FL), 6-8, Sophomore
Jonny Flynn-Syracuse, 6-0, Sophomore
*Jonathan Gibson-New Mexico State, 6-2, Junior
*Kyle Gibson-Louisiana Tech, 6-5, Junior
*Taj Gibson-Southern California, 6-9, Junior
Blake Griffin-Oklahoma, 6-10, Sophomore
D’mond Grismore-Huston-Tillotson (TX), 6-6, Junior
*Rogér Guignard-Texas-Arlington, 5-11, Junior
Daniel Hackett-Southern California, 6-5, Junior
*Luke Harangody-Notre Dame, 6-8, Junior
James Harden-Arizona State, 6-4, Sophomore
Kevin Harris-Northwest Mississippi CC, 5-11, Sophomore
*Paul Harris-Syracuse, 6-5, Junior
*Gerald Henderson-Duke, 6-5, Junior
Jordan Hill-Arizona, 6-9, Junior
*Jrue Holiday-UCLA, 6-4, Freshman
*Damion James-Texas, 6-7, Junior
James Johnson-Wake Forest, 6-9, Sophomore
*Mac Koshwal-DePaul, 6-10, Sophomore
*Gani Lawal-Georgia Tech, 6-9, Sophomore
Ty Lawson-North Carolina, 5-11, Junior
*James Lewis-Fresno Pacific, 6-4, Junior
*Darnell Lindsay-Tennessee Tech, 6-4, Junior
*Dior Lowhorn-San Francisco, 6-7, Junior
*Ater Majok-Connecticut, 6-10, Freshman
*Jodie Meeks-Kentucky, 6-4, Junior
Nate Miles-Southern Idaho, 6-7, Freshman
*Patrick Mills-St. Mary’s, 6-0, Sophomore
*Tasmin Mitchell-LSU, 6-7, Junior
B.J. Mullens-Ohio State, 7-0, Freshman
Ronald Ogoke-Paul Quinn College (TX), 7-0, Junior
*Patrick Patterson-Kentucky, 6-9, Sophomore
*Scottie Reynolds-Villanova, 6-2, Junior
*D.J. Rivera-Binghamton, 6-4, Junior
*Terrence Roderick-Alabama-Birmingham, 6-6, Sophomore
*Magnum Rolle-Louisiana Tech, 6-1, Junior
*Junior Salters-Wofford, 6-1, Junior
*Donald Sloan-Texas A&M, 6-3, Junior
*Tyler Smith-Tennessee, 6-7, Junior
DaJuan Summers-Georgetown, 6-8, Junior
*Shawn Taggart-Memphis, 6-10, Junior
*Jonathan Tavernari-BYU, 6-6, Junior
*Jeff Teague-Wake Forest, 6-2, Sophomore
Hasheem Thabeet-Connecticut, 7-3, Junior
Malcolm Thomas-San Diego City College, 6-9, Sophomore
Dar Tucker-DePaul, 6-5, Sophomore
*Jarvis Varnado-Mississippi State , 6-9, Junior
*Greivis Vasquez-Maryland, 6-6, Junior
Martez Walker-Riverside CC (CA), 6-6, Freshman
*Michael Washington-Arkansas, 6-9, Junior
*Jeremy Wise-Southern Mississippi, 6-2, Junior
*Nic Wise-Arizona, 5-10, Junior

*has not hired an agent to preserve eligibility if they choose to return to college.

International players who have applied for early entry into the 2009 NBA Draft:

Amadou Aboubakar Zaki-Nancy (France), 7-1, 1988
Rodrigue Beaubois-Cholet (France), 6-0, 1988
Nemanja Bjelica-Crvena Zvezda (Serbia), 6-10, 1988
Georgios Bogris-Ilysiakos (Greece), 6-10, 1989
Omri Casspi-Maccabi Elite (Israel), 6-9, 1988
Victor Claver-Pamesa Valencia (Spain), 6-9, 1988
Vladimir Dasic-Buducnost (Montenegro), 6-10, 1988
Christian Eyenga-DKV Joventut (Spain), 6-5, 1989
Vitor Faverani-Unicaja Malaga (Spain), 6-10, 1988
Sergey Gladyr-Mykolaiv (Ukraine), 6-5, 1989
Adam Hanga-Albacomp (Hungary), 6-7, 1989
Bari? Hersek-Efes Pilsen (Turkey), 6-9, 1988
Rudy Jomby-Le Havre (France), 6-6, 1988
Tanel Kurbas-Kalev/Cramo (Estonia), 6-6, 1988
Milan Macvan-Hemofarm (Serbia), 6-9, 1989
Boban Marjanovic-Hemofarm (Serbia), 7-4, 1988
Tim Ohlbrecht-Bamberg (Germany), 6-1, 1988
Carl Ona Embo-Biella (Italy), 6-1, 1989
Nikolaos Pappas-Real Madrid II (Spain), 6-5, 1990
Anton Ponomarev-Astana Tigers (Kazakhstan), 6-10, 1988
Paulo Prestes-Unicaja Malaga (Spain), 6-11, 1988
Miroslav Raduljica-FMP Zeleznik (Serbia), 7-0, 1988
Fernando Raposo-Pau Orthez (France), 6-9, 1989
Ricky Rubio-DKV Joventut (Spain), 6-4, 1990
Evangelos Sakellariou-Pagrati (Greece), 6-5, 1989
Alexandros Sigkounas-Olimpia Larissa (Greece), 6-7, 1988
Ludovic Vaty-Pau Orthez (France), 6-9, 1988
Ibrahim Yildirim-Banvit (Turkey), 6-3, 1990
Artem Zabelin-CSKA Moscow (Russia), 7-1, 1988

*Country indicates where team plays, not country of nationality.

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my second mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  The deadline has also passed for college underclassmen to announce if they are declaring for the draft or returning to school.  Those underclassmen that have yet to hire an agent have until June 15th to do so.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington – Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
OKC would likely take a long look at Jordan Hill as well, but Harden fills a major void for a shooting guard.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden would be a nice running mate for Kevin Durant.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
The Griz would be ecstatic if Hill fell to them.  With young perimeter players like Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay, Memphis needs someone to play down low.  Hill has great athleticism which would be perfect for a young team that wants to run.  He also has nice touch around the basket, but will need to get stronger
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

7. Golden State- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft because he did not have great success playing overseas this year, but is loaded with potential.  He would be a perfect fit for a team needing a true point guard who can get other players involved, but also score when called upon.
Think: Kenny Anderson

8. New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
With Larry Hughes, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson all one year away from free agency, the Knicks need to find a long-term solution at the two-guard.  DeRozan is an incredible athlete and really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn seems like a player who Scott Skiles would love to coach.  He is tough, plays with a lot of heart, and just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer and Ramon Sessions is a free agent, Flynn is the choice.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom


12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.

Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-3, Jr.
Is he a one or a two?  Despite being the most talented pure shooter in college basketball and having limitless range from the outside, the fact that Dell’s son is a “tweener” could deter teams from taking him.  Plus, he is rail thin.  He likely won’t fall out of the lottery and the Pacers could use a sharpshooter to bring off their bench.
Think: Jason Terry

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So
It has been pretty clear against the Celtics, that the Bulls lack that low post bruiser.  Enter Blair.  At 6-7, he is undersized to play power forward, but he is just so strong and long which makes him a force on the block and board.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.  A shooting guard could also be an option in case Ben Gordon leaves via free agency.
Think: Craig Smith

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard..  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  One major NBA Draft web-site has Johnson listed as the tenth best prospect in this draft, which is a bit ridiculous in my mind.  The former Demon Deacon is an athletic forward who can play the three or four, and while his frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes

21. New Orleans- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
The Hornets need to add some depth up-front as Hilton Armstrong is their only reserve post player under contract for next season.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

22. Dallas- Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
The Mavs have two important players entering free agency, Jason Kidd and Brandon Bass, so drafting a replacement for either makes sense.  Lawal is a slightly under-sized power forward who has a nice low-post game.  He is a solid rebounder, decent shot blocker, but doesn’t have much of a perimeter game.
Think: Brandon Bass

23. &Sacramento- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here. Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym, hit the three ball, and has a nice inside-outside game, but his tendency to disappear during stretches is a major knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

24. Portland- Victor Claver, F, Spain, 6-11, 1989
The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so the logical move would be to trade out of this pick or draft another Euro player and stash him overseas.  Claver is a typical Euro-style player in that he is long, has a good all-around skill set, but needs to get stronger.
Think: Donte Greene

25. +Oklahoma City- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
Despite being one of the most decorated in recent college basketball history, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level, but could bring his work ethic and winning mentality to OKC.
Think: Eduardo Najera

26. %Chicago- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
Since I have the Bulls going big at #16, they likely take a wing player in case Gordon does bolt this off-season.  Young can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

27. $Memphis- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
The Griz are likely to address their need for a back-up point guard with this pick.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

28. ^Minnesota- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, but James would be a good value here.  A sub par season hurt his stock as he was once a projected lottery pick.  He was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Maurice Evans

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.

Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
34. Denver- .Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
35. Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
36. Detroit- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
38. Portland- Milan Macvan, PF, Serbia, 6-9, 1989
39. Detroit- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
40. Charlotte- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
44. Detroit- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
45. Minnesota- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr
46. Cleveland- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
51. San Antonio- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
55. Portland- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Sergio Llull, PG, Spain, 6-5, 1988
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
>Bryan Davis, PF, Texas A&M, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
>Osiris Eldridge, SG, Illinois State, 6-3, Jr.
Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina, 6-5, Jr.
>Chinemelu Elonu, F/C. Texas A&M, 6-10, Jr.
>Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
>Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina, 5-11, Jr.
>Ater Majok, PF, UConn, 6-10, Fr.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
>Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
>Scottie Reynolds, PG, Villanova, 6-2, Jr.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
>David Sloan, G, Texas A&M, 6-3, Jr.
>Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jonathan Tavernari, G/F, BYU, 6-6, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
>Jarvis Varnado, PF, Mississippi State, 6-9, Jr.
>Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
>Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
>Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, Arizona, 5-10, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Stanley Robinson, SF, UConn, 6-8, Jr.
DeShawn Sims, SF, Michigan, 6-8, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This is my first mock draft that has taken team needs into account.  Now that the NBA regular season is done, the preliminary order is set until the draft lottery takes place on May 19th.  Remember, I got as many picks correct last year as ESPN’s “expert” Chad Ford and watched 274 college basketball games this season, so I feel pretty good about my projections.

1. Sacramento- Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990

-If the Kings land the top pick, it’s a gutsy call, but I think Rubio is their guy.  Sacramento has a few young bigs, but has a major need for a long-term franchise player and a point guard, both roles that Rubio can fill.  Plus, I think Rubio is the “sexier” pick and the Maloof brothers are all about “sexy.”
Think: Steve Nash

2. Washington- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-9, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and will likely be the number one pick if any team but the Kings are selecting first.  While he doesn’t fill a need for the Wizards, he is too good to pass up with the second pick.
Think: Amare Stoudamire

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
-The Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman up-front, but Camby is a free agent after next season.  Thabeet is the third best prospect in this class and absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  Not being needed to contribute major minutes in his first season might actually be a good thing since his offensive game still needs to improve.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-The Thunder could use a big man or a scoring two-guard, both of which will available with the fourth pick.  Hill is a tremendous athlete for his size and has improved his outside shot.  He would add to the young nucleus in OKC.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

5. Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-I love Evans and think he would be the perfect fit for the T-Wolves who need a player that can attack the basket which is Evans’ strength.  He can also play some point guard, a position that Randy Foye has never really taken over since arriving in Minnesota.  The knock on Evans is his inconsistent outside shot, but that improves with time.
Think: Manu Ginobli

6. Memphis – James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-What the Griz could really use is a power forward and would probably love Hill to slip to them at five.  But since he doesn’t, Harden is the next best option.  He has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  Harden doesn’t fill a need, but putting him on the floor with Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and Mike Conley would provide a lot of offensive firepower.
Think: Paul Pierce

7. Golden State- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-DeRozan would be a great fit for Nellie Ball because of his great athleticism and versatility.  The Trojan freshman really came along strong during the final month of the season, though his three-point shot still needs work.
Think: Vince Carter

8. ?New York- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
This is probably the highest you will see Flynn in any mock draft, but I think he would thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo style of play.  Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, when his team needs him to be a scorer, and he is ready to contribute immediately.
Think: Raymond Felton

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Raptors have a major hole for a wing player who can take it to the rack.  Henderson took a major step during his junior season and will likely continue to improve at the next level.  He is that athletic scorer needed in Toronto and can also stroke it from deep.
Think: J.R. Smith

10. Milwaukee- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft.  He has not had great success playing overseas, but still has tons of potential.  I could see Jennings going as high as five or six, but also dropping to the late lottery.  Since Luke Ridnour is not the answer at point for the Bucks, Jennings would a wise pick.
Think: Kenny Anderson

11. New Jersey- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
-This would be somewhat of a steal for the Nets at 11.  Clark has the potential to be a point forward-type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.  He would be a great fit in New Jersey as they need some help on the wing.
Think: Lamar Odom

12. Charlotte- Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-5, Jr.
Playing for the National Champion Tar Heels certainly elevated Ellington’s stock.  The Bobcats could use some depth on the wing and Ellington would provide that.  He has one of the smoothest shooting strokes in college hoops and can also take it to the rack.
Think: Richard Hamilton

13. Indiana- Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
-The Pacers are in a spot where they might need to just take the best available player.  They have some bodies up-front, but not a lot of athleticism, which is what Brackins would bring to Indiana.  He is a lengthy forward, but not very strong, has a nice touch on his shot and can knock down mid-range jumper.
Think: Hakim Warrick

14. Phoenix- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Steve Nash is getting up their in age and if the Suns pick up his option for next season, would become a free agent in 2010.  Like Ellington, Lawson’s stock soared during UNC’s title run.  He was probably the best floor general in college hoops and has greatly improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

15. Detroit- Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.

I think it’s safe to say the Allen Iverson deal backfired.  AI and Rasheed Wallace are both free agents so the Pistons could go in either direction with this pick.  Teague is a scoring point guard who shot the ball at a very high percentage last season.
Think: Keyon Dooling

16. Chicago- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-The Bulls risk losing Ben Gordon to free agency this off-season so would be smart to draft a wing player.  Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym and hit the three ball.  His tendency to disappear during stretches of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

17. Philadelphia- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-With Andre Miller eligible for free agency, the Sixers likely draft a point guard in case Miller signs elsewhere.  Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. #Minnesota- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-With the second of their three first round picks, I still think the T-Wolves need to address their need for athletes on the wing.  Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

19. Atlanta- Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.

-With only seven players under contract for next season, the Hawks need depth at every position and probably take the best available player.  Patterson has a nice combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and decent range on his jumper.
Think: Kenyon Martin

20. Utah- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
-I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  But based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first round pick  The Jazz likely go for a post player since Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur could both opt out of their contracts this off-season.
Think: Spencer Hawes



21. New Orleans- DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So

Blair would give the Hornets a brusier to come off their bench, something they don’t really have.  What Blair lacks in height, he makes up with his outstanding strength.  He knows how to use his big body on the block and boards.  It is uncertain how that will translate to the pro game, as Blair will need to work on his mid-range jumper to be effective at the next level.
Think: Craig Smith

22. Dallas- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-The Mavs need to prepare for like post-Jason Kidd since he is an unrestricted free agent.  Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

23. &Sacramento- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.

-Assuming the Kings take Rubio at #1, they should look for a wing player here.  A sub par season hurt his stock some as he was once a projected lottery pick.  James was one of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, has an NBA-ready build, and has a nice shot from the perimeter.
Think: Marvin Williams

24. Portland- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
-The Blazers roster is pretty much set for next season, so I would not be surprised if they dealt out of this pick or drafted another Euro player and stashed him overseas.  For now, I’ll give them the best available player.  Johnson is an athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

25. +Oklahoma City- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.

-OKC lands a nice role player in Young.  He can elevate, hit it from deep, has a tremendous basketball IQ, can take bigger defenders off the dribble, and post up smaller guys.  His lack of NBA-type athleticism drops him to this spot.
Think: Michael Finley

26. %Chicago- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.

-Despite being one of the most decorated in college basketball, a lot of people are questioning how his game will translate into the NBA.  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level which is all Chicago would be asking of him at this point.
Think: Eduardo Najera
27. $Memphis- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
-Despite underachieving at G-Town this past season, Summers has thrown his name into the draft.  He has an NBA-ready body, is a good slasher, and a decent outside shooter.  I question how he will match-up athletically with other three’s in the NBA.  He is worth the risk for Memphis this late.
Think: Bobby Simmons

28. ^Minnesota- Vladimir Dasic, SF, Montenegro, 1988
-I doubt the T-Wolves actually keep all three of their picks, so why not take a guy they can stash overseas for a year or two.  Dasic is like most Euro’s in that he is an athletic, lengthy wing player.  He will need to become more physical to adapt to the NBA.
Think: Nicolas Batum

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith would provide some insurance if Lamar Odom leaves via free agency.  The former Vol is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter, but his rebounding and passing abilities help his stock.
Think: Thabo Sefolosha

30. Cleveland- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question the kid can flat-out shoot the rock, and what he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  I think he would be a great late first round pick especially for the Cavs who would just need him to compliment LeBron for a few stretches a game.
Think: Daequan Cook

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Second Round
31. Sacramento- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-2, Sr.
32. Portland- Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
33. Washington- Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
34. Denver- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
35. Memphis- Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
36. Detroit- Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
37. San Antonio- Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
38. Portland- Omri Casspi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
39. Detroit- Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
40. Charlotte- Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
41. Milwaukee- Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
42. L.A. Lakers- Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
43. Miami- Lee Cummard, G/F, BYU, 6-7, Sr.
44. Detroit- Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
45. Minnesota- Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
46. Cleveland- Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
47. Minnesota- Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
48. Phoenix- Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
49. Atlanta- Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
50. Utah- Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
51. San Antonio- Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
52. Indiana- Leo Lyons, F, Missouri, 6-9, Sr.
53. San Antonio- Jon Brockman, PF, Washington, 6-7, Sr.
54. Charlotte- Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
55. Portland- Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
56. Portland- Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
57. Phoenix- Eric Devendorf, G, 6-4, Syracuse, Jr.
58. Boston- Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
59. L.A. Lakers- Rodrigue Beaubois
60. Miami- Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Dominique Archie, SF, South Carolina, 6-7, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
>Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
>Dwayne Collins, PF, Miami, 6-8, Jr.
>Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
>Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga, 6-0, So.
Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
>Eric Devendorf, G, Syracuse, 6-4, Jr.
>Devin Downey, PG, South Carolina, 5-9, Jr
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
>Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
Daniel Hackett, PG, USC, 6-4, Jr.
>Luke Harangody, PF, Notre Dame, 6-8, Jr.
James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
>Paul Harris, G/F. Syracuse, 6-5, Jr.
Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
>Jrue Holliday, G, UCLA, 6-4, Fr
>Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
>Jodie Meeks, SG, Kentucky, 6-4, Jr
Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
>Tasmin Mitchell, SF, LSU, 6-7, Jr.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
>Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
>Shawn Taggart, PF, Memphis, 6-10, Jr.
>Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
Dar Tucker, SG, DePaul, 6-5, So.
Michael Washington, PF, Arkansas, 6-9, Jr.
Jeremy Wise, PG, Southern Miss., 6-2, Jr.
>Nic Wise, PG, 5-10, Arizona, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas, 6-11, So.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma St., 6-6, So.
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
Patrick Christopher, SG, Cal, 6-5, Jr.
Sherron Collins, PG, Kansas, 5-11, Jr.
Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Fr.
Devin Ebanks, F, West Virginia, 6-9, Fr.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.
Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma, 6-4, Fr.

Other First Round talent still undecided:
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade

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2009 NBA Mock Draft

By: David K.

This begins an interesting few weeks.  Now is when we begin to see which underclassmen will be entering the NBA Draft and which will be returning to school.  As the decisions are made, it changes the entire layout of the draft.  These are my projections as to which underclassmen are likely to declare (below you will see a list of who I think will/should stay in school.)  As it is made more concrete as to who is throwing their hat in the ring, we will get a better idea of how the draft might unfold.

1. Sacramento- Blake Griffin, PF, Oklahoma, 6-10, So.
-Griffin has proven to be the most dominant player in college basketball and the undoubted number one pick.  He is a double-double machine, a ferocious finisher, and can play facing or with his back to the basket.
Think: Amare Stoudemire

2. Washington – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown, 6-10, Fr.
-Monroe is an outstanding passer for a big guy and is at his best when taking players off the dribble which is a rare skill to find in a 6-10 player.
Think: Chris Bosh

3. L.A. Clippers- Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
-Absolutely owns the paint on the defensive end.  If he is not blocking a shot, he is altering it.  Offensively, his game continues to develop.  He needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble to be an effective pro.
Think: Ben Wallace, but six inches taller

4. Oklahoma City- James Harden, SG, Arizona State, 6-5, So.
-Harden has the ability to take over a game whenever he wants, although he also tends to be too unselfish at times as well.  His offensive repertoire is loaded and is an above average defender even though he played primarily in a 2-3 at ASU.
Think: Paul Pierce

5. Memphis – Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, So.
-A tremendous athlete for his size, Hill can run the floor, hit the mid-range jumper, and attacks the glass.  He will need to add some muscle to bang down low with the post players in the NBA.
Think: LaMarcus Aldridge

6. *Minnesota- Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
-Evans has led the Memphis charge since John Calipari moved him to the point.  He plays like a man with his ability to almost effortlessly get to the basket.  His shot selection is questionable at times and needs to become more consistent from the outside.
Think: Manu Ginobli

7. Golden State- Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
-Clark has really elevated his game during the past few weeks.  He has the potential to be a point forward type player in the NBA, is a freak of an athlete, and has nice range on his jumper.
Think: Lamar Odom

8. ?New York- Demar DeRozan, SG, USC, 6-6, Fr.
-The Trojan freshman really came along strong during the final month of the season.  DeRozan is extremely athletic, has a nice mid-range game, and can ‘D’ it up.  His three-point shot needs improvement.
Think: Vince Carter

9. Toronto- Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-4, Jr.
-The Blue Devil finally showed us why he was so hyped since coming to Duke.  He has proven he can be a big-time scorer, knocking down shots from the outside or taking it to the basket.  He will likely only get better once he enters the NBA.
Think: Rudy Fernandez

10. New Jersey- Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse, 6-0, So.
Flynn just gets it.  He understands how to run the point, when to be a distributor, and when his team needs him to be a scorer.  There might not be a better point guard in college at leading the break.
Think: Raymond Felton

11. Milwaukee- Brandon Jennings, PG, Italy, 6-0, 1989
-Jennings is probably counting down the days until the NBA Draft.  He chose to play overseas after academic issues prohibited from going to college and has had a difficult time finding his niche.  Still, his potential should be intriguing to NBA scouts.
Think: Kenny Anderson

12. Indiana- B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
-I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro.  He would probably be better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game.  Based on his athleticism, size, and potential, he is still likely a late lottery pick.
Think: Spencer Hawes

13. Charlotte- Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State, 6-10, So.
-A lengthy forward, Brackins has the size to play the four in the NBA, but not the strength.  He has a nice touch on his shot and can knock down mid-range jumper, but does not have the ideal athleticism to play the three.
Think: Hakim Warrick

14. Phoenix- Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest, 6-9, Fr.
-Aminu is one of those “upside” picks.  Whoever drafts him probably will not see an immediate contribution, but his size and athleticism will certainly be attractive to an NBA team.
Think: Travis Outlaw

15. Detroit- Terrence Williams, SF, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
-Williams is the definition of versatile.  He attacks the hoop, is a very improved shooter, can rebound, is a great passer, and plays defense.  I think he is a steal of a mid-first round pick.
Think: Gerald Wallace.

16. Chicago- Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona, 6-7, Jr.
-Budinger’s strength is his versatility.  He can jump out of the gym when around the hoop, stroke it from deep, handle the ball, and play a few positions.  His tendency to disappear during stretches of games is his biggest knock.
Think: Stephen Jackson

17. #Minnesota- Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
-Maynor is a playmaker on the offensive end, a true floor general, and has good size to play the point in the NBA.  He must continue to become a more consistent shooter.
Think: Antonio Daniels

18. =Philadelphia- Patty Mills, PG, St. Mary’s, 5-11, So.
-Mills can create his own shot, excels in transition, and is lightning quick off the dribble.  He had a very successful Olympics last summer playing for Australia and caught the eyes of a lot of NBA scouts.
Think: Ramon Sessions

19. Atlanta- Damion James, SF, Texas, 6-8, Jr.
-One of the most aggressive offensive rebounders in college basketball, James is an outstanding athlete.  He shoots the ball well from the perimeter and has an NBA-ready body.
Think: Marvin Williams

20. Dallas- Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
-Lawson might be the best floor general in college basketball.  He is gifted in creating with the basketball and finding open teammates, and is very quick with the ball and has improved his three-point shot.
Think: Jameer Nelson

21. Utah- Sam Young, G/F, Pitt, 6-6, Sr.
-Young can elevate, hit it from deep, and has a tremendous basketball IQ.  He can take bigger defenders off the dribble and post up smaller guys.  He is not the greatest ball-handler on the perimeter, but is ready to contribute right away.
Think: Michael Finley

22. New Orleans- DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.
-Despite underachieving at G-Town this past season, Summers has thrown his name into the draft.  He has an NBA-ready body, is a good slasher, and a decent outside shooter.  I’m not sure how he will match-up athletically with other three’s in the NBA.

23. &Sacramento- A.J. Price, PG, UConn, 6-2, Sr.
When Price is on, he can absolutely light it up from deep.  However when his shot is not on, he tends to be too much of a non-factor.  He is a good decision maker and handles the rock fairly well.
Think: Delonte West

24. Portland- Tyler Smith, SF, Tennessee, 6-7, Jr.
-Smith is fearless when attacking the hoop and thrives on the break.  He is not a great outside shooter and must develop more consistency.  His rebounding and passing really help his stock.
Think: Jeff Green

25. +Oklahoma City- James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
-An athletic forward who can put the ball on the deck and attack the rim.  His frame is ready for the rigor of the NBA, but his shot is not.
Think: Wilson Chandler

26. %Chicago- Jerome Jordan, C, Tulsa, 7-0, Jr.
-Jordan has the size and potential that is intriguing.  He is still growing as an offensive players and has average athleticism at best.  He is a good shot blocker and would be a bit of a project.
Think: Theo Ratliff

27. $Memphis- Greivis Vasquez, PG, Maryland, 6-5, Jr.
-A combo guard, Vasquez has the complete all-around offensive game from handling the ball to lighting it up from deep.  He is not a great defender and needs to add some toughness to contribute at the next level.
Think: Francisco Garcia

28. ^Minnesota- Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU, 6-4, Sr.
-Thornton is a little undersized to play the two in the NBA, but there is no question can kid can flat-out shoot the rock.  What he lacks in size, he makes up for in strength.  He would be worth the risk this late.
Think: Daequan Cook

29. L.A. Lakers- Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
-One of the most decorated players in college basketball defines what toughness is inside.  However, the biggest question is how will his game translate into the NBA?  I don’t see him being anything more than an energy guy off the bench at the next level.
Think: Eduardo Najera

30. Cleveland- Darren Collison, PG, UCLA, 6-0, Sr.
-Collison knows how to run an offense and has a lot of success and experience doing so.  He is a smart-decision maker, solid shooter, automatic free-throw shooter, and great on-the-ball defender.  A less than stellar senior season hurt his stock.
Think: Bobby Jackson

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Second Round
31. Jermaine Taylor, SG, UCF, 6-4, Sr.
32. Jerel McNeal, G, Marquette, 6-3, Sr.
33. Curtis Jerrells, PG, Baylor, 6-1, Sr.
34. Danny Green, SF, UNC, 6-7, Sr.
35. Josh Heytvelt, PF, Gonzaga, 6-11, Sr.
36. Omri Cassipi, SF, Isreal, 6-8, 1988
37. Taj Gibson, PF, USC, 6-9, Jr.
38. Lester Hudson, PG, UT-Martin, 6-3, Sr.
39. Jeff Pendergraph, PF, Arizona State, 6-10, Sr.
40. Jonas Jerebko, PF, Sweden, 6-9, 1989
41. Toney Douglas, PG, Florida State, 6-2, PG
42. Dionte Christmas, SG, Temple, 6-5, Sr.
43. Vitor Faverani, F, Brazil, 6-11, 1989
44. Chris Johnson, PF, LSU, 6-11, Sr.
45. Wesley Matthews, SG, Marquette, 6-5, Sr.
46. Robert Vaden, SG, UAB, 6-5, Sr.
47. Tyrese Rice, PG, Boston College, 6-1, Sr.
48. Luigi Datome, SF, Italy, 6-8. 1987
49. Jack McClinton, PG, Miami (FL), 6-1, Sr.
50. Nando de Colo, G, 6-5, France 1987
51. Stefon Jackson, SG, 6-5, UTEP, Sr.
52. Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
53. Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova, 6-8, Sr.
54. Demarre Carroll, F, Missouri, 6-8, Sr.
55. Jeff Adrien, PF, UConn, 6-7, Sr.
56. Ben Woodside, PG, 5-11, North Dakota State, Sr.
57. Antonio Anderson, SG, Memphis, 6-6, Sr.
58. Jeremy Pargo, PG, Gonzaga, 6-2, Sr.
59. Sergio Llull, G, Spain, 6-3, 1988
60. Robert Dozier, F, Memphis, 6-9, Sr.

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Declared for the Draft:
>Nick Calathes, G, Florida, 6-6, So.
Earl Clark, F, Louisville, 6-8, Jr.
Brandon Costner, PF, N.C. State, 6-9, Jr.
Tyreke Evans, G, Memphis, 6-6, Fr.
>Roderick Flemings, SF, Hawaii, 6-7, Jr.
James Johnson, F, Wake Forest, 6-9, So.
>Mac Koshwal, C, DePaul, 6-10, So.
B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State, 7-0, Fr.
DaJuan Summers, SF, Georgetown, 6-8, Jr.

>has yet to hire an agent

Staying in School:
Trevor Booker, PF, Clemson, 6-7, Jr.
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue, 6-10, So.
Dexter Pittman, C, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
Evan Turner, SF, Ohio State, So.

Other First Round talent likely to stay in school:
Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain, 6-4, 1990
Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest, 6-1, So.
Jrue Holliday, SG, UCLA, 6-4, Fr.
Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-2, Jr.
DeJuan Blair, PF, Pitt, 6-7, So.
Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky, 6-9, So.
Austin Daye, SF, 6-10, Gonzaga, So.
Cole Aldrich, F/C, Kansas, 6-10, So.
Gani Lawal, F, Georgia Tech, 6-8, So.
Kyle Singler, F, Duke, 6-8, So.
Wayne Ellington, SG, UNC, 6-4, Jr.
Derrick Brown, F, Xavier, 6-9, Jr.
Manny Harris, SG, Michigan, 6-5, So.

*Clippers get Minnesota’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protectred) via Marko Jaric trade
?Utah gets New York ’09 1st round pick (top 22 protected) via Phoenix
=Minnesota gets Philadelphia ’09 1st round pick (from Utah –Gordon Giricek trade-top 22 protected) via Rodney Carney trade
&Kings get Houston ’09 1st round pick via Ron Artest trade
#Minnesota gets Miami’s ’09 1st round pick (top ten protected) via Ricky Davis trade
+Thunder gets Spurs’ ’09 1st round pick (lottery preotected) via Kurt Thomas trade
%Bulls get lower of Thunder’s ’09 1st round pick (from either SA or Den) via Thabo Sefolosha trade
$Memphis gets Orlando ’09 1st round pick via Rafer Alston trade
^Minnesota gets Boston’s ’09 1st round pick (top 3 protected) via Kevin Garnett trade