SLAMonline Mock Draft: James Harden, No. 7
Who says offense isn’t your best defense? Golden State does!
With the seventh pick in the 2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Golden State Warriors select…
James Harden. I know what you’re probably thinking, “Why did the Warriors add another wing-player to their squad? They already have enough of them with Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Marco Belinelli, Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Morrow! They have to draft one more? Really?”
Yes really, you better like it because that just happened!
I know we have more wings than a happy hour at Hooters, but Harden is too good of a prospect to pass up. The 6-5, 218-pounder has the all-around game (20.1 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals as a sophomore) which our high-scoring team covets. Harden is unselfish, but a scorer when he wants to be. He can knock down open shots from deep (36 percent from three-point line last year); plays good enough defense and is an underrated athlete, who can finish in transition. Not to mention, before I took the job as Warriors GM, I sat down with Harden in March of ’08 to do an In Your Face story for SLAM 119. I loved his game and the way he carried himself back then, and I still do now.
I know there are some critics who question Harden’s mid-range game and his ability to create shots off the bounce. That doesn’t bother me. He’s only 20 years old and has the passion to become a great player at the pro level. Some were harsh on his play in the NCAA Tournament, but keep in mind the Pac-10 Player of the Year took ASU to The Big Dance, which is as surprisingly impressive as Asher Roth’s music career.
Some might say we need rebounding and a banger in the post, but this year’s low-post prospects grade out to be mid-first round picks. We’ll address that need with our second round pick or through free agency. And if none of that works, maybe we can get CWebb back out of retirement because that worked so well in ’08. Whoops.
In all honesty, I’m confident Warriors fans will love this pick because it adds another scorer to our bench and an insurance policy when Maggette’s or Jackson’s (fill in the blank) gets injured and causes them to miss a month. But most important of all, it will help fill some of the void created when Baron Davis took his Rick Ross-like facial follicles to Los Angeles. If anything, there’s a new bearded baller in the Bay Area.
Believe me when I say, Tyreke Evans of Memphis was a strong possibility at this slot. I tossed and turned for many nights wondering if Evans would be a better fit, since he’s a 6-6 point, who can help us against the talented PGs in the Western Conference. That was until I received a phone call last night late in the evening close to midnight. It was Nellie calling from his home in Hawaii wanting to let me know his input on our potential selection. But rest assured—the final decision was all mine. I’m no Larry Riley!
“I like this Harden kid,” Nellie said over the phone in a grizzled tone right before he took a sip from his glass of scotch. I could almost picture him putting out his cigar before he made his next declaration. “I think he can shoot from distance as well as anyone in this year’s crop. He goes hard to the basket and gets to the free-throw line too.”
“But what about Evans?” I asked. “He’s the best American point guard, and would be able to body up CP3 and other points we face on a nightly basis.”
“Not sold on him,” Nellie responded immediately. “He’s an intriguing player, but we already have Monta. And he needs the ball in his hands to create his own shot. I don’t need a rookie dictating how I run my offense. They tried to push Marcus Williams on me last year and look how that turned out! We’ll sign a veteran in the offseason, or find a trade partner for Crawford.”
Just like that, Nellie let it be known where his mind was at. Even if I did like Evans more than Harden, it doesn’t make a lot of sense drafting someone at No. 7 only to have them sit on the bench all season. If Nellie wants to play Harden, then I might as well draft the kid from Los Angeles, who spent two years in the desert single-handedly resurrecting an ASU basketball program on life support. And besides, JKidd, Andre Miller, Mike Bibby and Starbury are available this summer. It’s not like we’re going to have no options at the point… Well maybe three out of those four are solid alternatives.
I know our proud franchise didn’t get a ton of return the last time they drafted a Sun Devil (Ike Diogu at No. 9 in ’05), but that’s a completely different situation altogether. That was Chris Mullin’s pick and this one is mine. Plus, Harden’s left-handed which goes with our theme of adding southpaws every year. (See: Wright, Brandan, 2007, acquired via draft-day trade for JRich and Antony Randolph, 14th overall pick in ‘08).
Hopefully, when it’s all said and done Harden and I will have accomplished a lot in our professional careers and could even merit an honorary degree from ASU. Unlike this guy.
We’re taking Harden off the board and starting the presses on a new batch of “We Believe” t-shirts. You can hate the pick all you want, but just know that it’s more than likely some “Flunkster Dude” will make sure to steer your comments in a positive direction.
|2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft Results|
|1||L.A. Clippers||Blake Griffin|
|2||Memphis Grizzlies||Hasheem Thabeet|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||Ricky Rubio|
|4||Sacramento Kings||Brandon Jennings|
|5||Washington Wizards||Jordan Hill|
|6||Minnesota Timberwolves||Demar DeRozan|
|7||Golden State Warriors||James Harden|