THE 2009 NBA DRAFT WAS SOMETHING ELSE

1.) Los Angeles Clippers – Blake Griffin – University of Oklahoma

Griffin played for the Clippers’ Summer League Team and was named Summer League MVP. In their final preseason game, he injured his kneecap as he landed after a dunk, which ended up being diagnosed as a stress fracture. The knee wasn’t recovering properly, and he ended up getting season ending surgery. His second year, technically considered his rookie year, he averaged 20 points and 14 rebounds and went on to win ROY. Griffin was voted to play as a starter for the first time in the 2012 all star game along with new teammate Chris Paul. But as his career went on, Griffin was plagued with injuries that just seemed to come at the most inopportune times, like during potential playoff runs. He stayed in LA until 2018, when he was traded to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, and Boban Marjonovic. Although he played well in that 2018 season, he was continually dealing with injuries that never really allowed him to be on the court much. On March 8th, 2021, Griffin signed with the Brooklyn Nets where he is currently on a 1-year deal. The Nets are looking to get out of the play-in tournament and make noise in the playoffs as an 8 seed.

2.) Memphis Grizzlies – Hasheem Thabeet – UCONN

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Many analysts label Thabeet as one of the biggest busts in NBA history. He had a pretty disappointing rookie year, and was assigned to the Dakota Wizards of what was at that time the D-League. In 2011, Thabeet was traded with a future first round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Shane Battier and Ish Smith. He was then assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. In 2012, he was traded again with Johnny Flynn and a future 2nd round pick, to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for Marcus Camby. In He proceeded to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, and bounced around different D-league teams throughout the league for years after. In 2017 he ended up playing for the Yokohama team in Japan, and his career fizzled out. He most recently played in 2021 for a Taiwanese league.

3.) OKC Thunder – James Harden – ASU

We all know about James Harden. In 2012 he was named 6th man of the year, and made an NBA finals appearance alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The Thunder traded him to the Houston Rockets ahead of the 2012-2013 season, where he won league MVP in 2018. In fact, during his time in Houston he was named to 8 consecutive NBA All-Star teams, and earned all NBA honors 7 times with 6 first team selections. In the beginning of the 2020-2021 season, Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a 4-team trade. In 2021 Harden was honored as one of the league’s greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. This past February, the Nets traded Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and 2 first round picks. The Sixers are currently looking to make a deep playoff run, lead by both Harden and potential MVP Joel Embiid.

4.) Sacramento Kings – Tyreek Evans – Memphis

Out of this class, Tyreek Evans actually won Rookie of the Year (since Blake Griffin technically won it the following year). On November 24th, 2011 Evans agreed to a deal to play for Virtus Roma in Italy during the NBA lockout. When he returned, he scored a season-high 31 points in a loss to the Utah Jazz. Unfortunately in the 2012 season, he missed 16 out of 20 games between November and January due to a left knee injuries. Evans was acquired by the New Orleans Pelicans on July 10th, 2013 in a sign and trade deal. He scored a career high 41 points that following season, and continued to play solid for his new team. He sadly was dealing with knee problems throughout, and had right knee surgery in 2015. The following year, he had another round of surgery to his right knee and was ruled out for the season. In 2017, Evans was traded along with Buddy Field, Langston Galloway, and some draft picks back to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi. He went from there, to the Grizzlies to the Pacers, when he was eventually banned from the NBA for violating the terms of the Anti-Drug Program that prohibits drug abuse. He did become eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2021, and actually was reinstated this year. So we may actually Tyreek Evans back in NBA action for the first time in years.

5.) Minnesota Timberwolves – Ricky Rubio – Spain

Rubio didn’t actually join the Timberwolves until the 2011 season, where he spent 6 seasons with the team before being traded to the Utah Jazz in 2017. He then signed with the Phoenix Suns in July 2019 before returning to Minnesota in 2020. Then he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021, but was dealt to the Pacers a month after suffering a season ending ACL injury in December. Rubio has carved out a really solid career for himself, and seems to be an asset wherever he goes. Now with Indiana, he is looking to lead a young team to the playoffs next year, as they have recently acquired Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield from the Kings.

6.) Minnesota Timberwolves – Jonny Flynn – Syracuse

It is extremely rare for a team to have back to back top 10 picks in a draft, but the Timberwolves had that. They decided to go back to pack point guards with Rubio and Flynn, and considering who was drafted with the very next pick, it’s safe to say that was a HORRIBLE decision. To be fair, Flynn’s stats were solid for his rookie season, averaging 13 points and 4 assists per game. At the end of the season, Flynn was selected to the All-rookie second team. Unfortunately, he underwent hip surgery during the summer of 2010, which caused a decline in his production. He was traded to the Houston Rockets during the 2011 draft, and then the following season to the Portland Trailblazers with Hasheem Thabeet, which is wild considering they were both top 10 picks in the same draft class. He signed with the Pistons in 2012, and was cut shortly after. That surgery seemed to really derail his career, and the last time he played professionally was one season in the Chinese Basketball Association in 2013. 

7.) Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry – Davidson

We all know about this baby faced assassin. He lit it up in the NCAA tournament at Davidson, which lead to the Warriors selecting him with the #7 pick in the 2009 draft. Ankle injuries plagued him in his first few seasons, and many pundits wondered if he too would be considered a bust. Boy were they wrong! He went on to become a 3-time NBA champion, 2-time league MVP, 2022 All star game MVP, 8 All star selections, 7 all NBA selections, and broke the record for 1st all-time in 3 pointers made in the history of the NBA. And he’s definitely not done yet. I don’t think much more needs to be said about Steph, except for the fact that the Timberwolves fumbled this draft extremely hard. Imagine what could have been.

8.) New York Knicks – Jordan Hill – Arizona

Although the Knicks drafted Hill, he was traded to the Houston Rockets just 25 games into his rookie season. He was traded with Jared Jeffries in a 3-team deal that also sent Tracy McGrady to the Knicks. At the trade deadline again in 2012, Hill was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Derek Fisher and a first round pick. He played in 7 regular season games averaging 4 points and 4 rebounds per game. The Lakers had a pretty bad year in the 2012-2013 season, but Hill was knock for his hustle which was certainly lacking on that team. Hill suffered a major injury when Kobe Bryant inadvertently stepped on his foot which caused him to pull his hip. Surgery was required after doctors found loose fragments and a possible labral tear. His rebounds-per-minute average was among the league’s best at that time. In 2015, Hill signed with the Indiana Pacers, and then the Timberwolves the following season. He was most recently apart of the North American Premier Basketball league for the Nevada Desert Dogs. I definitely wouldn’t call Jordan Hill a bust, but like many players with high expectations, injuries prevented him from reaching his true potential in the league.

9.) Toronto Raptors – DeMar Derozan – USC

DeRozan spent only one year at USC before entering the draft, and he started playing well right away. He entered the Slam Dunk contest in 2010 where he lost in the final round to Nate Robinson, but the final percentage was 51-49 in favor of Nate. He had a 37 point game against the Houston Rockets, and showed off his athleticism night in and night out. His first all star appearance was the 2013-2014 season. Then in 2015, he helped the Raptors win their first playoff series in franchise history, scoring 30 points in game 7 against the Indiana Pacers. In the next round, he scored 34 in another game 7 as they beat the Miami Heat to advance to their first conference finals. Unfortunately Lebron and the Cavs took them out to advance to the finals, but it was an unprecedented run for the Raptors, lead by Demar Derozan. Demar was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in 2018 along with Jakob Poeltl and a first rounder for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. The Raptors won their first NBA championship that very next year, with Demar being the sacrificial lamb in many peoples’ eyes. He played decent for the Spurs, but it’s hard to be a dominant superstar in a system as team-oriented as Greg Popovic’s. In 2021, Derozan was traded to the Chicago Bulls, where he is currently having an MVP caliber season, and putting up the best numbers of his career. It’s safe to say Dear was an excellent draft pick, and has lived up to the hype of a top 10 pick. It will be interesting to see how the Chicago Bulls perform in this year’s playoffs, since the franchise hasn’t done much of anything since the departing of Michael Jordan.

10.) Milwaukee Bucks – Brandon Jennings – Italy

Brandon Jennings was initially set to join USC. Instead, he committed to the Arizona Wildcats. But in June 2008, he announced that he would become the first American player to skip college to play professionally in the Euroleague. The NBA requires players to be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school before entering the league, so he couldn’t enter the 2008 draft. After playing in Italy for a year, the Milwaukee Bucks selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft. In just his 7th game in the NBA, he scored 55 points in a win over the Golden State Warriors, becoming the youngest player to ever do so. He started all 82 games as a rookie and lead the Bucks to the playoffs for the first time in 4 seasons. He ended up finishing 3rd in Roy voting. In 2010 he recorded his first triple double, but broke his left foot when he landed awkwardly. Despite the injury, he actually finished the game and played 30 minutes the following game. Jennings was set to hit restricted free agency at the end of the 2012-2013 season, but the Bucks paired him with Monta Ellis who was acquired at the 2012 trade deadline. Milwaukee returned to the playoffs for the first time since Jennings was a rookie. During those playoffs, they were an 8 seed – Jennings came up with his famous catch phrase “Bucks in 6”. Despite being swept by the Miami Heat, the phrase became prominent after the Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals in 6 games. In 2013, Jennings was signed-and-traded to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton. He played pretty well over 3 years before being traded to the Orlando Magic in 2016. Then it was the Knicks, Wizards, and eventually over to China in 2017. I would say Brandon Jennings carved out a pretty solid career for himself, and definitely had his moments. One of the most impressive things about him that a lot of people don’t know is that he grew up as a right-handed player. But in high school, when he broke his collarbone, he forced himself to become a lefty and played the rest of his career as a lefty, completely changing his game. He will always be known as a funny, crafty player who the Bucks took a chance on with that 10th overall pick. And we partially have him to thank for pairing Chris Middleton with Giannis Antetekounmpo. He was certainly loud and proud at the Bucks championship parade.

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