The 2009 NBA Draft is around the corner and after watching players like David West, Danny Granger and Brandon Roy get passed over in recent drafts, I've felt obligated to help the GM's around the NBA.
I watch tons of NCAA basketball games and it wasn't hard to tell that these three players had what it takes to thrive in the NBA.
Here's the first official NPPR for the NBA draft.
NPPR stands for Neil Powell's Power Rankings, something I've used for years in ranking fantasy players for the NFL and MLB.
Designed more as an inside joke between friends, as I schooled them annually, I felt I needed some originality if I was going to take these lists to the streets.
2009 NBA DRAFT - NPPR
1. Blake Griffin - F/C - Oklahoma Sooners (21) PF/C - 6-10/251
Griffin is a beast and his game will translate very well to the next level. Not since Shaq O'Neal has 30/15 looked so easy. Only needs to improve on his free throw shooting to become one of the top players in the world. Look for many All-Star games to come.
NBA Comparison - Dwight Howard
To me, it is not a stretch to expect Griffin to be as good as Howard. Similar in size, strength and quickness, Griffin was the best player on every floor he stepped on last year.
2. Tyreke Evans - PG/SG - Memphis Tigers (19) PG/SG - 6-5/195
Evans was the top freshman in the nation and the best player on a pretty good Memphis squad from the day he got there. A tall and explosive Tiger point guard, sound familiar?
NBA Comparison - Derrick Rose
It's doubtful that Evans will land on a team as good as the Bulls, so it will be hard to back this prediction up, but he could easily be that dynamic down the road.
3. Ricky Rubio - PG - DKV Joventut (International) (18) PG - 6-4/180
This 18-year-old European phenom started playing against top competition when he was 14! Last year in the Summer Olympics Rubio made some of the prettiest plays against the juggernaut Americans, busted up wrist and all.
NBA Comparison - Steve Nash
His age and experience make him one of the top Euro-guard prospects in quite some time. He can distribute and score, but he may never be as crafty as Nash is around the basket.
4. Ty Lawson - North Carolina Tar Heels (21) PG - 6-0/195
No player was more impressive in the 2009 run to the championship for UNC. Lawson proved to be the nation's best point guard, a position that has the most depth coming into the draft. His shooting percentages and assist to turnover ratio was outstanding.
NBA Comparison - Tony Parker
Lawson is thicker than "Mr. Longoria", but his quickness and ability to score in the paint reminds me of Parker. Not likely to have a player like Tim Duncan to take the pressure off of him though.
5. Hasheem Thabeet - Connecticut Huskies (22) C - 7-3/265
At 7-3, Thabeet is a physical specimen that will be hard for NBA teams to pass on. Staying in school was a beneficial decision for him, but there are still fatigue issues. I'm not the biggest fan of his ability, but a less than stellar draft class will help validate taking him so high.
NBA Comparison - Greg Oden
Oden should turn out to be a level above Thabeet, at least, but after watching how much trouble "Big Greg" had staying out of foul trouble this season, maybe not.
6. James Harden - Arizona State Sun Devils (19) SG - 6-5/218
As mentioned above, this is where is gets "Harden" to justify taking any player this high in the draft. Harden looks the part and has a NBA body and skill set. Even at No. 6 he's far from a lock in my eyes.
NBA Comparison - Paul Pierce
Harden is a couple inches shorter than "The Truth", but his body and smooth play are reminiscent of a young Pierce.
7. Jordan Hill - Arizona Wildcats (21) PF - 6-10/235
Hill parlayed his vast physical talent into a monster season for the Cats. He has the height and size to compete at the highest level. Despite not possessing an outside game, his upside makes him the best pick at this position.
NBA Comparison - Chris Bosh
All right, this one is certainly a stretch, but Bosh wasn't known for his touch away from the basket until a few years into the Association. The Denver Nuggets Chris "Birdman" Anderson might be a more reachable ceiling to set.
8. Johnny Flynn - Syracuse Orangemen (20) PG - 6-0/172
Last season the Big East was possibly the best conference in NCAA history, and Flynn seemed to be in the middle of every battle. No player showed more heart than did Flynn and if he wasn't willing his team to victory, he was giving 110% effort in a loss. His jumper might not translate to the NBA, but his fitness and desire will.
NBA Comparison - Mario Chalmers
Most of the players I've mentioned in my comparisons have been All-Stars, but Chalmers seemed like a sensible one here. If Flynn were to have a rookie campaign as good as "Rio" did, he would be considered a successful pick.
9. Earl Clark - Louisville Cardinals (21) SF/PF - 6-9/220
Clark was close to coming out last year, but wisely decided to come back and it should pay off with a top-ten selection in the draft this season. Clark's size and shooting touch make him an inside-out type player increasing his upside.
NBA Comparison - Al Harrington
It took Harrington a few years to excel and I could see the same type of future for Clark. Could also be the next Julian Wright.
10. Steph Curry - Davidson Wildcats (21) - PG/SG - 6-3/185
Curry was the darling of the 2008 NCAA tournament and he backed it up with an All-American season this year. Curry's touch from deep is as good as it gets and he should be able to get open looks in the NBA.
NBA Comparison - Richard Hamilton
"Rip" may be a stretch here, but Curry was awfully dynamic in college. If he were to play in the NBA as long as his father Dell, did that would be good enough.
11. Brandon Jennings - Lottomatica Roma (Int) (19) - PG - 6-1/170
The various reports that I've read recently about Jennings have been all over the board. At times he looks like the best player on the floor raising the eyebrows of many scouts. Other times he looks over matched physically and struggles with his outside shooting. He would have been much better served playing one year in the NCAA and making a name for himself. This decision has to bring his judgment qualities into question.
NBA Comparison - Allen Iverson
Both players are small and lightening quick, but "A.I." is one of the best players ever, so it's a stretch to imagine Jennings will be as savvy. This is a hard player to find a comparison for so I got a little silly with it.
12. Terrence Williams - Louisville Cardinals (21) SF/SG - 6-6/220
In college, Williams was the best player on a very good Louisville team and can do a multitude of things on the court. "T-Dub" can finish with authority at the rim and has a decent outside shot that should get better. The fact that he disappeared at times throughout his college career should cause GM's to think hard about drafting such a talented player.
NBA Comparison - Richard Jefferson
Jefferson has been an All-Star caliber player in his career and I'm not saying that Williams will be, but the potential is there to be that type of player.
13. Gerald Henderson - Duke Blue Devils (21) SG/SF - 6-5/215
I've watched college basketball for decades and I can't say that I've seen anyone that can jump like Henderson can. He's up there with Vince Carter as far as leaping ability goes. When he had his mid-range jumper going for the Blue Devils last season he looked awesome. He may never average over 15 points for a season, but I guarantee he wins a dunk contest.
NBA Comparison - Jason Richardson
I don't see Henderson developing the long-range jumper that Richardson currently has, but he's every bit as explosive. It did take Richardson years to establish himself as an outside threat though.
14. Chase Buddinger - Arizona Wildcats (21) SF/SG - 6-7/218
I like Buddinger's chances to succeed as much as any player left. He's got experience, size, touch and athletic ability. Buddinger will never be known for his defense, but he will stick around for many seasons in the NBA.
NBA Comparison - Rashard Lewis
Lewis is taller, but you're more likely to see J.J. Reddick mixing it up in the middle. It's not hard to believe that Buddinger will be able to shoot the three as well as Lewis can.
After writing this mock I noticed two things:
First, the talent in this draft is not very deep at all. It's borderline putrid.
The second thing is that as I watched the epic first round series between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics two players made me wonder.
How hard is it to believe that Tyler Hansbrough won't be as good as Joakim Noah and Glen Davis?
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