2009 Western Conference Draft Review

» June 29, 2009 10:30 AM | By xphoenix87

I did this for the Eastern Conference yesterday. If you missed that piece then 1) go check it out…now 2) these are my rules for how I review teams:

- I don’t give team grades. I give thumbs up or thumbs down. If I really, really liked a team’s draft, I’ll give them two thumbs up, and if I really hated it, I’ll give them two thumbs down. I have to have a really strong opinion of a team’s draft to do that though. For the most part, I either have a positive or negative opinion. I don’t think in terms of grades. If I’m undecided, I’ll give a team an “On the Fence.”

- I’m concerned with who received good value for their picks. For instance, obviously the Thunder had a better draft than the 76ers, they picked 3rd and Philly picked 17th. However, if OKC didn’t pick the right guy and Philadelphia got good value for their pick, I’ll like Philly’s draft more, despite the fact that the player they got might be less talented. Make sense? Good, On to the teams!

Dallas Mavericks – On The Fence

Picks: Rodrigue Beaubois (25), Nick Calathes (45), Ahmad Nivins (56)

- Beaubois in the first round really is a major stretch. He’s an incredible athlete for the point guard position, but the problem is that he doesn’t know how to play point guard. You can sometimes get away with being a raw athlete if you’re a post player, but a point guard? Not so much. I doubt they’ll get much out of him. Calathes, on the other hand, could end up being a great pick. They don’t have to pay him this year, as he’ll go over and play in Greece, and he’s really got a lot of talent. He has great size for the either guard position, and his handle and decision-making are certainly good enough to play point. He’s an excellent shooter who also finishes well around the rim, despite his relative lack of strength and athleticism. At that point in the draft, getting a talent like Calathes, especially since he’ll be going overseas for at least a year, is really a steal. I also like the Nivins pick at 56. He didn’t play against super high-caliber opponents, but he actually posted stronger numbers than most other power forwards in the NCAA, and he’s not a bad athlete. He’ll have a pretty good shot at making the roster, and that’s about all you can ask from a late second-rounder.

Denver Nuggets – Thumbs Up

Picks: Ty Lawson (18)

- The Nuggets traded a future first-rounder to net Lawson, and I think it’s a good move for them. Lawson was underrated coming into the draft, and he should fit in perfectly in Denver with their running style. He’s one of the more NBA-ready PGs in the draft, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got some decent playing time this year backing up Chauncey Billups.

Golden State Warriors – Thumbs Up

Picks: Stephen Curry (7)

-Do I think Curry is the best fit with Monta Ellis? No, they probably won’t play any defense (though that’s not much of a problem in Golden State). However, I definitely think Curry was by far the best prospect on the board, and they would’ve been crazy to pass on him. Knowing the frenetic pace Golden State plays at, and Nelly’s love of shooters, Curry might just average 20 points a game next year. Curry was my third-favorite prospect in the draft, so getting him at 7 is definitely a steal.

Houston Rockets – Thumbs Up

Picks: Jermaine Taylor (32), Sergio Llull (34), Chase Budinger (44)

-For a team that started with no picks, Houston certainly made their presence felt. They bought 3 picks, and got some pretty decent prospects in return for their money. Taylor is a prolific scoring guard with good athleticism and size. He’s certainly no sure thing, but he has a chance to make an impact as a scorer off the bench. Llull is a point guard prospect who they can store overseas for a while. The real prize, though, is Budinger. This is a guy who was a lottery prospect two years ago, and his game hasn’t fallen off at all, despite the coaching turmoil at Arizona. He suffers because he never became the superstar everybody wanted, but he’s a tremendous athlete and shooter who can definitely contribute as a role player on an NBA team, and with some real coaching might blossom into something even better than that. At 44, he’s a steal.

Los Angeles Clippers – Thumbs Up

Picks: Blake Griffin (1)

-They didn’t blow it. That’s about all you can say. Now if they can just avoid screwing Griffin up with their typical Clipper ineptitude.

Los Angeles Lakers – On The Fence

Picks: Chinemelu Elonu (59)

- Um, does anyone other than the Elonu family care about this one? Didn’t think so, moving on.

Memphis Grizzlies – Thumbs Down

Picks: Hasheem Thabeet (2), DeMarre Carroll (27), Sam Young (36)

-I’m not a big Thabeet fan, but that’s not really why I hate Memphis’s draft. Anything other than trading that 2nd pick was the wrong move. Ricky Rubio had a ton of value to a lot of teams, and they could’ve moved down, picked up an asset, and still gotten a prospect just as good as Thabeet (like Curry or James Harden). To not use that pick to get another asset, shed bad salaries, or bring in a quality young player was a mistake. I’m also not a fan of Carroll. He’s one of those undersized hustle guys who doesn’t really have great skills. Why wouldn’t you go with DeJuan Blair there? Young is a decent pick that late in the draft, but he’s not going to be a big difference maker.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Thumbs Down

Picks: Ricky Rubio (5), Jonny Flynn (6), Wayne Ellington (28), Henk Norel (47)

-The draft is all about doing the best with what you’ve got. The Wolves were incredibly fortunate to have Rubio drop right into their laps, and then they decided to botch that up by drafting another point guard right behind him, despite the fact that Rubio is an amazing point guard prospect and they have a huge, gpaing hole at the shooting guard position. They could have drafted Curry, either to trade or to play alongside Rubio. They could have taken DeMar DeRozan, they could’ve done any number of things that did not involve pissing off the franchise point guard that they just drafted. Now there’s a chance that Rubio won’t even play for them next season. Ugh. The Flynn pick really screwed up what was otherwise a pretty good draft. They acquired a future first-rounder for the 18th pick, and they landed a quality shooting guard prospect in Wayne Ellington. It doesn’t matter what they do with the rest of the draft though, if they botch the Rubio situation, then they’ve failed.

New Orleans Hornets – Thumbs Down

Picks: Darren Collison (21), Marcus Thornton (43)

- I actually like Darren Collison. I think he’s probably going to be a good backup point guard some day. The problem is that New Orleans doesn’t really need a backup point guard. Chris Paul is a superstar in his prime, his backup is going to play like 5-10 minutes a game. On the other hand, they’re desperately in need of depth up front, and DeJuan Blair was still on the board.

Oklahoma City Thunder – On The Fence

Picks: James Harden (3), B.J. Mullens (24), Robert Vaden (54)

- The only reason I have a problem their draft is because they passed on Rubio. I don’t care if Russell Westbrook would be upset (lets be clear on this, Russell Westbrook is NOT a point guard). You have an amazing young core of athletes, and you’re going to bet on Westbrook developing point guard skills instead of drafting the prodigy point guard whose passing evokes comparisons to Maravich and Magic? I can’t be too mad though, because I think Harden fits really well there, and adds another nice piece to their core. Mullens is also a good pick at 24. He’s a longshot, but this is a guy who would’ve been a top 5 pick out of high school and has outrageous physical tools. In a draft that really only had 2 legit center prospects, the Thunder needed a center and got one of them. He may be a flop, but in a draft this weak, a talent like Mullens is certainly worth the risk.

Phoenix Suns – Thumbs Up

Picks: Earl Clark (14), Taylor Griffin (48)

- As I said before the draft, if I’m taking a chance on a long-shot in this draft, I’m taking it on Clark. He’s a versatile, athletic big man who can guard multiple positions. If he accepts a Lamar Odom-type role and gives consistent effort, he can make a real impact. With the Suns starting their rebuilding process, Clark is a good risk to take. Griffin probably won’t even make the team, but that late in the draft it hardly matters.

Portland Trailblazers – On The Fence

Picks: Victor Claver (22), Jeff Pendergraph (31), Dante Cunningham (33), Patrick Mills (55)

- Again, I’m going to play the “why on earth didn’t you take DeJuan Blair?” card. Claver isn’t a terrible pick since they don’t have much room on their roster, and they can store him overseas for a while. Pendergraph and Cunningham though, with Blair still on the board? Ridiculous. I do like that Patty Mills pick that late in the draft though. He’s undersized, but he’s got fantastic speed and played extremely well against the US in the Olympics.

Sacramento Kings – Two Thumbs Down

Picks: Tyreke Evans (4), Omri Casspi (23), Jon Brockman (38)

-You’re the Sacramento Kings. You’ve got one legitimate building block player locked up at reasonable price. That player is a shooting guard who thrives off of screens and backcuts. Your only point guard is Beno Udrih. You, with the number 4 pick, have a chance to draft a prodigy point guard. This prodigy is fantastic at setting up his teammates and throwing lob passes. Your other option is a shooting guard who was moved to point guard halfway through his freshman year because his team had no one else, and isn’t a good decision-maker. Of course, this being the NBA, you (the Kings) are idiots and took the latter of those two. Sigh.

San Antonio Spurs – Thumbs Up

Picks: DeJuan Blair (37), Jack McClinton (51), Nando De Colo (53

-Thirty-Six. Thirty-Six other players were considered better than DeJuan Blair on draft night, and so he fell right into the Spurs’ hands. A team in desperate need of quality post players lands one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft at a position of need. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blair becomes the starting power forward at some point this year. He’s strong, tough, plays defense, and will immediately rebound like a madman. Absolutely the steal of the draft. Also, don’t sleep on McClinton. He’s undersized, but he absolutely torched ACC defenses all of last year. Other than Curry, he might be the best shooter in the draft. He’s one-dimensional, but it’s a pretty awesome dimension. Lastly, it wouldn’t be the Spurs if they didn’t grab an international guy to store overseas for a few years.

Utah Jazz – Thumbs Down

Picks: Eric Maynor (20), Goran Suton (50)

-See: Hornets, New Orleans. For exactly the same reason I disliked the Darren Collison pick, I dislike the Maynor pick. Is it really that hard to find someone who can backup Deron Williams for 8 minutes a game? On the other hand, Carlos Boozer is probably going, and they need a backup power forward since Millsap will move to the starting lineup. You know who might fill that role nicely? DeJuan Freaking Blair, that’s who. This is not rocket science people.

BallerBlogger contributing writer ‘xphoenix87′ is a college student who dreams of one day writing about sports for a living. Since that’s not gonna happen, he’ll do this instead.


One Response to “2009 Western Conference Draft Review”

  1. Monday Bolts - 6.29.09 | Daily Thunder.com - Where Thunder Happens Says:

    [...] Ballerblogger reviews the draft: “The only reason I have a problem their draft is because they passed on Rubio. I don’t care if Russell Westbrook would be upset (lets be clear on this, Russell Westbrook is NOT a point guard). You have an amazing young core of athletes, and you’re going to bet on Westbrook developing point guard skills instead of drafting the prodigy point guard whose passing evokes comparisons to Maravich and Magic? I can’t be too mad though, because I think Harden fits really well there, and adds another nice piece to their core. Mullens is also a good pick at 24. He’s a longshot, but this is a guy who would’ve been a top 5 pick out of high school and has outrageous physical tools. In a draft that really only had 2 legit center prospects, the Thunder needed a center and got one of them. He may be a flop, but in a draft this weak, a talent like Mullens is certainly worth the risk.” [...]

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