Somehow, I think we all knew this is where we’d be. We all had visions of black floppy hair streaking up the court and busting out a fancy-pants pass, but I think deep down, we knew James Harden was going to be the name called with the third pick.
It’s kind of a weird feeling honestly. I’d been calling for Harden for almost two months now. I don’t think there’s any player that fits us better than him. Oklahoma City was statistically the worst team at shooting guard in the league last season. Harden is talented and can do multiple things. He’s can step on the court tomorrow and make this team better. I truly think he’s going to be a fantastic player.
But for some reason I feel like the guy that just let a girl get away. Ricky Rubio was the most unknown thing about this draft. Honestly, we have no idea what he’s going to do. All we’ve got are some YouTube clips and six games in Greece to base anything off of. But there was just something about him. I have no idea what it is. He was intriguing. He was cool. He had potential we could only imagine. And the idea of him in a Thunder uniform just got very appealing in the last 48 hours.
It’s like Christmas morning when you’re eight. All you want is a Sega Genesis. You’ve asked for it all year and that’s what you dream of. You can picture the black box sitting perfectly on your TV stand, right next to your stack of pogs. Heck, you’ve already bought Sonic the Hedgehog. But two days before you saw a commercial for a Super Nintendo and you couldn’t get over how cool Super Mario Brothers looked. You start tearing open your present Christmas morning and low and behold, it’s exactly what you asked for – a Sega Genesis. But yet, you’re slightly disappointed. Why? I have no idea. But that’s sort of how I feel.
Common sense says James Harden is the perfect pick. We can assume Rubio was the best player available, but we don’t know that. But the desire to field a freaking cool team said pick Rubio. Not to say Harden makes uncool – I mean, he’s got a beard and he wore a bow-tie! – but the flash of Rubio can’t be ignored.
But Sam Presti is smarter than all of us and he’s got the common sense. He doesn’t care about alley oops and behind-the-back passes. He cares about wins and losses. And in three years when James Harden is the perfect complementary piece to the Thunder Three, I don’t think you’ll care about how cool the team is.
Rubio’s lure was the like the Sirens in The Odyssey. The more we saw, the more we heard, the more we liked. But at the end of the day, if you look in the mirror and think hard, you know this was the right pick. We’re in the business of winning games, not having a fun time. If that’s wanted you wanted, buy an And 1 mixtape.
Who knows, Rubio may make us cry into our pillows a few years from now. We don’t know for sure. But if Harden helps us win games, what does it matter?
I believe in Russell Westbrook as a point guard. You know why? Because Russell Westbrook does. He thinks he can be a great one and he did a pretty solid job of proving it last year. 15-5-5 isn’t that bad for a rookie last time I checked. Westbrook thinks he can do it evidently Sam Presti believes in Westbrook too. Good enough for me.
This is the pick we needed. And don’t think for a second that’s the only reason Presti took Harden. This wasn’t just a “need” pick, unless “awesome basketball player” is considered a need. Presti took the Arizona State guard because he’s a great basketball player. An All-American, Pac-10 player of the year, a guy that averaged 20 points a game in a great conference. He’s legit. He’s going to make the other four guys he’s on the floor with better. Maybe it’s not going to sell as many replica jerseys, but that doesn’t matter.
We’ve chanted that we believe in Sam Presti for months now. But the thing about drafting Harden is, it doesn’t take a lot of faith to believe in it.