Griffin, Rubio lead NBA Mock Draft

Wednesday May 20th, 2009

The results of this lottery looked like 2007 all over again as the two worst teams, Sacramento and Washington, slipped to Nos. 4 and 5, respectively. Memphis and Boston experienced the same luck two years ago, though the Celtics channeled their bad turn into a championship by leveraging that No. 5 pick to trade for Ray Allen, which then persuaded Kevin Garnett to come to Boston.

This is shaping up as a draft weak in star talent, with Blake Griffin viewed as the player most likely (but not assured) to become an All-Star. But others could take bloom -- see James Harden and Tyreke Evans below -- if each lands with a team in need.

1PFBlake GriffinOklahomaSoph.6-10251
Griffin not only revitalizes the frontcourt but also turns the Elton Brand fiasco into a happy ending. The Clippers get a younger, healthier and cheaper replacement for the injured star who ditched them to sign with Philadelphia last summer.
2PGRicky RubioDKV Joventut (Spain)--6-4180
Forget the questions about his jump shot; the Spanish teen has the flair and court vision to be a star. With Rubio pushing tempo and creating shots for Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo, the woebegone Grizzlies could be a fun surprise next year.
3SGJames HardenArizona St.Soph.6-5218
Not so much a go-to scorer as he is a blend-in player, Harden will fit well with this developing team. Even if the Thunder eventually use cap space to acquire a star free agent at shooting guard, they'll still be glad to have Harden as an all-around sixth man.
4PGTyreke EvansMemphisFr.6-6219
Evans has the potential to become a special player, and Sacramento president Geoff Petrie has endured too much suffering to play it safe with this high pick. He'll gamble that Evans' size and feel for the game can turn him into an elite scoring point guard.
5PFJordan HillArizonaJr.6-10235
Like Boston in this spot two years ago, the Wizards are expected to trade this pick for a veteran to help Flip Saunders win now. On the small chance they keep it, Hill's interior presence would be a big help to a franchise that needs to change its soft image.
6CHasheem ThabeetConnecticutJr.7-3263
They need length up front and Thabeet is a shot-blocking center who will enable Al Jefferson to switch to power forward while giving them a terrific three-man rotation up front with Kevin Love. (Incidentally, they need Kevin McHale back as coach to teach Thabeet to be useful offensively.)
7PGStephen CurryDavidsonJr.6-3185
This has to be coach Don Nelson's guy: A fearless backcourt scorer who knows how to play. Nellie will have no problem playing the nation's leading scorer (28.4 points) alongside another 6-3 guard, Monta Ellis.
8SGDeMar DeRozanUSCFr.6-7220
Consider this an investment in DeRozan's athleticism and energy. He'll be able to score as a rookie in Mike D'Antoni's offense, and if he can extend his range to the three-point line (16.7 percent last season), the Knicks could have a steal with this pick.
9PGBrandon JenningsLottomatica Roma (Italy)--6-2165
The Raptors are desperate for a backup, tempo-changing point guard in support of Jose Calderon. Even if the 19-year-old Jennings never becomes anything more than that, he'll be a solid pick here for Toronto.
10PGJrue HolidayUCLAFr.6-3180
Is it a reach to pick Holiday this high? Someone in the upper half of the draft is going to gamble on Holiday's unexplored point-guard potential, and the Bucks need someone to either supplement or help replace free agent Ramon Sessions.

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