If the 2009 NBA draft were held over again today, how would it go? I asked a handful of NBA GMs and while they
weren’t unanimous in their orders, certain points became clear: Blake Griffin still would be No. 1, though one GM would’ve taken James Harden in a do-over; Taj Gibson and Jrue Holiday made the biggest leaps; Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn and Jordan Hill all would’ve fallen out of the top 10. This is slightly different from the one I did for CSN during the Warriors-Celtics telecast, in that I only asked that set of GMs to order the top 10 with Jrue included. I neglected to account for several other lower picks slipping into the top 10. Here is the new and improved order as it would go today, with where they went in ’09 in parentheses: 1. Blake Griffin (1) 2. James Harden (3) 3. Jrue Holiday (17) 4. Steph Curry (7) 5. Ricky Rubio (5) 6. Ty Lawson (18) 7. Taj Gibson (26) 8. DeMar DeRozan (9) 9. Tyreke Evans (4) 10. Brandon Jennings (10)
That is according to NBA GMs.
Here is my top-25, if the draft were re-done:
1) James Harden. Original Selection: 3rd
I think it is James Harden who has the most game-changing talent in the 2009 NBA Draft class. Harden is a multi-threat scorer and is the fourth leading scorer in the NBA this season. His ball handling skills allow Jeremy Lin to acclimate to life in the NBA at a more reactive pace than had he been the No. 1 option, or No. 2, as he would have been prior to the Harden deal.
He’s a far better defensive player than most take notice of, and averages over two steals per game. Harden’s steals ignite a dangerous Rockets team in transition that features the aforementioned Lin, a dynamic scoring forward in Chandler Parsons, an ever-improving big man Omer Asik, and role players like Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris, the Rockets could make some noise.
I think at that point people will recognize he is a better player than Blake Griffin. And that’s saying a lot; Griffin made the All-Star team his rookie season in the NBA.
2) Blake Griffin. Original Selection: 1st
Blake Griffin missed his entire rookie season due to the fractured patella in his knee. He came back a total monster to win rookie of the year with the next year’s draft class, and he’s the best athlete at the 4-spot in the NBA in a very long time.
His play harkens flashbacks of Shawn Kemp, and his athleticism makes him a crowd-drawing sale.
3) Stephen Curry. Original Selection: 7th
Stephen Curry has become everything the Warriors thought he would be when they sacrificed Monta Ellis to obtain the now-injured Andrew Bogut.
Curry has carried the Warriors down the stretch in very LeBron-like fashion, often accounting for having scored or assisted most Warriors’ baskets in crunch time. With the Warriors thriving, he should make his first All-Star team this season.
4) Jrue Holiday. Original Selection: 17
Jrue Holiday has kept the 76ers relevant without their best player, the newly acquired Andrew Bynum. That’s no small feat. The 76ers traded their only All-Star talent in Andre Iguodala to obtain Bynum, and also lost their sixth man and leading scorer Louis Williams.
Holiday is having a career year, and is the biggest leaper in the draft class, as he went outside of the lottery but is likely a perennial All-Star talent. I see Holiday making at least four All-Star appearances in his career.
5) Brandon Jennings. Original Selection: 10
Brandon Jennings came into the league as a player who would just shoot for the sake of it. But his shot-selection has been refined and he’s flourished with Monta Ellis at his side. Jennings and Ellis are a high scoring backcourt, though undersized. Jennings continues to learn the finer aspects of being an NBA point, and should eventually be the type to post well over 20 points per game.
Last season, Jennings averaged 19.5 per game, and he’s shooting a little less this year, so his scoring average has decreased slightly.
Still, Jennings is hitting 36.9 percent from three and getting up a lot of shots (15.8 per night). He’s likely going to be more featured as time goes on, since Jennings is just a mere 23 years old.
6) Ty Lawson. Original Selection: 18
Ty Lawson has the talent to be a perennial All-Star. He got paid like one this summer, signing a four-year $48 million deal. Lawson has struggled some this season, but is still a great scoring point guard whose potential makes him a cornerstone in the Nuggets franchise.
7) Tyreke Evans, 4th
Tyreke Evans had a great rookie year but has regressed every season since then. He won the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year award after posting 20/5/5, but has been mediocre since becoming only the fourth NBA rookie in history to post such numbers his first NBA season.
8) Taj Gibson, 26th
Taj Gibson didn’t go until the end of the first round, but his defensive talents and hard play make him a lottery selection if these teams had a do-over.
9) Ricky Rubio, 5th
Ricky Rubio based on talent alone deserved to go No. 5 overall, but he’s battled injuries. Rubio and the T-Wolves have a bright future, and he could potentially be a “Spanish Steve Nash.”
10) Marcus Thornton, 43rd
Marcus Thornton’s shooting touch and ability to fill it up make him a natural sixth man. He’s started for the Sacramento Kings, but could fill a nice role coming off the bench for a scoring punch on a contending team.
The remainder of the relevant:
11) Jeff Teague, 19th
12) DeMar DeRozan, 9th
13) Darren Collison, 21st
14) Byron Mullens, 24th
15) Eric Maynor, 20th
16) Gerald Henderson, 12th
17) Jodie Meeks, 41st
18) Chase Budinger, 44th
19) Rodrique Beaubois, 25th
20) Jonas Jerebko, 39th
21) Jordan Hill, 8th
22) Tyler Hansbrough, 13th
23) James Johnson, 16th
24) DeJuan Blair, 37th
25) Toney Douglas, 29th