In his draft blog (Insider) and again today in his chat, ESPN draft insider Chad Ford said the Thunder is high on local product Daniel Orton and would take him if he was available when Oklahoma City picked.
I wrote today in the draft blog that the Thunder (who have 2 first round picks) are his floor. They’d take him with one of their picks. But they’re drafting in the early 20s. He could go a lot higher than that. Top 10 isn’t out of the question. Crazy for a guy who averaged 3 ppg. But you know how gaga NBA GMs get over size.
But as we first reported several weeks ago, Orton has caught the attention of a number of NBA GMs, the most prominent of which is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sam Presti. According to a source close to the process, the Thunder are sending signals that if Orton is in the draft, they’d take him with one of their two first-round picks. Currently that would put Orton in the early 20s. However, a few other GMs have told ESPN.com that they’d consider taking Orton even higher.
I don’t think anyone should take the Thunder too seriously about “sending signals”. Presti is a master of draft deception (Spanish Law Firm anyone?) But despite looking incredibly similar to Russell Westbrook (as pointed out by one astute reader), Orton would be a nice fit. Especially when you consider that Oklahoma City has moved itself out of the lottery and will be picking in the 20s now. That’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around, but it’s truth.
Unless Presti can leverage his wealth of picks and assets into moving into the lottery, Orton would be a decent option. He’s big (6’9″ 260), has solid touch and is gifted athletically for his size. He’s raw with his footwork and was inconsistent in stretches at UK and would serve himself a lot better to come back for another year of college.
But if he wants to come out, OKC would be a nice fit for him. I don’t know if he’s The Big Man the Thunder are after, but much like Byron Mullens, it would be a worthy flyer to take a shot at to develop. Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic might not be around forever, so re-stocking the front line is a pretty high priority.
But who’s thinking about the draft right now? We’re one of the cool kids now that can blow off the lottery and forget about draft night. We’re in the playoffs now babeee.