Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why the Clippers can't win for losing

The top pick in the NBA lottery is like a 10-year comet that comes one year too late for the Clippers. In 1988, they drafted Danny Manning when David Robinson was drafted a year earlier. Same thing happened in 1998 when they drafted Michael Olowokandi one year after Tim Duncan. Now we’re gonna see how they screw this up with the slam-dunk No. 1 choice of Blake Griffin, the consensus Player of the Year and everybody's All-American (no Frank Deford)

I loved the headline that the LA Times Sports Blog had “Blake Griffin Loses Lottery.” He’s probably going to a team that is loaded upfront (Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby), including a guy who plays his position (Zach Randolph). He’ll be cursed to join a team with an owner who has no basketball sense and only cares about making money. And best of all, he gets to do it on a team that has almost no history of drafting great players that stick around (good luck, Eric Gordon)

Let’s face it, the Clippers would have been screwed had they won the No. 2 pick. Ricky Rubio would’ve joined Baron Davis, Mike Taylor and Eric Gordon. Rubio-Gordon would’ve been a solid backcourt for years to come but at the expense of Davis being relegated to the bench, it’s a pipe dream. Same with Hasseem Thabeet, Jordan Hill, Brandon Jennings, etc….I just don’t see anyone who’s a good fit. It's a team with too many parts - some good, some inconsistent but clustered all around.

I’ve been discussing the draft on Twitter and there’s no secret that the 2009 draft is loaded on potential but light on actual performance. Outside of Griffin and Rubio, nobody named among the lottery is really standing out a surefire pick. The one-and-dones (Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, BJ Mullens) are nowhere near the class of last year’s and are being drafted based on what did in high school almost more than college.

*And I'm saying that as somebody who said Holiday is the best all-around guard Cali has produced since Baron Davis and watched DeRozan throw down some sick dunks up close. Both are nice but both can get better, esp. DeRozan*

Haseem Thabeet is tall but I smell dunk bait. Jordan Hill is a better pro from the Pac-10 than James Harden? I’m a big Stephen Curry fan but he’s gotta bulk up before he can be the next Ben Gordon. Austin Daye is nice (saw him play in a HS All-Star game two years ago) but he’s gotta get his weight up to match his immense skills.

This is clearly a draft where you’d benefit leaving early because the competition is weak (a la Mark Sanchez). Teams in the 10’s-20’s are gonna be satisfied with the steals they get (Darren Collison, Earl Clark, Eric Maynor, Gerald Henderson, DeJuan Blair, James Johnson, Sam Young). Oh, and if you’re wondering how I feel about Tyler Hansborough – he’s a solid high teens-early 20’s pick because of his smarts, hustle and nose around the ball. But he needs a reliable jumper and more foot speed to survive.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams tried to trade down. But for the Clippers, there may be no hope because they’ll find a way to screw it up and somewhere, Blake Griffin is praying how to avoid becoming the next victim of the Clippers curse.

I’ve never done a mock draft and I won’t do one now. I’d rather analyze how players will do on the next level. So if you feel like speaking your mind, you know where to find me.

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