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NBA Draft: The Rubio-Thabeet race is on

JOHN ROHDE Modified: June 6, 2009 at 10:11 am •  Published: June 6, 2009
The Belmont Stakes is being held today, which makes me think back to the 1973 race when Secretariat won by a ridiculous 31 lengths — or roughly the same distance between Blake Griffin and everybody else in this month’s NBA Draft.

The June 25 draft has been deemed a three-horse race. Griffin no doubt will win, but who will place, who will show and with which teams?

The Los Angeles Clippers own the top pick, unless they find some reason to trade Secretariat.

What happens with the second pick could end up rearranging the top half of the draft board.

This is why all eyes actually should be on the Memphis Grizzlies, not the Clippers.

Unless Thunder general manager Sam Presti somehow is able to trade up from the No. 3 position, the Thunder once again will have to react to the team that chooses directly in front of it.

This happened two years ago with the two-horse race between Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

Portland picked Oden first, and Presti promptly picked Durant, who has become one of the draft’s great no-brainer selections of all-time.

If the Grizzlies choose 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet with the No. 2 pick, it leaves 6-foot-4 point guard Ricky Rubio for the Thunder

This would seem to give the Thunder its greatest leverage.

More teams are in need of a point guard, and the Thunder is adamant it has filled that position with the Russell Westbrook Project.

If the Thunder is able to pick Rubio at No. 3, it could trade his rights for a proven player plus a draft pick not far down the line this year or a first-rounder next year.

The next five teams in this year’s lottery could all use a point guard — Sacramento (No. 4), Washington (No. 5), Minnesota (No.