Tuesday , Jun , 23 , 2009 Oly Sandor

The five biggest gambles of the 2009 NBA draft

Instead of tracking consensus number ones, I follow the wildcard and sleeper prospects. I enjoy speculating on the potential of a small school athlete or the upside of a ‘Euro’, who plies his trade in some unpronounceable and semi-autonomous state across the Atlantic Ocean. Quite often, these afterthoughts, not the high profile lottery kids, provide franchises with the greatest boost. For instance, finding diamond-in-the- ruff-second-rounders like Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili changed Washington and San Antonio …


The five biggest gambles of the 2009 NBA draft Each week, HoopsVibe The Blog drops a basketball related list for fans to weigh-in on. We call it ‘Listed’ …

On draft day, I have little interest in ‘sure-things’.   

Instead of tracking consensus number ones, I follow the wildcard and sleeper prospects. I enjoy speculating on the potential of a small school athlete or the upside of a ‘Euro’, who plies his trade in some unpronounceable and semi-autonomous state across the Atlantic Ocean.       

Quite often, these afterthoughts, not the high profile lottery kids, provide franchises with the greatest boost. For instance, finding diamond-in-the- ruff-second-rounders like Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili changed Washington and San Antonio.   

Not all unknowns are selected in the wee hours of draft night. Plenty of risks, or landmines, sit in the green room reserved for ‘future superstars’. Bottom line, drafting is an inexact science.   

In honour of the 2009 draft, HoopsVibe The Blog is naming five roll-the-dice prospects in this edition of ‘Listed’. As always, read the post, form an opinion, and get at us with thoughts in the comment box below.    

Gamble #1: Ricky Rubio …    

Why: Like you, I’ve been reading the split reviews on this Spanish table-setter. Rubio fans praise his feel for the game, length, and ability to run the ever-important high pick-and roll. Rubio bashers knock his poor athleticism, shaky perimeter shot, and non-existent mid-range game.   

No middle ground or in-between seems to exist. I think these mixed opinions can be partially attributed to the fact scouts have been watching Rubio for years and, fair or not, have had too much time to dissect his game.     

Further complications exist: Rubio’s current pro club, DKV Joventut, will only cancel his contract if an NBA side pays his multi-million dollar buyout fee. There is no guarantee this poor man’s Pistol Pete attends training camp. 

 Gamble #2: Brandon Jennings …   

Why: The top high school prospect of 2008 could be punished for chasing the NBA dream on his terms. Instead of following the typical blue-chip route to ‘The League’  (attending a Div-1 institution for a token year), Jennings pulled a reverse Stephon Marbury and went to Europe.   

While killing time abroad to meet Commissioner Stern’s minimum age requirement, he got exposed. Scouts had issues with Jennings lack of size, poor shooting, and under-whelming numbers.    

Gamble #3: Tyler Hansbrough …    

Why: ‘Psycho T’ also polarizes. On the one hand, he is a four-time All-American and led North Carolina to an NCAA championship. On the other hand, his lack of athleticism could be an issue for the pro game.  However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If Hansbrough lands with a veteran-laden team, he has the work ethic and basketball IQ to develop into a valuable glue guy.   

Gamble #4: Hasheem Thabeet …   

Why: Is he Dikembe Mutombo or Yinka Dare? 

At 7-3, the UConn grad has tremendous physical gifts, but his offensive game is raw like Eddie Murphy’s stand-up act. Amazingly, Memphis might be a fit because Thabeet would only have to defend with scorers Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.    

Gamble #5: Nick Calathes …    

Why: Well, he already has a contract. In May, the Florida grad pre-empted the entire draft process by signing a lucrative multi-year pact with Greek power and Euro-league contenders Panathinaikos.   

A team could still select Calathes late in the first round, encourage him to hone his game overseas for a few seasons, and, perhaps, sign him down the road. This wait-and-see approach means teams won’t have to pay a rookie contract.   

Who is the biggest gamble in this year’s draft? Rubio? Jennings? Hansbrough? Thabeet? Calathes? Or someone else? Get at us in the comment box and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of Jorge Peidro.