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NBA Draft: pick by pick
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jun 25
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I will be analyzing each pick in tonight’s first round after it is made, of course, with special emphasis on the Bulls picks.
1. L.A. Clippers: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
There’s been almost no talk about the guy because of the lack of intrigue about whom they’ll pick. Even last year when there were those up to the night of the draft saying the Bulls should select Michael Beasley. Which also says something about this draft given Griffin isn’t even a lock to be an All-Star any time soon. His pick means more than anything the Clippers have to move Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby. I consider Zach Randolph impossible to move. Kaman may be close to that with his injuries and other issues. The Clippers don’t want to move Camby, who has an expiring contract. But Griffin is going to have problem making an impact until they unclog that logjam. The kid from rural Oklahoma is in for an awakening. It could be rude.
2. Memphis: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
This isn’t considered a draft with a bunch of All Stars. He could be one, in part, because there just aren’t a lot of centers. His offensive game makes Joakim Noah look like Ben Gordon. But Thabeet can block shots, protect the lane and rebound. The Grizzlies talk about running, but you need to rebound to run. And you can’t run all the time. With Marc Gasol the Grizzlies now have some nice depth in the middle and perhaps will look to move Gasol. I can see Gasol garnering some interest. The Grizzlies like to deal and I don’t think they are done.
3. Oklahoma City: James Harden, Arizona State
Poor Thabo. The Thunder is building an impressive wing and perimeter offense. Harden has most been compared with Brandon Roy, though not nearly as good. He figures to slip into the shooting guard spot that Thabo Sefolosha took over after the trade from the Bulls. Thunder GM Sam Presti likes players of size for their position. The problem is they don’t have much defense from their young players and Sefolosha was a nice addition for his ability to defend. Harden figures to work his way into a starting role alongside Russell Westbrook. With the size they have they are putting together a group who can switch the pick and roll with size. Now they need a bit more effort in doing so.
4. Sacramento: Tyreke Evans, Memphis
This was supposed to be at one time the great Hall of Famer Ricky Rubio. It’s been interesting to watch teams get scared off. Evans went in there and beat up the other guards in workouts with his size and ability and Rubio wouldn’t work out. He’s not really a point guard, but he moved to point guard during the season and Memphis excelled after that. He’s got the potential to be a bigtime offensive player whom defenders will have trouble staying in front of. With Kevin Martin, it’s the start of a backcourt although it will take time for Evans to develop into an NBA level point guard. He doesn’t have to worry. The Kings aren’t going anywhere.
5. Minnesota: Ricky Rubio, Spain
I wasn’t a big fan of the trade to get this pick from Washington. I know they weren’t exactly threatening to make the playoffs, but it seemed way too much to give up two rotation players in Mike Miller and Randy Foye. I think they’ll help the Wizards. I guess Rubio didn’t fall all that much. Now we get to see if he’s hype. Rubio is considered a terrific passer but not a shooter or finisher on the break, which, to me, raises questions about his ability to be a high level NBA player. It seemed when he played in the Olympics against the U.S. players they backed off and deflected a lot of his passes because they challenged him to shoot and finish. He’s perhaps the most intriguing and questionable talent in this draft. He’s no Pete Maravich. He’s more like Jason Williams. Which maybe is why the Kings passed.
6. Minnesota: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
Trade alert! This is about either the Timberwolves being unaware they just picked a point guard or they picked Flynn for someone else. I go with the latter. I’d heard the Timberwolves’ plan if they couldn’t get Thabeet was to identify a guy with their picks who could be of value and trade. Which, I think, also means Rubio could be moving. It seems little likelihood to me they’ll keep both picks and both point guard. Open the bidding. Who wants a young point guard? Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit as they don’t have a coach and their new GM was a basketball writer who used to ask me for help .
7. Golden State: Stephen Curry, Davidson
First big surprise of the draft, especially to Monta Ellis. You never can make sense of what Don Nelson wants with his team. You know he wants shooters and scorers and players to open the floor. The intriguing part was the Warriors supposedly have been making all sorts of promises to Ellis to feature him. I’d look for a big deal with the Warriors. Maybe Curry or more likely Ellis. There’s been rumors they’re talking to the Suns about Amar’e Stoudemire and to the Raptors about Chris Bosh. It gives them another piece to be able to put together an impressive package. It seems official now the Warriors have the most two guards on their roster in the history of the NBA.
8. New York: Jordan Hill, Arizona
They had been talking about nothing but guards and they take the next best big man and power forward. Who knew Mike D’Antoni was a born again defensive guy? You immediately wonder about the fate of David Lee, who’s played power forward for them and is a restricted free agent whom they may not want to sign to continue on their quest for 2010 free agents. They could have a deal brewing for Lee. Hill’s regarded as a better rebounding version of Chris Wilcox.
9. Toronto: DeMar DeRozan, Southern California
I’ve heard he is one of those guys who wants to be the next Kobe (they don’t talk of being next Jordan anymore. Right, we are old) and constantly watches Kobe tapes. They need wing players and athletes, but there’s no question he’s not nearly ready to be an NBA regular. He’s one of those high potential ceiling big risk/big reward guys. This raises the possibility, it seems, that Gerald Henderson, a guy the Bulls like, is sliding. I had heard Henderson was high on the board in New York and Toronto.
10. Milwaukee: Brandon Jennings, Compton, CA/Italy
Scott Skiles knows point guards, so you have to assume he has a chance. Some believed he’d slip because of his limited shooting. But he’s an athletic player and finisher. He was the guy who skipped college to make $1 million in Europe, just below what colleges supposedly are paying top prospects these days (kidding. sort of). The Bucks aren’t sure about bringing back Ramon Sessions or Luke Ridnour and figure to see him moving in at point for them in a year or two.
11. New Jersey: Terrence Williams, Louisville
They are in rebuilding-for-Brooklyn mode. They dealt Vince Carter Thursday before the draft and got a shooting guard among three in Courtney Lee. This is good news for the Bulls as Williams is a good player, but a guy the Bulls were wary of as he’s known as a bit, well, unconventional. I think the Bulls like seeing more guys they weren’t going to pick go off the board. Williams is a talent, a versatile player and good defender who worked himself ahead on his team of previously more highly regarded teammate Earl Clark. The Bobcats picking 12th were hoping he’d be there for them. The Nets were one of those teams high on Tyler Hansbrough, who is believed to be one of the players on the Bulls list.
12. Charlotte: Gerald Henderson, Duke
MJ took a Duke guy! Really, MJ took a Duke guy. I’m guessing the Bulls were disappointed but not shocked. The Bulls were believed to have been talking with teams at 11 through 15 all day about possibly moving up. One of the targets was said to be Henderson. He’s a good pick for Charlotte. He’s a good athlete and a hard worker and committed player. Not a great shooter yet but a slasher. He can be better as a shootrer. The other surprise is Henderson is a scratch golfer and I know MJ can’t be happy having a guy on the team who is better. Though I guess MJ can legitimately ask for strokes.
13. Indiana: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Not good news for the Bulls as he’s another guy they liked. No surprise he goes to a Larry Bird team. Hansbrough is a terrific competitor and underappreciated because of a lack of big dunking ability. Also, the Pacers have been under siege in their community in recent years for the poor character and work ethic of their players, which has resulted in attendance issues. Hansbrough should be a popular guy, hard working and the kind of person a team like the Trailblazers went with in recent years to help change the image of the team.
14. Phoenix: Earl Clark, Louisville
Good news, finally, for the Bulls. He’s a guy I’m pretty sure they didn’t want, a player with supposedly questionable desire whom I doubt was on the Bulls radar. The Bulls have had eyes on James Johnson, B.J. Mullens and Jeff Teague and one will be there. Clark is a talent with size and athletic ability. They look to be in major rebuilding mode with Shaq traded and Amar’e Stoudemire perhaps next with talk of a big Golden State deal.
15. Detroit: Austin Daye, Gonzaga
I’m a bit surprised he goes quite this high. Let’s say he’s no Bad Boy as a guy who was unable to do even one bench press in the predraft workouts. He’s a highly skilled guy who does a lot of things, but reminds me more of a Brad Sellers type, though Sellers was once the Big 10 rebounding champion. Daye is not that and not a rebounder. His dad Darren played for the Bulls in the mid-80’s and the third father-son combo in the draft with the Hendersons and Currys. This pick gives the Bulls a good chance to get one of the guys they wanted.
16. Chicago Bulls: James Johnson, Wake Forest
They got their guy! Pretty close, actually. This is a bit of a risk pick as Johnson wasn’t always the greatest competitor, but I like this pick in a big way. This guy is a unique talent, one of the most unique we’ve seen in the NBA in a long time. I liken him to Charles Barkley. Not in leaping ability, but he’s a rare guy who can rebound on one end, go full court and finish with either hand. I talked to one ACC coach about him and he said, “He’s a beast.” The coach told me he was as good as any player in the conference in talent. Johnson weighs close to 260, down some and is almost 6-8. The Bulls have been criticized at times in recent years about taking safe picks. He isn’t a safe pick. He’s a pick with a big upside. It’s a bit of a surprise he was available at No. 16 as the Suns were said to be very high on him at No. 14 and there was talk Johnson could go as high as Toronto at No. 9. He was a point guard in high school, something like Scottie Pippen who was a high school point guard and thus was able to handle the ball at a high level as he grew. He’s a tough guy who’s also involved in kick boxing. I like the pick a lot.
17. Philadelphia: Jrue Holiday, UCLA
I thought they might go for Jeff Teague, who is a better shooter. Holiday is one of those potential guys who could be a star type player because of his big size for a point guard. He was said to be on the board of teams as high as New York at No. 8, but had limited playing time as a rookie at UCLA. He’s a bit of a project.
18. Minnesota: Ty Lawson, North Carolina
What, another point guard for the Timberwolves? Nah, you knew they had to be looking for guys to trade and the immediate rumor was they has a deal with Denver for him. He’s maybe the most ready of the point guards, but small and without a big ceiling to get much better. Should be a solid guy.
19. Atlanta: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
They dealt Acie Law in the Jamal Crawford deal and Teague is a good pick here as more insurance and leverage against Mike Bibby leaving as a free agent or not being resigned. Teague isn’t a classic point guard and has been likened to Jason Terry because of his shooting and scoring ability.
20. Utah: Eric Maynor, VCU
Yes, they have Deron Williams, but you do need backups. I thought they might go for a two or three given they have some potential backup at point. Mayor is a solid guy. Maybe not a high level point guard with a high ceiling, but he is solid and will stand up and take big shots. Just further shows teams’ priorities in having point guards in this era.
21. New Orleans: Darren Collison, UCLA
Like with the Jazz, they also needed someone to get their star point guard off the floor. Collison is a good choice and a guy the Bulls had their eyes on as a possible pick at No. 26.
22. Portland: Victor Claver, Spain
They had to trade up for this guy? They moved up from No. 24 from Dallas and he’s not a guy who’ll be playing in the NBA next season. It’s another future for Portland, which seems to have little but. They do have a lot of young players, so they don’t need another. He’s been regarded as a talent for the future. I suspect he’s more trade bait as they have to begin moving some players to get somewhere.
23. Sacramento: Omri Casspi, Israel
He’s talked about being the first native Israeli to play in the NBA. He’s a tough small forward, which I’m sure you have to be in Israel where everyone serves in the military. He said he’d stay in Israel for a year if a team asked, but with the Kings lack of talent I assume he’s with them next season. It suggests the Kings will work hard to move former Bull Andres Nocioni, who they got in the Salmons/Miller deal. Though Casspi doesn’t play like Nocioni, just the position.
24. Dallas: B.J. Mullens, Ohio State
Good future pick of a guy whom many thought would go around 15 or 16. Mullins would have been a find to fall to the Bulls at No. 26, though it raises the possibility another big man who is falling can get there, DeJuan Blair. Mullins isn’t ready, but is a highly regarded athlete with size.
25. Oklahoma City: Rodrigue Beaubois
The report is he goes to the Mavs to play overseas as a talented point guard for the future and the Thunder get Mullens, a big man they can develop. It would make for a heck of a draft for the Thunder.
26. Chicago Bulls: Taj Gibson, Southern California
The Bulls got this pick from the Thunder for Thabo Sefolosha. He’s a bit thin, but he has a post game and is a hard worker and can score inside. With the pick of James Johnson at No. 16, the Bulls add some good size to their front line and get a lot tougher. He’s a shot blocker and rebounder and mature. He turned 24 Wednesday.
27. Memphis: DuMarre Carroll, Missouri
A role player whom most had as a second rounder, though high. So it’s not that big a stretch. Hey, what happened to DeJuan Blair! Must have no knees. Maybe he’s not even 6-5.
28. Minnesota: Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
If you think the Bulls love backcourt guys, take a look at the Timberwolves draft of all guards. He’s a very good shooter. Not much for putting the ball on the floor but he’ll make shots and should be a solid player.
29. L.A. Lakers (to New York): Toney Douglas, Florida State
This pick is supposed to be for the Knicks. He’s a scoring combo guard on the small side. He’s a decent defender and a good scorer, one of the best in the ACC. Any guard sort of works in the new Knicks system. The reports also were at the time the Knicks are acquiring Darko Milicic for Quentin Richardson from the Grizzlies. Both have expiring contracts.
30. Cleveland: Christian Eyenga, Congo
I pretty much have no idea who he is. The Cavs didn’t want to spend the money on a pick and apparently wanted a player to remain overseas. He was regarded as a possible second rounder, so it is curious. Perhaps Shaq made the pick.