It's that time of year again. While most are focused on the NBA Conference Finals, we here at The People's Sports Blog are looking to the future. Here is the first edition of the PSB 2009 NBA Mock Draft. (Note that all the heights and weights are from Chad Ford's list on ESPN.com.)
1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (Oklahoma) [PF, 6-10, 245 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Clippers aren't the ideal team for Griffin based on their current roster (then again when have the Clippers been an ideal team for anyone), but the Clippers would be insane to pass him up. They'll draft Griffin and see if they can get anything for Zach Randolph.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) [C, 7-3, 265 lbs, 22 yrs] - Ricky Rubio has been the consensus #2 pick for some time now, but rumor has it that he doesn't want to play in Memphis (or Oklahoma City, for that matter) and the Grizzlies are desperate for size. Jordan Hill could get a long look here as well, as the Grizzlies would then have the option of playing him alongside Marc Gasol.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio (Spain) [PG, 6-4, 180 lbs, 18 yrs] - While I don't expect Rubio to suit up for the Thunder next year, I can't imagine Oklahoma City will let him slip past them. Supposedly he is not interested in playing in OKC and even if he was, his so-so shooting would make him a poor fit alongside Russell Westbrook. More likely, they will draft Rubio and then trade down, hoping for a better fit, such as James Harden.
4. Sacramento Kings: James Harden (Arizona State) [SG, 6-4, 215, 19 yrs] - Harden is not an ideal fit for the Kings, but I'm predicting this assuming that they'll grab Harden and swap picks with Oklahoma City. Harden gives OKC a capable shooter to pair in the backcourt with Westbrook, while Rubio gives Sacramento one of the best point guard prospects in recent memory.
5. Washington Wizards: Jordan Hill (Arizona) [PF, 6-10, 235 lbs, 21 yrs] - Drafting Hill gives Washington the option of trading Antawn Jamison, or sliding him over to small forward and seeing if a lineup of Arenas, Butler, Jamison, Hill, and Haywood can stay healthy and make some noise in the East. The Wizards would also have to consider taking a point guard, such as Brandon Jennings or Jrue Holiday, and moving Arenas to shooting guard, or taking a 2-guard like DeMar DeRozan, but Hill seems like the best value here.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: DeMar DeRozan (USC) [SG, 6-6, 200 lbs, 19 yrs] - Minnesota needs a point guard above all, but taking one here seems like a bit of a stretch and there should be point guards available when they pick again later in the first round (18th). DeRozan gives them an athletic swingman who can play at shooting guard or small forward and who ought to be an upgrade over the likes of Rodney Carney and Rashad McCants.
7. Golden State Warriors: Brandon Jennings (Italy) [PG, 6-2, 165 lbs, 19 yrs] - Jennings is an outstanding athlete and would fit in well in the Warriors up-tempo offense. This would also allow Golden State to move Monta Ellis over to shooting guard, where he's had more success. While Don Nelson might prefer a more established PG, such as Jonny Flynn or Ty Lawson, Jennings has the most potential and is the best option here.
9. Toronto Raptors: DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh) [PF, 6-7, 250 lbs, 20 yrs] - This is a bit of a reach, but the Raptors are woefully thin up front and Blair should provide some much-needed rebounding and toughness off the bench. I believe James Johnson is a better power forward prospect, but his game is too similar to that of Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Other possibilities here include Earl Clark and Tyreke Evans.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: James Johnson (Wake Forest) [PF, 6-9, 245 lbs, 22 yrs] - Johnson would be a nice security measure in case Milwaukee loses Charlie Villanueva in the off-season. Of course, a point guard is also an option, since there's a chance Ramon Sessions is also on his way out.
11. New Jersey Nets: Earl Clark (Louisville) [SF, 6-9, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - The small forward position was an area of weakness for the Nets last year, as they struggled through a season of Yi Jianlian, but they can upgrade with Clark. While his work ethic and heart have been questioned, he's a very versatile player who can play point forward and should look good running the floor with Devin Harris and Vince Carter.
12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson (Duke) [SG, 6-4, 215 lbs, 21 yrs] - Assuming the Bobcats continue their habits of drafting players with good college pedigrees and limited pro potential, Henderson is a likely pick. Henderson showed progress in his junior year at Duke, but was still erratic and his numbers were not overly impressive (especially the 33.6 3P%). However, he is a superb perimeter defender and a very good athlete. It's not a bad pick for the Bobcats, who only really have Raja Bell at shooting guard and could use a good backup.
13. Indiana Pacers: Jrue Holiday (UCLA) [PG, 6-4, 200 lbs, 18 yrs] - Getting Holiday here would be a great value and he could be a very good fit for this team. He has the size and athleticism to defend shooting guards, which would allow him to play alongside T.J. Ford for stretches. However, the Pacers would do well to try and play him primarily as a point guard, as Holiday had difficulty playing shooting guard at UCLA. As long as they play at a reasonably fast pace and let Holiday run the offense some of the time, he should do just fine.
14. Phoenix Suns: Eric Maynor (VCU) [PG, 6-3, 175 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Suns have been looking for a capable backup to Steve Nash for years now and in Maynor they could have a good one. Frankly, they can't go terribly wrong with any of the PG available here (Maynor, Ty Lawson, Jonny Flynn), but Maynor's got the advantage because he has a few inches on Lawson and Flynn and because he is used to playing in an up-tempo offense. While he'll need to add some muscle if he's to guard opposing shooting guards, his height and defensive ability will serve him well when he's sharing the backcourt with Nash or Leandro Barbosa.
15. Detroit Pistons: Terrence Williams (Louisville) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 21 yrs] - Detroit could take a point guard here and trade down, since this part of the draft is very heavy in that position and they are already committed to Rodney Stuckey. However, if they keep the pick, it's likely to be between Williams and Tyreke Evans. Evans is the better prospect, but considering his domination of the ball at Memphis and his questionable shot selection, it's hard to see him fitting in with the Pistons (especially right after they jettisoned Allen Iverson). Williams has been considered underaggressive, if anything, but his all-around ability and willingness to share the ball should play well in Detroit.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyreke Evans (Memphis) [SG, 6-6, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - Chicago would probably prefer a better shooter, especially if they have to replace Ben Gordon, but at this point in the draft, and needing a swingman, they can't pass up on Evans. While the team would suffer from a lack of perimeter shooting when playing Evans and Derrick Rose together, Evans has as much potential as any swingman in the draft and he would make a great fastbreak partner for Rose. He'll also give them a capable defender and a guy who can consistently get to the free throw line.
17. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Lawson (North Carolina) [PG, 5-11, 195 lbs, 21 yrs] - I would rank Flynn as the better point guard prospect, but Lawson makes a little more sense for the Sixers, who may need to replace Andre Miller. The Sixers have been a horrific three-point shooting team for the last two years and Lawson would give them a capable marksman, while also providing a point guard who is accustomed to running an up-tempo offense. The only downside to this pick is that Lawson's small stature would make it difficult for the Sixers to play him with Lou Williams.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonny Flynn (Syracuse) [PG, 6-0, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Minnesota would have to be thrilled to get Flynn here, as some might argue that, after Rubio, he's the best point guard prospect in the draft. Minnesota is a few years away no matter who they draft, but with Flynn, DeRozan, Randy Foye, Kevin Love, and Al Jefferson, the T'wolves would have a nice young core.
19. Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague (Wake Forest) [PG, 6-2, 180 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Hawks could really use a backup point guard, as Acie Law has been a bust and reportedly wants out of Atlanta. Teague plays more like a shooting guard than a point, but the Hawks could use him with Joe Johnson and play Teague off the ball. Another possibility here could be Austin Daye, who would give the Hawks another versatile wingman with range, but it could be hard to find him minutes with Josh Smith and Marvin Williams already in the fold.
20. Utah Jazz: Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech) [PF, 6-9, 220 lbs, 19 yrs] - It's looking like the Jazz are about to lose either Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsaps and their selection here will depend on which player leaves. If they lose Millsaps, it might make more sense to take a more experienced forward who can step right in and be a role player, such as Tyler Hansbrough. However, if Boozer leaves, they have to take the PF with the best long-term potential, and at this point in the draft that is Lawal, who is a superior athlete to Hansbrough and, if nothing else, should provide some rebounding and shot-blocking as a rookie.
21. New Orleans Hornets: Chase Budinger (Arizona) [SG, 6-7, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Nuggets' first-round dismantling of the Hornets showed that New Orleans needs more help on offense if they are going to make a run in the West. Budinger has not improved the way many thought he would in his time at Arizona, but nevertheless has the potential to be a very good offensive player. His athleticism and shooting ability should make him a terror as he runs the fastbreak with Chris Paul. Another option here would be B.J. Mullens, who could serve as a long-term replacement for Tyson Chandler, but his disappointing performance at Ohio State makes him a tough sell for a team that is looking to make a playoff run next season.
22. Dallas Mavericks: Darren Collison (UCLA) [PG, 6-1, 165 lbs, 21 yrs] - This pick obviously depends on whether or not the Mavs think they are getting Jason Kidd back. If not, Collison would give Dallas a good defensive point guard who is also a good three-point shooter. The only problem with this pick is that Collison's small stature would make it difficult for him to play alongside Jason Terry. However, it's hard to imagine Dallas starting Collison as a rookie, with or without Kidd, so that may not be a huge issue. If Kidd stays in Dallas, the Mavs could opt for a big man, such as B.J. Mullens.
23. Sacramento Kings: B.J. Mullens (Ohio State) [C, 7-1, 260 lbs, 20 yrs] - Mullens is very much a project player and it could be a few years before he is a meaningful contributor, but he's got a rare combination of size and athleticism and should help the Kings down the road.
24. Portland Trail Blazers: Patrick Mills (St. Mary's) [PG, 5-11, 175 lbs, 20 yrs] - Mills should be a good fit in Portland. He's not a pure point guard, but they already have one in Steve Blake and Brandon Roy is capable of running the offense when he and Mills are on the floor together. There are questions about his jump shot and his durability, but he should be able to be a useful role player even as a rookie.
25. Oklahoma City Thunder: Austin Daye (Gonzaga) [SF, 6-10, 190 lbs, 20 yrs] - Daye has had a disappointing college career but there's no questioning his potential. At 6-10 with outstanding athleticism and three-point range, Daye has the raw ability to be a great scorer in the NBA, reminiscent perhaps of Rashard Lewis (though right now I'd say he reminds me more of Yi Jianlian). There's no telling whether or not Daye can get it together and live up to the hype, but if nothing else he should become a useful role player. This is a good gamble for the Thunder.
26. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Brown (Xavier) [PF, 6-8, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - In Brown, the Bulls get another athlete to run the floor with Derrick Rose, but one who can also knock down some deep jumpers. Brown would be a good player to pair with Joakim Noah. While he isn't the rebounder or shot-blocker that Tyrus Thomas is, having Brown at power forward would space the floor better and allow Rose to penetrate more easily. Another option here would be Toney Douglas, who has drawn comparison's to Ben Gordon. Douglas would be a logical pick if Gordon leaves and the Bulls don't take a shooting guard with their first pick in the draft.
27. Memphis Grizzlies: Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) [SG, 6-5, 194 lbs, 21 yrs] - Memphis could use depth at just about every position and Ellington could be an upgrade over players such as Greg Buckner and Quinton Ross. The Grizzlies are looking for young players with upside and Ellington's shooting should make him pretty valuable.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves: Josh Heytvelt (Gonzaga) [PF, 6-11, 235 lbs, 22 yrs] - Having already added a shooting guard and a point guard, Minnesota can use this pick to shore up the frontcourt. Heytvelt isn't a prototypical NBA big man, but the T'wolves can get away with his so-so rebounding if he plays alongside Al Jefferson or Kevin Love. At the same time, his outside shooting should be an asset, especially when paired with Jefferson.
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina) [PF, 6-9, 250 lbs, 23 yrs] - All the Lakers have been hearing during the playoffs is how soft they are. Well, adding Hansbrough to the mix would put a stop to that. His pro potential is very limited, as he is not an exceptional athlete, but his rebounding, tenacity, and basketball IQ could make him a useful role player for a team like the Lakers.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Sam Young (Pittsburgh) [SF, 6-6, 215 lbs, 24 yrs] - Young strikes me as the next Al Thornton, both in terms of ability and potential. He should be a good combo forward, but, at age 24, he's not going to get much better than he is now. But that's just fine from Cleveland's perspective, as they are looking for players who can help with a championship. Young is capable of playing both forward positions and is also a capable three-point shooter. Having a player like Young would allow the Cavs to play him and LeBron together and really space the floor. He would almost certainly be an upgrade over Sasha Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak.
31. Sacramento Kings: Danny Green (North Carolina) [SF, 6-6, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Green never blew anyone away in college, but he showed himself to be a good three-point shooter and defender. He may never be much more than a role player in the pros, but the Kings need perimeter defenders and Green could be a good value pick in the second round.
32. Portland Trail Blazers: Victor Claver (Spain) [SF, 6-11, 217 lbs, 20 yrs] - The Blazers already have two Spanish players on the roster and Claver could well be the third. It's not entirely clear what position he'd play in the NBA. He'll need to bulk up to play power forward but he might not be quick enough to guard opposing small forwards, but he's improved his jump shot and the Blazers would have the option of letting him develop in Spain for a few more years before adding him to the roster.
33. Washington Wizards: DaJuan Summers (Georgetown) [SF, 6-8, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - Summers would give Washington another athletic wingman who already has an NBA body. He's primarily a jump-shooter, but he should be in line for some open looks, playing with Arenas, Butler, and Jamison (if he's still around).
34. Denver Nuggets: Marcus Thornton (LSU) [SG, 6-4, 205 lbs, 21 yrs] - As good as Denver has been this year, the one thing they have lacked is an effective perimeter stopper. Dahntay Jones has done a decent job, but his inability to score makes it hard to keep him on the floor, especially with J.R. Smith waiting on the bench. Thornton, though a bit undersized, is a capable defender and has been a big time scorer at LSU, averaging 21.1 PPG this season. He is not going to be a dominant scorer in the NBA, but his perimeter game is good enough that he shouldn't be an offensive liability.
35. Memphis Grizzlies: Omri Casspi (Israel) [SF, 6-7, 206 lbs, 20 yrs] - Casspi is a scrappy small forward who has drawn comparisons to Andres Nocioni and Matt Harpring. He'll have to improve his shooting to be as valuable as Nocioni, but Memphis will have the option to leave him at Maccabi Tel Aviv for a few years if they don't think he's ready just yet.
36. Detroit Pistons: Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State) [PF, 6-10, 220 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Pistons stand a good chance of losing Rasheed Wallace in the off-season and they will need new sources of low-post scoring. One of these sources could be Pendergraph, who avergaed 14.5 PPG while shooting 66.0% as a senior.
37. San Antonio Spurs: Jermaine Taylor (Central Florida) [SG, 6-4, 205 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Spurs made a rare first round exit from the playoffs this year and much of the reason was their lack of scoring depth. With Manu Ginobili injured, the Spurs had just two players, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who could consistently create their own shots. Taylor can certainly do that, though his style of play could be conceived as selfish. If Popovich can get him to buy into the Spurs' system and play a little defense, he could be a spark plug off the bench.
38. Portland Trail Blazers: Taj Gibson (USC) [PF, 6-9, 225 lbs, 23 yrs] - Right now the Blazers should be looking for players who can either contribute right away or who can be stashed overseas. In Gibson, they'd get the former. He'll need to bulk up to play power forward in the NBA, but, if nothing else, he should already be an effective shot-blocker.
39. Detroit Pistons: Curtis Jerrells (Baylor) [PG, 6-1, 208 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Pistons could really use a backup point guard. While Jerrells doesn't have the upside of some of the earlier selections, he should be able to serve as a competent backup to Rodney Stuckey.
40. Charlotte Bobcats: Tyler Smith (Tennessee) [SF, 6-7, 210 lbs, 22 yrs] - Smith is a solid all-around forward that could help the Bobcats' bench and, if all goes well, could be an eventual replacement for Gerald Wallace.
41. Milwaukee Bucks: A.J. Price (Connecticut) [PG, 6-2, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - This provides the Bucks with another option at point guard, should Ramon Sessions leave Milwaukee. Price has had a tumultuous career at UConn, but has put up good numbers while also hitting some big shots. One has to think that if UConn had won the title this year, Price would be a borderline first round pick.
42. Los Angeles Lakers: Jonas Jerebko (Sweden) [SF, 6-9, 220 lbs, 22 yrs] - Jerebko still needs some time to develop overseas, but when he's ready for the NBA he could be a useful combo forward for the Lakers.
43. Miami Heat: Patrick Beverley (Ukraine) [PG, 6-1, 172 lbs, 20 yrs] - Both in his college stint at Arkansas and with his current Ukrainian team, Beverley has shown the ability to be a solid scoring point guard with NBA three-point range. While he tends to play more like a shooting guard, this would not be a major problem in Miami, as Dwyane Wade tends to do most of the ball-handling anyway.
44. Detroit Pistons: Joe Ingles (Australia) [SF, 6-8, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - It's hard to imagine the Pistons adding four rookies to their roster next year, so it stands to reason that they will stash at least one of their draft picks overseas. Ingles is a good candidate for that, as he has already established himself as a scorer in the Australian league.
45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jerel McNeal (Marquette) [SG, 6-3, 200 lbs, 21 yrs] - McNeal showed a great scoring touch at Marquette in his senior year, which had a lot to do with his improved three-point shooting. His shooting could help Minnesota's bench.
46. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dionte Christmas (Temple) [SG, 6-5, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - Christmas is a good defender with a great three-point stroke who should be able to help the Cavs immediately. He will, however, have to get stronger to defend NBA shooting guards.
47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Vladimir Dasic (Serbia) [SF, 6-9, 225 lbs, 21 yrs] - Minnesota can stash Dasic overseas for now, but in a few years he should be able to contribute as a combo forward who can rebound and make some mid-range jumpers.
48. Phoenix Suns: DeMarre Carroll (Missouri) [PF, 6-8, 235 lbs, 22 yrs] - Carroll is a good, powerful athlete who should be able to help Phoenix secure offensive rebounds, while also scoring in transition. He has also improved his outside shooting and could log some minutes at small forward, sharing the frontcourt with Amare and Shaq (if they aren't traded).
49. Atlanta Hawks: Leo Lyons (Missouri) [PF, 6-9, 240 lbs, 21 yrs] - Long and athletic, Lyons would fit in well on the Hawks. The biggest complaint about him is his mediocre rebounding, but since he'll be playing alongside Al Horford and Josh Smith, it shouldn't be as big of a problem.
50. Utah Jazz: Lee Cummard (BYU) [SG, 6-7, 185 lbs, 24 yrs] - While Cummard will certainly need to add some muscle, he is a fundamentally sound player who can really shoot the ball and could be an asset to the Jazz as a bench player.
51. San Antonio Spurs: Sergio Llull (Spain) [PG, 6-3, 175 lbs, 21 yrs] - The Spurs love their foreign players and they really should love Llull; an athletic point guard who does a good job limiting his turnovers.
52. Indiana Pacers: Tasmin Mitchell (LSU) [SF, 6-7, 230 lbs, 22 yrs] - Mitchell is a bit of a tweener at only 6-7, but undersized power forwards are becoming more and more popular in the NBA and he looks like he could be a useful addition to a team's bench.
53. San Antonio Spurs: Milan Macvan (Serbia) [PF, 6-9, 260 lbs, 19 yrs] - The Spurs add another European player. Macvan is a good rebounder and has a very good basketball IQ and skills for a big man, drawing comparisons to Kevin Love.
54. Charlotte Bobcats: Ahmad Nivins (St. Joseph's) [PF, 6-9, 242 lbs, 22 yrs] - Nivins put up impressive scoring and rebounding numbers at St. Joe's, but his lack of athleticism has made his draft stock relatively low. That said, he's probably worth a look this late in the second round.
55. Portland Trail Blazers: Dar Tucker (DePaul) [SF, 6-5, 210 lbs, 21 yrs] - Tucker is very raw, but he is an excellent athlete and the Blazers can afford to bring him along slowly.
56. Portland Trail Blazers: Vyacheslav Kravtsov (Ukraine) [C, 7-0, 260 lbs, 21 yrs] - Another raw player, Kravtsov can spend some time overseas developing. He has the size and athletic ability to be a good defensive center in the NBA.
57. Phoenix Suns: Greivis Vasquez (Maryland) [SG, 6-6, 190 lbs, 22 yrs] - Vasquez is a well-rounded guard with a very high basketball IQ and great passing ability. He's not an elite shooter or athlete, but his basketball IQ and passing would make him a good fit in Phoenix.
58. Boston Celtics: Jon Brockman (Washington) [PF, 6-7, 255 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Celtics will probably lose at least one of their backup power forwards (Glen Davis and Leon Powe) to free agency, so drafting a power forward is their best bet. Brockman's game is very similar to that of Tyler Hansbrough, who many scouts think will be a solid NBA role player, so it stands to reason that Brockman can find a niche as well.
59. Los Angeles Lakers: A.J. Abrams (Texas) [SG, 5-11, 155 lbs, 22 yrs] - The Lakers have had terrible point guard play in the postseason, but Abrams could help with that. He's more of a shooting guard, but he is one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball. With the triangle offense, you don't need a playmaker at point guard, so the only issue would be whether or not he could play effective defense due to his lack of size.
60. Miami Heat: Dante Cunningham (Villanova) [PF, 6-8, 230 lbs, 22 yrs] - Cunningham had a slow start to his college career, but a breakout senior year should be just enough to get him drafted. Cunningham will give Miami a good combo forward. Playing him and Beasley together should create some mismatches.