When your team starts 1-11, there’s a few things you can do.
1. Stop paying attention
2. Look for positives and convince yourself improvement is coming
3. Call for your coach’s head
4. Watch each game with your arms folded and with a cynical, “I don’t care” attitude.
5. Start talking about next year’s draft.
And that’s what we’re going to do here. Why not? It’s clear that Oklahoma City will have another lottery pick, but the question is where? By no means am I giving up on the season, because we all knew we’d be in the lottery. It’s just, there’s not a ton to say about a team that 1-11 besides, “They stink.” And plus, it’s always fun to look ahead and dream of one player turning your life around.
Blake Griffin – Oklahoma
If OKC picks No. 1, this is who they take. No questions asked. Don’t even think twice. Blake Griffin is your man. First, he’s obviously a hometown guy. Second, I truly don’t think there is another player in the country that can match him athletically or physically. He’s the best player in the nation. Period. He’s big (6-10, 260 lbs) but he’s quick. He’s developing a nice little jumper and the dude can handle the ball. I’ve been saying it before Fran Fraschilla decided to say about 14 times on national television – he’s Amare Stoudemire, version two. Except honestly, at this point, I think Blake is stronger and more developed than Amare at 20. Blake is impossible to guard one-on-on in the post because he’ll overpower you. He can face you up and take you off the dribble. And he’s an ideal guy to run pick and rolls or pick and pops with. He will immediately impact whatever roster that he winds up on. Take him OKC. Take him. (Highlights)
B.J. Mullens – Ohio State
He’s clearly got ability. He’s 7-1 and is extremely athletic. But one thing about him is nobody will know if he will be NBA ready when he comes out after this year. Watching video of him, I see a little Greg Oden in him, just because of his length and the way he dominates the post. But he’s so much more athletic than Oden. This pick wouldn’t hurt OKC. He should be a nice post player in the future, but I don’t see him as an immediate impact player. Right now, the Thunder doesn’t need anymore projects and I fear Mullens would be one. (Highlights)
Ricky Rubio – DKV Joventut
I would love Rubio for a couple reasons:
1. To stick it to Bill Simmons. The Sports Guy (who is probably my favorite sports writer) is hell-bent on disrespecting Oklahoma City. He was outspoken about the move and now only refers to the Thunder as the SloppySeconds, the Bennett City Hijackers or Kevin Durant’s Team. But he has also declared in two columns, that he has such a crush on Rubio that he “would move to whatever city drafts him.” Welcome to OKC Bill. Give me a call. I’ll show you around.
2. Because he’s a darn fine player. At 17, he showed his talent in the Gold Medal Game against the United States in Beijing. He’s extremely gifted with the ball, has excellent court vision and gets to the rim with ease. He looks like a combo of Steve Nash and Chris Paul, but with more size (6-4). If OKC took him, the Thunder might be labeled the Detroit Lions of the NBA having taken two straight point guards, but Russell Westbrook is more of a combo guard while Rubio is a straight point man. He runs a fast break with such fluidity and is awesome at penetrating and finding someone to dish to. One thing that concerns me is how much of a set-shot jumper he has. He gets basically no lift and he’s got a slow release. Obviously, he did fine for himself against Team USA, but I don’t know how well that would translate to the NBA. Also, he appears to be developing a bit of an ego and I’m not sure how thrilled he would be to play in small market OKC. All that aside, I am behind Rubio and would be buying billboards downtown begging Sam Presti to take him if Blake Griffin weren’t involved. (Highlights)
Demar DeRozen– USC
Some are calling him the next Vince Carter. Is that a complement? I assume so, but I have to think he really doesn’t fit into what Oklahoma City already has and what it wants to do. He dunks, he’s freakishly athletic, but where does he play? Well, unless OKC wants to shuffle things around for him. Jeff Green would either have to move to the four or to the bench, Kevin Durant to his more natural small forward spot and DeRozen play the two. Otherwise there’s a crowd. It’s hard to ignore his pure, unbelievable ability, but unlike former Trojan guard O.J. Mayo, DeRozen probably won’t be able to come into the league and play right away. He has absolute superstar potential, but sometimes those guys pan out and sometimes they don’t. He’s far from a sure thing and OKC really needs a sure thing right now. (Highlights)
James Harden– Arizona State
Get ready. I’m about to do it. I’m about to compare a black guy not just to a white guy, but to a Spanish guy. James Harden reminds me of Manu Ginobili, except without all the falling down. He’s lefty, he’s talented but he gets his points in different ways. He’s not your traditional scorer. He’s does little things well and scores a lot of awkward baskets. If the Thunder somehow fall to the fourth, fifth or sixth pick, this would be a pretty good one. (Highlights)
Brandon Jennings –Lottomatica Roma
For 6-1, the guy is a freak. He throws down windmills, 360s and reverse jams. He is the most “pure” point guard in the top 10. He’s a lefty so of course, since when we make comparisons we have to stay within the realm of someone who is short, black and left-handed. So I’m seeing a lot of Kenny Anderson here, but with more athletic ability. Or maybe Dee Brown. Or Mayor Kevin Johnson. They all fit the dense comparison. But seriously, the guy can play but he really reminds me a little of Sebastian Telfair. A ton of hype, undersized and will have to understand that he can’t come into the NBA and play like he did in high school. Passing lanes are smaller, jumpshots are harder to get off and getting to the rim is much tougher. He could definitely help the Thunder, but again, he’s not a safe pick. (Highlights)
Hasheem Thabeet – UCONN
Let’s see – Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene, Nick Collison… Hasheem Thabeet. Fits right in. One of these guys has to pan out, right?
But you know where most teams make the most strides? Those late first, mid-second round picks. The guys that turn into really nice role players or in some cases stars (Kevin Martin, Michael Redd, Kwame Brown, oh wait). These solid role players are what the Thunder need more than anything.
This guy has solid contributor on a contending team written all over him. He’s tall (6-10) and can shoot. He can defend and he has the awesome scrappy white guy stereotype.
Eric Maynor– Virginia Commonwealth
Want a perfect backup point guard or maybe the next Chauncy Billups. Maynor is your man. He’s had four years in college, knows how to run and offense and knows how to lead a team. This guy has solid pro written all over him. (I guess my cliche sports phrase of the day is, “written all over him.” You know, I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. I just really need to step back and refocus. I’m getting better… ok I’m done now.)
Darren Collison– UCLA
Russell Westbrook’s defensive running buddy. Collison is a nice point guard that can score a little but will be more of a solid defensive guard that’s got floor leadership and nice game management skills.
Josh Heytvelt– Gonzaga
See: Atchley, Connor. But with a better post game and a little more scoring ability.
Curtis Jerrells – Baylor
A little Michael Redd but with insane slasher ability. He may not be a starter, but he’ll be that type of pure scorer every team want to have waiting. He could easily be the kind of guy that puts up 14 or 15 a night in 20 minutes. He’s got basketball player written all over him.
If Oklahoma City lands to the top pick, the official Thunderworld endorsement goes to Blake Griffin. He’s an Oklahoma guy through-and-through. He can immediately impact the team. He fills a spot that OKC desperately needs help. And he’s a great human being. Take Blake.