(In Part 1, I discussed the players I like, dislike and strongly dislike in the 2009 NBA Draft. In Part 2, I will discuss the top 5 players I would like to see the Warriors pick and why.)
Before we get to the top 5, let me further explain my philosophy on the NBA Draft. Every lottery team needs to ask themselves the following question before they make their selection – “Can I see this player turning into an IT player?” If the answer is “No” then you should not pick him. I hate the concept of picking based on need and not on potential stardom. Some of the best players of all-time (Kobe, Garnett, Michael) have been passed on because a team “needed” a point guard or a center. Until David Stern or one of his underlings is not running the NBA, there is no reason to select anyone who doesn’t have a high ceiling with a lottery pick. With that being said, let’s take a look at what should be the top 5 players on the Warriors draft board.
5. James Harden
How talent poor is the 2009 NBA Draft? I have James Harden in my Warriors top 5. I said in part 1, I think Harden is destined for the middle level exception. However, he does have a little Paul Pierce in him. He can score from anywhere and only needs a little bit of space to get his shot off. The biggest question is not his talent but his drive to be great. In college, he played with the motivation of a stoned-sloth and allowed his immense amount of talent to separate him from other players. The reality is that some guys are motivated by money and turn into completely different players once their pay check is tied to how many points they score. While I don’t believe this to be the case with Harden, he does have a higher ceiling than anyone else besides our top four.
Why he works for the Warriors: Put it this way, he doesn’t fit in their immediate plans but if he starts to exhibit the potential many have pinned on him, the Warriors won’t need Azubuike.
(Did I mention this is a bad Draft)
4. Earl Clark
Either Earl Clark or Terrence Williams will be seen as a steal 5 years from now. I am leaning towards Clark because of his size and unique talent. When the biggest question about a guy is his off the court problems, he is my guy. Similar to DeMar DeRozan, he has a sky is the limit ceiling. He can handle the ball, rebound and has a 7’2” wing span. Clark is the definition of a high risk, high reward player.
Why he works for the Warriors: The two things the Warriors have going for them when it comes to dealing with young trouble makers is Nellie and Capt. Jack. Nellie’s tough love seemed to motivate Randolph to work harder and I know it made him a better player. If you are going to give Jackson a ridiculous extension, you might as well let him use his mentoring skills on a player like Clark.
3. Tyreke Evans
This guy is not a freakish athlete but he does possess all the skills that could make him a great player in the Association. He can handle the ball, shoot over point guards and finish around the basketball. I would consider him a more motivated James Harden that can handle the ball. If he can deal with the rigors of playing point guard in the NBA, he will create all kinds of match-up problems for opposing teams that do not have big point guards because of his size and strength.
Why he works for the Warriors: He is strong enough to guard an NBA shooting guard which should mitigate one of the Warriors biggest problems which is Monta Ellis on the defensive end.
2. DeMar DeRozan
There has been a lot of talk about how DeRozan did not put up the numbers that was expected of him when he was at USC. While some attribute his low production to a lack of talent, I have a different take. He played on a very dysfunctional USC team that was full off selfish players that played with OJ Mayo jealousy the entire season. The last thing Daniel Hackett and Taj Gibson were going to do was watch another freshman hurt their chances of playing in the NBA. As a result, the team had no flow and a coach that did a lot more recruiting than coaching.
DeRozan is the type of freakish athlete that excels at the NBA level and there is every reason to believe he could blossom into a great player. There is no denying the huge risk that he represents because of his lack of production at USC but his upside is enormous. You can teach people how to be great athletes but you can teach them how to shot. DeRozan is the definition of the type of risk NBA GMs should take when picking #7 in the draft. When you ask the question - “Can I see this player turning into an IT player?” The answer is YES!
Why he works for the Warriors: The Warriors have not had an IT player that cannot only score but defend his position since … Tim Hardaway?
1. Ricky Rubio
Simply put, he has the most upside in this draft. There isn’t one player (including Griffin) that could be a regular All-Star more than Rubio. He has been playing pro basketball for years and playing it well. If he comes anywhere close to living up to expectations as a passer, he will improve everyone around him and, almost more importantly, sell a lot of tickets. Until hand checking is allowed back in the NBA, Rubio is the top pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
Why he works for the Warriors: He works in everyway possible. He is a pure point guard that can create open looks for their solid wing players. He is not a great on ball defender which is also not a huge problem for the Warriors if they start playing Biedrins and Turiaf together down low. There is no reason the Warriors should not trade up to get him.
(The Clippers should trade Griffin for Rubio and another player. Of course, this trade makes too much sense for the lowly Clippers)
Random Draft Thoughts
* Every scout agrees that Griffin and Thabeet are offensively challenged. If they go 1 and 2 in the draft, isn’t this like saying the top two picks in the MLB draft can’t hit a fastball?
* How good of a couch is Roy Williams? He has won two National Championships with basically low first round talent.
* If the Warriors take Jordan Hill, I may turn my allegiance to a NBDL team.
* Is Kevin Love really that much better than Tyler Hansbrough?
* Rubio will regret the day he said he was willing to play in Sacramento over OKC.
* Did I mention that taking Jordan Hill would be a huge mistake?