by Jack Maidment
Why would you pick Blake Griffin with the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft?
The answers are two fold:
1. You get the only player ‘guaranteed’ to make an impact straight away a player destined for All-Star status sooner rather than later.
2. As a struggling franchise you draft the player that will sell the most season tickets through sheer weight of interest.
Now, both of these reasons are obvious and self explanatory. Yet it is with no surprise that we hear that the Clippers are listening to offers for their pick.
Such a rumour has started to grow pace as a result of one man’s actions: Ricky Rubio.
It could be argued that the DNA of this Draft class rests heavily on how the man from Spain decides to handle himself as the Big Night draws closer.
Rumours are rumours and their one constant is that they don’t have to hold an ounce of truth: they will still grow larger and gain more talk time. Whether Rubio will commit to the draft regardless of location could dictate the specifics for, at least, the other players in the top 10.
It is difficult to isolate Rubio because his decision will affect everyone making the first 10 picks largely difficult to predict. However, some should be sure things. Observe:
Barring trades and Clipper Madness, Blake Griffin will go first to Los Angeles. As Ron Burgundy would say, ‘that’s a given’.
If Rubio plays hard ball the Grizzlies will likely take Hasheem Thabeet for two reasons. Firstly, he should compliment Marc Gasol’s post game.
Secondly, Memphis couldn’t accommodate another perimeter player who needs the ball to be successful. They already have OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay to demand the rock and it can only be shared so much.
Ricky Rubio may well look attractive to the Thunder, but the bottom line is: could he play in the same backcourt as Russell Westbrook? No. Westbrook can play at the 2, but both want the ball in their hand. Conflict? Yep.
So who do Oklahoma take? James Harden, the best SG in this class would provide them with a perimeter threat who can go to the hoop and finish. A perfect compliment to Westbrook, Durant and Jeff Green.
The Sacramento Kings could be a viable alternative for Rubio who would get the reigns to the team and would sell tickets. But, whether he would mesh with Kevin Martin, the franchise’s main scorer and ball demander, is a tough question to resolve.
The Washington Wizards will likely take Jordan Hill who will bring toughness and heart to a front line which lacks fire. His offensive game may be far from polished, but the fact that the Wiz will have Arenas, Butler and Jamison, Hill wont be relied on for production anyway. Just clean the glass and hustle.
Hill seems like a lock for Wahington. He just makes sense. The same can not be said for the next two picks.
It would appear that the T-Wolves and the Warriors will take Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings, but which way round does not scream out.
Nellie Ball would suit Jennings more but Monta Ellis might not be too keen. But, to be fair, he might not like the other option any better.
Tyreke is probably a better fit for the Wolves who can persist with Randy Foye at the 1.
It’s a tough call.
If he is still there, the New York Knicks will take the best shooter in the draft, Stephen Curry who should fit perfectly into Mike D’Antoni’s offense. That will be nice.
Toronto picks 9th and they will need to address their lack of backcourt power, probably by taking Demar DeRozan. A real slasher, he should fit nicely with Calderon and compliment the Raptors frontline perfectly.
Ramon Sessions’ contract demands will likely lead the Bucks to draft a PG in the shape of Jonny Flynn.
If Rubio pulls out then everything will change, with Jennings the one to benefit.
If he stays in the draft and Memphis or Oklahoma call his bluff, the landscape will change all over again.
It’s all on Rubio.