SLAMonline Mock Draft: Ricky Rubio, No. 3
There will be no mention of “upside.”
With the third pick in the SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select…
Ricky Rubio. If the Oklahoma City Thunder elected to hire Marlo Stanfield as their GM, he would no doubt have declared having two young studs (pause) in his backcourt, “one of them good problems.”
Although I’m willing to admit we penciled in Hasheem Thabeet as our starting center for next season, we’re delighted to have the opportunity to call Ricky Rubio’s name.
Our short list was Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden and Jordan Hill. Mr. Thomas and the Memphis Grizzlies took care of the heavy lifting, snatching the shot blocking Tanzanian with the previous selection.
Harden was intriguing as the best two guard prospect in the Draft and a gifted passer in his own right, and Hill’s toughness could really bolster our frontline. I still hadn’t entirely made up my mind on the selection, and decided to take a nap before we went on the clock. During my rest I kept having this nightmare where a red Hawk flies away from what looked like Atlanta with a solid, but far from spectacular forward, passing over two diamonds in the shape of a No. 3 and an No. 8. I woke up scared to death, and ready to draft Rubio.
While the Pete Maravich chatter is pre-mature, was there anyone who came away from this summers Olympics without thinking this kid is going to be a problem?
There are a myriad of challenges for an 18-year-old import, and the transition to the NBA will not always go smoothly for Rubio. Although he’s used to going up against grown men, the NBA is a much more physical brand of basketball than the international game. He’ll need to add weight and strength to survive the grind of an 82 game season, fortunately we’ve already gone through this process with Kevin Durant, and I’d say that’s turned out pretty well thus far.
We plan to exercise a good deal of patience in his development, and will stress that to our fan base. History has proven it can take several years for a point guard to develop into the player he’s going to be. Ultimately it was this fact that allowed Rubio to slip to No. 3 in the Draft, because the Grizzlies were pleased with the second half production of Mike Conley.
Without question, the most important person on our roster, scratch that, in the state of Oklahoma, is Kevin Durant. I promise you I will scour the earth for the modern equivalent of Luca Brasi, and make certain he signs a long-term deal to remain with the Thunder. That being said, if I can avoid strong arm tactics to keep him in that Thunder No. 35, that’s ideal. Is there a better way to accomplish this then by putting the best scorer in the League on the floor with the youngest, most talented point guard prospect in the NBA?
This selection leaves us with a starting five of Rubio, Russell Westbrook, Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, who checks out when you remember he’s backed up by a serviceable Nick Collison as well as the always aesthetically pleasing Robert Swift.
Speaking of Russell Westbrook, isn’t he gonna’ be tight you’re bringing in a top-three pick that plays his position? What are you, one of those dumbs? Westbrook has no problem playing off the ball, and even if he has some reservations about moving to the two slot, those will be aired out after receiving his first look away alley-oop from the shaggy youngster.
Westbrook is a natural scorer, who also has the ability to setup his teammates. This will be a similar situation to his time at UCLA where he often moved off the ball to accommodate Darren Collison. Westbrook’s athleticism, physical strength and toughness are all elements that Rubio will need to improve going forward. Going head to head against Westbrook will elevate the play of both guys. Throw a recovered Shaun Livingston into the mix, and you’re looking at the best young backcourt in the League.
I’d like to close by pointing out that I explained our selection of Rubio without once using the word upside, which I believe puts me in contention for some sort of award or at least a plaque. Screw it, this kid has so much upside Jay Bilas is going to be moving furniture rocking a Ricky Rubio No. 9.
|2009 SLAMonline Mock Draft Results|
|1||L.A. Clippers||Blake Griffin|
|2||Memphis Grizzlies||Hasheem Thabeet|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||Ricky Rubio|