Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NBA Draft Preview

It's NBA Draft time and unfortunately, this is one of the weakest drafts since 2000. It's makes me doubt who will be good and who will be flat out busts. Despite that, the Draft is still one of my favorite dates of the year because I find trade buzz and who goes where exciting, plus you get Dan Wetzel's live blog during the Draft and Bill Simmons Draft Diary to read the day after. I will be tweeting my Draft thoughts throughout the first round, but here is my preview for the lottery teams. Basically, I will spell out what these teams should do and what they will do.

1. L.A. Clippers- They are pretty easy to figure because they will draft Blake Griffin after announcing it during the Lottery. However, the Clippers really aren't in good position to be the number one pick or number two to take Ricky Rubio. The Clippers are chock full of big men and are stuck with them, plus Baron Davis.
What they should do. They should try to trade the pick to Oklahoma City so they can bring in the local hero. Try to see if they can extract Durant, if so, pay any price; if not, ask for the 3rd pick and either have them take on a Randolph/Kaman/Davis contract (ideally Randolph, likely Kaman) or get either Jeff Green or Russell Westbrook. Also, fire Mike Dunleavy.

What they will do. Draft Griffin, continue to inflict Dunleavy on the 20 Clippers fans in the world.

2. Memphis- Probably the most pathetic franchise in the league, even more so than the Clippers where no one wants to be. Ricky Rubio has said he wants no part of Memphis and it seems like there is no commitment to winning from ownership.

What they should do. Either draft Rubio and force him to decide to stay or play here, or trade down. Minnesota now have the 5th pick, along with their other first rounders to offer, Sacramento would offer the 4th, the Knicks would take on Darko's contract and give up the 8th. Minnesota looks like the best deal and the Grizzlies should try to get both the 5th and 6th or 5th and 18th.

What they will do. Either draft Thabeet because they need a big man, or trade down.

3. Oklahoma City- The fastest growing team in the league is in a good position to pick up perhaps the final piece that puts them in the playoffs. Durant, Westbrook and Green leads a solid core and can use either a shooting guard or a bigman.
What they should do. The best player for them to take is Rubio if Memphis doesn't select him. James Harden would be a good consolation prize, but now that Minnesota has four 1st rounders, I would put a call into them because the Wolves want to move up and the Thunder can get Harden or Stephen Curry at five I believe and get another 1st rounder.
What they will do. The Thunder play it safe and take Harden and not worry whether or not Rubio wants to play there.

4. Sacramento- The Kings have a lot of places to fill in, but the Draft talk seems to say they want a point guard. Rubio seemed to be guaranteed to fall no further than the Kings until lately when the buzz has them thinking about Evans and Jonny Flynn in addition, or even replacing Rubio.
What they should do. Draft Rubio, no question about it. You can't let this guy who will be great in the NBA, based on his performance against the Redeem Team in the Olympics, among other things. I also don't think the Kings should trade, but if they are against taking Rubio, the Knicks, Bucks and Suns could use Rubio.

What they will do. I can't see the Kings pass on Rubio when it's all said and done.

5 and 6. Minnesota- The Timberwolves have already made the biggest move thus far and picked up the Wizards pick for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. They also appear to be selling the 28th pick to the Knicks. They are in need of a true point guard and a shooter to pick up the slack from the trade.
What they should do. They should trade up and grab Rubio instead of hoping that he drops to five. They have 3 first rounders left and there's no reason they can't trade with Memphis or Oklahoma. Thabeet and Harden both could be left at number 5 if either makes the trade. If there isn't a trade to be made, then hold and take Stephen Curry. Tyreke Evans or James Harden would be a nice fit at number 6 if they stay at this spot.

What they will do. They will find a way to make a deal. David Kahn seems to be willing to trade to prove that he should be the GM and they will get up to either 2 or 3 and nab Rubio.

7. Golden St.- The Warriors seems to be, along with the Clippers, not looking to trade among the top 8, at least in terms of draft position. They traded Jamal Crawford to Atlanta today, which is always good because you can't win with Crawford. Seems like the obvious need is a point guard to replace Baron Davis, but if Monta Ellis plays the point, then the Warriors could look for the best available.

What they should do. I don't think they should trade up because they don't have many trade chips; instead look at Terrance Williams as a versatile player for Don Nelson to use. Either pick him at 7 or trade down and coax another pick out of someone who wants Curry, Evans, etc.

What they will do. If Curry's available, they will take him. If not, Evans and Jordan Hill are on their radar.

8. New York- The rebuilding process continues for the Knicks and they are in need of everything. Stephen Curry was initially thought to be a lock at number eight, until he started to move up the board. Now, there isn't a consensus for who they should take as Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holliday, Gerald Henderson and Jonny Flynn have been mentioned as possible picks.

What should they do. I've always been in the camp of trading up for Rubio or trading down for more picks, especially if it can net them a first rounder for next year to replace the one that Isiah traded in the Marbury trade. If a trade isn't in order, then they should pick Henderson, an NBA-ready guard unless one of the top 7 (Griffin, Rubio, Harden, Thabeet, Curry, Evans, Hill) drops to them. In that case, grab one of them.

What they will do. They will grab one of those seven if they drop; if no one does, then I think they will take Holliday, though it wouldn't help right away.

9. Toronto- With Shawn Marion and Anthony Parker as free agents, the Raptors could use a swingman to take their place. They also have to decide how to proceed with Chris Bosh's last year under contract. Do they have any chance to keep him? Should they trade him now and get something for him before free agency?

What they should do. Unless a top-7 guy drops, they should pick DeMar DeRozan as a replacement for Marion. It just makes sense.

What they will do. Pick DeRozan, unless a top-7 guy drops.

10. Milwaukee- The Bucks are looking at point guard and after trading Richard Jefferson for expiring deals, they are looking to finally fully rebuild, so they can go with potential here.

What they should do. Here's the perfect place to take Jrue Holliday and let him grow into Scott Skiles system. If he's gone, Brandon Jennings would also suffice.

What they will do. It seems like Jennings is going to be the pick, but it's either him or Holliday.

11. New Jersey- The Nets are looking for either another body up front or another shooting guard for the day that Vince Carter is traded. Gerald Henderson and Tyler Hansbrough have been looked, as well as Terrance Williams.

What they should do. Draft Williams for his versatility, plus watch the comedy unsue with him, Brook Lopez and Chairman Yi. He could replace Robin as Brook's equal on this team off-the-court.

What they will do. Draft Williams, though don't be surprised if they reach for Dejuan Blair.

12. Charlotte- The Bobcats were finally close to the playoffs last season and look to build on that for next season. One thing the Bobcats need is another scorer, someone to could have most of the touches in the end of games.

What they should do. They should grab Gerald Henderson in a rare time when drafting the local kid is the smart move.

What they will do. I would like to think they draft Henderson, but I have a feeling Jordan's going to fool around and take James Johnson or even Ty Lawson because of North Carolina roots.

13. Indiana- The Pacers have been looking at a point guard so they can trade T.J. Ford away. However, they also need a big man and Blair and Hansbrough are in the mix with Jennings, Lawson, Eric Maynor and Jeff Teague.

What they should do. I think Eric Maynor will be great and he would be the perfect floor general for this team. Him, with Granger and Dunleavy easily puts the Pacers in the playoffs in the East and is a nice core for future success.

What they will do. They will go safe and pick Lawson, though it would be my second choice for them, so it won't be all bad.

14. Phoenix- This team has been most intriguing because of all the trade rumors that have surrounded them. Off the heels of the Shaq trade to Cleveland, now the Suns must decide if Amare Stoudamire is next in order to get another pick in the lottery.

What they should do. Trade Amare, get another first rounder either this year or next year. As for this draft pick, Earl Clark seems to be the best fit for their team; another versatile player, especially if Stoudamire stays put.

What they will do. Draft Clark, and they don't trade Amare.

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