2009 NBA Draft

                                                      By Bob Radl, Staff Writer

 The next generation of future NBA stars was drafted last Thursday night in New York. This draft was viewed as one of the weaker drafts in recent years. The draft was long on point guards and short on quality big men. Ten of the first twenty-one players drafted were point guards. In fact, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted three point guards with picks Nos. 5 and 6 and at 18. The 2009 draft also saw the sons of three former NBA players being drafted. The NBA draft means more to teams than its counterparts in other pro sports with only two rounds. Players selected in this years draft will need time to show their skills. This draft will need to be evaluated three to four years down the road due to see how much the players have developed and improved. International players from countries such as Australia, The Congo, Spain, Sweden and Tanzania were drafted this year as the NBA continues to expand its borders in search of talent.

1. Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers, Griffin was the unanimous #1 pick in this years draft. He possesses a unique combination of strength, athleticism and a strong work ethic. He is very strong for his age and a great rebounder. Griffin runs the floor well for a big man and is also a decent passer. He has nice post skills and has improved his shooting touch while in college. Griffin has nice post skills and is considered to be a can’t-miss prospect. Most scouts agree that he should eventually be a 20-point, 10-rebound player in the NBA. Looks like Clippers finally hit a home run with their draft  #1 pick !

2. Hasheem Thabeet, Center, Memphis, Thabeet has incredible timing and athleticism for a man who is 7’ 3”. He is also mobile and possesses great lateral quickness for a big man. There is not doubt that he will be a force on the boards and a great shot blocker at the pro-level. His offensive game is considered to be very raw at this stage. He has a tendency to turn the ball over too often. Still, his upside is considered to be very high. Thabeet is the first player born in Tanzania to be selected in the NBA draft.

3. James Harden, SG, Oklahoma City, Harden came out after his sophomore year of college. He was considered to be one of the more NBA ready players in his class. Harden should be a consistent scoring threat and also has nice vision and playmaking ability. He is considered to be a team player and has improved the range on his jump shot while in college. Harden will need to improve his mid-range game at the next level and reduce his turnovers.

4. Tyreke Evans, SG, Sacramento, At 6’5” and about 220 pounds, Evans has ideal size for guard play in the NBA. Evans is a smooth player with an incredible wingspan. He also has a strong mature body. Evan can break his opponents down off of the dribble and has good vision and passing skills. He will need to improve the mechanics of his shot and put more intensity into his defensive play in the NBA.

5. Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota, Rubio is considered to be one of the purest point guards to come along in a long time and the best passer in this year’s draft. He has magical ability with the ball and is very creative in running the offense. He has good size at 6’5” for a point guard. Rubio has quick hands and long arms which allow him to get his share of steals on defense. At age 17, he was the youngest player to ever play in the Olympic finals in basketball. Rubio will need to improve his perimeter shooting and may stay overseas if he does not play for the right team.

6. Jonny Flynn, PG, Minnesota, Flynn was the second PG taken by the Timberwolves this past week. He is a tremendous athlete, has great character, and was one of the quickest point guards in college hoops. Possessing a 40 inch vertical leap, Flynn has great body control and good strength for his size. Despite his athletic ability, his size could be an issue in the NBA. Flynn will need to add range to his shot and reduce his rate of turnovers in at the pro-level.

7. Stephen Curry, SG, Golden State, Curry was considered to be by far the best pure shooter in this year’s draft. He has quick release and great range that is NBA ready. Curry can put the ball on the floor and get his shot off from just about anywhere on the court. He moves well with the ball and has quick feet. Curry understands the game and is a good passer. His explosive and athleticism are considered to be sub-par for the NBA. His lack of size may also be an issue in the NBA.

8. Jordan Hill, PF, New York Knicks, Hill was one of the most improved college players this past season. He has ideal size and length to play PF at the pro-level. Hill is a very good athlete, can run the floor well for his size and can also pop and hit from 15 to 17 feet. He is a great athlete and takes the ball to the rim very aggressively. Hill will need to work on his offensive game and passing out of the post at the next level.

9. DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto, DeRozan has the right combination of height and size to play the wing in the NBA at about 6’7” and 210 pounds. He is an incredible leaper and a strong finisher around the rim. DeRozan shots the ball well from within 20 feet and has good lateral quickness. He needs to improve his range and shooting consistency. He may need a few years to develop.

10. Brandon Jennings, PG, Milwaukee, Jennings is a quick and explosive player who plays with confidence that is required to play the pint in the pros. He has good speed in the open court and change direction easily without losing speed. Jennings is quick and creative with the ball in his hands. Jennings has quick hands, possesses good lateral foot speed and enjoys applying pressure to the defenders. He will need to improve his shooting and work on his leadership skills at the next level.

11. Terrence Williams, G/F, New Jersey, Williams was the first senior to be selected in this year’s draft. He is a superior athlete with a good build and a nice feel for the game. Williams is a very versatile player who can easily defend three positions at the NBA level. He also has good vision and ability to pass for a guy who plays out on the wing. He will need to work on his perimeter game and improve his shooting.

12. Gerald Henderson, SG, Charlotte, Henderson is a super athletic player, who excels in the open court and also has a 6” 10” wingspan.  He was considered to be one of the more explosive wing players in this year’s draft. Henderson improved his shooting a great deal in college and nice a nice first step to get by the defender. He is a bit undersized for a SG and is also not a pure shooter. As a wing player, his ball handling skills will need to improve.

13. Tyler Hansbrough, Forward, Indiana, Hansbrough was a very consistent and productive player for entire collegiate career at North Carolina. He plays hard, is a great competitor and good rebounder. He is a good free throw shooter and can hit the jumper out to about 15 to 16 feet. He lacks the ideal size to play PF at the NBA level. Hansbrough does not finish above the rim and will struggle against taller more athletic power forwards in the pros.

14. Earl Clark, Forward, Phoenix, Clark is a nice combo forward with a nice combination of size, strength and speed. He is very athletic and explosive and also has a quick first step. Clark has good instincts, can post up his defender and has all the tools needed to succeed. Clark will need to be more assertive in the pros while working on a more complete offensive game.

15. Austin Daye, Forward, Detroit, Daye is a very versatile forward with great height and length at 6’ 10”. He is a good shooter and can attack off of the dribble on the wing. His jump is very difficult to block due to his long arms and a slight fade on the jump shot. Daye will need to get bigger and stronger to succeed in the pros. He weighs only about 190 pounds so he will need to add at least 15 or 20 pounds of muscle.

16. James Johnson, Forward, Chicago, Johnson has a nice physical package of size, strength and athleticism. He has good skills and his long arms give shim great length to defend opposing players. Johnson will need to improve his shot selection and show better consistency on offense.

17. Jrue Holiday, Guard, Philadelphia, Holiday was the 2008 Gatorade High School player of the year and is a long and wiry guard. He can attack and finish with either hand. Holiday has good court vision and his good speed in the open court. He will need time to develop his point guard skills and also his shooting range.

18. Ty Lawson, Guard, Denver, Lawson, who was the third point guard drafted by the Timberwolves, was eventually traded to the Nuggets. He has incredible speed and pushed the ball up the court in transition. Lawson is also quite strong for his size and has solid lateral quickness. His shooting mechanics need work and his lack of size will make a potential defensive liability.

19. Jeff Teague, Guard, Atlanta, Teague is a quick and explosive guard who is a natural scorer. He has great open court speed and loves to push the ball in transition. Teague has great hands and should be a decent pro-defender. He will need to improve his shooting stroke and his shot selection.

20. Eric Maynor, Guard, Utah, Maynor has a great feel for the game and nice size for a point guard. He has good basketball IQ and solid court vision wit the ability to find the open man. Maynor is considered to be a high character player with the experience of four years of college ball under his belt. He will need to improve his shot selection and also has questionable foot speed.

21. Darren Collison, Guard, New Orleans, Collison was one of the quickest point guards in college and has a high basketball I.Q. He is a true leader and can easily get ball defenders when penetrating the paint. Collison has long arms for his height, which allow him to play bigger then his size. He will need to hit the weight room and great stronger and also needs to improve his shooting consistency.

22. Victor Claver, Forward. Portland, Claver is considered to be a top prospect to be good small forward in a few years. He has a nice frame at 6’ 91/2” and a long wingspan while being able to run the floor with decent speed and agility. He has decent passing skills and good court vision. Claver may be caught between the two forward positions. He does not have the power and strength to play in the low post and lacks the agility to play out in space on defense.

23. Omri Casspi, Forward, Sacramento, Casspi is an athletic slasher who will beat opponents off of the dribble. He has worked on his shooting ability and can hit the jumper out to about 16 or 17 feet with some degree of reliability. His lateral quickness is solid so he can defend a SF out on the wing. Casspi will need to get stronger and work on his shooting mechanics. Some scouts have also questioned his willingness to be a team-player.

24. B. J. Mullens, Center, Oklahoma City, Mullens is a talented big man who possesses NBA size to succeed at the next level. Possessing terrific hands, Mullens is very explosive off of the floor. He runs the floor well for his size and has decent quickness. Mullens has raw offensive skills and will need to get much stronger to play in the post in the NBA. He probably would have benefited from another year or two of college ball.

25. Rodrigue Beaubois, Guard, Dallas, Born in Guadeloupe, Beaubois is an incredibly quick and fearless point guard. His huge wingspan of about 6’ 10”, gives him a nice advantage on both ends of the court for a guard at just over 6 foot. He could be a lock down defender. Beaubois will need to refine his offensive skills and gain more experience. His shooting consistency must improve.

26. Taj Gibson, Forward, Chicago, Gibson is an efficient player and somewhat underrated as an athlete. At, 6’ 10”, he has a nice soft touch around the rim and has a huge wingspan at 7’ 4”. Gibson also runs the floor well for his size. Gibson is frail for his height so many scouts wonder how ell he can play in the post in the NBA. He will need to add muscle and strength for sure.

27. DeMarre Carroll, Forward, Memphis, Carroll is a very active player who plays with a great deal of energy at each end of the floor. He runs the floor well for his size and can finish on a fast break. Carroll has the length and lateral quickness needed to be a good one on one defender in the NBA. He will need to improve his offensive game while adding mass and muscle to his frame.

28. Wayne Ellington, Guard, Minnesota, Ellington is considered to be one of the better shooters in the year’s draft. He has a compact form, shoots with great balance, and has a nice soft touch. Ellington can stop on a dime and pull up to hit his shot. Ellington is considered to be weak and has a light frame by NBA standards. He will also need to work on his defense and his intensity.

29. Toney Douglas, Guard, New York, Toney is projected to be a combo guard at the next level. He can play at a high pace without making too many mistakes. Douglas has a nice shooting touch with good balance and a low center of gravity. Because of his size, Douglas may struggle against quicker point guards and the bigger athletic wing players.

30. Christian Eyenga, Guard/Forward, Cleveland, Eyenga was a surprise choice by the Cavaliers. He played in Europe but at what was considered to be a junior varsity level of competition. Eyenga is an athletic and long player with great all-around physical ability. He lacks the fundamental skills for the NBA and is very raw offensively.

Notable players selected in the second round of the draft include the following:

35. DaJuan Summers, Forward, Detroit, Summers is an athletic wing player whose size and physique make him a promising talent. He has wide shoulders and good leaping ability to grab rebounds. Summer can score, pass and is considered to be an unselfish player. He needs to reduce his turnovers and become more of a leader.

36. Sam Young, Guard/Forward, Memphis, Young is a great athlete and has a strong body for NBA play. His shooting has improved during the course of his college career. Young should also be a slid NBA defender with a nice combination of size, length and athletic ability. Young does not have fluid movements for a wing player and must also improve his ball handling at the next level.

37. DeJuan Blair, Forward, San Antonio, Most NBA scribes had Blair being drafted in the mid to late first round. He is a powerful post payer and a very strong rebounder. Young is a good passer for his size, has a strong court sense with excellent vision and is a great offensive rebounder. The lingering question with Blair will center on his ability to get in better shape. He lacks mobility for an up tempo game at his weight. Blair is also seen as a bit undersized to play power forward in the pros at about 6’ 6”.

40. Derrick Brown, Forward, Charlotte, Brown is a seen as a very explosive player who is a great leaper at 6’ 8”. He has a nice release on his jump shot and has improved his accuracy in college. Brown can finish around the rim due to his long arms. He will need to show more determination at the next level and also work on his defensive game.

44. Chase Buddinger, SG/SF, Houston, Buddinger is a versatile and athletic wing player with some decent upside. At 6’7”, his size can present a match up problem for defenders. He has great leaping ability and runs the floor well in transition. He will need to work on his mid-range game and also improve his lateral quickness on the defensive end.

55. Patrick Mills, PG, Portland, Mills, who played for Australia in the 2008 Olympics, is a very quick guard with good ball handling skills. He is a fundamentally sound and skilled player who looks to shoot first and pass second. Mills has long arms that help him get steals. His relative lack of size at 6”0” and only about 175 pounds will allow teams to post him up. He will also need to improve his shot selection and his decision making in the pros.