I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. Sorry for the delay today, instead of working my usual nights I was asked to cover a morning shift and am just now getting on. Don't worry, the countdown still goes on as usual. Much like 2009, this draft that is coming in at number four is kind of hard to fully evaluate since it's only two years old (as opposed to 2009's one). Early prognosis, however, is that this draft was really, really solid and should produce quite a bit of players who will produce for a long period of team. In case I haven't given it away, the 2008 NBA Draft will be coming in at number four in our countdown.
Top Ten Drafts of the Last Ten Years
#10: 2000 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#9: 2007 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#8: 2006 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#7: 2001 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#6: 2002 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#5: 2009 NBA Draft: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/
#4: 2008 NBA Draft:
1) Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis
2) Miami Heat - Michael Beasley, PF, Kansas State
3) Minnesota Timberwolves - O.J. Mayo, SG, USC (traded to the Grizzlies)
4) Seattle Supersonics - Russell Westbrook, PG, UCLA
5) Memphis Grizzlies - Kevin Love, PF, UCLA (traded to the Timberwolves)
6) New York Knicks - Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy
7) Los Angeles Clippers - Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana
8) Milwaukee Bucks - Joe Alexander, SF, West Virginia
9) Charlotte Bobcats - D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas
10) New Jersey Nets - Brook Lopez, C, Stanford
Pretty impressive top ten overall. After Rose's performance in the NCAA Tournament and with him being a Chicago born player, his selection was the Bulls was expected and he immediately stepped up his game upon entering the league. Some people thought he was a couple years away from reaching his potential, but he's managed to become a stud already after only two years. The same can't yet be said for Beasley, who was expected all along to be the consensus number one prior to the NCAA Tournament. After supposed attitude issues arose during pre draft interviews, some wondered whether he would be taken at number 2 but the Heat stuck with him anyways. He's showed flashes of being able to produce on the court, but he still lacks a defined position and has had off the court issues with depression and marijuana use. On draft night, the Grizzlies and Timberwolves swapped Mayo and Love in a move that was largely panned on Minnesota's part. However, Love has turned out to be a pretty serviceable, if largely unathletic, option at the power forward position. Mayo is an explosive scorer, but isn't much of a volume scorer and doesn't do much else yet. It's hard to say at this moment who won the trade, although if a gun were put to my head I'd say the Grizzlies did. Westbrook may wind up being the best player in the entire draft when it's all said and done. He became the starting point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who relocated from Seattle shortly after this draft, right away and has matured into the position. Gallinari is still a promising prospect who has shown an incredibly impressive outside touch and a willingness to defend top stars. Eric Gordon, like Mayo, is an explosive scorer and may be undersized for long term prospects at the shooting guard position. But so far, he hasn't let it deter his offensive game. D.J. Augustin had a very surprising rookie season with his play off the bench in Charlotte, although he suffered a bit of a sophomore slump this season. On the other hand, Brook Lopez really stepped his game up this season (probably out of necessity) in New Jersey and looks to be a promising player at a league-wide very weak center position. In fact, the only player out of this top ten who looks awful is Alexander, who has barely gotten on the court for either the Bucks or the Bulls (who he was traded to at the deadline). Who knows what Milwaukee was thinking when they drafted him at 8.
11) Indiana Pacers - Jerryd Bayless, PG, Arizona (traded to the Trail Blazers)
12) Sacramento Kings - Jason Thompson, PF, Rider
13) Portland Trail Blazers - Brandon Rush, SG, Kansas (traded to the Pacers)
14) Golden State Warriors - Anthony Randolph, PF, LSU
15) Phoenix Suns - Robin Lopez, C, Stanford
16) Philadelphia 76ers - Marreese Speights, PF, Florida
17) Toronto Raptors - Roy Hibbert, C, Georgetown (traded to the Pacers)
18) Washington Wizards - JaVale McGee, C, Nevada
19) Cleveland Cavaliers - J.J. Hickson, PF, North Carolina State
20) Charlotte Bobcats - Alexis Ajinca, C, France
Although this group isn't as impressive as the top ten list, it's still a good bunch of serviceable players. A lot was expected of Bayless but he's been largely inconsistent in his two years in Portland. He may need a chance of scenery already to continue his progression. Thompson had a big rookie season after Sacramento was criticized for "reaching" for him. He continued his stellar play this season, but hasn't shown that extra gear that may be needed to make him a starter for a very successful team. Brandon Rush was a shooting specialist in college and was expected to do the same for Indiana, although he hasn't shown that touch yet much in his two years with the Pacers. Anthony Randolph is a freakish athlete with a ton of potential, but has shown to be a bit injury prone his first two years in the league. Robin Lopez, the twin brother of number ten pick Brook, was another criticized pick and looked, at times, downright lost on the court last season. But he's emerged as the Suns starting center this season and his defensive prowress looks to make him a staple at that position for the future. Speights has had some big games off the bench for Philadelphia but has shown a vulnerability to injuries as well. Hibbert has rotated in and out of Indiana's starting lineup for his two seasons with the Pacers, and the team is still waiting for him to take the next step in his development. McGee showed some signs this season for Washington after they went with a sort of youth movement, and could enter next season as the team's starting center. Hickson became the second coming of Christ Jesus this season in Cleveland among their fanbase and was rumored in many trades at the deadline in an attempt for Cleveland to get more talent. He's still on Cleveland's roster, though, and will most likely be a starter going forward next season. Ajinca, meanwhile, has shown absolutely nothing thus far for Charlotte, and chances aren't good of him lasting past his four year rookie contract.
21) New Jersey Nets - Ryan Anderson, PF, Cal
22) Orlando Magic - Courtney Lee, SG, Western Kentucky
23) Utah Jazz - Kosta Koufos, C, Ohio State
24) Seattle Supersonics - Serge Ibaka, PF, Republic of Congo
25) Houston Rockets - Nicolas Batum, SF, France (traded to the Trail Blazers)
26) San Antonio Spurs - George Hill, PG, IUPUI
27) New Orleans Hornets - Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas (traded to the Trail Blazers who then traded him to the Grizzlies)
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Donte Greene, PF, Syracuse (traded to the Rockets who then traded him to the Kings)
29) Detroit Pistons - D.J. White, PF, Indiana (traded to the Supersonics)
30) Boston Celtics - J.R. Giddens, SG, New Mexico
Even as the draft gets deeper, some really solid names are still on the list. Anderson proved to be a serviceable scorer at the power forward position and is now playing for Orlando. Meanwhile, Courtney Lee emerged as the starting shooting guard on an Orlando team that went to the NBA Finals but is now playing in New Jersey. I just now put two and two together, and remebered that they were traded for eachother after their rookie seasons (well they were both involved in a trade anyways). Koufos followed Greg Oden as an Ohio State freshman center taken in the first round, but even Oden's rookie season where he didn't play at all due to injury showed more promise than Koufos has in Utah. Ibaka really came on strong this season for the Thunder and the team hopes that he can emerge as the center of the future. Meanwhile, Batum has settled into Portland's starting rotation and doesn't yet seem to have tapped his potential. The same can be said for George Hill, who is another one of San Antonio's rare finds in the draft and may be the team's starting point guard next season. Arthur wound up settling in Memphis but hasn't yet showed a ton of promise. The talent is there though. Same can be said for Donte Greene, who wound up in Sacramento just before the start of the season and made some strides this season. D.J. White didn't make it long in Detroit and didn't stick with Oklahoma City and is now playing in the NBDL. Giddens doesn't seem too far behind. He made no significant impact in Boston and after being traded to New York, never showed any staying power there either.
Round Two Notables:
34) Miami Heat - Mario Chalmers, PG, Kansas
35) Los Angeles Clippers - DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M
37) Milwaukee Bucks - Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, SF, UCLA
39) Chicago Bulls - Sonny Weems, SG, Arkansas (traded to the Nuggets)
40) New Jersey Nets - Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG, Memphis
45) San Antonio Spurs - Goran Dragic, PG, Slovenia (traded to the Suns)
47) Washington Wizards - Bill Walker, SG, Kansas State (traded to the Celtics)
Another impressive list of finds here in the second round as well. Chalmers started the entire season for Miami his rookie year. He suffered a bit of a sophomore slump, but the 2008 NCAA Tournament MVP looks to have a bounce back year next season either off the bunch or starting for a team in the league. Jordan is still a raw product who had the talent to be a lottery pick. The Clippers hope he can partner with Blake Griffin to form a very formidable front court. Mbah a Moute became a great defensive find for Milwaukee and has been, mostly, the team's starting small forward the last two seasons. Weems is a great athlete who didn't really stick in Denver, but who showed a lot of promise and potential this past season with Toronto. Douglas-Roberts has been inconsistent off the bench in New Jersey, but has had games where he looks like a good rotation player. Dragic struggled big time last season but really came on this year and made a national name for himself with his Game 3 performance in the Western Conference Semifinals. Just as Hickson is to Cleveland fans, Dragic is the second coming of Christ if you ask Phoenix funs. Walker barely got on the court in his year and a half stint with Boston, but was traded to New York and showed a lot of promise the second half of this season. He now figures to be in the team's future plans moving forward.
2008-2009 NBA Rookie of the Year: Derrick Rose
All Stars from the 2008 NBA Draft: Derrick Rose
2008-2009 NBA All-Rookie First Team
2008-2009 NBA All-Rookie Second Team
Marc Gasol (who was originally drafted in 2007 by the Lakers before being traded to, and then signing with, the Grizzlies in 2008)
D.J. Augustin and Rudy Fernandez (who was originally drafted by the Suns in 2007 before being traded to, and then signing with, the Trail Blazers in 2008) tied for fifth on the second team.
Gosh I hate ties!