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It has become cliche at this point.

For months the 2009 NBA Draft class has been lamented by GM’s, television analysts, and writers for its lack of talent and potential. Many have called it the worst of all-time. Teams have been described as frantically clawing to escape the lottery in an attempt to avoid being told that they made a mistake taking such a bad player with such a good pick. I do not know who started these rumors, but whoever did made a mistake.

Sure this draft might not have the Hall-of-Fame locks that 1996 and 2003 brought the league, but it is nowhere near the bottom of the barrel.

Classes like 1996's are hard to replicate. (From left: Marcus Camby, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen (seated), Kobe Bryant, Shareef Abdur-Rahim)

That came earlier this decade.

The 2000 Draft was far and away the worst in recent history and surely one of the most disappointing classes of newcomers in all of professional sports. Nearly 60% of the players picked will not suit up in NBA uniforms this season, including four of the thirteen lottery picks. Only one All-Star appearance came of this group (Kenyon Martin, 2004). AOL Fanhouse re-did the draft this week in hindsight. It still became a mockery at pick 11, Joel Przybilla.

Not a pretty board in 2000

Not a pretty board in 2000

There is a lack of game-breaking talent this year. That is correct. However, there are certainly more than 10 players whom I expect to see on NBA rosters in ten years.

Yes, Ricky Rubio is a huge question mark. No, I do not think he is worth the hype or the top-5 pick. I side with Brandon Jennings.

Rubio is not the be-all, end-all though. He is far from it.

Blake Griffin is sure to find success in Los Angeles. He reminds me of a Michael Beasley-Elton Brand hybrid. That’s one.

Jordan Hill is also a shoe-in for a legitimate NBA big-man. The Kings, Timberwolves, Warriors, and Knicks all are in sore need of size, and one is sure to stake Hill. He will be plugged in immediately and fed the ball until he learns how to put it in the basket.

Then we get to the guards; the group about whom most gripe. Johnny Flynn and Stephen Curry will not fail. Flynn is a more-talented Aaron Brooks, and Curry is a lights-out shooter. Speedy offense and long-range shooting are two things that will never go out of style in the NBA. Ty Lawson and Darren Collison bring similar talents to the table and should also both be able to find their niches rather easily.

Brandon Jennings, like Rubio, is also a question mark in many people’s minds. While he is a supremely skilled ball-handler, complaints have surfaced about his jump shot. I don’t agree with the doubters. I see Jennings an all-star talent. He is cut from the Allen Iverson mold and certainly has enough faith in himself to succeed. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t turn into Louis Williams.

The final group of guaranteed legitimate NBA players are the battle-tested college veterans. These include Gerald Henderson, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Teague, Terrance Williams and Dejuan Blair. I cannot see any of these players bottoming-out. Henderson and Williams are tremendous athletes who can fit into any offensive/defensive scheme. Ellington is a three-point marksman who, unlike other recent ACC sharp shooters turned-pro (cough… Redick… cough), has the competency to defend at the NBA level. Hansbrough is a clone of David Lee, who has succeeded in New York. Blair, though undersized, is a hard worker with polished low-post skills and underrated athleticism; think a poor-man’s Charles Barkley. Finally Teague has a penchant for scoring in bunches and has done so against some of college basketball’s best. Another point in the favor of every member of this group is that they are all winners. All come from successful programs with great coaches, and that is a quality that often goes unnoticed.

This is not to say that many of the question marks will not work out. Hasheem Thabeet, Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Demar Derozan, BJ Mullens, Eric Maynor, Chase Budinger and Austin Daye are all very skilled players. Given the right system, surrounding cast, and coach, any of them could become the prize of the draft.

I am sick of this class being lambasted for its mediocreity. It is getting a bum-rap because of a few serious question marks and should turn out to be a very solid group of NBA players.

One Comment

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