That’s right, official. Meaning Joe and I got together, spent hours debating, crunching numbers, debating, watching tape, arm wrestling, debating and… debating coming up with this list. It really was quite an ordeal. In coming up with our big board, we weighed Oklahoma City’s team needs along with the best player available. Surprisingly, we didn’t have to do a whole lot of moving around because we agreed a lot on at least the top 15 or so players.
To be clear, this is a draft board, not a mock draft, or a “if we get this pick, we take this guy” list. For those of you that aren’t clear on a “big board,” basically it just a list ranking players that you would take if they are still available. Once a player gets taken, you cross him off, and then you move to the player next highest on the list. It’s like the AP Top 25, but for individual basketball players.
This is part one. We’ll have part two with 13-30 up in a couple weeks, but we wanted to be on record before the lottery dashes our dreams of thinking about No. 1 or 2. We can also just call this “Version 1.0″ as well, because post combine, we may do a little revising. And as always, feel free to tell us how wrong we are in the comments. That’s really what it’s all about. But as Joe said, when in doubt, just go with the guy with the fewest tattoos.
1. Blake Griffin – 6’10″/ F/ Oklahoma (highlights)
Royce: There’s just no doubt. Every scout, every GM, every analyst says he’s No.1. Basically, if Sam Presti had the chance and passed on Blake, Tony Almeida would be hired to release a canister of whatever-the-crap-that-is inside Leadership Square. He fits every need the Thunder has, plus you know, he’s from here. I know some people like the flash of Rubio and they may say a playmaker like Rubio doesn’t come along very often. (Except for Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose and Steve Nash. You know, besides them.) The reality is, power forwards of Blake’s caliber don’t come along very often. Go ahead, name the top 10 power forwards in the league. You’ll be surprised once you get to No. 10.
Joe: The most skilled big man in the draft since……Can we just hand him the rookie of the year award before he even gets a paycheck?
2. Ricky Rubio – 6’3″/ G/ DKV Joventut (highlights)
Royce: Rubio may very well become a fantastic player. But let’s all look at the facts: He averaged 10.0 ppg and 6.1 apg this year in 22 games against second tier competition. Sure he was nice in the Olympics, but his best game was eight points and three assists. Seriously, look over his Olympic stats. People act like he was putting up 20 and 15 in Beijing. He grabbed everybody’s attention at the Games, but was it because of his actual play, or just his flash, style and hype? The thing about Rubio is he’s a relative unknown. We’re all basing what we think about him on some articles and commentary by others. I’ve seen him play a total of six games. I thought he was very slick and a pretty good point guard, but I didn’t immediately think, “Oh yeah, he’s totally Chris Paul good.” He’s absolutely deserving of the second pick, but Blake Griffin stands alone, unquestioned, at the top. Rubio is quite a consolation prize for No. 2 though, no doubt. But I just can not get behind him being picked in front of Blake.
Joe: He makes passes that you just don’t see very often. He reminds me of a long armed, rangy Jason Kidd, mixed with a little Jason Williams “white chocolate” showtime.
3. James Harden – 6’5″/ G/ Arizona State (highlights)
Royce: People have tried to come up with words to describe Harden’s game – crafy, inventive, refined (why is it always the lefties that get called “crafty”?). What they’re trying to say is he’s just a good basketball player. He’s not going over the top of you for a dunk and he’s not going to run past you, but he’s still going to score. But it’s not like he’s some slow slob. He’s sneaky athletic. The type of guy that rises out of no where for a big dunk. And he fits this team in most every way. People point to his poor tournament showing, but Harden was doubled and even tripled at times. One thing that scares me a little about Harden is we don’t know a lot about his man-to-man defensive skills. At Arizona State, he played almost exclusively in a 2-3 zone. Was that to protect Harden from foul trouble? Was it because the team was a bit undersized? Or was that to mask defensive defienciencies? Who knows. What I see is a lefty Brandon Roy. A guy that can handle the ball, pass extremely well, scores in multiple ways and just has that “good basketball player” look. And he’s got a beard. You’ve got to love the beard.
Joe: What I like about Harden, more than any other player in the lottery is his ability to create his own offense. That is a skill that never goes out of style. When the jumpshots aren’t falling, or nobody can get an open look, it’s a good thing to be able to make something out of nothing. Plus, Harden is almost like another point guard with his great court vision, willingness to pass the ball and complimentary style. He’s a very efficient guard with a beefy body that won’t get pushed around. Keep Reading…