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Loud Links: Oklahoma City Thunder News for June 26, 2009

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4D here. So the draft is over and the kid from OKC went to LA, and the kid from LA went to OKC. Not bad. There is a mixed review of the Thunder’s choices. Personally I’m fine with the overall draft. I was a bit shocked with the Byron Mullens swap, but I feel he has the same bust potential as Thabeet. And if Presti drafted Thabeet, I would have trusted his decision. So I will hope Mullens pans out in the long run. The worst-case scenario is that the 66ers get a few more players on their roster.

In this edition of Loud Links: Presti supposedly told Darnell Mayberry that he was confident Watson would be back next year. Watson participates in a charity event held in the memory of Stromile Swift’s mother. Harden, Mullens, and Vaden will introduced to the public tomorrow in OKC. say that Vaden could be the best pure shooter in the draft. Westbrook and Harden have known each other since their youth. ESPN give the Thunder an A- grade.

I found the following and thought it shows some of Vaden's loyalty and relation to the Thunder. The story was not long enough to link so I quoted...

Vaden averaged 17.6 points last season with UAB, where he transferred after two seasons at Indiana to follow coach Mike Davis. Vaden is a former teammate of forward D.J. White, who was a rookie for Oklahoma City last season.

Sam Presti addresses Thunder’s main concerns |
In third overall pick James Harden, the Thunder added a much-needed perimeter shooter. In trading 25th pick Rodrigue Beaubois for Dallas’ No. 24 pick B.J. Mullens, Oklahoma City landed a center that has the potential to blossom into an anchor in the middle. The Thunder’s most pressing needs going in: shooting and interior defense and rebounding. So what now? Thunder Selects Harden in NBA Draft
Dressed in a champagne three-piece suit, James Harden bounced a fist pump off his chest when his name was called by NBA commissioner David Stern. It was a move that was a Harden trademark after a big play, and nothing was more monumental in his life than this moment.

Thunder pick ASU G Harden at No. 3 - San Jose Mercury News
"I'm not just a one-dimensional player. That's what separates me from a lot of players in this draft," said Harden, a 6-foot-5 guard. "If they have scorers already, I can in there and be a facilitator and help those other guys score more. Or if they need me to score a little bit and do whatever it takes, then that's what I'll do."

THUNDER: Thunder to Participate in USA Basketball Mini-Camp
"We are pleased to have members of our organization contributing to the efforts and goals of USA Basketball," said Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. "This is another opportunity for our players and staff to gain experience and continue their development. We are grateful for the opportunity that USA Basketball has presented to the Thunder."

Swift honors mother's memory with walk-a-thon | The Times
All proceeds from the walk-a-thon went to the National Kidney Foundation of Louisiana. Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay and Oklahoma Thunder point guard Earl Watson also attended the walk.

Harden latest addition to Thunder youth movement -
"This is not a meant to be disrespectful but we look at our team as a team, not just as a core or as a single, small group. Our team is more than Kevin, Russell and Jeff," Presti said. "And the thing I like about those guys is that they'll be the first people to tell you that. That's part of the reason why we like those guys and want them to be part of our organization. We think James Harden will take the same approach."

Breaking down the draft: OKC style
Mullens is my favorite pick. Not because he’s the best player or I like his style, but because the Thunder desperately, definitely, absolutely needed a man of his size. He is 7 feet tall and weighs 275 pounds. He wasn’t much of a scoring threat at Ohio State, but quite honestly, OKC doesn’t need him to be a consistent scoring machine. Sure, he needs a few moves so that he isn’t a liability on the offensive end, but becoming an efficient passer and offensive rebounder is just as important, probably more so with the amount of shooters already on the roster. No, what the Thunder really needs out of Mullens is a few extra pounds from the weight room and to learn how to play some defense on guys his size and bigger.

James Harden pick means Russell Westbrook can rest easy |
"Our feelings on Russell have been consistent," Presti said. "Russell’s a competitive, tenacious, young, athletic player who we feel great about. We couldn’t be more thrilled with what he’s doing."

Open Mike Podcast: Harden, Mullens & Head Fakes | Thunder Rumblings
In today’s installment, we discuss whether James Harden is fat, if B.J. Mullens is any good and why GM Sam Presti passed on Ricky Rubio.

This draft is another step in the Thunder's master plan |
The plan is for Mullens to blossom in year three, which would be Kevin Durant’s and Jeff Green’s fifth season and Westbrook’s fourth season. Throw in Serge Ibaka and OKC could have two decent big men by the time making a serious playoff run is realistic.

Presti Follows Through On Man-Crush, Takes Harden | Sun Devils Community
I was a bit taken aback by some of the mock drafts, analysts and websites that claim Harden isn’t a a player who gives a consistent effort. Not to be a homer, but that was always the least of my concern. James doesn’t want to do anything but win. Those might be at a premium during his first year in OKC, but I don’t think there’s any reason to knock his effort level. He certainly had games in which he didn’t perform to his utmost abilities (see: Temple and Syracuse) but I’d never chalk that up to him not giving it his all.

PBN | Draft grades: Spurs surge
James Harden was the natural fit, so GM Sam Presti is clearly pleased with his team's progress and stayed away from the Rubio curveball. There may be temptation to move Russell Westbrook off the ball at a later time, but for now, letting him soak in experience at the point remains the right move. Harden will challenge Sefolosha for a starting spot and will fit right in with the rest of OKC's workaholics. Byron (no longer B.J.) Mullens intrigued the Thunder as they search for a center to place with their core, and at the No. 24 spot, is well worth the gamble, even at an additional cost of an extra second-round pick. Oklahoma City also spent some money to buy the rights of UAB's Robert Vaden, a gunner who will have an opportunity to shoot himself on to the roster. Grade: B.

Draft Analysis - 2009 Draft Tracker -
Oklahoma City has acquired this pick. There are real issues about Mullens' desire to play and get better, but his potential is unquestioned. One GM said Mullens has the talent to be a top-five pick. He's the second center of the first round, long after Hasheem Thabeet went second to Memphis. - NBA Draft First-Round Analysis
James Harden, SG, Arizona State - Harden is a wonderful kid who is an overwhelmingly powerful shooting guard. He can power past defenders to get to the lane and is a solid shooter. What is worrisome about Harden is how reticent he was about taking control of games. He almost ached to blend in with his teammates, and great players don’t worry about that. A star’s job is to be a star, and Harden too often was reluctant to be that guy.

THUNDER: Thunder Acquires James Harden, B.J. Mullens and Robert Vaden in 2009 NBA Draft
Additionally, the Thunder acquired the draft rights to Robert Vaden (54th selection) from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for cash considerations. The 6-5, 205-pound University of Alabama-Birmingham senior, posted averages of 17.6 points 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game during his senior year. He became the fastest player in UAB history to reach the 1,000-point scoring plateau as he accomplished the feat in 50 games.

THUNDER: Thunder Selects Talented, High-Character Players
"And to hear his mom talk about the team and the way she was able to express herself about people working together, this is a woman that has worked in the same company and the same job for 28 years," Presti said. "There’s no question that her son carries that on. And that was a great conversation for us to have, to continue to learn about him as a person. He understands about expectations here, and he’s really excited about being a part of this organization."

THUNDER: Harden Eager to Learn, Bond With New Teammates
During his two-day visit to Oklahoma City, Harden said he had a solid overall workout, shot the ball well and got a good vibe from everyone he came into contact with. But it was what Harden did the night before his workout with the Thunder and the morning he left town for his next workout that spoke volumes about his work ethic. In both instances, Harden found himself at the Thunder practice facility, shooting jump shots and lifting weights on his own time. It was as if Harden never wanted to leave. Now, it appears as if he will be here for a while.

THUNDER: Thunder Fans to Welcome Newest Players to OKC
Attending the Caravan stop tomorrow will be the three players acquired by the Thunder in last night’s NBA Draft. James Harden, B.J. Mullens and Robert Vaden will all be at the Caravan stop and Thunder fans are encouraged to attend to help welcome them to Oklahoma City. A media only press conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. inside the MidFirst Bank.

#3: James Harden - Basketball News & NBA Rumors - HOOPSWORLD
Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti has shown a willingness during his short tenure with the organization to go against the grain. His selection of James Harden in the 2009 NBA Draft was certainly true to form. With everyone in the building expecting the Thunder to take Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, Presti again shocked the NBA world by taking Harden.

#24: B.J. Mullens - Basketball News & NBA Rumors - HOOPSWORLD
His preference for perimeter play was a big reason that Mullens didn't start for Thad Matta in Columbus. The Buckeye coach wanted Mullens to be a traditional, back-to-the-basket center and as it turns out, Matta's system may not have been the best atmosphere to showcase his talents.

Things Are Complicated for One James Harden Fan - TrueHoop By Henry Abbott - ESPN
As a big Seattle Sonics fan for two decades (1987 to 2008), the last couple of years have obviously not been that fun. One of the most painful aspects of the transformation of my team into the Zombie Sonics has been the fact that Sam Presti has constructed something pretty good in the town-that-shall-not-be-named.

2009 NBA Draft - Round-by-round Coverage - ESPN
The Bobcats will send this pick to the Thunder. Vaden is a terrific shooter, but he's old and a bit one-dimensional. I don't love this pick for Oklahoma City. Not sure how he fits with Harden.

2009 NBA Draft - Round-by-round Coverage - ESPN
The Mavs are trading this pick to the Thunder for No. 25 and a future second-round pick. The Thunder have been looking to get Mullens for weeks and tried to get up as high as No. 14 to get him. Clearly, Sam Presti sees something he likes. Mullens reminds me a lot of a young Darko Milicic, for both good and bad -- he's skilled and athletic, but he doesn't really know how to play.

NBA draft results: The best and the worst - ESPN
B.J. Mullens, I'd like you to meet Robert Swift, Mouhamed Sene and Johan Petro. You're the fourth project center taken by this franchise in five years, and let's hope your career turns out differently. Of course, this is a different administration in OKC, and Sam Presti certainly has more of a clue than the folks who were making picks back in Seattle. However, the hit rate on project centers is miniscule, especially this late in the draft. Of course, the hit rate on anybody this late in a weak draft isn't great, so perhaps there wasn't much to lose, but one can't help but wonder how Green or Blair would have looked in a Thunder uni.

NBA draft results: Draft grades - ESPN
While I thought the Thunder might be able to use Ricky Rubio as a trade asset, if nothing else, it's hard to fault Sam Presti. Harden is a better fit in the backcourt with Russell Westbrook, and I think the Thunder got a terrific value pick in Mullens. On talent and upside, he was one of the most intriguing players in the draft. If coach Scott Brooks can get effort from him, the Thunder will have intriguing young talent at every position on the floor.

Evaluating Oklahoma City’s draft | Daily - Where Thunder Happens
Vaden is a lights-out shooter. Really, I don’t know if anybody shoots the ball better than him in this draft. Not even Stephen Curry. Watch some tape on Vaden - he’s ridiculous. He can heat up faster than a gas stove. He’s got absolutely unlimited range, a quick release and he can shoot really well off balance. But he’s no sure thing to make the team. I actually imagine he’ll get signed and spend some time in Tulsa. But that’s just a guess. The Thunder needs a specialist shooter and Vaden could be that guy. Guys like this don’t work out hardly ever, but it’s worth the shot, I think.



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