Saturday, October 21

Holiday and Collison selected at No. 17 and No. 21 in NBA Draft

After the Los Angeles Clippers selected Oklahoma big man Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, every selection from that point on was up for grabs in what pundits have already dubbed one of the more exciting drafts in recent NBA history.

Although the 2009 draft may have been one of the weaker ones in terms of talent, the lack of certainty as to who would be chosen in what order after Griffin added much anticipation and anxiety to the annual postseason ceremony.

Adding to that excitement were two former Bruins, Jrue Holiday and Darren Collison, who were selected in the first round at No. 17 and No. 21, respectively.

Holiday, the more high-profile of the two, was slated to be selected as early as No. 4 and as late as No. 14 but not expected to drop outside of the lottery, which includes the first 14 selections. However, with the unexpectedness of this year’s draft, Holiday landed at No. 17, joining the Philadelphia 76ers, who play in the Wachovia Center. Holiday will be playing his home games in the same building that his NCAA career ended in an 89-69 blowout at the hands of then-No. 3 Villanova in the NCAA Tournament. On the flip side, speculation was that Collison would be selected late in the first round or early in the second round. Once again, the shakiness of the draft propelled Collison up to the 21st selection, where he was chosen by the New Orleans Hornets. Even more exciting for Collison is that he will have the opportunity to play behind Chris Paul, the consensus top point guard in the NBA.

As for the other L.A. NBA franchise, the defending champion Lakers decided to trade the 29th overall pick to the New York Knicks for cash considerations. The motivation behind the trade undoubtedly deals with the Lakers’ struggle to maintain Lamar Odom and former Bruin Trevor Ariza, who are up for unrestricted free agency on July 1.

To put it shortly, the defending champs need all the financial help they can get if they hope to retain both Odom and Ariza, who both played important roles in the Lakers’ championship run.

Coming in at No. 2 on the draft board was Connecticut giant Hasheem Thabeet, who was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies. He was followed by last year’s Pac-10 Player of the Year, James Harden, who went to the Oklahoma City Thunder to join former Bruin standout, Russell Westbrook.

Memphis’ Tyreke Evans was chosen at the No. 4 spot by the Sacramento Kings, and rounding out the top 5 was Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio, who had a large part in this year’s draft coverage.

Other notable picks include Arizona forward Jordan Hill, who went No. 8 to the New York Knicks, USC’s DeMar DeRozan, who went to the Toronto Raptors at No. 9, and USC forward Taj Gibson, who was selected No. 26 by the Chicago Bulls.

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