NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, December 24, 2015, 9:47 AM
Stephen Curry leads the NBA in scoring with 31.2 points and is third in steals with 2.2.
Forget re-gifting, this Christmas, we’re re-drafting.
Five teams passed on reigning league MVP and NBA champion Stephen Curry in the 2009 draft — including Minnesota, TWICE! — and all he’s done for an encore this season is lead the Warriors out to a 27-1 start heading into Friday’s games. Think those squads want that pick back?
So, with the benefit of hindsight — and the occasion of three of the headliners from the Christmas slate also coming into the league in that ‘09 draft — we’re putting the players back in the pool and picking them all over again.
1 — Clippers, Stephen Curry
Actual pick: Blake Griffin
Knowing what we know now, of course Curry would go No. 1. But, would he have developed into the player he is today with the Clippers? That’s the great unknown. The Clips were obviously bad in 2008-09 and didn’t get markedly better until they traded for Chris Paul in December of 2011 — a deal that probably doesn’t get done if Curry’s in L.A. Circumstance breeds success, and it’s hard to say if the circumstances in Los Angeles would have led to Curry becoming this successful.
James Harden has his critics, but the Houston guard can put the ball in the basket.
2 — Grizzlies, James Harden
Actual pick: Hasheem Thabeet
Oklahoma City couldn’t keep Harden, so it’s hard to see Memphis being able to hang on to the lefty shooter — they did trade Rudy Gay in a 2013 salary dump after all — but, surrounding Harden with Zach Randolph, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol would make for a formidable lineup. Plus, Conley and Gasol would mask some of Harden’s very obvious defensive deficiencies.
3 — Thunder, Blake Griffin
Actual pick: James Harden
Teaming Griffin with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is an exciting thought. But OKC already had an exciting trio in place with Harden, Durant and Westbrook and blew it up.
4 — Kings, Jeff Teague
Actual pick: Tyreke Evans
It’s a point guard league, and while Teague isn’t in the Westbrook, Paul and John Wall class, he’s in the next cut — but the dropoff is steep.
5 — Timberwolves, DeMar DeRozan
Actual pick: Ricky Rubio
6 — Timberwolves, Jrue Holiday
Actual pick: Jonny Flynn
Minnesota, frankly, blew this. GM David Kahn took Rubio and then — not knowing if Rubio would come straight to the NBA from Spain — employed a popular fantasy football strategy, the handcuff pick, and took Syracuse’s Johnny Flynn at No. 6.
Flynn is out of the league and Rubio is a fantastic passer who can’t shoot at all. Just about anything would be better than what Kahn did, and putting Holiday and DeRozan around Kevin Love and Al Jefferson couldn’t have made Minny worse (they won just 15 games in 2009-10).
7 — Warriors, Tyreke Evans
Actual pick: Stephen Curry
Seriously, how lucky was Golden State to have Curry fall into its lap here? Evans would be a pick for skill, not a fit pick, as the the Warriors already had Monta Ellis on the roster, and their skills are more repetitive than complementary.
Imagine Ricky Rubio leading a Mike D’Antoni offense. He might be like Steve Nash, only Nash could shoot the ball.
8 — Knicks, Ricky Rubio
Actual pick: Jordan Hill
Then-Knicks GM Donnie Walsh coveted Curry and came tantalizingly close to getting his man, ending up with the project big man. Rubio didn’t come to the NBA until 2011, but maybe he would’ve been tempted to come stateside sooner — say, a year sooner — to run Mike D’Antoni’s offense (pre-Carmelo Anthony trade, of course) with Amar’e Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Rubio on the Knicks also probably means New York never experience’s Linsanity.
9 — Raptors, Brandon Jennings
Actual pick: DeMar DeRozan
Knicks fans wanted Jennings on draft night, and their longing only grew when he dropped 55 points in his seventh game as a pro. Injuries have plagued him so far, but his talent is obvious.
10 — Bucks, Wes Matthews
Actual pick: Brandon Jennings
Matthews went undrafted out of Marquette and has developed into a player who can start for a playoff team, which, when you’re picking tenth, is what you’re hoping for.
11 — Nets, Taj Gibson
Actual pick: Terrence Williams
A tough role player from Brooklyn. Seems like a natural fit. Williams was dealt to the Rockets before the Nets even moved to the borough of Kings.
12 — Bobcats, Ty Lawson
Actual pick: Gerald Henderson
He went to North Carolina. Michael Jordan owns the team. ‘Nuff said.
Don’t leave Danny Green open. Of the players picked in 2009, only Stephen Curry is better than Green from three.
13 — Pacers, Danny Green
Actual pick: Tyler Hansbrough
Might be the best shooter in this draft class not named Stephen Curry. Look it up.
14 — Suns, Darren Collison
Actual pick: Earl Clark
A backup sitting behing Rajon Rondo with the Kings right now, he could probably start for a handful of teams.
15 — Pistons, DeMarre Carroll
Actual pick: Austin Daye
Every team needs a glue guy who does the dirty work, and he offers positional flexibility, too.
16 — Bulls, Patrick Beverley
Actual pick: James Johnson
A get-under-your-skin defender who’d fit in with Derrick Rose — they both tend to get hurt.
17 — 76ers, Jodie Meeks
Actual pick: Jrue Holiday
Had a breakout 2013-14 with the Lakers — scoring 15.7 points and shooting 40 percent from three — and cashed in with a $ 19 million contract from the Pistons that summer.
18 — Nuggets, Patty Mills
Actual Pick: Ty Lawson
He’s Australian. Pretty good three-point shooter.
19 — Hawks, Marcus Thornton
Actual pick: Jeff Teague
Bench guy who can fill it up, but has already played for six teams. Safe to say the Hawks did better in real life.
20 — Jazz, Gerald Henderson
Actual pick: Eric Maynor
One of these guys is still in the league. The other is Eric Maynor.
21 — Hornets, Dante Cunningham
Actual pick: Darren Collison
The 53rd overall pick, only four players in his draft class have played in more games than Cunningham. That’s a value pick.
22 — Trail Blazers, Jonas Jerebko
Actual pick: Victor Claver
One of these guys is still in the league. Etc.
23 — Kings, Omri Casspi
Actual pick: Omri Casspi
Why not? He ended up in Sac-town anyway after playing for the Cavs and Rockets.
24 — Mavericks, Jordan Hil
Actual pick: Byron Mullens
One of these guys is still in the league. After flaming out with the Knicks, Hill has become a decent big off the bench, first for the Lakers, now with the Pacers.
25 — Thunder, Chase Buddinger
Actual pick: Rodrigue Beaubois
One of these guys is still in the league (Budinger is actually hanging out on the Pacers bench as well this season).
26 — Bulls, Tyler Hansbrough
Actual pick: Taj Gibson
Psycho-T and Joakim Noah on the same court would be worth watching.
27 — Grizzlies, DeJuan Blair
Actual pick: DeMarre Carroll
Blair doesn’t have any knee ligaments and is a bruiser. If he’s not the perfect Zach Randolph understudy, nobody is.
28 — Timberwolves, Toney Douglas
Actual pick: Wayne Ellington
29 — Knicks, Wayne Ellington
Actual pick: Toney Douglas
Trading places, just for fun. Ellington parlayed a career-year into a deal with the Nets this year, while Douglas also spent time with the Pacers this season before being picked up by New Orleans.
30 — Cavaliers, Nando de Colo
Actual pick: Christian Eyenga
Former Tony Parker understudy, deColo is not in the league right now, but could/should be. YouTube him.
NOTES: For the sake of clarity, we showed the teams that made the picks in 2009. Trades were made, obviously, and if you must have the details, here they are:
18 — Minnesota traded Ty Lason’s draft rights to Denver for a conditional future first-round pick
24 & 25 — OKC and Dallas swapped picks. Dallas also got a 2010 second-round pick in the deal.
29 — Knicks got the pick in exchange for a 2011 second-rounder and cash considerations.