The 2009 NBA Draft featured something we haven’t seen since 1998: Three California teams picking in the top 10. That year was highlighted by the Sacramento Kings’ selection of Jason Williams, an unfortunate swap of Vince Carter of Antawn Jamison (which didn’t really turn out that bad) and a Clippers’ pick we’ll touch on in a minute. Once again this year, the San Diego Clippers chose first, the Kings picked fourth, and the Golden State Warriors held the 7th selection.
Los Angeles Clippers #1: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
From the producers of Michael Olowokandi, in came the consensus #1 pick. I’ve been a long-time skeptic of Blake Griffin. This past season, I was finally sold on Griffin being a solid all-around player. He’s been dubbed as the “can’t-miss” selection of the draft. What I’m not sold on is him becoming a great player. Most will agree he’ll be a “long-time NBA starter.” What that will translate to, I’m not sure. All we can go on is the facts. They are the Clippers. Elton Brand managed to lead the Clippers to one postseason berth in his time in LA. He set the bar pretty high. I’m not sure if Griffin can lead them to the postseason, but they do also have Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton. Problem is, the losing culture of the franchise will overshadow all, including Griffin’s performance.
Sacramento Kings #4: Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Local sentiment favored Ricky Rubio, for the simple fact that many around here saw him as the next coming of Jason Williams. J-Will didn’t single-handedly turn the franchise around – he had some help – but he was probably the most responsible for generating excitement and fan support. It seemed like a match made in heaven. Sac needed a point guard, and Rubio wanted to come here. The Kings, however, instead opted for Evans. I have to agree with the pick. I have stated for a while now that Evans probably has the most star potential in this year’s draft. How he’ll work out at PG I’m not sure, but he gives the Kings a much-needed scoring threat. While I definitely see them improving on their impressive 17 win total from a year ago, the possible outcomes are many. His production will constantly be compared with Rubio’s, as many will wonder what could’ve been.
Golden State Warriors #7: Stephen Curry, Davidson
I have wondered for a long time if Curry would be able to succeed at the elite level. I’m still not sure if he can. He impressed everywhere he worked out leading up to the draft, but many of those workouts are based largely around shooting displays – something we know Curry exceeds at. The Warriors’ front office proclaims that he is the perfect fit for their system. His game is so similar, yet different from Monta Ellis. He does give them a much needed shooter. Regardless of what happens, I love this pick for two reasons. He’s not Jordan Hill, who was probably the W’s backup choice. Second, I loved it simply for the reaction it got from Knicks’ fans. I loved seeing their player get snatched up right before their pick, and then watching them settle for Jordan Hill. Many thought Curry would be dealt, most likely to Phoenix. However, Don Nelson today stated on the record that Curry could “unpack his bags, even buy a house,” because he “ain’t going anyplace.” Problem is, Nellie’s word doesn’t carry much weight.
Los Angeles Lakers #59: Chinemelu Elonu, Texas A&M
Does it really even matter?