Like clockwork, every May and June in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, there is debate about the rule the league implemented where prospects must have played at least one year of college basketball or at least be 19 years old by the end of the calendar year before entering the draft. Some "experts" love the idea so high school players cannot go straight to college. Others think the rule needs to be lengthened because the "one-and-done" college hoopsters only have to take one semester of classes seriously before leaving school.
The NFL has a similar rule stating that a player must be three years removed from high school before entering the draft. So what if the "one-and-done" haters got their wish and the NBA adopted the NFL's age regulations? That is what this mock draft is all about.
Think about the impact that rule would have. Players like Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, Jerryd Bayless, Anthony Randolph, Donte Greene, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, Demar DeRozan, Austin Daye, James Johnson, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, B.J. Mullens, Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings would all still be either in college or playing overseas. Meanwhile, current NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Brook Lopez would just be entering the draft.
I took some of the following factors into account when figuring out this mock draft. I considered what positions the teams drafted last month and tried to stick with that spot. There is more big-man talent in this specific class than there was in the actual 2009 NBA Draft, so some teams that selected certain positions instead went for size.
I also factored in the development of each player if they would have stayed in college or overseas for an extra year or two. For example, Ohio State's Daequan Cook would have developed his game significantly with two more years with the Buckeyes, thus improving his status as the 21st overall pick in 2007.
I also assumed that certain teams were filled at their current positions. For instance, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook wouldn't have been on the Thunder last season, but I am drafting under the theory that Oklahoma City had comparable players on their roster.
Here we go:
Los Angeles Clippers: Kevin Durant, SF, Texas, 6-10, Jr.
With how good Durant has been in his years in Oklahoma City, imagine how dominating he would have been with two years at Texas. Yes, the Clips already have Al Thornton, but Durant would have been the obvious No. 1 overall choice and easily put to rest the Durant/Oden debate of 2007.
If we are consistent with history, Oden would have missed his sophomore year due to injury, and scouts would have potentially realized that his upside was not all it was cracked up to be. Still, with his size and probable collegiate domination when he was healthy, he is the top-ranked center in this class.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Hasheem Thabeet, C, UConn, 7-3, Jr.
With no shooting guard like James Harden worth taking this high, Oklahoma City goes big. Thabeet gets the advantage over Brook Lopez due to his defensive dominance.
Conley would have played with Oden and Daequan Cook for another two years which would only help his stock. I'd imagine he would be the top point guard in this class.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Russell Westbrook, PG, UCLA, 6-3, Jr.
Assuming this trade still went down, the T-Wolves desperately needed a point guard and land Westbrook who would have only further blossomed with another year at UCLA.
Minnesota Timberwolves: D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas, 5-11, Jr.
GM David Kahn drafts Augustin (who would have gotten a HUGE stock bump running with Durant for another two seasons) and then announces Westbrook will play the two.
Golden State Warriors: Brandan Wright, PF, North Carolina, 6-10, Jr.
Wright was drafted based on his potential after one year at UNC, and based off his lackluster first two years in the league, could have used more time in college.
New York Knicks: Brook Lopez, C, Stanford, 7-0, Jr.
Lopez was one of the steals of the 2008 NBA Draft going 10th overall. Another year with the Cardinal would have only raised his stock.
Toronto Raptors: Danilo Gallinari, SF, Italy, 6-9, 1988
Pre-Hedo Turkoglu signing, the Raptors badly needed some help on the wing. Since they are obsessed with foreign talent, Gallinari is the perfect fit.
Milwaukee Bucks: Stephen Curry, G, Davidson, 6-3, Jr.
The Bucks stick with a point guard prospect and Curry is the best available at this point. Imagine him and Michael Redd chucking up threes all day long.
New Jersey Nets: Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech, 6-7, Jr.
The Nets needed help on the wing and Young likely would have flourished after one year with the Yellow Jackets in which he was still a fairly raw talent.
Charlotte Bobcats: Daequan Cook, SG, Ohio State, 6-4, Jr.
I'll maintain that Cook's stock would have skyrocketed playing with Conley for two more years. He would have been a perfect fit with the Bobcats who needed a shooting guard.
Indiana Pacers: Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona, 6-10, Jr.
Hill and the Pacers would have been a perfect match as Indiana lacks an athletic big man. Hill's stock takes a hit in this class due to more talented big men in the "What If" Mock Draft.
Phoenix Suns: Spencer Hawes, C, Washington, 7-0, Jr.
With the perspective Shaq trade looming, the Suns would have a hard time passing on a talented big like Hawes.
Detroit Pistons: Robin Lopez, C, Stanford, 7-0, Jr.
I am still surprised Mullens decided to go pro as he would have been better served returning to the Buckeyes and developing his game. But based on his athleticism, size and potential, he is definitely worth a mid-first-round pick. He reportedly has a top-16 guarantee and the Pistons would make sense since they lack a true center.
Chicago Bulls: Tyler Hansbrough, PF, UNC, 6-9, Sr.
The Bulls need to get more physical in the paint and that's exactly what Hansbrough brings to the table.
Philadelphia 76ers: Javaris Crittenton, PG, Georgia Tech, 6-4, Jr.
Crittenton has been a non-factor in the NBA, stuck behind other talented point guards on his already three NBA rosters. Another two years of running the show at Tech would have better prepared him for the next level.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville, 6-6, Sr.
I'll assume the T-Wolves didn't trade this pick to Denver and instead draft a true wing player to complement their previous selections of two point guard.
Atlanta Hawks: Marreese Speights, PF, Florida, 6-10, Jr.
The Hawks are in a "best available player" situation and Speights had a solid rookie year which would have translated into a more dominating junior season with the Gators.
Utah Jazz: Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke, 6-5, Jr.
Like the Hawks, Utah goes best available prospect. With more post talent, Henderson drops from 12th in the 2009 NBA Draft to 20th in the "What If" Draft.
New Orleans Hornets: JaVale McGee, C, Nevada, 7-0, Jr.
McGee's upside would have been better tapped with a third season at Nevada. The Hornets would be wise to take a backup to Tyson Chandler rather than Chris Paul.
Dallas Mavericks: Ty Lawson, PG, UNC, 5-11, Jr.
Sticking with the actual draft order prior to Dallas dealing down two spots, the Mavs still take a point guard prospect but get an upgrade from Rodrige Beaubois to a more established, NBA-ready Lawson.
Sacramento Kings: Ryan Anderson, PF, California, 6-10, Jr.
Anderson came on strong in the second half of his rookie year and would provide some depth up front much like they hope their real pick, Omri Casspi will do.
Portland Blazers: Earl Clark, SF, Louisville, 6-10, Jr.
The Blazers took a similar player to Clark in Victor Claver in the actual draft. Clark slips from 14th to 24th and would be considered a steal this low.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas, 6-9, Jr.
Arthur dropped on Draft Day in 2008 and we'll stick with that theory here.
Chicago Bulls: Alexis Ajinca, PF, France, 7-0, 1988
The Bulls go with a still unproven Ajinca hoping he can develop into a versatile big man.
Memphis Grizzlies: Nicolas Batum, SF, France, 6-8, 1988
The Grizzlies realize they get a solid role player by taking the versatile Batum.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Eric Maynor, PG, VCU, 6-3, Sr.
The T-Wolves apparently LOVE point guards so why not select a third one?
Los Angeles Lakers: Victor Claver, SF, Spain, 6-11, 1988
Again, assuming the Lakers keep this pick, they take a player with potential and a possible replacement for (at the time) pending free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Omri Casspi, F, Isreal, 6-9, 1988
The Cavs went Euro by taking Christian Eyenga, so we stick to that thought here.