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Re-Drafting The First 20 Picks of The 2009 NBA Draft

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 t

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…

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19 Stephen Curry - L.A. Clippers

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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.

The Clips already had an exciting big man rotation in Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Zach Randolph, and DeAndre Jordan, so Steph would fit right in as a facilitator. Added bonus: instead of media buzz around your star punching a team affiliate, you get media buzz around the most endearing family in modern sports history.

18 Blake Griffin - Memphis Grizzlies

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

No one is really sure what went wrong with Thabeet, maybe he lacked the physical prowess or penchant for preparation, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that he forgot about the Grizzlies’ move, thought he had been drafted by Vancouver, and his head never got back in the game.

17 James Harden - Oklahoma City Thunder

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

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,

or

Two: Opt for a similarly positioned, but different personality like DeMar DeRozan in the hopes that his character would be a better fit. At the end of the day, you’ve got to put value above psychoanalysis and just pick James Harden, see if it works, and if it doesn’t then move him for the best trade package available.

16 Jeff Teague - Sacramento Kings

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Years later, we know that Tyreke is not the triple-double point-guard machine he seemed to embody, so some other options look appealing for the Kings pick. If you’re a horrible team then any semblance of consistency or reliability is crucial to shifting your tides, so drafting the level-headed and generally skilled Jeff Teague looks like the right move for the boys in purple.

15 Jrue Holiday - Minnesota Timberwolves

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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.

What’s really rough is that, with Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague all still on the board, the Timberwolves had many great point-guards to choose from. If the NBA could redo this draft, the Timbs would be stellar by now. At no.5, they could still draft Ricky Rubio, given his assisting and stealing capacities – but knowing his jumper issues, they opt for the limitless potential of Jrue Holiday instead.

14 DeMar DeRozan - Minnesota Timberwolves

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Timberwolves squad now includes Jrue Holiday manning the point alongside Kevin Love and Al Jefferson manning the paint, with an assortment of decent guys like Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, and Mike Miller filling in the blanks. Having the power of omniscience, they can be confident that they chose the right point-guard with no.5 and can move on to selecting a wing with no.6 – a wing like the athleto-saurus himself, DeMar DeRozan. If any team can prove just how tough the guesswork of draft-day is, it’s the Timberwolves and their ’09 miscues that prevented them from fielding a roster of Jrue, DeRozan, Love, and Big Al. It’s no wonder that Minnesotans started rooting for Maya Moore and the Lynx while waiting on this team to right its wrongs by finally learning how to draft right with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

13 Ricky Rubio - Golden State Warriors

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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.

Should the Dubs have drafted Taj Gibson to start fixing the frontcourt situation while letting Monta run the point(s up)? Probably. Is the idea of Ricky Rubio running a 5 with S-Jax and Al Harrington occupying the frountcourt a lot funner? Yup. And you know Monta loves anyone who lets him do more of what he loves: shooting the ball.

12 Tyreke Evans - New York Knicks

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Once again, Taj Gibson has value to fit the bill – but this time, the Knicks already have a guy playing his position in David Lee, so a ball-handler it must be. I really wanted to pick Brandon Jennings here, just because his attitude and demeanor are so (sometimes vexingly) New York, but it’s hard to outdo the vibrancy of the beastly prodigy Tyreke Evans.

11 Patrick Beverley - Toronto Raptors

via Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Beverley is a one-man full-court press and decent shooter, and combining his and Marion’s defensive grit with Bosh and Bargnani’s offensive panache might not make up for the talent lost in DeRozan’s failure to drop to pick no.9 of the redraft, but it would certainly push Toronto’s hoop culture in the right direction.

10 Taj Gibson - Milwaukee Bucks

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

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.

I certainly like the idea of drafting them a ballsy point-guard to take over Ridnour’s duties and learn from his wiles, and notorious alcoholic Ty Lawson deserves more than a touch of consideration, but consistency is a pretty big deal so getting a reliable big like Taj Gibson to hold down the fort with Bogut would be a good look for the struggling Milwaukeeans.

11. Darren Collison - New Jersey (Brooklyn) Nets

via Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Brook Lopez is Brook Lopez and the Nets also had fine wine Vince Carter and stretch-4 deluxe Ryan Anderson, giving a strong roster that could use an effective playmaker and shooter to tie things together. Collison strives in that role and is a definite upgrade over the great question-mark himself, their original draftee: Terrence Williams.

9 Danny Green - Charlotte Bobcats (Hornets)

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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).

It’s hard to be sure who would have benefited this team most, and it’s true that Danny Green’s career got off to a slow start, but he is a reliable starter at this point in time so – why not? Another potential scorer from UNC to put alongside Raymond Felton, sounds good to me.

8 Jordan Hill - Indiana Pacers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I actually like Indiana’s 2009 roster. Danny Granger, TJ Ford, and Troy Murphy were all pretty great in their time; Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Jarret Jack were, and still are, pretty legit contributors; and Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, and Josh McRoberts are all fun weirdos to lend a team some character and potential. Having a crowded backcourt with decently talented guards Ford and Jack, talented wings in Dunleavy Jr. and Granger, and a maybe-above-average big in Roy Hibbert – the final piece for these Pacers might as well have been their final Hill acquisition of this year: Jordan Hill. Jordan Hill is a big fella who can run the 4 or the 5, but on a 2009 Pacers squad he could easily pop in at PF while Roy manned the C spot.

7 Ty Lawson - Phoenix Suns

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Lawson might now be at the end of his NBA road, having chosen the sins of the partying lifestyle and reckless endangerment of humans through his flair for DUIs, but let’s not forget that he used to put his handles and jumper to good use on NBA hardwood. Maybe Steve Nash would be able to steer Lawson away from the road and into the driver’s seat of NBA success and the Suns could have achieved their dream three-point-guard lineup with a small-ball lineup of Nash, Lawson, Dragic, J-Rich, and STAT.

6 Brandon Jennings - Detroit Pistons

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit was mid-segue away from their 2004 squad of ballers, with Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Jason Maxiell, and Antonio McDyess still on the team as well as their point-guard maestro Chauncey Billups. Newcomer, and fellow point-guard maestro, Allen Iverson was also on the squad so you’d think that the Pistons wouldn’t need a new point-guard. However, the only youth on their team came in the forms of Amir Johnson, Will Bynum, Rodney Stuckey, and the world’s favorite disappointment – Kwame Brown, with Chauncey and AI both on the verge of simultaneous retirement. Brandon Jennings would be a good dose of youth and scoring output, and would give the Pistons a chance to make like Pusha T and put numbers on the board.

5 Jonas Jerebko - Chicago Bulls

via Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls had a squad in ’09. A balling Ben Gordon, the youthful king Derrick Rose nearing his MVP form, Luol “All-Day” Deng, and Joakim Noah were surrounded by strong role players like Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Thabo Sefolosha, and Tyrus Thomas. So who could these well-rounded Bulls make use of in this draft now that most of the studs are off the board? How about one of the most versatile players out there, the vanilla Jae Crowder: Jonas Jerebko. Jerebko is like 6-foot-10 with a wing’s skill-set and the ethics of his Scandinavian socialist home: Sweden. Jerebko would be a great look to slot into the Bulls lineup, he could even learn from Nocioni on how to be an obnoxious and oversized wing that also plays defense.

4 Gerald Henderson - Philadelphia 76ers

via Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Gerald Henderson may have been a jerk and elbowed Tyler Hansbrough in the face in college, but he is still a pretty decent player who has lasted this long in the league so could probably have had his number retired by Philadelphia by now.

3 Omri Casspi - Minnesota Timberwolves

via Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

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.

While gunners like Jodie Meeks and Patty Mills were tempting for this spot, the appeal of Omri’s stature overtakes their miniature forms. Wayne Ellington is also a good option here, but given the Timberwolves’ inability to bring out his best in the past – I figure it’s best they try out somebody new, maybe a skilled Israeli by the name of Omri.

2 Patty Mills - Atlanta Hawks

via Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks had some legit pieces in 2009. And some pretty funny pieces. Al Horford, Joe “Cool” Johnson, and Josh Smith were all kicking serious tail, but their point-guard corps was incredible to look back on: Acie Law IV, Speedy Claxton, and the legend himself Mike “Michael” Bibby. Marvin Williams was on the squad and is a decent-enough wing to occupy the 3 spot, so with Joe at the 2, it only makes sense for the Hawks to pick up the ranged Aussie himself: point-guard and unconscious-shooter, Patty Mills. Patty likes shooting more than the NRA and I’ve got a faint feeling that under the tutelage of Mike Bibby he might learn how to handle and pass the rock as well.

1 DeMarre Carroll - Utah Jazz

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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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Re-Drafting The First 20 Picks of The 2009 NBA Draft