NBA Draft review
The 2009 NBA Draft was Thursday night and as expected the Los Angeles Clippers made Blake Griffin the No. 1 pick. There were a few surprised, but generally most of the well-known players were selected in the general range they were predicted to go.
InsideHoops.com will post our draft views late Friday night and all day Saturday, but for now, here are the teams ESPN's Chad Ford feels did the best in this year's annual event. The following are quotes of what Ford reported:
TEAMS THAT ESPN'S CHAD FORD GAVE AN 'A' TO
The following are all quotes of Ford's report
Houston Rockets (Jermaine Taylor (32, obtained from Wizards), Sergio Llull (34, obtained from Thunder), Chase Budinger (44, obtained from Pistons): The Rockets spent millions buying up picks, but I like their haul. Taylor is a great athlete and scorer, Llull has shown a lot of promise in Europe and Budinger was a steal this low in the draft. All three second-round picks might end up sticking, which would be a rarity.
Los Angeles Clippers (Blake Griffin (1): There is no "A" in Clippers. The franchise has been sometimes snakebitten and almost always inept. But for the Clippers' faithful looking for a glimmer of hope, Griffin is your man. Can he single-handedly wipe out the negative vibes in Clipperland? No. But with Griffin, Eric Gordon and Al Thornton, the Clippers are quietly building a young nucleus that could be special someday.
Memphis Grizzlies Hasheem Thabeet (2), DeMarre Carroll (27), Sam Young (36): I am not a huge fan of Thabeet but understand why the Grizzlies went that way. Ricky Rubio wasn't cooperating, and Thabeet can help the Grizzlies, who needed a big, athletic shot-blocker. He is limited offensively, but he can change the game on defense. Later in the draft is where the Grizzlies really shone. I loved the Carroll and Young picks. They give the Grizzlies toughness and two players who can come in and contribute immediately. I've been pretty harsh about some of the Grizzlies' shortcomings in the past, but for the second year in a row, I think they've drafted really well.
Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden (3), B.J. Mullens (24, obtained from Dallas), Robert Vaden (54, obtained from Thunder via Spurs): While I thought the Thunder might be able to use Ricky Rubio as a trade asset, if nothing else, it's hard to fault Sam Presti. Harden is a better fit in the backcourt with Russell Westbrook, and I think the Thunder got a terrific value pick in Mullens. On talent and upside, he was one of the most intriguing players in the draft. If coach Scott Brooks can get effort from him, the Thunder will have intriguing young talent at every position on the floor.
Philadelphia 76ers Jrue Holiday (17): I really like what the 76ers did, taking an opportunity to nab a lottery talent who was falling because of injury concerns. Holiday is in a long line of players who slipped when team doctors got nervous, with Danny Granger as a prime example. The Sixers could have gone with a more proven guard like Ty Lawson or Eric Maynor, but Holiday has more upside and could turn into a terrific pick for them.
Phoenix Suns Earl Clark (14), Taylor Griffin (48): Judge the Suns on whom they grabbed at No. 14, and you have to be impressed. Clark was a top-five talent in this draft. He can play multiple positions, and if he gets motivated, he can be a dominant player who should be a terrific fit in the Suns' up-tempo system. Griffin is about grit and athleticism, but he has the talent to stick in the league as a 10th man. And if you factor in a possible acquisition of Stephen Curry, it gets even better for Phoenix.
San Antonio Spurs DeJuan Blair (37, obtained via Warriors and Suns), Jack McClinton (51, via Hornets and Raptors), Nando De Colo (53, via Rockets): The Spurs always seem to find a way to make a little into a lot. With no first-round picks, they still were able to come away with some terrific players. Blair, if his knees stay sturdy, is the steal of the draft. McClinton is a clone of Eddie House. And De Colo really impressed me with his point guard skills at the Eurocamp. I think Blair can come in and help immediately on the boards, and McClinton can be a nice scorer coming off the bench. Factor in the addition of Richard Jefferson on Tuesday, and the Spurs have had one heck of a week.
Utah Jazz Eric Maynor (20), Goran Suton (50): Fans never like their teams drafting bench players, but Utah GM Kevin O'Connor didn't try to make a crowd-pleasing choice. The Jazz really needed to find a competent backup for Deron Williams, and in my opinion, they walked away with the most underrated player in the draft. Maynor is a pure point guard who sees the floor well, makes players around him better, isn't afraid to take over a game late and rarely makes mistakes. On top of that, he's a great kid and a hard worker who should fit perfectly in Utah. Suton has talent, but he'll probably be honing that talent in Europe next year.
Washington Wizards (no players): Washington had the No. 5 pick in the draft but traded it, along with Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov, to the Wolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. The Wizards understood they were unlikely to get a player at No. 5 who could crack their rotation, and they wanted to be serious contenders right away in the East. I think the addition of Foye and Miller puts them there. The Wolves were willing to pay significantly more than any other team, giving up two solid starters. I don't think the Wizards could have done any better in getting value for the No. 5 pick.
DRAFT WINNERS ACCORDING TO ART GARCIA OF NBA.COM
The following are all quotes of Garcia's report
Clippers: Gotta start with the Los Angeles team that didn't win the title. Sure, giving them kudos for the obvious choice of Blake Griffin seems like an easy way out, but considering the luck of this franchise in lotteries past, getting a building-block power forward is more than solid.
Sacramento: The Kings picked up 6-foot-5 point guard Tyreke Evans (No. 4) to pair with Kevin Martin in the backcourt and Israeli small forward Omar Casspi (23). The 21-year-old Casspi was thought to be a second-round talent not long ago, but he moved up a number of boards in recent weeks.
Tyler Hansbrough: Thought to be going in the late teens or the 20s, the North Carolina senior went 13th to Indiana. The hard-working power forward likely won't be a star, but he knows how to play the game and figures to be a contributor as a rookie. Stay in school, kids.
New York: The Knicks didn't get Stephen Curry, but they were high on Jordan Hill. The 6-foot-10 power forward from Arizona loves to run the floor, which make him a natural for Mike D'Antoni. What does that mean for David Lee?