The Oklahoma City Thunder ended the 2016-17 season as the #6-seed in the Western Conference. With one of the best point guards in the NBA, however, OKC did not possess the kind of supporting cast to make a run among the Western Conference powers.
Though, that is what the NBA Draft is all about: roster improvement. With the NBA Draft coming later this month, we will examine some attainable prospects that could help the Thunder next season.
Donovan Mitchell, a talented guard from Louisville, could give Oklahoma City exactly what it needs.
Mitchell, a 6-foot-3, 211 pound guard, possesses an impressive 6-foot-10 wingspan. In his sophomore campaign at Louisville, Mitchell averaged 19.6 points-per-40-minutes on 46.3 percent shooting on two-point shots. He also added an impressive 22.2 player efficiency rating, 7.2 points above the average of 15.
He doesn’t just do it on the offensive end either. Mitchell showed an innate ability to defend four different positions last season. Whether it was a team’s point guard or power forward, Mitchell showed he could hang. The 6-foot-10 wingspan helps him be able to guard all of those different positions.
The unique ability to defend the rim at 6-foot-2 is what separates Mitchell from other guards in the draft. He has the ability to be a great two-way player in the league.
The Thunder are in the need for a second scoring option to go along with Russell Westbrook next season. Mitchell, with some development, could be that guy for the Thunder. The ability that he brings on the defensive end would be great for OKC. Mitchell has the ability to be an All-NBA defender and the Thunder should not pass that chance up.
Another impressive feat for Mitchell was that he had the fastest 3⁄4 court sprint in the NBA Combine. The ability to go end-to-end could help him be an effective transition scoring option with perhaps the league’s fastest baseline-to-baseline player: Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder need to think hard about who they will select in the first round. They have the opportunity to make a huge splash and improve their roster to move up the standings in the Western Conference. With the lack of money they have left for free-agency, it makes the draft even more important. Donovan Mitchell will be a name to watch if he is on the board for the Thunder at No. 21.