So, as the 2009 NBA Draft looms, I will take a look back at the some of the high and low points of last years draft - the best picks, the worst picks, the most surprising rookies, the biggest busts etc... Here's a little refresher of the 2008 NBA Draft Results for all my fellow short-term memory loss heads out there:
1. Bulls - Derrick Rose
2. Heat - Michael Beasley
3. Wolves - O.J. Mayo (traded to Grizzlies)
4. Thunder - Russel Westbrook
5. Grizzlies - Kevin Love (traded to Wolves)
6. Knicks - Danilo Gallinari
7. Clippers - Eric Gordon
8. Bucks - Joe Alexander
9. Bobcats - DJ Augustin
10. Nets - Brook Lopez
11. Pacers - Jerryd Bayless
12. Kings - Jason Thompson
13. Blazers - Brandon Rush
14. Warriors - Anthony Randolph
15. Suns - Robin Lopez
16. 76ers - Marreese Speights
17. Pacers - Roy Hibbert
18. Wizards - Javale McGee
19. Cavs - JJ Hickson
20. Bobcats - Alexis Ajinca
21. Nets - Ryan Anderson
22. Magic - Courtney Lee
23. Jazz - Kosta Koufos
24. Thunder - Serge Ibaka
25. Rockets - Nicholas Batum (traded to Blazers)
26. Spurs - George Hill
27. Blazers - Darrell Arthur
28. Grizzlies - Donte Green (* this was the pick the Grizz got in return from the Lakers in the atrocious Pau Gasol trade... Donte Green, Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, Javaris Crittenton or Pau Gasol? Who would you rather have?)
29. Pistons - DJ White
30. Celtics - JR Giddens
NOTABLE 2ND ROUND PICKS: Mario Chalmers, Bill Walker, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Chris Douglas Roberts
Now, obviously. it is much easier to look back in hindsight and criticize/praise teams for making good or bad draft picks. So, as I sit at my computer and bash organizations for making stupid draft picks, I do it all while respecting the pressure and stress that goes into the NBA draft and all the talented people involved in scouting and finding the next NBA superstars. Without further ado:
Best Pick of the 2008 Draft: TIE - Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic
While Derrick Rose is clearly a franchise point guard, superstar in the making, he was not the obvious choice for the #1 pick in the 2009 draft. Beasley's incredible college numbers made it more interesting, but in the end the Bulls clearly made the right decision.
The real steal in the first round of the 2008 draft came courtesy of the Orlando Magic, drafting the Western Kentucky guard Courtney Lee with the 22nd pick.
While it's not that surprising that Lee fell this far, a good number of teams are kicking themselves for not believing in this guy. We found out this year that Lee is an elite defensive guard, a substantial scoring threat and an overall great teammate. I'm sure any Knick fan would be thrilled to have Courtney Lee on our roster instead of the injury-plagued (albeit quite talented Danilo Gallinari).
Worst Pick of the 2008 Draft: Wolves (Pacers a close second)
Add another blunder to the Timberwolves management's resume... sure they drafted OJ Mayo, but immediately shipped him away for Kevin Love (a solid player, but by no means will he ever make as much as an impact on an NBA team as Mayo).
No disrespect to K Love, I think he will be a good player for years to come, but it was certainly questionable to pass on a talent like Mayo... something the Wolves will be regretting for a long time to come.
Most Surprising Rookie Season: Brook Lopez
I don't think anybody, including the Nets, thought Brook Lopez was going to blossom into the dynamic low post force that he has become so quickly. As a ROOKIE, Lopez averaged 13 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.8 blocks, shot 53% from the field and 79% from the free throw line. Impressive. Also not to mention his wide array of post moves resembles that of a seasoned veteran, not a rookie. At this point, I'd take Lopez over the likes of Greg Oden in a heartbeat.
Least Impressive Rookie Season: Danilo Gallinari
Yes I am being extra hard on Vanilla Danilo being a Knicks fan and all, and he did have a legitimate excuse for sucking this year, with his back injury and all, and he did show some promising signs in the limited minutes he did play. But all that being said, with the #6 pick in the draft, by all measures he had a very disappointing rookie year.
Most Untapped Potential: Anthony Randolph
This 6'10" athletic phenom from LSU unfortunately spent a large portion of this season wasting away on the Warriors bench due to Don Nelson's rigid unwillingness to give his rookies substantial playing time (that is until the Warriors decided to tank last season... but that's a whole other story). Anyways, this guy could be special if given the right circumstances, he's a dynamic scorer down low, a shot blocking presence and freakishly athletic. Look out for Randolph in the coming years, whether with the Warriors or not.
As the draft day approaches we can only speculate as to who will emerge into a bonafide NBA superstar and who will go the way of the Kwame Brown's of the world... anything can happen, I just pray the Knicks make a worthwhile pick with their ONE draft pick (thanks Isiah) or turn it into some valuable assets for the 2010 season. The draft airs tomorrow, June 25th @ 7 PM on ESPN.