Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe have made it clear that with the 11th pick in the 2009 draft, the Nets will be looking solely at bigs. James Johnson, the Wake Forest sophomore, seemed like the favorite early on. His combination of athleticism and toughness seemed like it would fit perfectly with Lawrence Frank’s offense which is predicated on attacking the basket and either finishing or kicking the ball out. Then, Dejuan Blair burst onto the Nets radar after an impressive NCAA tournament, even though he was inconsistent offensively. Against Villanova, Blair put up 20 and 10 on 9/9 shooting with two steals and two assists. Blair looked like the ideal big, albeit undersized, to pair with Brook Lopez and have a tough, young front court that would be defensive stoppers for years to come. Some mocks have the Nets taking Ty Lawson to fulfill the void they have at the backup point guard spot ever since they dropped Marcus Williams, but the hole at the power forward position for the Nets is much greater. The Nets platooned Sean Williams, Josh Boone, and the oft injured and painfully soft Yi Jianlian alongside Brook Lopez, and the power forward position is the second most deep in the draft, after the point guards of course. Last year, Thorn sat back on draft night and watched several teams foolishly pass on Brook Lopez, because of fear of his “bust potential” and disappointing workouts. Jay Bilas had him as the third most talented player in the draft, and he might have been the second, but he somehow dropped to 10.
It looks like this years Brook Lopez will be Jordan Hill, the 6’10, 235 pound junior out of Arizona. His buddy Chase Budinger might also be a steal in the mid first round and carve out a very good NBA career. If you would have asked me two weeks ago, I would have predicted Jordan Hill to go at 5 to the Wizards. It seemed like he would fit in perfectly with their young front court of Andray Blatche and Javale McGee. But then, thanks to the Knicks public displays of affection towards Stephen Curry, his stock rose. Now most mocks have him going at 5 to the Wizards. Consequentially, Jordan Hill’s stock has taken the biggest hit. Hill recently commented on his predicted decline down the draft board.
“I really don’t care about that, man,” Hill told the San Francisco Chronicle. “What you read are what people who aren’t around think. They’re not with the coaches or the GMs or with the people who make the decisions.”
Not true. Guys like Jonathan Givony and Chad Ford are with the GMs, coaches, and scouts, and that’s why their opinions are so valued. I’ve been a fan of Jordan Hill for a while now, and other than Blake Griffin, I thought he was the second best fit if the Knicks were to go big in the draft, after Cole Aldrich. He’s a big body who can really rebound and block shots. He’s working on his mid range game and workout reports show that he has made vast strides in that area. He only shot 54% from the stripe this season, so that is obviously a glaring concern, but he went from 5 points to 13 points to 18 points each year during his time at Arizona. This shows he has a proclivity to improve each year and work on his game. He has the potential to be a great two way power forward in the league. He’s been compared to Chris Wilcox, but not only is he a much better rebounder, but he has much better footwork, post moves, and a far superior mid range game. His worst case scenario is Ronny Turiaf, and not just because of the dreads. I can see him being a starter for many years and a franchise cornerstone. I just can’t see him being a bust because of his work ethic and attitude.
If a guy that averaged 18, 11, and 2 blocks in the Pac-10 drops to 11, the Nets would be ecstatic. If he slips past 5, he very well may drop to the Nets spot. Picks 6, 7, 8, and 9 look like they may all be guard picks, and depending on what the Bucks do, the Nets may end up with their dream pick falling into their laps. To the dismay of several Net fans, Tyler Hansborough has skyrocketed up the Nets board, and Chad Ford has them taking him in his Mock 4.0, which would easily be the biggest reach the draft. At the draft combine, Hansbrough surprisingly impressed. Jordan Hill could only lift the 185 -pound bar 11 times, while Hansborough lifted it 18 times. Hill is also only three quarters of an inch taller than Hansbrough, and his vertical is only an inch bigger. If Hill is gone by the time the Nets pick, they’ll choose between Hansbrough, Earl Clark, James Johnson, and Dejuan Blair, but if Jordan Hill falls, the decision is a no-brainer, and Brook Lopez, Jordan Hill, Devin Harris, and Vince Carter is scary.