Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NBA Draft Lottery: Who Will Get to Be (Wrongly) Pressured to Take Blake Griffin No. 1

Everyone will be watching the NBA Draft Lottery tonight and whomever gets the No. 1 pick will be deemed the big winner of the night.

I disagree.

To me, the big winner will be the team picking No. 2. That team will be probably picking Ricky Rubio as their point guard of the future. I've been a Rubio guy for a couple years now (hat tip to SLAM Magazine for that). He's impressed the NBA guys he went up against and played with during the Olympics. He has a high basketball IQ, is big for a point guard and could be a Jason Kidd type guy.

The team picking No. 1 will be selecting Oklahoma's Blake Griffin. They have to. Everyone expects Griffin to be the top pick since he was the top player in college last year. He has an NBA-ready body and can contribute right away with his toughness and rebounding. I think Griffin will have a long career that won't be filled with frills.

All that may be attractive, but Rubio could be special.

All this harkens back two years ago when the Portland Trail Blazers had the top pick. They had to pick Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick because ... well ... everyone had his as the No. 1 pick in the previous two drafts if he was eligible. You couldn't be the idiot that passed on Oden? Right??

Going into that draft, most people felt that Kevin Durant was the best player in the draft. I was one of those. If I was Portland, I would have done the unpopular thing and draft Durant (trust me, this isn't hindsight at all). I thought that Oden could help out immediately with his defense and rebounding but Durant will be the more special player down the road. Right now, it seems that way.

Look, I understand taking the safe pick. It looks good to your fans and, in hindsight, you could say that any other team picking in that spot would have done the same thing. And ... more times than not ... it has worked out just fine. The outside-of-the-box No. 1 picks of Kwame Brown and Andres Bargnani haven't worked out as well.

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