It’s not often you see a powerhouse team with a top fifteen pick, but that’s the exact position the Oklahoma City Thunder are in right now. The Thunder acquired pick number twelve in the trade involving James Harden and Kevin Martin. Many people are wondering what we should do with the pick. Some analysts are saying they should trade up, considering they have two first round picks (12 and 29) and a second round pick. Or, they could just use the three picks they have.
Starting off, trading up wouldn’t be a horrible idea. Targeting a player like Cody Zeller or Alex Len, tall, powerful centers would be ideal. Is a center the position of need for the Thunder, though? Yes, Kendrick Perkins hasn’t exactly been locked in as the center of the future for OKC. Also, what about shooting guard? There are a couple directions the Thunder could go if they trade up. If Ben McLemore (SG, Kansas) is available, that could be a clear pick. If Alex Len (C, Maryland) or Cody Zeller (PF/C, Indiana) are available and McLemore isn’t, that’s a likely drafting scenario.
Now, breaking down all the positions, they are holes that players have the capability of filling. At Point Guard, Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, and point-forward Kevin Durant will continue man the position next season if Derek Fisher doesn’t come back. They don’t need much help there. At shooting guard, Thabo Sefolosha will be back, but Kevin Martin is an unrestricted free agent. As of his exit interview, it sounded like Martin was interested in coming back, but given his salary requirements his future in OKC is uncertain. Also, Ronnie Brewer would contribute off the bench, but he is also an nrestricted free agent and given his lack of playing time in OKC, it is difficult to say what Brewer's place in the rotation is. At small forward, the great Kevin Durant is the lone ranger, meaning he could use a solid backup. The thing is, if the Thunder draft a small forward at pick twelve, there’s no starting potential there for a rookie. Therefore, they can’t play behind Durant, but they could possibly move down to PF and have Serge Ibaka move to center. There’s a lot of possibilities.
At power forward, Serge Ibaka, Perry Jones III, and Nick Collison are all looking for quality minutes this upcoming season. Ibaka will take the starting job, Collison will play the sixth man role, and Perry Jones will look for an upgraded role in his sophomore season. If the Thunder adapt to more of a small-ball game, Jones at the 4 could make the bench radically more dynamic than in the past.
Finally, at center, Kendrick Perkins will man it with some help from Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton from time-to-time.
I’m very big on Alex Len, so I would like to trade up and draft him in the top five. Is it possible? Yes, it is. There is a rumor that the Cavaliers are open to trade their first pick, where the number one prospect, Nerlens Noel is open (obviously). Noel is a Center from Kentucky who tore his ACL, but is an intense athlete, and a great player.
It will be very interesting to see what the Thunder do in the draft. Will they trade up? Will they trade down? Will they stay where they are? All these questions will be answered Thursday, June 27th on ESPN.