Surprises of Draft Night

Surprises of Draft Night
Jun 26, 2009, 05:39 pm
This year's draft was full of surprises after Oklahoma City opted for James Harden over Ricky Rubio, but that only set the dominoes in motion. We take a look at some of the biggest surprises from draft night.

Harden Over Rubio

Sam Presti definitely played this one perfectly in terms of keeping things close to the vest, but he probably didn’t make himself any friends in the process. This was obviously the best fit in terms of his team’s situation, but you can’t fault their GM for trying to make the best possible deal he could find. He definitely had David Kahn fooled.

Minnesota Picking Rubio, and then Flynn

There was a small chance that agent Dan Fegan would be able to convince Ricky Rubio (and especially his family) to pay his way out of living in suburban Barcelona to play for very little money in Minnesota. Unfortunately, that small chance evaporated once incoming GM David Kahn decided to select Jonny Flynn with the following pick.

Rubio is for now refusing to attend Minnesota’s press conference, while Kahn continues to swear that he’s excited about the possibility of playing both point guards together. This is an instance that having a coach in the war room really could have helped, as there is really no way that Flynn and Rubio can be considering anything less than the worst defensive backcourt in the NBA, and they really don’t complement each other offensively either.

What’s strange is how surprisingly unaggressive New York was while all this was going on. They really tried hard to move up in the days and weeks leading up to draft night, but decided to take a wait and see approach once it became clear that Rubio would slip to 5. It appears likely that Kahn initially took Rubio with the intent of “auctioning off the pick,” in the words of one source close to the situation, but it seems like the market isn’t quite as robust as initially anticipated.

Rubio’s comments after the draft made it very clear that he has no problem going back to Spain, and there will likely be a number of lucrative offers coming his way from the direction of Real Madrid and other top European teams once he returns home. This is likely going to be a long and drawn out process, and it’s very possible that we see teams like Dallas, New Jersey, New York and Indiana get back into the mix.

Blair Falling to 37

One of the more unfortunate parts of draft night was watching the free-fall of rebounding machine DeJuan Blair all the way to the #37 pick, much lower than anyone could have anticipated. The upside here is that Blair landed in a tremendous situation. The Spurs have a depleted frontcourt in terms of depth after the 3 for 1 trade for Richard Jefferson, and have an organization and team culture that will absolutely bring out the best in him. Blair is, at worst, the next Leon Powe, and at best could be a real (and extremely cheap) asset for the next few years.

It was really surprising to see team after team picking in the late first round pass on Blair, and considering the risk/reward factor involved with a two-year guarantee contract, it’s tough not to think that a lot of them made a mistake.

Sam Young Falling to 36

Not quite as shocking as Blair's slide, but still a little surprising was Sam Young's descension into the 2nd round. Young’s camp doesn’t really have an explanation for why he slipped that far, besides the fact that he’s quite a bit older than most of the players drafted ahead of him. He showed extremely well in the Group Workouts in Minnesota and Golden State, so it’s not like he didn’t have a chance to be seen by the teams that decided to pass on him. Seeing Cleveland opt to make a speculative pick on a 3-4 year project in Christian Eyenga rather than lock up an ultra tough and aggressive wing to replace Sasha Pavlovic doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense.

Longest Painful Slide: Patty Mills

While Blair most definitely took a tumble on draft night, at least he was able to take it in from the comfort of his own home. St. Mary’s junior Patty Mills wasn’t quite as fortunate, as he was sitting in the stands with a large contingent of family members, for well over three hours.

Biggest Surprise: Taylor Griffin at 48

We definitely didn’t see this one coming, we can tell you that much. We don’t think that Griffin’s camp did either from what we can gather. Griffin likely gets stashed in Europe for a year or two and then will get a chance to make Phoenix’s roster.

Top Undrafted Free Agents:
in no particular order

Josh Heytvelt
Alade Aminu
Paul Harris
Dionte Christmas
Jerel McNeal
Luke Nevill
Milenko Tepic
Vitor Faverani
Dar Tucker
Tyrese Rice
Wesley Matthews
K.C. Rivers
Daniel Hackett
Aaron Jackson
Kevin Rogers
Curtis Jerrells
John Bryant
Ben Woodside
Tony Gaffney
Slava Kravtsov
Micah Downs
Leo Lyons
Jeff Adrien
Jeremy Pargo
Joe Ingles
Eric Devendorf

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