Ken McDonald's Hilltoppers No Longer a Mid-Major

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By Ronak Patel
ronakspatel@hotmail.com

Thursday, June 18, 2009

1. LA CLIPPERS: Blake Griffin 6-10 248 PF So. Oklahoma
This pick doesn't need much explanation. The Clippers have already stated that they will select Griffin with the first pick. Griffin is the only player in this draft that nobody really has doubts about.

2. MEMPHIS: Hasheem Thabeet 7-2 267 C Jr. UConn
Ricky Rubio has said that he doesn't want to play in Memphis. Because of his financial situation with his Spanish team, he really holds the power. If Rubio doesn't want to play in Memphis, what's the point in drafting him? Plus, O.J. Mayo wants to play point guard, so drafting Rubio would only complicate things. Instead, the Grizzlies can select a 7-foot-2 center with great defensive ability. Thabeet may be limited offensively, but he will immediately be able to change games defensively. Thabeet hasn't worked out with any teams yet, so it seems that he knows the Grizzlies or Thunder will draft him.

3. OKLAHOMA CITY: Ricky Rubio 6-3 180 PG DKV Joventut, Spain
The Thunder have not yet worked out any college players they would be considering with the No. 3 pick, making it seem that they will draft Rubio if he is on the board and then attempt to trade him. If they aren't able to trade him, it won't be such a bad thing, as they will then have two quality point guards with Rubio and Russell Westbrook and they could try to play them together. But chances are that the Thunder will be able to trade Rubio and get extra draft picks or a quality veteran player or a combination of the two in return.

4. SACRAMENTO: Jonny Flynn 6-0 196 PG So. Syracuse
The Kings need a point guard, and with Rubio off the board they will be choosing between Flynn, Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday, three players who worked out against each other in Sacramento. The word is that the Kings were most impressed with Flynn and his leadership skills.

5. WASHINGTON: James Harden 6-5 222 SG So. Arizona State
The Wizards are really deciding between combo guards Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry to play alongside fellow combo guard Gilbert Arenas, but if Harden falls to No. 5 the Wizards will not pass on him. Harden is the most NBA-ready of the three players, and he will be a terrific fit alongside Arenas. Both players could handle the ball and score, and Harden could help the Wizards a lot on defense.

6. MINNESOTA: Tyreke Evans 6-5 221 PG/SG Fr. Memphis
If James Harden were to slip to this spot, the T-Wolves would definitely take him. But with Harden off the board, Minnesota would choose between Evans, Stephen Curry and DeMar DeRozan. Evans provides Minnesota with lots of versatility. He can play the point with Randy Foye playing off the ball, or vice versa. Evans has great size for a point guard, and good enough size to match up with most shooting guards. The T-Wolves have a young, rebuilding team and Evans would fit in well there, but is good enough to contribute as a rookie.

7. GOLDEN STATE: Brandon Jennings 6-2 170 PG Lottomatica Roma, Italy
The Warriors are in need of a point guard and they love to run, so Jennings would be a perfect fit. He excels in the open court. This choice would be between Jennings, Terrence Williams, Jordan Hill and Jrue Holiday, but Jennings had a great workout with the Warriors and they need a point guard who is ready to run the team, so Jennings is the best choice.

8. NEW YORK: Stephen Curry 6-3 181 PG/SG Davidson
If Curry is on the board here, there is no doubt the Knicks will take him. He can run the point or play off the ball. Curry will instantly fill the seats at Madison Square Garden, plus he may be able to lure in LeBron James next year. The Knicks and Curry are both in love with each other, and both parties are praying that this marriage will occur.

9. TORONTO: DeMar DeRozan 6-6 211 SG/SF Fr. USC
The Raptors need a wing player who can penetrate and get to the rim. With DeRozan still on the board, he would be a wise choice. The pick would come down to DeRozan and Gerald Henderson. Either one could be a reincarnation of Vince Carter, something Toronto fans would like to see.

10. MILWAUKEE: Jrue Holiday 6-4 199 PG/SG Fr. UCLA
The Bucks will draft a point guard, and this pick would come down to Holiday and Jonny Flynn, but with Flynn off the board it's an easy choice. The Bucks like to draft big, long players, so Holiday fits that mold. He needs time to develop, but so do the Bucks.

11. NEW JERSEY: Jordan Hill 6-10 232 PF Jr. Arizona
This would be a deja vu of the 2008 Draft when the Nets selected Brook Lopez at No. 10 after Lopez was projected to be a top five pick. If Hill slips to the Nets, they will again jump at the opportunity to grab this value pick. The Nets are looking for the best player available. An inside combo of Lopez and Hill could be very effective in the future.

12. CHARLOTTE: Gerald Henderson 6-5 215 SG Jr. Duke
The Bobcats' needs are in their backcourt, and they love to draft players from big colleges that they can market to the college basketball fans in North Carolina. They drafted a point guard last year (D.J. Augustin), so it's unlikely they would take another point guard. This pick would likely come down to former high school teammates Henderson and Wayne Ellington, but it will be tough for the Bobcats to pass up on Henderson if he is available.

13. INDIANA: James Johnson 6-8 257 SF/PF So. Wake Forest
Many believe the Pacers need a point guard, but that has looked like the case for the past few years, yet the Pacers never do draft a point guard. They seem content with T.J. Ford. Instead, they will look for a versatile wing player or forward to compliment Danny Granger. Johnson can play down low or on the perimeter.

14. PHOENIX: Earl Clark 6-10 226 SF/PF Jr. Louisville
The Suns are looking for a long, versatile small forward and appear to be choosing between Clark and Austin Daye. Clark is incredibly stronger and more NBA-ready than Daye. He can play inside, rebound well and shoot from 18-20 feet.

15. DETROIT: DaJuan Summers 6-8 243 SF/PF Jr. Georgetown
The Pistons are rebuilding and they need some tough, versatile players who can contribute from the get-go. Summers can play in the post or on the perimeter. He's strong and powerful, and he can handle the ball and shoot from outside. The Pistons have had no problem reaching for players that they have a good feeling about, as they did with Rodney Stuckey a couple years ago.

16. CHICAGO: BJ Mullens 7-1 258 C Fr. Ohio State
Despite repeated denials by Bulls executives, it appears that Mullens has received a guarantee from the Bulls. He pulled out of the Nets group workout because he apparently had a top 16 guarantee, a strange number to suggest unless he actually was guaranteed by the Bulls. He also said that the Pistons and Bulls have showed the most interest in him. The Bulls have needed a real center for quite some time now, and they can afford to take a gamble since they have another first round pick as well.

17. PHILADELPHIA: Eric Maynor 6-3 164 PG Sr. VCU
It's obvious that the Sixers will take a point guard, and their decision will come down to Maynor or Ty Lawson. Maynor has a few inches on Lawson and knows how to run a team. He carried VCU the last two years as both a pure point guard and a scorer, averaging about 23 points and six assists per game as a senior.


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