It seems odd to be discussing next season only three days after this historic season ended in fantastic form, however just like Kevin Durant said in the post-game huddle while being showered with a standing ovation from the Ford Center faithful, next year started the second Westbrook’s shot hit all iron and no netting and the clock showed zeros.
And since this team had such a successful season, the excitement for next year continues to grow exponentially which makes the events leading up to next season’s opening tip-off that much more considerable. So let’s have a quick look at what we all have to look forward to and should pay attention to in the upcoming months ahead of us when there’s no more Thunder basketball to watch and only about a month and some change of basketball left at all.
The NBA Draft — New York City, June 24th, 2010 – 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET
Boy does this seem a little anti-climactic in comparison to year’s past–which is pretty awesome when you stop and think about just how much of a jump this team took this past year with almost the exact same roster as the year before. But even though the Thunder will most likely not have a pick in the Top 10, barring some shocking trade as they just don’t have the assets or picks to warrant that type of swap without giving up a pretty vital piece of the core, there are plenty of interesting threads to keep an eye on moving forward in regards to the Draft because you may scoff at the idea of getting any kind of impact player with the 21st pick now, but that only means that you completely forgot about the 24th pick from the 2008 Draft who goes by the name of Serge Ibaka.
The first question that comes to mind is if the Thunder will keep their four Draft-day picks (two in the first round, two in the second) and just take the best available option at the draft position they are slotted to pick at in an especially deep draft, or will they package those picks and a player (or contract) to try and move up if a player Presti particularly likes happens to fall to the bottom or even outside of the lottery.
I’m not ruling this out, but unless Greg Monroe or someone else who SHOULD have been taken Top 10 somehow crazily falls to #11, I’m not too terribly excited for another multi-year project who will probably need time (years, more specifically) in the D-League to contribute.
Secondly, what other maneuvers will other teams make that could affect the draft layout and potentially affect the plans of Presti well before the draft even gets started. If you remember, the Wizards traded their Top 5 pick to the T-Wolves before the draft (regret, much?) and the Warriors and Suns were in serious discussion per numerous news outlets about sending Amare to the Warriors for the seventh overall pick and some Warriors players until Stephen Curry fell into the lap of the Warriors at #7 and the Golden State front office did not even think about including Curry in any trade, effectively killing that deal.
Imagine if the Wizards had not traded their pick, would Ricky Rubio still be in Spain? Would the Wizards implosion still have happened (I’m going to say yes, but maybe Rubio has special powers beyond amazing court vision and flair)? What other deal would the Mavs and Cavs have made at the deadline if the Wizards were in contention? Imagine if the Suns had sent Amare to the Warriors for the seventh pick before the draft instead of continuing their talks up until the draft. Would the Suns be in the Western Conference Semifinals–or the playoffs at all? Would the Thunder have a lottery pick going into the draft?
I mean, that’s what’s so great about the draft, besides giving every fan base hope that next year could be ”the year” after a great draft pick, one small move can completely alter the landscape of the entire season for all 30 teams.
And if you don’t believe me about the 2010-2011 season being completely changed with one move, look at it this way: What if Bosh and the Raptors agree to a sign-and-trade before the draft with <insert lottery team with a great pick and the assets to make it happen>?
You don’t think that kind of a deal would completely shakeup the draft and what every other team was planning to do in free agency or that summer’s night in Madison Square Garden?
Now there will be plenty more to read about regarding the draft on this site, but circle that date and, realistically, the weeks leading up to it because we will all get a pretty good picture about what the Thunder organization plans to do next year and beyond by what takes place June 24th, 2010 in New York City.
Tune in tomorrow for July 1st, 2010, aka, Go big or go home day…