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NEWS | June 23, 2009

Three important NBA Draft questions

By Airman 1st Class Patrick McKenna Capital Flyer sports writer

The 2009 NBA Draft is less than a week away and for fans, the draft offers a glimmer of hope. Hope that their respective team lands an impact player that can be the face of their franchise for the next decade or perhaps for teams closer to the promised land, a solid guy to come off the bench and give your stars a breather. Every draft is different. Some are strong due to the obvious impact talent available(2003 NBA Draft picks-Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all drafted top 5). Others, not so much(2000 NBA Draft-Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer and Mike Miller were the top 5 picks). Here are some questions I have going into Thursday's draft.

1) What will Memphis do with the second pick? The Memphis Grizzlies find themselves in a tough situation. Spanish YouTube sensation Ricky Rubio is the consensus number two player in the draft after Blake Griffin. Unfortunately, the Rubio camp has expressed its desire to not play in Memphis and if Memphis goes ahead and selects him anyway, Rubio has the option to return to Spain and Memphis is then left with nothing. The #2 pick in a very weak draft is not something you want to play a game of chicken with. Unless Memphis is blown away with an offer from some team desperate to get their hands on Rubio, they should stand pat and select UCONN center Hasheem Thabeet at #2 who will give them a strong defensive presence in the paint. 

2) Will the Wizards stay at #5? The Wizards can win now and should do whatever it takes to trade this pick for a veteran. They are a team that, if healthy, and that's not exactly a given, is without question a top five team in the Eastern Conference. With Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood missing significant playing time last season, young players such as Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Dominic McGuire gained valuable experience that will help the team immensely this season. If the Wizards are unable to deal the pick, they should select a polished player like James Harden or Tyrone Hill. Either one would be able to step in from day one and produce off the bench. 

3) Who will be this year's steal? For arguments sake, my definition of steal is someone most likely drafted outside the top 10. In recent years we've seen guys like Danny Granger (pick # 17 in 2005), Rajon Rondo (pick # 21 in 2006) and Rodney Stuckey (pick #15 in 2007) vastly outperform their draft position. Who has the potential to be a solid pickup this year? The guy to watch this year is James Johnson from Wake Forest. He's a multidimensional offensive threat that is capable of posting you up one play then knocking down a three the next. He compares favorably to Granger.