It all comes down to this. The months of scouting, discussion, rumors and anticipation all reaches a crescendo on Thursday Night at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 2009 NBA Draft is almost here, and we are a matter of hours away from the start.
There have already been a flurry of trades leading up to this draft, starting on Tuesday. This draft appears to be "unprecedented" in its even level of prospects beyond the top 5. Some might call that an "unprecedented" terrible draft board, but a draft cannot be fairly evaluated until a few years after the draft. As a result, not many people know exactly what will happen, even in the top 5.
Meanwhile, here at WTLC, this draft is particularly important for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the fans that root for them. The Thunder are widely regarded as a team on the rise, with a young core of Jeff Green, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The talent level of the core, the smarts of the young GM Sam Presti, and the cap flexibility in the near future have many smelling playoffs in the near future. One thing that could help an improving trend in the Thunder's performance would be a solid draft this year.
What: 2009 National Basketball Association Draft
When: 6:30PM Central Daylight Time
Where: WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City; TV - ESPN
The Thunder will select 3rd and 25th as it currently stands, barring any trades. TV coverage starts at 6 PM Central on ESPN, the actual draft begins at 6:30 PM.
More preview after the jump!
All that is certain in the draft so far is that the Clippers will take Blake Griffin. Beyond that, there are many mysteries. All of the teams in the Top 5 have been involved in trade talks. All of the teams in the Top 5 have been linked to at least 3 players that, according to "draft experts", they are either likely to take or are extremely interested in. The predictability of this draft is quite low. Of course, all of this makes for great drama, which means that ESPN should probably get a fair amount of viewers for their draft coverage.
With the third pick, the Thunder have the opportunity to select a game changer - some guy who can make a lasting impact on the franchise. Opportunities like this should not be wasted, and most NBA scouts and front office personnel agree that the four players pictured above have bright futures in the league. Apparently Sam Presti is high on all four prospects, and realistically any one of them could be selected by the Thunder.
John Hollinger's statistical formula to project performance in the NBA, Draft Rater, has Thabeet, Harden and Curry all rated as solid prospects, and historically it's done a good job of weeding out the potential busts. Rubio was not evaluated in this because of a small sample size and lack of data.
The point is, the Thunder face a crucial choice, and a difficult one. No matter what, they should wind up with a player who has a lot of potential. I'm just glad that Sam Presti is calling the shots, not me.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has entertained a lot of trade offers, and a deal is still possible. It is difficult to foresee any scenario, though, where the Thunder do not wind up with at least 2 first round draft choices.
Tune in at 6 PM Central Time to catch the beginning of ESPN's coverage tonight, and the draft itself starts at 6:30 PM Central Time. The Thunder should be making their selection sometime between 6:30 PM and 7:00PM.
Here at Welcome to Loud City, you can expect a live commenting thread to open up at 4 PM Central Time. I encourage everyone to participate a lot. More comments = more fun!