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Rookie Rankings: If we could turn back time ...

By Drew Packham,
Posted Apr 7 2010 10:28AM

They say hindsight is 20/20.

Knowing what we know now, for instance, do you think the Grizzlies would still take Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2? And would the Clippers still take Blake Griffin with the top pick, knowing he would hurt his knee and miss the entire 2009-10 season?

Those were the questions that were posed this week as I joined my colleagues Sekou Smith and Vince Thomas on their Hang Time Podcast. (Which, by the way, is great and should be a regular download. You can find it on iTunes.) We took turns playing the role of GM, taking into account everything that's happened since the draft, and making our picks with the advantage of hindsight.

This is how the lottery played out:


1. Clippers (Packham): Tyreke Evans
2. Grizzlies (Smith): Stephen Curry
3. Thunder (Thomas): Blake Griffin
4. Kings (Packham): Brandon Jennings
5. Wolves (Smith): Darren Collison
6. Wolves (Smith): Omri Casspi
7. Warriors (Thomas): DeJuan Blair
8. Knicks (Packham): Ricky Rubio
9. Raptors (Smith): Taj Gibson
10. Bucks (Thomas): Jonny Flynn
11. Nets (Packham): James Harden
12. Bobcats (Smith): Jonas Jerebko
13. Pacers (Thomas): Ty Lawson
14. Suns (Packham): Terrence Williams

To hear us explain our picks, check out the Hang Time Podcast, either by clicking here, or through iTunes.'s Rookie Rankings are just one man's opinion and are released every Wednesday during the season. If you've got an issue with the rankings, or have a question or comment for Drew Packham, send him an e-mail. You can also follow him on Twitter. For past week's rankings, click here.

1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 7
Curry finished his week with 27 points in the Warriors' 112-94 loss Tuesday to the Wizards -- and he did it while spending the last 8:25 on the bench, icing his right shoulder. Curry, who averaged 21.5 points and 8.0 assists in four games this week, apparently injured his shoulder fighting through a screen on the first play of the game, but says the injury shouldn't force him to miss any games. And barring some cold shooting over Golden State's final five games, it appears Curry will set at least one rookie record. He is currently on pace to become the first rookie to shoot 45 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 85 percent from the free-throw line.

2. Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Last Week: 2 | Drafted: 4
One team has learned how to slow down Evans: the Portland Trail Blazers. In the Kings' 98-87 loss Saturday, Evans was held to six points -- his lowest output since Jan. 30 -- on 2-for-12 shooting. Granted, Evans said he "couldn't get the lift like I wanted to," but the Blazers also put the lanky Nicolas Batum on Evans. "We wanted to get length on him," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "That matchup was good for us last time we played them, keeping him in front of us and making him shoot over the top. Normally they try and go into the post with him. In our last two games with [Batum] being on him they haven't got a lot of post-ups."

3. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 10
It will be interesting to see how the gut-wrenching injury to Andrew Bogut will affect the Bucks -- and Jennings specifically. The Bucks fed off Bogut in the post, but without him they'll need to rely on Jennings and John Salmons to provide scoring. In the Bucks' first game without Bogut, Jennings struggled, going just 1-for-8 from the field (1-for-5 on 3s) for four points. Jennings did have eight assists, though, and the Bucks still managed to beat the Bulls to lock up their first playoff berth in four years.

4. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 26
With a recent matchup with the Bobcats, the Bulls got a glimpse of what they let go in Tyrus Thomas. Not that the Bulls are looking back. With the emergence of Gibson, Thomas became expendable. When asked by a reporter where the Bulls would be without Gibson, Del Negro's answer spoke volumes. "I don't even want to think about it," Del Negro told Nick Friedell of Chicago. "He's incredibly coachable. He comes to work every day, plays hard. He makes mistakes like everybody, but he plays so hard. If he has a fault it's that he helps too much defensively, which is a very, very rare thing. Especially for a rookie."

5. Marcus Thornton, New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: 43
This week was so rough for the Hornets that John DeShazier of the New Orleans Times-Picayune said the team has "no shame" and is "incapable of being embarrassed." Harsh words, for sure. Thornton, unfortunately, was one of the key players struggling as the Hornets lost all three games (to the Wizards at home and on the road to the Grizzlies and Nets). The Hornets' second-round pick averaged 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, but misfired from beyond the arc, going just 3-for-16 (18.6 percent).

6. Darren Collison, New Orleans Hornets
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 21
Much of the credit for Collison's emergence has gone to Chris Paul, who cheered on his backup after going down with injury. But both Collison and Thornton say much of the credit goes to former NBA point guard Robert Pack, now an assistant with New Orleans. "If anyone was to get the credit," Collison told the Times-Picayune, "it would be (Pack). That's the person I give the credit to. The work is always going to be proven. I thank him every day for helping me get to the player I need to be. I heard about him, and a lot of people told me about him. I'm just blessed to be able to work out with him." Collison had one of his worst games this week, scoring just four points on 2-for-9 shooting in the Hornets' loss to the Nets. It broke a string of 12-straight games scoring in double digits.

7. Wesley Matthews, Utah Jazz
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: NA
The Jazz fully expect the road to the NBA Finals to run through the Lakers, and they expect Matthews can be a big factor in a potential showdown with the defending champs. The last two playoff series, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers cheated off Ronnie Brewer, who struggled from the outside. Enter Matthews, whom the Jazz are counting on at both ends of the floor. "He (Bryant) can't guard Wes like he did Ronnie," Jazz point guard Deron Williams told the Deseret News. "(What happened in the playoffs) made things tough on everybody. ... I think Wes is gonna make things a little more honest, the way he's shooting the ball." In three games this week, Matthews was consistent from outside, going 6-for-12 on 3s and 14-for-29 from the field.

8. Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets
Last Week: NR | Drafted: 11
The Nets are starting to see the talent they've landed with Williams. "I think each game he's learning more and more," Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe said."I think these are invaluable minutes for him, to try and expand his game, to try to learn and grow and figure out how to run a team." In three games this week, Williams averaged 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists. His most notable game was a 14-point-14-assist performance that gave the Nets a dominating 115-87 win over the Hornets. "It was time to grow up," Williams told after the win. "I'm in the NBA now. I'm not in high school, not in college. It was time to take responsibility for myself and my actions of why I was playing the way I was playing. I thank Kiki for that, and especially giving me the opportunity to play and really sitting me down and giving me the discipline to want to learn."

9. Jonny Flynn, Minnesota Timberwolves
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 6
Flynn had one of his best scoring games in some time Sunday night. In the Wolves' 116-109 loss to the Thunder, Flynn had 22 points -- the most he'd scored since a 29-point game Jan. 18 -- while hitting eight of 11 shots. Perhaps more notable, though, was Flynn's 18-point, eight-assist performance against the Kings last Wednesday that helped the Wolves snap their 16-game losing streak. Flynn was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc (7-for-15 from the field) as Minnesota pulled out the 108-99 win at home.

10. Reggie Williams, Golden State Warriors
Last Week: 9 | Drafted: NA
Don Nelson was heaping some heavy praise on Williams, who has been a revelation since his callup from the NBA D-League. Nelson was quoted in the San Jose Mercury News as calling Williams a "rare basketball player" with "a special gift." Williams, who Nelson said they "got ... out of a rock heap," averaged 15.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in four games this week. The rookie who prepped at Prince George High in Virginia and later played at VMI, had a large contingency for Tuesday's game in D.C. WIlliams had 18 points and wowed the crowd with one sequence in which he blocked back-to-back shots of a pair of Wizards.

Honorable Mention: Chase Budinger, Rockets: Tied a career-high with 24 points in 119-114 win over the Celtics. Before Tuesday's five-point output, Budinger was averaging 17.7 ppg this week; Jodie Meeks, Sixers: Scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting in 124-103 loss to Pistons; Jrue Holiday, Sixers: Scored a career-high 25 on 10-for-12 shooting in 128-123 loss to the Raptors; Sam Young, Grizzlies: 16 points and four blocks in 103 loss to Rockets; A.J. Price, Pacers: Averaged 15.0 points in two games this week, including 17 in a win over the Rockets in which he was 5-for-9 on 3-pointers; Hasheem Thabeet, Grizzlies: Had three blocks in two of four games this week

Dropped out: Rodrigue Beaubois

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Austin Rivers speaks on his performance in the Clippers' Game 6 loss to the Blazers.
photoTrail Blazers on Series Win
Terry Stotts, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard talk about the Game 6 win vs. the Clippers.
photoClippers on Game 6 Loss
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photoClippers vs. Trail Blazers: Game 6
Damian Lillard drops 28 points and adds 7 assists to help the Trail Blazers beat the Clippers 106-103 and advance.

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