There's Griffin, then everyone else

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Not even the perpetually incompetent Los Angeles Clippers can screw this one up.

The last time the Clips drew the No. 1 slot in the NBA draft, the club selected Michael Olowokandi, a seven-footer from that noted basketball hotbed of Pacific who became known as one of the biggest busts in hoops history.

When the Clippers had the first-overall pick in 1998, they bypassed a future league MVP in Dirk Nowitzki, a future NBA final MVP in Paul Pierce and future all-stars in Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis.

Only once in the intervening years have the Clippers posted a winning record.

Perhaps their run of misfortune ends with the selection of Blake Griffin, a can't-miss prospect whose name will be called first when NBA commissioner David Stern steps up to the podium tomorrow to usher in the annual class of prospects, suspects and misfits.

The 6-foot-10 Griffin is the only certainty in an uncertain process.

The word weak has been tossed around more often than a salad in the days and weeks leading up to the draft.

The draft is considered weak because no one, save Griffin, is ready to play at the NBA level, at least not now.

The draft is full of point guards who can't make open shots, shooting guards who can't handle the ball and combo guards whose decision-making is suspect.

Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio might be the next-best talent outside of Griffin who can make an immediate impact, but the team that selects the teenage whiz must negotiate a buyout from his Spanish club.

The NBA draft is far from scientific.

Mistakes have been made and will continue to be made because GMs, by and large, look to address needs rather than pick the best available talent. The Raptors could have had Andre Iguodala in 2004, but instead picked Rafael Araujo with the eighth overall pick.

At best, it's a guessing game made even more unpredictable in an era where agents are calling most of the shots at a time when many of the incoming players can't make shots.

Trades will be made and there's all kinds of speculation surrounding Minnesota, which has three first-round picks, the Portland Trail Blazers, who own five draft picks (there are two rounds in the NBA draft).

And, of course, the Clippers, who will trade either Marcus Camby, Zach Randolph or Chris Kaman once Griffin is selected.

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1. L.A. Clippers: Blake Griffin (PF Oklahoma) -- has all the tools; only knock is he can't knock down free throws.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ricky Rubio (PG DKV Joventut Spain) -- primed to be traded because team's history of treating Spanish-born players isn't good.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Hasheem Thabeet (C UConn) -- team needs size and no prospect is bigger than the 7-foot-3 Thabeet.

4. Sacramento Kings: Stephen Curry (PG/SG Davidson) -- unlimited shooting range; impeccable pedigree.

5. Washington Wizards: Tyreke Evans (PG/SG Memphis) -- This pick appears to be heading to Minnesota.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Harden (SG Arizona State) -- Reports indicate guards Mike Miller and Randy Foye have been dealt for the No. 5 pick.

7. Golden State Warriors: Jrue Holiday (PG/SG UCLA) -- another piece for Nellie's small ball.

8. New York Knicks: Jordan Hill (PF Arizona) -- athletic and long; Knicks may lose David Lee to free agency.

9. Toronto Raptors: DeMar DeRozan (SG/SF USC) -- an athletic wing who is raw.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings (PG Lottomatica Rome) -- very talented player who bypassed college by going overseas.

11. New Jersey Nets: James Johnson (PF Wake Forest) -- athletic power forward whose stock has risen.

12. Charlotte Bobcats: Gerald Henderson (SG Duke) -- won't have to travel far.

13. Indiana Pacers: Jonny Flynn (PG Syracuse) -- T.J. Ford is rumoured to be on his way out.

14. Phoenix Suns: Eric Maynor (PG VCU) -- will learn ropes from Steve Nash.

15. Detroit Pistons: B.J. Mullens (C Ohio State) -- a true big with upside.

16. Chicago Bulls: DeJuan Blair (PF Pittsburgh) -- undersized; good offensive rebounder.

17. Philadelphia 76ers: Ty Lawson (PG North Carolina) -- insurance in case Andre Miller bolts in free agency.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeff Teague (PG Wake Forest) -- super quick; one of many point guards available.

19. Atlanta Hawks: Terrence Williams (SG/SF Louisville ) -- namesake Marvin is a restricted free agent.

20. Utah Jazz: Tyler Hansbrough (PF North Carolina) -- Jerry Sloan will love his toughness.

21. New Orleans Hornets: Earl Clark (SF/PF Louisville) -- versatile and athletic.

22. Dallas Mavericks: Chase Budinger (SG/SF Arizona) -- athletic wing with good court sense.

23. Sacramento Kings: Patrick Patterson (PF Kentucky) -- kid easily could go higher.

24. Portland Trail Blazers: Austin Daye (SF/PF Gonzaga) -- last thing team needs is more youth.

25. Oklahoma City: Sam Young (SF Pittsburgh) -- very tough; good scorer.

26. Wayne Ellington (SG North Carolina) -- Final Four MVP.

27. Memphis: Omri Casspi (SF Maccabi Tel Aviv) -- very aggressive and athletic.

28. Minnesota: Nick Calathes (PG Florida) -- dual citizen who has signed with a Greek team.

29. L.A. Lakers: DeMarre Carroll (PF Missouri) -- MVP of Portsmouth Invitational.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonas Jerebko (SF/PF Pallacanestro Biella) -- a Swede with a sweet shooting touch.


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