Rebuild or Reload

Published 12:42 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

Will the best get better? Will the weak get strong? Who will be the surprises? Who will be the disappointments?

The answers to these questions only begin Thursday night as the NBA holds its annual free agent draft.

Local draft enthusiast and assistant Ironton basketball coach Bart Burcham has been studying each team’s needs along with the talent pool that will be available. He sees some surprises because he doesn’t see a very deep draft.

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“To me, the second best player in the draft if Tyreke Evans of Memphis if he gets with the right team. He’s my favorite player in the draft besides Griffin. (Griffin’s) a freak,” said Burcham.

“I think there will be one and probably two trades in the top five picks. How the trades go will depend on where everyone lands,” said Burcham.

“There are six or seven other guys who can come in and help a team. Overall, this isn’t a star-studded draft,” said Burcham. “After the top 10, maybe seven or eight, it thins out.”

One of the teams in a position to improve quickly is Minnesota with four first-round picks.

“Minnesota will trade one pick and they’ll send one overseas to avoid the luxury tax,” said Burcham.

Here are Burcham’s projections:

1. L.A. Clippers: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 6-10, forward. You figure this will be the lock pick, but the Clippers have been the Bengals of the NBA. They could be a pretty decent team with Griffin.

2. Memphis: Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut, 7-2, center. He’s not going to be asked to score much with Mayo and Rudy Gay there. As he plays, his offense will get better.

3. Oklahoma City: Stephen Curry, Davidson, 6-3, guard. He’s the best shooter in the draft. Since they took Westbrook last year, they’ll take James Hardin or Stephen Curry. They’d love to have Thabeet if he’s there.

4. Sacramento: Ricky Rubio, Spain, 6-5, point guard. He’s an outstanding ballhandler, distributor, and defensive player. His shot is not there yet, but he’s only 18 and he’s been playing with the pros over in Spain for three years.

5. Minnesota (from Washington): James Harden, Arizona State, 6-5, guard.

6. Minnesota: Tyreke Evans, Memphis, 6-5, guard. This sets their backcourt.

7. Golden State: Jordan Hill, Arizona, 6-10, forward. He’s the kind of guy Don Nelson likes playing at center or power forward. He’s thick and strong, but he can run the floor. He’s a worker and a rebounder. I think he’ll be better in the pros than in college.

8. New York: Jrue Holiday, UCLA, 6-4, guard. They’ll try to trade up. They want Curry, Evans or Hill.

9. Toronto: DeMar DeRozan, Southern Cal, 6-6, guard. They need a two or a three. He’s a really good shooter. He would have been a top five pick next year.

10. Milwaukee: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse, 6-0, point guard. He has the attitude to be a good NBA point guard. He’s a good fit here.

11. New Jersey: Terrence Williams, Louisville, 6-6, guard-forward. They worked out two guys this week and Williams tore it up.

12. Charlotte: Gerald Henderson, Duke, 6-4, guard. This should be their pick if he’s there, but don’t be surprise if they go with Tyler Hansbrough.

13. Indiana: Brandon Jennings, Italy, 6-2, guard. This could be DeJuan Blair, but teams are concerned about his knee.

14. Phoenix: Earl Clark, Louisville, 6-10, forward. His versatility is like a Lamar Odem type. He’s a better fit.

15. Detroit: Austin Daye, Gonzaga, 6-11, forward. The Pistons like his shooting and versatility.

16. Chicago: DeJuan Blair, Pitt, 6-7, forward. He’s smallish, but he’s powerful. He dominated Thabeet in one game.

17. Philadelphia: Ty Lawson, North Carolina, 6-1, point guard. They’re going to need a starting point guard. Philly was best when they were race horsing and there’s no one who pushes the ball better than Lawson.

18. Minnesota (from Miami): B.J. Mullens, Ohio State, 7-0, center. They could trade this pick, but if not they may gamble. This kid is big and thick.

19. Atlanta: Jeff Teague, Wake Forest, 6-2, point guard. They don’t know if they can re-sign Mike Bibby. They need a point guard. He’s steady and reliable.

20. Utah: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina, 6-9, forward. They’re three big guys are free agents. He’s they type of player coach Jerry Sloan likes. He can be a good backup to their big guys.

21. New Orleans: Sam Young, Pitt, 6-7, forward. He’s NBA-ready now. He’s rough, nasty, can shoot or take it to the hole.

22. Portland (from Dallas): Omri Casspi, Israel, 6-9, forward. Sacramento likes this guy and Portland moved up two spots just to get ahead of them. They can keep him overseas if they want.

23. Sacramento (from Houston): James Johnson, Wake Forest, 6-9, forward. If they get a point guard the first time, this guy fits a need for them. He’s very athletic.

24. Dallas (from Portland): Eric Maynor, VCU, 6-3, point guard. He could go earlier to Philadelphia. He’s another guy who’s NBA-ready.

25. Oklahoma City (from San Antonio): Jon Brockman, Washington, 6-7, forward. He’s an excellent rebounder and they need bigger bodies.

26. Chicago (from Denver through Oklahoma City): Wayne Ellington, North Carolina, 6-5, guard. He’s a pure shooter but he lacks defensive skills. He’ll be good off the bench.

27. Memphis (from Orlando): Taj Gibson, Southern Cal, 6-10, forward. He was a beast in the NCAA tournament. He has a wingspan of 7-4. He can step out on the floor and shoot or take guys to the basket.

28. Minnesota (from Boston): Jonas Jerebko, Sweden, 6-9, forward. They’ll probably leave this guy overseas.

29. L.A. Lakers: Victor Claver, Spain, 6-9, forward. They want to trade this, but if not they leave him overseas.

30. Cleveland: Derrick Brown, Xavier, 6-8, forward. It cold be DaJuan Summers of Georgetown, They both are the same size and play the same kind of game. They can step out on the floor and score.