With the 2009 NBA Draft set for June 25th at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, COED is here to bring you up to speed on the top ten collegiate prospects that are ready to make the leap from the dorm cafeteria to the luxury revolving restaurants atop city skyscrapers. This is not a mock draft that dares to predict where each player will be selected, but rather an evaluation of the top prospects heading from the NCAA to the pros.
P.S. In case you have an awkward mancrush on Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings, don’t expect to see your boy below.
10. Jeff Teague – PG, Wake Forest
Wow there are a ton of guards in this year’s draft class. Teague may be one of the quieter names at the draft combine, but if he can prove to be a point guard rather than a scoring guard on every night, he could be one of the steals of the middle first round. His ability to score and get to the charity stripe are what’s going to get him drafted, but his knack for getting in the lane and creating shots for his teammates is what is going to make him elite.
9. Jonny Flynn – PG, Syracuse
If Flynn was 6-2 or taller, he might be on top of this list. But unfortunately for him, he’s only 5-11. Flynn has the heart and edge to his game that will keep him in the league as a productive player for years to come. His strength and ability to finish above the rim are two qualities that will find him as a starter before long.
8. Stephen Curry – SG, Davidson
Everyone’s sweetheart from the 2008 NCAA Tournament, Curry is already a national star. But will he be the next J.J. Redick or Adam Morrison (and yes, I realize it’s hilarious that the NBA Finals is technically a battle between those two gym class heroes)? Will his elite scoring game translate to the pros? While many skeptics would love to say no, many NBA GMs would love to say yes.
7. Jordan Hill – PF, Arizona
Hill made a name for himself as a lottery pick this past season, where he put up 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. He has the potential to grow into one of the more skilled big men in the league if he continues his upward learning curve. He’s a hard worker with decent strength for his size and can step in and contribute immediately in the right NBA system.
6. James Harden – SG, Arizona State
The wrap on Harden is that he’s perhaps the most polished offensive scorer in this year’s draft, and has the maturity and resonance of a wily veteran – despite being only 19. While it’s true that Harden is an expert at putting the ball in the hoop, the only knock on his game is his unwillingness at times to give up the rock.
5. Jrue Holiday – PG, UCLA
Holiday is another big name freshman who entered last season with a lot of hype for a big national powerhouse. Similar to Russell Westbrook in many respects, Holiday has the same body and was often the off-guard in the UCLA offense next to Darren Collison. However, his game translates well to the pros as an elite point guard prospect and his 6-4 frame will give him the ability to see over smaller guards on offense and create havoc on the defensive end.
4. Tyreke Evans – SG, Memphis
Evans is a freak of nature with the perfect body for an NBA 2-guard. He stands nearly 6-6 in shoes, but has a ridiculous 6-11 wingspan and an unheard of 8-8 standing reach for a guard. He mastered Calipari’s dribble-drive explosive offenses and can play both guard positions with an excellent handle on the ball. His ability to slash and score make him one of the top talents this draft has to offer.
3. DeMar DeRozan – SG, USC
With a ton of hype entering his freshman season following in the footsteps of O.J. Mayo, DeRozan struggled a bit out of the gates. However, he turned it on late in the season and had many scouts salivating over the potential that he brings to the floor every time out. He’s a solid 6-6 and fits the mold of a prototypical NBA shooting guard and has a vertical leap north of 40 inches that often lands him comparisons to Vince Carter.
2. Hasheem Thabeet – C, UConn
Thabeet will get a ton of flack for being too passive and raw on the offensive end – but make no mistake, he’s going to have an impact in the league. Because he’s 7-3 and has a penchant for swatting away shots, many people love to compare him to Dikembe Mutombo and hope he’s not the next better-than-advertised Greg Oden. Thabeet has a rare ability to roam the paint and deter guards from penetrating the lane. But what makes him so special is that for every shot he actually blocked, there were another five that he altered just by having his giant body and long arms flailing about in the paint.
1. Blake Griffin – PF, Oklahoma
Griffin is undoubtedly the top pick in this year’s draft. Standing at 6-10 and 250 lbs, he is a beast of a man. But what makes him even scarier is the fact that he has the speed and quickness of a wing player. Put those two together, and you have a guy who is ready to make an immediate impact in the NBA.