This year marks the 10th anniversary of one of the most impactful drafts in the history of the NBA. The 2009 NBA Draft gave us a pair of perennial MVP candidates and a slew of good players.
In this article, we will revisit all 14 lottery selections and redraft them in the positions they should have been drafted in. As the average career length in the NBA is around five years, we will consider a player draft-worthy if they contributed significantly for at least five seasons.
1. Blake Griffin
In hindsight, it is easy to say that the Clippers should have picked either Curry or Harden with the first pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. But no one was criticizing them at the time. Griffin had been the Consensus National Player of the Year at Oklahoma and seemed destined to superstardom.
Griffin has not exactly been a bust. He has been an All-Star six times and an All-NBA selection five times, including last year with the Pistons. If it were not for a spade of injuries, he might have even justified the number one selection. But, in retrospect, he probably should have gone third to the Thunder.
2. Hasheem Thabeet
The Memphis Grizzlies were not the first team to be tantalized by a big center with lots of upsides, and they certainly will not be the last. Thabeet was a monumental bust who started only 20 games in his NBA career. But it was understandable why Memphis drafted him second in the 2009 NBA Draft. The 7’3” 263 lb Thabeet was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year at UConn and a Consensus Second-team All-American in 2009. He was also developing as a scorer.
In retrospect, however, he should have never been drafted.
3. James Harden
Harden was an excellent pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The shooting guard was not only the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2018, but he has also been an All-Star seven times, an All-NBA selection six times (five as a First-team selection), and a two-time NBA scoring champion. He has become one of the NBA’s best players.
A strong case could be made that he should have been the first pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, and in redrafting most year’s drafts, he would be. But because of a certain player drafted after him, we are having the Grizzlies draft him number 2, much like the Trail Blazers should have picked Michael Jordan with 2nd pick in the 1984 draft instead of Sam Bowie.
4. Tyreke Evans
Evans is one of the more difficult players in this list to redraft. The wingman certainly has not had a bad career. He won Rookie of the Year for Sacramento and put up good scoring numbers for Memphis just a couple of years ago. But he has missed quite a bit of time in recent years, and in May, the NBA banned him for at least two seasons because of substance abuse.
So, while we might be tempted to put him on slot number 7 with the Warriors, he probably should not have been a lottery pick in 2009 NBA Draft or selected at all.
5. Ricky Rubio
Ricky Rubio was the first of two point guards the Minnesota Timberwolves picked before Stephen Curry’s name being called. He has certainly had a decent career, averaging 11.1 points-per-game and dishing out 7.7 assists-per-game. He has been good enough that Phoenix signed him to 3-year $51 million deal over the summer. But Minnesota, much like most teams who drafted ahead of Golden State that year, will always have to wonder what would have happened if they had picked Curry with this selection or the next one.
In retrospect, Rubio should have gone 8th to the Knicks in the 2009 NBA Draft, who could have used him Mike D’Antoni’s offense, even if that had meant the forgoing of Linsanity.
6. Jonny Flynn
While Jonny Flynn has had a disappointing career, he will forever live on as the answer to the following trivia question, “Who was the point guard taken right before Stephen Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft?”
It is easy to forget that Flynn had a good rookie season and was named for the NBA All-Rookie Team. But he was never the same player after returning from the hip surgery he had in that offseason and should not have been drafted.
7. Stephen Curry
Today, it is easy to laugh at Stephen Curry being selected number 7 in the 2009 NBA Draft. But at the time, he was an undersized guard who played at a tiny school (though one that almost beat the eventual NCAA National Champion Jayhawks.) He has since become arguably the best player in the game. He has won two MVP titles, had been an NBA All-Star six times, and was named seven times to an All-NBA team. Most importantly, he has helped the Warrior win three NBA titles.
In retrospect, the Clippers should have drafted him with the first pick.
8. Jordan Hill
It has been said that the New York Knicks coveted Stephen Curry with the 8th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. But when the Warriors selected Curry, the Knicks chose Hill, who some thought might be a top-5 pick in the draft after he put up big numbers with the University of Arizona.
However, outside a brief resurgence with the Lakers and Pacers a few years back, he has been a bust. He should not have been drafted.
9. DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan may forever be known as the player who could never quite take the Toronto Raptors — the team that drafted him — to the Promised Land and was eventually traded to the Spurs for the man who could, Kawhi Leonard. However, this does not mean that DeRozan has not been an excellent player. The small forward has been an NBA All-Star four times and was twice selected to an All-NBA team including last year while averaging nearly 20 points-per-game.
So we are redrafting him in the 2009 NBA Draft to Minnesota’s 6th pick. He has been better than both Rubio and Flynn combined.
10. Brandon Jennings
Brandon Jennings was picked by Milwaukee in the 2009 NBA, becoming the first American player picked in the draft who forewent college basketball to play pro in Europe. This after being a McDonald’s All-American MVP and the Naismith Prep Player of the Year in 2008.
He put up good numbers his rookie season on his way to being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and he continued to perform well until he ruptured his Achilles in early 2015. Unfortunately, he has never quite recovered from this, so he did not get redrafted.
11. Terrence Williams
In high school, Williams was a player of great promise, which led him to appear on three straight covers of Sports Illustrated. But while he dazzled at times during his rookie season for the New Jersey Nets after staring for Louisville and even scored a triple-double toward the end of the season, he bounced around the league for a few years before finding himself out of the league.
In retrospect, he should have not been selected in the 2009 NBA Draft.
12. Gerald Henderson Jr.
Henderson, who is the son of former Celtics guard Gerald Henderson Sr., is another promising player whose career fizzled due to injuries. Selected by the Charlotte Bobcats after a standout career at Duke University, the shooting guard put up good numbers for a few seasons until both a hip injury and a torn Achilles shortened his career.
Because of this, he should not have been drafted in the 2009 NBA Draft.
13. Tyler Hansbrough
Hansbrough had a magical career in college at the University of North Carolina, where he was a Consensus First-team All-American for three seasons and the Consensus National College Player of the Year in 2008. He even had his number retired by the school. But after being selected by the Indiana Pacers in the 2009 NBA Draft, he got hurt even before training camp started. But while he put up promising numbers for a few seasons earlier in his career, he could not keep up the momentum. After bouncing around the league for a few seasons, he found himself out of it.
Consequently, he should not have been drafted.
14. Earl Clark
Like Terrence Williams, Clark played college basketball at Louisville. The small forward left school a year early and was selected by the Phoenix Suns. But his career never took off, and he was sent off to the development league. Like many others on this list, he bounced around the league for a few seasons and briefly shined for the Lakers in 2013. But he could not build upon this. Soon, he found himself, like many others on this list, out of the league. He, like them, should have never been selected in the 2009 NBA Draft.