We’ve spent the last month talking about what Oklahoma City will do with the third pick in this draft. So much time in fact, that it’s easy to forget that the Thunder have a second pick in the first round. I know, who knew?
So what to do there? Obviously, the 25th pick is directly related to what happens with the third choice. If the Thunder goes big at three, then they need to address guard issues at 25. If OKC goes guard at three, then they could take a big man or maybe take a guard opposite of what they took at three. Know what I mean? That’s not some big sports revelation there – if you draft a position with your first pick that fills a need, then you take something different with your next pick. Someone should let the Detroit Lions know that.
(If you really want to know what I really think about this pick though, I see the Thunder trading out of this pick or possibly taking another international player to stash away for a bit. Heck, you could even move into the middle-to-late second round and take another international project. Right now, OKC’s got a lot of playable assets and adding another player either pushes one of its current guys out the door or will leave the new guy stuck on the bench for a while. You can’t forget that the Thunder added Shaun Livingston, Kyle Weaver and D.J. White to its current roster last year and also has Serge Ibaka potentially ready for time. The Thunder depth chart could be getting really crowded, really fast. A good package deal would be for Presti to target his man – Harden, DeRozan, Curry, whoever – judge where he’s apt to go and send the No. 25 pick along with the three to move down to that spot and hopefully grab an immediate contributor in the process. I just don’t see the worth in keeping the 25 pick, unless a guy is there you really want or unless one of the current guys on the roster aren’t in the future plans (Kyle Weaver?). But hey, that’s just me. I’m all for upgrading a position and if you can do that with the 25th pick in this draft, then go for it.)
So based on what happens with the third pick, you’ve got to look position by position. Typically, when you’re drafting in the lower regions of a round, you’re either looking to try and fill a small need or maybe find something that could be a home run years from now. The Michael Redd’s and Carl Landry’s don’t come along all that often. So you need a sense of the needs at each position.
Current situation - Russell Westbrook/ Shaun Livingston/ Earl Watson/ Chucky Atkins
If the Thunder goes with Rubio, then point guard obviously isn’t necessary. But if OKC takes Harden of Thabeet or someone else, it needs to look for a quality backup point guard. Livingston is only signed through the end of next year and if he’s successful, he’ll be looking for a team that will make him a full-time point guard. If he’s not successful, then you’re looking for a quality backup anyway. Either way, it’s a position that needs depth. Right now there’s a log jam, but Earl Watson and Chucky Atkins have about as much chance to be in a Thunder uniform by the end of next year as I do.
Three that fit the bill:
Rodrigue Beaubois - I didn’t have him as a top 30 player on my big board because honestly, I didn’t know enough about him. But now, I see him as a definite top 30 player in this draft. His real value is that he doesn’t have to be here right away. Just like Serge Ibaka, Presti could take Beaubois and stash him for a year while he figures out what to do about Shaun Livingston. If Livingston is in the long term plans, you trade Beaubois down the line. If Livingston isn’t, you can bring over your backup point guard when you’re ready. And let me tell you, Beaubois is an impressive athlete – 6’2″, can leap out of the building (39″ vertical) and is a solid shooting point guard. He’s a little like the Euro version of Russell Westbrook, but he’s more of a true point guard. From what I see, pretty good player. And a cool name to boot.
Darren Collison - He’s an excellent defender, although undersized (6’0″). I don’t know how much of an offensive thread he’ll be at this level, but he has quality backup point guard written all over him. A roster spot would have to be cleared to make room for him, but would anyone really be all that upset with waving bye to Chucky Atkins and/or Earl Watson? That’s what I thought.
Patrick Mills - Mills is similar to Beaubois, but not as big. But he is probably quicker. He’d be a similar player to Collison in that he’d likely be playing behind Russell Westbrook for the majority of the time and doesn’t have the look at of a starting point guard, but he could be a nice contributor for sure.
Current situation - Thabo Sefolosha/ Kyle Weaver/ Desmond Mason
Again, totally dependent on the third pick. If OKC goes with Harden (or Demar DeRozan or Stephen Curry), then it’s been addressed. There would be a lot of depth there with the pick, Thabo Sefolosha and also Kyle Weaver. But if OKC takes a big man early on or a point guard, then they could use the pick to find an outside shooter/scorer to fill that two-guard position. It’s a position that needs help. Statiscally, the Thunder had the worst production in the league coming from shooting guard. You’ve got a quality lockdown defender there in Thabo, but unless he develops a Bowen-like speciality shot, he’s not going to give that complementary scoring that the Thunder needs. Kyle Weaver has shown flashes but the jury is still out. So if you’re not going to find a guy that could start there, you need a speciality guard, someone that could complement what Sefolosha and Weaver bring. So if it really boiled down to it, the Thunder should go for a marksmen with this pick.
Three that fit the bill:
Jermaine Taylor - He’s a big body at 6’4″, gets to the rim with ease, but has a perfect shooting stroke. His game in college was more of the mid-range style, but he absolutely has the ability to back it up to the NBA 3-point line. I see him as a bit of an Eddie House, Leandro Barbosa-type player in the sense that he could give you instant offense of the bench – something the Thunder could definitely use. Last year when the first unit took a breather, you just had to hope the other team didn’t score any, because OKC sure as heck wasn’t putting it in the bucket. (Another player that’s similar to Taylor is Jerel McNeal from Marquette. Similar size, similar game. I also like Alex Ruoff from West Virgnia. Excellent shooter.)
Wayne Ellington – Ellington was one of the most efficient 3-point shooters in the nation last year. The major concern is that he’s got a bit of a windup on his release, so that could make it difficult for him to get good shots off. But the guy can hit an open look with the best of them.
Jack McClinton - McClinton literally has unlimited range. He reminds me a lot of a right-handed Michael Redd. Someone that is ready and willing to pull up from anywhere with the mindset to make it every time. The good thing about him is that he could easily roll over and play the point a little.
Current situation – Kevin Durant/ Damien Wilkins
Filled, thank you very much. Some scouts and analysts like OKC taking Omri Casspi here, but I really don’t see why. Sure, Kevin Durant needs a solid backup, but Thabo’s natural position is small forward and Kyle Weaver can even play there a little. And heck, don’t forget about Jeff Green playing some there. If you added a swingman that’s locked into that position, you’re putting a guy in basketball purgatory. He won’t see a lot of minutes because Durant will take up at least 75 percent of them. I could see Presti springing for a guy like Terrence Williams if he were available though. Someone that can play both the two and three, so that you’re not locked down into selecting a lifelong backup. Presti loves them tweeners and if he’s going for a small forward, that’s exactly what he’ll take here.
Three that fit the bill:
Terrence Williams - He’s a total intangible guy. He passes, he shoots, he scores and he rebounds. I would call him Brandon Roy lite. He doesn’t have quite the refined game and still has plenty to improve on, but he could contribute because he’s versatile. And every GM loves a versatile swingman.
Chase Budinger - He’s much like Williams but a little more athletic. Budinger played almost exclusively at small forward at Arizona, so it would take a little learning to grasp the two. And I’m not sure what his range extends to. But he’s a good player that finds ways to score and an underrated defender.
Danny Green - For some reason, I feel like three years from now we’ll be talking about how much of a steal Danny Green was and how it’s unbelievable he dropped all the way to the second round. He’s just a nice player. A good defender that can play two positions; a good shooter; a good passer; and a good rebounder. He’s just a good player. I think he’d fit in nicely with what Sam Presti is trying to build. A bit of a Thabo-type player, but with a pretty good shooting stroke. I think he’s a second round guy so it might be wise to trade No. 25 for something early in the second round to take Green though.
POWER FORWARD/ CENTER
Current situation - Jeff Green/ Nenad Krstic/ Nick Collison/ D.J. White/ Malik Rose/ Robert Swift
This depends a lot on what Sam Presti thinks of D.J. White. Nick Collison is a nice power forward, but not a starting man. He’s the type of veteran glue guy every team wants, so he definitely has value. Jeff Green plays both this and the three. The Presti Pick if he wants to go big here is to take a guy that can play the four or the five. There’s only a handful of true centers in this draft, so you’d either have to move up to get B.J. Mullens, or find a guy that plays bigger than he really is. A quality center would be ideal, but this far down, you’re not going to find much more than an international project.
Three that fit the bill:
Jeff Pendergraph - As close to a center without being one as you can get. He’s a solid 6’10″ with an extremely long wingspan. He’s more of a finesse big man, but he was a good rebounder at Arizona State. He was one of the top field goal percentage players in the country last year and he’s got a refined post game. With only two true centers in this draft, he might be a worthy pick.
Tyler Hansbrough - The problem with Hansbrough is that Oklahoma City already has him on the roster in Nick Collison. And I don’t think Hansbrough can Twitter quite like Nick can. But he’s going to be a good backup pro. And if he’s there at 25, he might be worth looking at just because he’s good value.
Taj Gibson – Gibson is an undersized shot blocker. He’s Tyson Chandler trapped in Jeff Green’s body. He’s not an incredible athlete by any means, but he’s definitely no slouch. He was one of the top shot blockers in the country last year and while a lot of his scoring comes from put backs and rebounds, that’s not exactly a bad thing.