How The Thunder's Extreme Makeover: NBA Edition Will Affect Their Draft Strategy

As I'm sure you know by now, the Thunder were able to address their most pressing need at the trade deadline: centers who can bang down low and grab some rebounds. Before the deadline, it seemed that the team would try yet again to meet those needs in the draft. But now what? Do the Thunder look for depth at small forward? A shooter? Do they trade the pick? Is it possible they could still be in the market for big men? To answer these questions, let's first look at what the team has in the cupboard:

Point Guard

Russell Westbrook (Signed through 2012-13)

Eric Maynor (Signed through 2013-14, team option in 2012-13)

Royal Ivey (Signed through 2011-12)

Nate Robinson? (Signed through 2011-12)

Shooting Guard

Thabo Sefalosha (Signed through 2013-14)

James Harden (Signed through 2013-14, team option in 2012-13)

Daequan Cook (Signed through 2011-12)

Nate Robinson? (Signed through 2011-12)

Small Forward

Kevin Durant (Signed through 2015-16)

Power Forward

Serge Ibaka (Signed through 2013-14, team option in 2012-13)

Nick Collison (Signed through 2014-15)

Center

Kendrick Perkins (Signed through this season)

Nazr Mohammed (Signed through this season)

Cole Aldrich (Signed through 2014-15, team options in 2012-13 and 2013-14)

B.J. Mullens (Signed through 2013-14, team option in 2012-13)

 

As you can see, the first priority for the Thunder in the offseason will be to secure the center position. I really don't see the Thunder not resigning Kendrick Perkins. He probably wasn't happy to be leaving Boston, but once he gets a few games in Thunder blue under his belt, once he starts to bond with the guys on the roster, I think it'll be an easy resigning.

It's hard to say if Mohammed will be back before he's even played a game, but if I had to bet, I'd say no. The long-term futures of Robinson, Ivey, and Cook are also up in the air. It's not terribly likely they keep any of them after their contracts expire, the team may keep one of them. It's possible that they may be bought out/traded before then. Everyone else on the roster though is most likely going to be here through the 2013-14 season.

So, with that core group of players in mind, I list the team's draft needs as follows:

1) A small forward-type to come off the bench. Preferably someone lengthy who can play and defend two or three positions. Basically, someone who can fill the role Jeff Green should have had all this time. Also, someone who we can pay less than Green.

2) A 2-guard with a natural three-point shot. Someone who could possibly become a starter

3) Depth at power forward.

It's hard to say what pick the Thunder will have at this point, it could be anywhere from 22 to... 30! (I can dream, can't I?)  

Among the players in that range who fit the Thunder's needs, the perhaps isn't a better fit than Chris Singleton (who, coincidentally, is exactly the player NBADraft.net has the Thunder picking). Singleton, a 6'9" junior forward from Florida State, plays like what would happen if Thabo Sefalosha and Serge Ibaka morphed together. He's perhaps the best defensive player in the draft, can play two different positions and has an underrated offensive game (be it an inconsistent one). However, there are huge concerns here, mostly the fact that Singleton suffered a foot fracture earlier this month and may perhaps have to drop out of the draft entirely. If he does have a quick recovery though, it wouldn't be unheard of for the Thunder to take a chance on a player with injury question marks.

Klay Thompson, a 6'6" shooting guard from Washington State, doesn't get a lot of talk outside of Pac-10 country, perhaps he should. He's averaging 21.2 ppg and is shooting 41.5% from three point land. He's tied for second in three pointers made among players in BCS conferences who are shooting at least 40% from three point range. He'll be a guard in the pro ranks, but it's not ridiculous to say he could play a little small forward.

There are other players from that range who could fit in: Kyle Singler from Duke, LaceDarius Dunn from Baylor, possibly Kenneth Faried from Morehead State. I broke these players down earlier this year.

The acquisition of Perkins also opens the door to the possibility of trading out of the first round. I wouldn't be opposed to that at all. If the Thunder could manage swapping their pick for an expiring contract and a low-risk, low-money high second rounder, the impact would be almost as significant as taking a chance on a low first-rounder. There will likely be teams above them trying to make some crazy three-team trades in order to kick-start their rebuilding process. The Thunder are in position to play the third wheel, with a low-end first rounder and room for a salary balancing veteran.

So, what does the future hold? A promising young new player? More exciting trades? In the words of Bob Barry, Jr.: "You tell me!"

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