The NBA Draft can change a team’s destiny or maintain its destitution, but for every young star or pleasant surprise, there are plenty disappointments bigger than the Nash/Howard/Kobe Big Three. And that’s what makes looking back on these drafts so fun. The 2009 NBA Draft is no exception to player unpredictability, home to its fair share of ballers (DeMar DeRozan), busts (Hasheem Thabeet), bucketeers (James Harden), and broken hands (Blake Griffin). It also included the baby-faced GOAT Stephen Curry among an assortment of eventual pro point-guards (from Jrue Holiday and Ty Lawson to Darren Collison and Jonny Flynn).
Looking back on 2009 now feels like it must have been eons ago – the Sonics had just moved from Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Los Angeles Kobes Lakers won a championship against Dwight Howard’s Magic, and current juggernauts like the Warriors, Thunder, Clippers, Raptors, and Grizzlies all held lottery picks in the draft. Fortunately for the sake of mental consistency, LeBron was still with the Cavaliers and perennial lottery-pickers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, held their usual place stanchioning the lottery with the 5th and 6th picks.
Hindsight is obviously 20/20 and it's hard to predict 50/40/90 players, but we can be sure that some teams in '09 screwed up big-time while others lucked out. Here is our chance to play Dragon Ball Z’s Future Trunks’ role and revisit the past, the year the Chinese calendar calls the Year of the Dawn of the Curry, using our current knowledge to steer misled societies of hoops executives into the promised land of coherent sport. Will Stephen Curry still drop to the Warriors at #8? Will Hasheem Thabeet still break the Grizzlies' hearts at #2? Probably not, but let's head to the war rooms to find out…
19 Stephen Curry - L.A. Clippers
With the 1st pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Clippers choose to avoid years worth of salt while still satisfying Donald Sterling's racial concerns by drafting the eventual-MVP, maybe-even-lighter-skinned-than-Blake-Griffin, Stephen Curry. Blake is incredible and should only get better and better, and the Clips had Baron Davis and the ability to eventually have Chris Paul, but at this point – Steph is like any shot opportunity Kobe's ever seen: too good to pass up.
18 Blake Griffin - Memphis Grizzlies
While I guess some could still argue the Clips should have drafted Blake over Captain Glass-Ankles Steph, nobody could ever argue for the Grizz re-drafting their original pick: Hasheem "This Must Be A Bad Dream" Thabeet. The Grizz already had a substantial crop of young ballers, including PG maestros Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry, interesting wings O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, and the eventual stud Marc Gasol. Throwing Blake into that mix would make for a stronger brew than Russian water, leaving the team one legit shooting-guard away from title considerations.
17 James Harden - Oklahoma City Thunder
This is probably the toughest pick of the draft. If you’re the Thunder then you know that the James Harden experiment didn’t win you a championship and he didn’t perfectly mesh with KD and Westbrook. But, we are talking about 2015 MVP candidate James Harden here. The Thunder could have gone in a couple different directions in this draft, with their already-young core of Durant, Westbrook, and Jeff Green:
One: Draft a truer point-guard like Jrue Holiday or Jeff Teague to structure the offense while letting Russ move to the shooting-guard spot,
16 Jeff Teague - Sacramento Kings
The Kings were a particularly bad basketball club in 2009, with a squad full of characters like Rashad McCants and Mikki Moore and a lone star in the score proliferator Kevin Martin. Having so many holes in their lineup, their draft pick was understandably crucial for team development and it seemed like they made the right choice when their draftee, Tyreke Evans, won Rookie of the Year in 2010.
15 Jrue Holiday - Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota really wanted to solve their point-guard problems in 2009. I mean really wanted to. Minnesota had the 5th and 6th picks in the draft, and picked a point-guard with each, just in case. Ricky Rubio was an interesting pick at no.5 because the young Spaniard hadn’t confirmed his travel plans, and Jonny Flynn at no.6 was an unfortunate pick because, after a pretty nice rookie year (14p/4a on 42% shooting), Flynn underwent hip surgery in 2010 and, like Drake’s magnum opus, nothing was the same.
14 DeMar DeRozan - Minnesota Timberwolves
13 Ricky Rubio - Golden State Warriors
Poor Golden State. Stephen Curry doesn’t drop to no.7 and all of the prayers for Threezus go unanswered. Instead, the team remains in the nether that taking Corey Maggette and C.J. Watson will leave you in. This squad had some great bucketeers, with Kelenna Azubuike, Marco Bellinelli, Jamal Crawford, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, and Anthony Morrow all having the capacity to drop buckets on any given night. Unfortunately they had no true point-guard and a frontcourt of a broken Andris Biedrins and the Judas to J-Rich’s Jesus, Brandan Wright.
12 Tyreke Evans - New York Knicks
As is the running theme with these lottery picks, the Knicks were not a very good team in 2009. The duo of Danilo Gallinari and David Lee is interesting and probably worthwhile for eventual buckets (at the expense of defense), but other than them and a versatile Wilson Chandler – this team was certainly lacking. A legit point-guard or center makes sense to prioritize for the Mecca of hoops, and while they mistakenly tackled that need with the mediocre prince Jordan Hill, we can correct such wrongs with our redraft.
11 Patrick Beverley - Toronto Raptors
Another team satisfied with their PF situation, the Raptors had Chris Bosh and Andrea “Air” Bargnani alongside random ballers like then-lethal Jose Calderon, unpredictable Jason Kapono, and Shawn Marion. Legit wings like DeMarre Carroll or Danny Green might be better fits for the Raptors lineup at the time, but given their slow starts in the league and the Raptors’ ungodly defensive liabilities (“Calderon y Bargnani” is how you ask for your steak to be cooked well-done in Toronto), I think Patrick Beverley could be the mantra shift so desperately needed by Canada’s premier basketball institution.
10 Taj Gibson - Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks may have already had Charlie “Caramel Bargnani” Villanueva manning their PF spot, but considering his volatility – Taj Gibson is probably the right move here. This Bucks team was pretty strange. Manned by Cool Hand Luke Ridnour, his accompanying wings: the aged Michael Redd and funnily-voiced Richard Jefferson, and big man bastion of size, Andrew Bogut, the Bucks could be just as easily imaged on the verge of ascent as descent.
Devin Harris had just finished a ridiculous year playing 36 mpg while averaging 21 points and 7 assists so maybe drafting a point-guard isn’t the right move here, but Darren Collison is no stranger to playing off-ball with another point-guard (playing alongside Chris Paul both in New Orleans and Los Angeles, as well as alongside Rondo for the Kings this year) so his value is worth the smaller backcourt.
9 Danny Green - Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets)
By the 2009 draft, the Bobcats had already started their roster implosion by moving notable gunner Jason Richardson to the Suns for some package of Boris Diaw and Raja Bell. The Bobcats roster included two prospectively talented point-guards in D.J. Augustin and Raymond Felton, proven talent in Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor, and some strange assortment of players that Larry Brown hadn’t quite made his mind up about yet (including, but not limited to Matt Caroll, Shannon Brown, Vladimir Radmanovic, and Adam Morrison).
8 Jordan Hill - Indiana Pacers
7 Ty Lawson - Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns used to get serious buckets with their Steve Nash – Jason Richardson – Amar’e Stoudemire trifecta and motley crew of contributors (Matt Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Shaquille O’Neal). While they already had a young point-guard with oodles of potential in Goran Dragic back in 2009, value is value and a great way to hedge their bets would be with UNC’s notorious alcoholic and bucketslinger, Ty Lawson.
6 Brandon Jennings - Detroit Pistons
5 Jonas Jerebko - Chicago Bulls
4 Gerald Henderson - Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers were, unsurprisingly, a pretty mediocre team. Led by the contrasting trio of Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and god among men – Andre Iguodala, the Sixers probably should have just resorted to cloning their elite scorer Marreesse Speights so that they could let his mid-range excellence wreak havoc on the association’s victims. I have ultimate faith in wily point-guard Andre Miller, especially since his forever-young self was actually younger at the time, so I don’t think the 76ers should have drafted a point with this pick, instead they should have picked up the reliable and super annoying wing Gerald Henderson.
3 Omri Casspi - Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves strike again! For their third pick in the 2009 draft I’m picking to round out their roster’s skillset. We already have a core of Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Love, and Al Jefferson – so what’s missing? How about a wing that can shoot and maybe play some defense. Omri Casspi, aside from his horrible showing in the 2009 All-Star HORSE event, has been a pretty good shooter for his career and has the length to be disruptive on defense.
2 Patty Mills - Atlanta Hawks
1 DeMarre Carroll - Utah Jazz
My journalistic integrity is a little bit at stake here because of the fact that, despite his current proficiency, DeMarre has dropped so low in the draft order and even past other wings like Omri Casspi – but, given DeMarre’s abysmal troubles in the beginning of his career I just have no idea how Coach Budenholzer of the Hawks was able to jedi-mind-trick him into being elite and I don’t trust any other team to replicate that success.
The Jazz had a pretty elite squad with Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Carlos Boozer accompanied by strong roleplayers like Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer – throw a talented wing into the mix and you’ve got a good squad with heaps of potential.
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