The No. 25 pick the Thunder is something easily forgotten about when you’re picking in the top three. But it honestly can be just as important. I’m too lazy to go back and spend three or four minutes on Wikipedia finding all the great NBA players picked outside of the lottery, but just trust me, there’s lots of good players there. You can’t necessarily expect to hit a home run at No. 25, but if you do your work, you can find a quality contributor and sometimes if you’re lucky, a real stud.
So we’re looking at the guys that are fringe lottery players and those just outside of it. There’s a bunch of players up for consideration here, so it’s pretty subjective. Once you start getting around your 20th and 30th best players, it’s kind of a crapshoot. So don’t hate us if you have Wayne Ellington as one of your five best players. We all see these guys differently. Also, keep in mind, a few players on this list are still in the “testing the waters” phase and haven’t signed an agent. (Taj Gibson, Gani Lawal, Austin Daye, Jeff Teague and Patty Mills among a few others. The deadline for withdraw is Monday)
(Remember, NOT a mock draft. Just a ranking of the prospects with an eye toward Thunder needs. Since there was so much variation in this list and really no way to come to a consensus, this list is separated between my 13-30 and Joe’s. Obviously though, my list is better and more correct. Just to help with seeing where we had differences, in parenthesis on my list is Joe’s ranking for that player and vice versa for his.)
13. Eric Maynor – 6’3″/ G/ Virginia Commonwealth (15) – highlights
I love four-year players. During time at college, they’re able to pick up on so much and come into the league with more intangibles than a 19-year-old with insane athleticism. When I look at Maynor, I see Chauncey Billups written all over him. He’s got an excellent mid-range jumper, he’s an absolute leader on the floor and has the quicks to get around anyone. He’s the type of guy that might not ever be a star, but he’s going to lead a team when he’s on the floor. He can even play off the ball a little and I think him coupled with Russell Westbrook could make a dynamic backcourt.
14. Jrue Holliday – 6’4″/ G/ UCLA (13) – highlights
I don’t see it. I’ve watched and watched, but I just don’t see a top five player here. Yes, he’s got a lot of skill, but he’s a guy that would’ve done himself a favor by going back for his sophomore season. His game is extremely raw and I see the comparison to Russell Westbrook in the sense that his athleticism may develop into skill quickly, but Westbrook played two years in college.
15. Gerald Henderson – 6’5″/ G/ Duke (20) – highlights
Henderson is a quality scoring two-guard, but he’s a much better defender than he gets credit for. My major question is how far does his range extend? He’s got a bit of a slow release and was a good college 3-point shooter, but can he step back and hit the NBA three?
16. Terrence Williams – 6’6″/ G-F/ Louisville (23) – highlights
He’s just a well-rounded basketball player. At 6’6, he’s probably at natural small forward, but he could easily drop down to play the two. I see him as a similar player to James Harden, but not able to get to the rim and create his shot as well. Williams is a player that’s going to have a few triple-doubles during his career and is always going to have a consistent stat line. He’s a very good passer and does little things that help your team.
17. Patrick Mills – 6’1″/ G/ St. Mary’s (30) – highlights
I’ve said it before, but I love Patty Mills. I watched him in the Olympics and he caught my eye. He was great at St. Mary’s before he hurt his wrist but then he came back in the NIT and was awesome. He’s got a lightning quick release, can get to the rim and is an excellent passer. And he’s as quick as can be. He’s going to be a point guard that’s going to take his shot when he gets it, but he’s a guy that would complement the Thunder’s backcourt extremely well. Small yes, but a good leader and a true point guard.
18. Earl Clark – 6’9″/ F/ Louisville (14) – highlights
Clark has a ridiculous amount of skill for a 6-9 guy. But the same can be said about Tim Thomas. And I fear Clark is that same type of player. I’m always concerned with a guy that was “good” in college, but doesn’t have the numbers to back it up. He’s getting drafted because of his tools, not because of what he’s done. That scares me. But he does have a ridiculous skillset and *could* be a very good player. Could be.
19. Chase Budinger – 6’7″/ G-F/ Arizona (18) – highlights
I’m hesitant against anyone that plays the three because obviously OKC is pretty set there and also don’t forget, Thabo Sefolosha is probably a natural three. But Budinger is fairly versatile and may be better suited playing two-guard in the pros. The question is whether or not he can defend both spots. Is he quick enough to hang with smaller, faster shooting guards? Also, DX does have his best-case as Martell Webster which is a pretty crappy best-case, but oh well.
20. Sam Young – 6’7″/ F/ Pittsburgh (NR) – highlights
I really like Sam Young’s game. His second-round performance in the NCAA tournament against Oklahoma State was incredible. He was an offensive machine. But I even liked him before he showed off all that scoring ability. He plays tough defense and is a player that works hard every possession. And he could potentially even play the four, albeit as an undersized four.
21. Jeff Teague – 6’1″/ G/ Wake Forest (21) – highlights
As with basically all these players further on down, you don’t really know what you might be getting. He could be a straight bust or maybe he turns into a fantastic player. And I see Jeff Teague as exactly one or the other. He’s a ridiculous athlete, but does he have the drive and the desire to harness all that ability?
22. B.J. Mullens – 7’1″/ C/ Ohio State (16) – highlights
I think you’re taking a major risk on this guy anywhere you take him, but he has physical gifts you can’t ignore. You can’t expect him to contribute immediately. If you’re content putting him at the end of the bench and hoping in he develops in a few years, I’d be all about taking him. I see a lot of Tyson Chandler in his game, but he’s not nearly aggressive enough. A guy with his size and skills should be doing more than averaging under nine points and five rebounds in the Big 10.
23. Jeff Pendergraph – 6’10″/ F/ Arizona State (26) – highlights
Pendergraph was one of the most efficient players in the country last season. He was one of the top field goal percentage players and while he did the bulk of his damage around the bucket, he also has the ability to step out and hit a little jumper. He’s not that high on a lot of people’s boards, but he’s going to be a good player.
24. Tyler Hansbrough – 6’8″/ F/ North Carolina (27) – highlights
He’s going to play for 10 years for someone and is going to contribute the whole time. If Eduardo Najera can make it for 10 years in this league, so can a three-time All-American. He’s just the type of player that gets it done. It’s not pretty every time (or ever) but somehow, he puts the ball in the basket. Granted, he was completely ineffective against a guy like Blake Griffin, but he’s a guy that is going to try and outwork everybody. If he’s not on your team, you hate his guts. But if he’s on it, you love him to death. But then again, he just said this today in an interview: “These are probably a bunch of guys who just sit in their basements and probably just write out mock drafts and do this or do that. They haven’t followed me for four years and they haven’t seen exactly what I’ve done or they wouldn’t be saying that stuff.” /called out
25. James Johnson – 6’8″/ F/ Wake Forest (19) – highlights
He’s a power forward that’s not going to wow you with a polished offensive game and I don’t see him really evolving much out of his current form, but he’s a big, strong body that prefers to play back to the basket. Some have him going as high as the lottery, but I’m a little worried he may have maxed out his potential.
26. Gani Lawal – 6’8″/ F/ Georgia Tech (24) – highlights
He’s another guy testing the waters, but he could be a quality value pick at 25. He’s a lot like James Johnson both body and skill wise. He’s got a big body that could still use some filling out, but at just 20, he’s got room and time to improve. He’s really the next best thing to Jordan Hill (who is the next best thing to Blake Griffin) in this draft. He was a 15 and 9 guy at Georgia Tech and that was in the talented ACC.
27. Marcus Thornton – 6’4″/ G/ LSU (NR) – highlights
A shooting guard with great size. He’s extremely quick with the ball in his hands and while he prefers to get into the lane, he’s not a bad mid-range player. He tended to force shots in college, but he can shoot and his range extends out to the NBA line.
28. Danny Green – 6’6″/ G/ North Carolina (NR) – highlights
I see him as a Shane Battier type. A quality defender, a good shooter but not somebody that knocks you off your feet. He’s a better athlete than people give him credit for and at 6’6, he can play the two or the three. He’s a total intangibles guy and I love that about him. He’s the type of player that’s on a winning team. Maybe this is high for him because most don’t have him going until mid or late second round, but he’s the type of player the Thunder could use. Of course, if all the players in front of him are gone.
29. Wayne Ellington – 6’5″/ G/ North Carolina (25) – highlights
He’s a better shooter than Gerald Henderson, but he’s not as good a scorer. He was impressive at the combine with a 38-inch vertical, but he was known to disappear at times last season for UNC. But the guy is a good shooter, but I don’t know how well he’ll be able to score against elite defenders.
30. Taj Gibson – 6’9″/ F/ Southern Cal (28) – highlights
He’s a very good shot blocker (third in the nation last year) and while his offensive game is limited, he can protect the rim. His vertical checked in only at 30 inches and he’d probably help himself by pulling out and going back to SC for his senior season, but he’s a bit of a project and I see him as a bit of a Hilton Armstrong-type player. Now, depending on your perspective that could be a good thing or a bad thing, but this far down, it could be a decent value.
I know what you’re thinking – where’s Austin Daye? I see bust written everywhere, all over him. He’s got to add muscle, he’s got to get tougher, he’s got to refine his skills. He wasn’t that great of a player in a weak conference and he never was really able to take over games. And now there’s stuff out about his workouts being lazy and his offensive game looking raw. I just have to pass. I don’t deny his potential, but I’d rather not take a risk on a guy that plays the same position as my superstar. Besides, it also looks like he is leaning toward going back to school. Which is probably a smart move. Also, I avoided international players like Omri Casspi because quite honestly, I know nothing about him other than he’s from Israel and he plays basketball.
13. Jrue Holiday – 6’4″/ G/ UCLA (14)
14. Earl Clark – 6’9″/ F/ Louisville (18)
15. Eric Maynor – 6’3″/ G/ Virginia Commonwealth (12)
16. B.J. Mullens – 7’1″/ C/ Ohio State (22)
Somebody always gambles on the big raw 7-footer.
17. Austin Daye – 6’9″/ F/ Gonzaga (NR) – highlights
NBA GMs are dreaming for a poor man’s version of Kevin Durant here.
18. Chase Budinger – 6’7″/ G-F/ Arizona (19)
19. James Johnson – 6’7″/ F/ Wake Forest (25)
20. Gerald Henderson -6’5″/ G/ Duke (15)
21. Jeff Teague – 6’1″/ G/ Wake Forest (21)
The short “combo” guards seem to be all over in this draft. Aaron Brooks for Houston has opened the door for players in this mold in the copycat NBA.
22. Josh Heytvelt – 6’9″/ F/ Gonzaga (NR) – highlights
A very good pick and pop guy. Will be in the league for years.
23. Terrence Williams – 6’6″/ G-F/ Louisville (16)
Thabo Sefolosha’s missing twin.
24. Gani Lawal – 6’9″/ F/ Georgia Tech (26)
25. Wayne Ellington – 6’5″/ G/ North Carolina (29)
26. Jeff Pendergraph – 6’10″/ F/ Arizona State (23)
The top “underrated” big man in the draft. He can do everything Jordan Hill can do, and do it more efficiently. 70% True shooting percentage.
27. Tyler Hansbrough – 6’8″/ F/ North Carolina (24)
I think he’s destined for a Nick Collison type of career at best. Solid, not spectacular.
28. Taj Gibson – 6’9″/ F/ Southern Cal (30)
His wingspan is only two inches shorter than Thabeet’s. Decent rebounder and very good shot blocker.
29. Darren Collison – 6’1″/ G/ UCLA (NR) – highlights
Every team needs a guy like this off the bench. Defense, speed and can hit an open shot. He is a true point guard who will be in the league for 10 years.
30. Patrick Mills – 6’1″/ G/ St. Mary’s (17)
Lightning in a bottle.