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2009 NBA Draft a terror for NBA General Managers

Posted Monday, June 22, 2009, at 3:56 PM

If you are any other NBA General Manager outside of Los Angeles Clippers GM, Mike Dunleavy Sr., than this year's NBA Draft is the kind that conjures nightmares. It's also the kind of draft that could land several GM's on the unemployment line if they guess wrong on choosing a player.

What makes this draft so terrifying to many GM's around the league is that outside of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, whom Dunleavy is a shoe-in to take No. 1, there's just so much uncertainty.

Behind the Clippers with the second pick lie the Memphis Grizzlies and their own little soap opera.

There's a wide open field of players that could be taken with this pick, but who, catastrophe could lie right around the corner with the wrong pick. Perhaps a trade? No one wants to be known as the guy who drafted Sam Bowie with the second pick back in 1984. The Trailblazers still cringe when you mention that name.

The drama could include youngster Ricky Rubio, who has the flash of a No. 2, but perhaps not the substance just yet. He's got all the flair you can handle, thus the comparisons to Pete Maravich regarding his passing ability. Front office folks like that he's shown he'll play hurt while marketing folks and your teenage daughter love his Jonas Brothers' looks. If only he had a shooting touch.

Therein lies the problem with Rubio, the terrible phrase 'high ceiling.'

Yeah the kid has great 'upside,' but that and $2 will get you a milkshake at McDonalds, just ask Jonathan Bender, the limitlessly talented 7-footer the Pacers got from, errp, the Trailblazers. Bender had tantalizing ability for a big man, but could never stay healthy and balky knees forced him into retirement at the ripe old age of 25-years-old.

Sources are also saying that Rubio doesn't want to play for the Grizzlies and that could mean trade time after the pick. Other options could include UConn shot blocker extraordinaire, Hasheem Thabeet. Everybody knows that he has little offensive game right now, but at least you can plant him in the paint and get him to alter shots, but is he worth a No. 2?

The Oklahoma City Thunder got last year's Blake Griffin in Kevin Durant, so now they must build around him with the No. 3 pick. What they really need is a complementary scorer or an imposing player in the paint. You might go with Thabeet here, but you could also see Rubio here if he gets by Memphis or perhaps someone like James Harden of Arizona State. The Sun Devil might be the best player in this draft at creating his own scoring chances and he has plenty of ability to shoot as his 47 percent shooting percentage attests to.

The Sacramento Kings are likely looking for a point guard with their pick and could take a bit of a chance with the, still raw, Jrue Holliday from UCLA, who has the tools, but will have to make the adjustments, which will take a couple of years. He's got some great possibilities, but the team will have to be patient. Memphis guard Tyreke Evans is another raw player, but has exciting potential. There that word is again. The Kings would love to uncover a Chris Paul-type, but then again who wouldn't? Stephen Curry could also be a fun pick, but his size is perhaps his biggest question mark despite his talent. Evans could help out with the poor backcourt defense the Kings have displayed of late.

For the Washington Wizards at No. 5, there's plenty of hope. After all, they should hopefully get back a healthy Gilbert Arenas next season, which is even better than a top-five draft pick. So they would love to see someone like Harden slip to them and help complement Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. With those guys in the lineup, someone who shoots 20 times a game would be a detriment, but someone who can shoot a little and pass the ball would be great. Scottie Pippen was a No. 5 pick back in 1987.

If you want to skip down to no-man's land, which the Pacers seem to be in every draft year since the Rumble in the Palace of Auburn Hills, then the decision becomes even more of a crapshoot.

The popular consensus is that a point guard needs to be taken, which leaves some options depending on the choices above the Pacers.

A number of guards have worked out for the team, but I think a bust here could spell the end for Larry Bird's reign with the Pacers.

I'm sure even he has felt the heat of late so making a good pick here is of great importance to him. North Carolina's Ty Lawson has been in as well as Jrue Holiday, who doubtful to be available. Wake Forest's Jeff Teague is a local kid, but is a score first, pass later point and Virginia Commonwealth's Eric Maynor is a four-year college player who can do both. Pitt's behemoth forward, DeJuan Blair is a rebounding machine and might be a steal, though some questions about his knees and his size have teams scratching their heads.

It's unlikely that the Pacers' pick will draw much more than a 'ho-hum' from fans, but getting substance from this pick is the key to saving some jobs up top in the front office. Indiana picked up Danny Granger with the 17th pick in 2005 and they are hoping for a player that helps put the recent sordid past behind the organization for once and for all. The most likely result is that, whoever the Pacers pick will require patience to develop, afterall, Granger became an all-star this past season after developing his NBA game over several years.

The NBA Draft is Thursday and will air live on ESPN.

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