In all of professional sports, the only way to build a team from the ground up is through the draft. Not often there are teams that are able to build a winner via free agency or through trades. That's why one bad selection in a draft can set a franchise back five years, but on the other hand, selecting the right player can allow a franchise to reach prominence. This year, the NBA draft will be held on Thursday, June 25. The Los Angeles Clippers lucked into winning the lottery and have the first selection in the draft. Below is a mock top ten:
1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin (Forward/Oklahoma)
For quite some time, the Clippers have been down there with the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions amongst the worst franchises in all of sports. Having the first selection this year should change their fortunes. Within the past two years, the Clippers have selected Eric Gordon and Al Thornton to give them a young nucleus. This year it is pretty much set in stone that they will take Blake Griffin with the first selection. Griffin brings a low post presence and work ethic that is very rare. The Clippers desperately need a player to be branded as the face of their franchise, and Griffin is well on his way on his to being so. Selecting Griffin with the first pick the Clippers will now have a formidable front line with Chris Kaman and excellent guard play from Baron Davis and Eric Gordon. The Clippers should be in the thick of things in the Western Conference next year after a 19-win season.
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet (Center/ Connecticut)
After trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers a season and a half ago, the Grizzlies have lacked a true low post presence. Selecting Hasheem Thabeet, who was one of the most dominant shot blockers in the past decade in college basketball, will strengthen the Grizzlies frontcourt immensely. With youngsters Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo already in the fold, selecting Thabeet will give the Grizzlies a trio that will have a bright future for a franchise that has struggled ever since it came into the league. The only knock on Thabeet is he is thin for the position he plays, and in the NBA, his thin body will be thrown around easily. Thabeet must put on muscle weight to keep up with the grind of the long NBA season.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Harden (Guard/ Arizona State)
The Thunder have multiple holes on their team, so they could either go with a big man or a guard. Ricky Rubio is an option at pick number three, but selecting point guard Russel Westbrook in last year's draft makes that lesser of a possibility. Selecting James Harden at three will allow the Thunder to compliment scoring superstar Kevin Durant. Harden brings abilities that are not possessed by many. Harden a left-hander will pose many defenders problems and should be able to take a lot of the scoring load off of Kevin Durant.
4. Sacramento Kings: Ricky Rubio (Point Guard/ Spain)
A lot of hype has surrounded Rubio a point guard out of Spain. He has been considered by many to be the best prospect to ever come out of Europe. Rubio fits exactly into what the Kings need: a true point guard to run their team. Although Rubio has exceptional ball handling skills, he needs to develop his jump shot in order to make defenders in the NBA back off of him.
5. Washington Wizards: Tyreke Evans (Point Guard/ Memphis)
The Wizards' last season had a slew of injuries last season in which star player Gilbert Arenas missed nearly three-quarters of the season. With new coach Flip Saunders in the fold, the Wizards will continue to stress offense, which means that Evans as a point guard with tons of potential may be asked to run the show in Washington, as the Wizards currently have no point guard that sticks out right now as the starter. Evans possesses exceptional ball-handling skills for a point guard that is 6-5.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Jrue Holiday (Point Guard/UCLA)
Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill (Power Forward/ Arizona)
New York Knicks: Stephen Curry (Point Guard/ Davidson)
Toronto Raptors: Demar DeRozan (Guard/ USC)
Milwaukee Bucks: Gerald Henderson (Guard/ Duke)