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News » Weak 2009 class ends streak of strong drafts

Weak 2009 class ends streak of strong drafts

Weak 2009 class ends streak of strong drafts
By now, I'm sure you've heard that some people don't think too highly of this year's NBA draft.

Fans expect franchise-altering talent to be available at every turn — especially those teams consistently trapped in the lottery.

Unfortunately, the real world simply doesn't work that way.

Last year's draft was surprisingly excellent — one of those rare drafts that featured a franchise talent (Derrick Rose), a handful of legitimate NBA starters with All-Star potential (O.J. Mayo, Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, even Courtney Lee) and even more players who showed flashes in limited playing time (D.J. Augustin, Anthony Randolph, Jason Thompson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, J.J. Hickson, Marreese Speights, Ryan Anderson, DeAndre Jordan, George Hill, Jerryd Bayless, Mario Chalmers).

This year's draft pales in comparison. It's highly unlikely that it'll match last year's draft in terms of quality depth, and it will have an impossible time measuring up against any of the other terrific drafts of this era (the Durant-Oden 2007, the Roy-Aldridge 2006, the Paul-Williams 2005, the Dwight Howard 2004, and of course the James-Melo-Wade class of 2003).

Twenty years from now, hoops scholars will look on that six-year stretch as one of the most pivotal eras in NBA history. The amount of quality talent that came into the league during that stretch boggles the mind. Surely, the league was due for a down year eventually, right?

Well, it appears as if this is that down year.

Outside of Blake Griffin, every prospect in this year's draft comes attached with some serious question marks. Heck, even Griffin's NBA future is murky, thanks to the perpetually horrible Los Angeles Clippers winning the lottery. It's one thing to toss up 30/20 on a regular basis in the Big 12; quite another to keep your sanity as a potential All-Star trapped in Clipperdom. Before too long, the word "Clipper" will become shorthand for "horrifying, franchise-crippling injury," as in "Adrian Peterson was set to lead the Minnesota Vikings' rushing attack, but he suffered a Clipper and he's out for the year."

2009 NBA draft

But I honestly can't remember a single play Holiday made last year at UCLA.

Some say Ben Howland's system hides players, who then go on to achieve NBA success (pointing toward Mbah a Moute and Westbrook as examples). However, what exactly did Holiday show to deserve his draft standing?

It's nothing against Holiday. Any other year, he'd be flying under the radar and he could become a pleasant surprise for someone. But Holiday — along with guys like Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Stephen Curry, Jordan Hill, Jeff Teague, and so on — are seeing their stock artificially inflated because of the lack of competition.

We have guys like DaJuan Blair — a guy who would've been a nice sleeper in the 20s — being talked about as a lottery pick, thanks to guys like Paul Milsap proving that you don't need to be tall to know how to rebound. We're seeing guys like Tyler Hansbrough — an ideal role player and energy guy — rumored to go as high as No. 11 to New Jersey, just because there aren't many prototypical "tough guys" in this draft.

Even guys I really like (James Harden, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington) have question marks surrounding them, too. I think Harden has a lot of Brandon Roy in him, but will he be able to shake off his dreadful showing in the NCAA tournament? Lawson's speed makes him nearly impossible to defend in today's handcheck-free NBA, but will his low line-drive jumper find enough clearance against bigger defenders? Ellington has the skills you want in a 2-guard, but does he have the leaping ability and strength to battle the Jason Richardsons of the world?

And we haven't even discussed Hasheem Thabeet yet. Some think he's the next Dikembe Mutombo, others swear he'll be out of the league in less than five years. It's true that you can't teach 7-foot-3, but whichever team drafts him better be prepared to go four-on-five on offense until Thabeet learns a post move or two. That's not something you want to hear about the potential No. 2 pick.

What about Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio? His high-profile success in the 2008 Olympics and his uncanny resemblance to a young Steve Nash help his cause, but his off-and-on jumper and the serious buyout issues with his professional team make him a risky proposition in the 2-4 range.

Ultimately, I think the 2009 draft will yield a handful of solid pros, putting it ahead of the 2000 class. But anybody expecting a replica of the 2008 draft will need to lower those expectations.

If this draft doesn't quite pan out, we still have John Wall to look forward to in 2010.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 20, 2009


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