June 24, 2009

You know what I love about the NBA draft? On draft night, it's socially acceptable for people to go on television and make a series of predictions that won't come true. Normally, you only see that kind of behavior on cable news networks. That's why the NBA draft is truly the ultimate crapshoot (besides actually playing craps). Fortunately, throughout the last week I tapped into some unconventional sources (EA Sports' March Madness '09 player ratings, Yahoo! Answers, etc.) to put together these rock-solid projections.

1. Los Angeles Clippers -- Blake Griffin: Griffin's eagerness to change the Clippers' losing attitude comes back to bite him when he makes an innocent comment about the Clippers becoming L.A.'s featured franchise. The first time they play the Lakers, Kobe scores 50 points in the first half and sits the rest of the game. Griffin gets his welcome-to-the-NBA moment and learns a valuable lesson about Kobe's overreactions to perceived slights.

2. Memphis Grizzlies -- Hasheem Thabeet: Thabeet and Marc Gasol form a dynamic tandem in the paint, but when both big men grow bored of playing for the Grizzlies, they decide to retire and focus on a new reality show about their offbeat hijinks. The show's popularity leads Thabeet to be chosen for Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars, in which a heartbreaking second-place finish rekindles his competitive fire. He returns to the NBA and leads the Grizzlies to their first playoff victory.

3. Oklahoma City -- James Harden: General manager Sam Presti is always trying to acquire more young playmates for Kevin Durant, which is why he immediately trades Harden for four future first-round picks. He then swaps those for six picks in the 2012 draft, trades those for nine 2013 first-round picks and exchange those for 11 first-round picks in 2014. When Presti's wheeling and dealing finally ends, he holds 22 first-round picks in the 2017 draft. He'll need them, too, because the following month Durant leaves as a free agent.

4. Sacramento -- Ricky Rubio: Unfortunately, Rubio will refuse to sign, causing a large backlash from American fans desperate to see him play. The fans spread their anti-Spaniard sentiment on the Internet and soon there's a deep strain in U.S.-Spain relations. President Obama has to be pulled away from an important meeting about Iran so he can travel to Madrid and give a speech seeking a new beginning in U.S.-Spain relations.

5. Minnesota -- Tyreke Evans: Evans' stellar rookie season will be interrupted when it's revealed that not only are his SAT results dubious, but he was never even enrolled at Memphis. When reached for comment, John Calipari says, "I don't know what you're talking about. I've been coaching Kentucky for the last 10 years."

6. Minnesota -- Stephen Curry: Hoping to join the list of successful guards who were drafted by the Wolves and immediately traded (Ray Allen, Brandon Roy, O.J. Mayo), Curry becomes the first player to ever demand a trade while still shaking David Stern's hand.

7.Golden State -- Jonny Flynn: Even Flynn's heavy workload at Syracuse can't prepare him for the strain of firing NBA three-pointers at Don Nelson's breakneck pace. Each of Flynn's first four NBA seasons will be cut short by Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

8. New York -- Jordan Hill: Hill's promising rookie season ends in bitter failure when the special dunk he and Nate Robinson spend all season working on fails to win the dunk contest. Hill is blamed for losing the only prize the Knicks could ever win and two weeks later GM Donnie Walsh is forced to cut him.

9. Toronto -- DeMar DeRozan: DeRozan plays so well that when his contract is up the Raptors frame him for spying on the U.S. government. With a warrant out for his arrest if he steps on American soil, DeRozan is forced to re-sign with Toronto. He can't play any road games, but the move is still worth it.

10. Milwaukee -- Brandon Jennings: Jennings shocks the world when he turns down a contract with the Bucks in order to accept a more lucrative offer -- playing wide receiver for USC.

11. New Jersey -- Earl Clark: Delusional Cavs fans mistake the Nets' selection of an athletic, 6-foot-9 forward with ball-handling skills as evidence the team won't try to sign LeBron James. When James eventually decides to re-sign with Cleveland, delusional Nets fans convince themselves they'll be just as good with Clark.

12. Charlotte -- Gerald Henderson: Once Henderson makes the standard Duke-to-NBA adjustments (realizing real charges are hard to draw, learning hand-checking is a foul, etc.), people will begin to compare him to Michael Jordan for his strength and athletic ability. Then when Henderson's team finishes last in the Bobcats' fantasy basketball league, they'll begin to compare him to Jordan for his general manager skills.

13. Indiana -- DeJuan Blair: Blair will have some tough rookie moments -- he'll become the first Pacers player to ever foul out of a practice -- but in the end he'll be a solid contributor. And his 1,000-watt smile will be such a hit that the NBA will change its slogan from "The NBA Cares" to "NBA Player DeJuan Blair Cares."

14.Phoenix -- Jrue Holiday: Holiday will use his speed to run an offense so fast Shaq has no chance of keeping up. A frustrated Shaq eventually retires and the team names Holiday its MVP for his ability to clear cap space.

Questions? Comments? Hate Mail? Eric.Horow@Gmail.com

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