Other than Griffin being taken #1 by the Clippers, no one can say with any degree of certainty what’s going to transpire in this year’s draft. The fact that the top of this year’s draft is more uncertain than in virtually any year in the past thirty leaves fertile ground for spurious rumor mongering not only here on GSoM but elsewhere as well. All this begs the question: Why?
The answer is not as simple as a weak 2009 draft class, it goes beyond any simplistic, knee-jerk reaction as that. There are several players in this draft class who could blow up and become stars, and several potential busts. This is true of any draft, so what makes THIS draft so uncertain?
Inclusion of HS players and International players at increasing rates has been part of recent draft history, and combined with several other factors has served to increase the risk of picking a bust. But that also does not fully explain the uncertainty of this draft.
One of the invisible factors is the impact of the looming 2010 FA class – while most of the FA will likely re-sign with their teams, several big name FA are primed to make a move and control their own destiny. Chris Bosh is one such example – forgoing any extension talks with Toronto has left the Raptors virtually helpless to trade him and expect near-equal value in return. Meanwhile teams like the Knicks may be continuing to work to reduce their caps in anticipation of 2010, which helps explain why NY might be interested in drafting Hill, despite already having a young & capable Lee at PF. Rather than extend Lee to big money which would pinch their ability to pursue LJ or Bosh, they are entertaining moving Lee and drafting Hill who’s contract will be significantly less. Multiply this by the number of teams angling to increase their cap space for next summer and the permutations are mind-boggling.
In this type of climate, while GSW will not likely be a player in obtaining a big-time FA in 2010, we can make inroads on improving our roster by picking off quality players who other clubs could be jettisoning. On the other hand, off-loading expensive players in this climate is going to be even more difficult than ever, so short of a superstar demanding a trade from another club we aren’t likely to be able to move Crawford or any of our other previous contract mistakes.
But one of the most significant factors decreasing the level of certainty regarding this draft is the status of the #2 pick, and that has a trickle down effect upon nearly every team in the lottery, indeed the whole first round. It also helps explain all the wild rumors being floated – scenarios are being explored both in the GM draft-rooms and sports columnists blogs.
Memphis simply has not decided what direction to follow with its pick. There are several players they could take at #2, but none is a consensus choice and the Grizzlies are entertaining trade options as well as sorting through who they would take at #2.
While Rubio was an early #2 favorite, some of the bloom has faded – both on whether he will be able to wriggle free of his Euro contract, and at what costs, as well as whether he truly has the type of talent to be a lead guard in the NBA. If not Rubio, who?
Another highly regarded collegian is Hasheem Thabeet, the UConn big man, but is he going to be as much of an impact player as say James Harden? In a move that sets Memphis up well to trade down, they have scheduled workouts for Thabeet, USC's Demar DeRozan and Arizona's Jordan Hill as well as University of Memphis player Tyreke Evans (who’s workout for Memphis raised several eyebrows). This kind of uncertainty helps explain the number and depth of the various tryouts, including GSW laundry list of tryouts. We can only hope that these will help us pick off an diamond in the rough from the undrafted players as well.
Remember this is the team that waited until the last moment to make the Mayo deal last year, so anything’s possible right up to the last minute. Reportedly, Sacramento, Houston, Boston, Minnesota, Washington and New York are among the teams that have made offers for the #2 pick. One report even had NJ dangling Devin Harris. Do any of them have merit? We won’t likely know until Memphis is "on the clock."