Tier 3: Pick 26, or maybe 32
16. Tibor Pleiss – 7’0, 220, C, Germany – video highlights
I like the idea very much of taking an international big with the 26th or 32nd overall pick. Presti has had success stashing away prospects in Europe to save money and also let them potentially mature into a contributor. Finding that solid European big is never, ever easy, but Pleiss definitely has the credentials. He has the size as well as the necessary talent to potentially evolve into a legit NBA big man. Pleiss isn’t a defensive stopper or shot blocker, but that’s mainly due to his lack of strength. He has the potential to be a fantastic offensive big man with his feathery touch, ability to step out to 15 feet and beyond and an improving post game. Leave him in Europe to season a bit and you might have a diamond in the rough.
17. Craig Brackins – 6’10, 230, PF, Iowa State – video highlights
For whatever reason, Brackins’ name has popped up a bunch with the Thunder. I don’t see how he fits all that much, seeing as he’s a three trying to disguise himself as a four. But he’s got a great offensive game and with a little weight on his frame, he could be an excellent offensive player. He’s super long at 6’10 and has a natural offensive game that stretches beyond the 3-point line. His main issue will be defending opposing power forwards and rebounding in the paint in traffic. But he could potentially be a role player next year to add depth. His stock was higher last year, but he’s could still be a pretty good value pick at 26 or 32.
18. Jordan Crawford – 6’4, 195, SG, Xavier- video highlights
Crawford lit the world on fire in the NCAA tournament in one of the all-time great games. He scored from everywhere, including from very, very deep. He’s a scorer first, scorer second and shooter third. He’s an offensive player that loves to penetrate, but he gets out of control a little too much. He forces his own shot at times, but when he gets going, he’s a threat to really light up the world. He reminds me a bit of what Marcus Thornton was last year with the Hornets. Give him the minutes and he’ll score. But that means you might have to live with him stealing some shots from your money-makers. Rein him in a bit and get him to buy into a philosophy and you could have a terrific instant offense bench player.
19. Trevor Booker – 6’7, 215, PF, Clemson – video highlights
For whatever reason, I like Booker a lot. He’s a huge motor player that does more with hustle than he does with talent. He’s DeJuan Blair with two functioning ACLs to me. He’s a non-stop monster on the glass, has a mean streak to him and is a pretty good athlete. He has 3-point range, though he’s not a good shooter. He’ll score mostly on putbacks and low post setups, but if you want a guy to get in and really rough things up for 10 minutes a night, Booker might be perfect. I think he’s a great fit for OKC and if he could find his way to No. 32 or even 51, I’d be pretty pumped.
20. Gani Lawal – 6’8, 235, PF, Georgia Tech – video highlights
A lot of people liked OKC taking Lawal with its second first round pick last season. But Lawal went back for another year and didn’t really help himself all that much. His offensive game is raw, he doesn’t have range outside of the paint and was one of those “disappear randomly” guys. But he’s gifted around the basket, has good hands and could turn into a good interior defender. His ceiling may be coming down, but he could certainly be a useful big on the back end of a rotation.
21. Jerome Jordan – 7’0, 235, C, Tulsa – video highlights
Some thought Jordan might be able to play himself into the lottery this year with a good season in Tulsa. He was solid, but still showed a lot of holes in his game, especially on the offensive end. He needs strength, he needs refinement and he needs time to develop. But he’s got great size and some skill. Players like Jordan almost always never pan out (as do most these guys), but when they do, you can hit a home run.
Tier 4: Late second round
22. Ryan Richards – 6’10, 225, PF/C, England – video highlights
Another international big. Bear in mind I’ve seen very little of these players when compared to how much I’ve seen of the college guys. But through mix tapes and some Saturday Euroleague games, I’ve got a sense of their capabilities. And Richards is a guy that impressed a bit at the NBA Combine. For a 19-year-old he’s well-developed in terms of strength and has even more room to grow there. He’s not the most natural player though. He looks a little awkward and that’s not just because he’s left-handed. He’d not overly athletic though he’s physical and will rebound. He’s pretty much on the other spectrum of the big man world than Pleiss and probably doesn’t have as much upside, but if he drops into the later second, he could be a fit.
23. Jarvis Varnado – 6’9, 210, PF, Mississippi State – video highlights
He’s a basically Hassan Whiteside lite, without the mental issues. No offense, but a terrific shot blocking talent. He’s skinny and I don’t know how much upside there is on the offensive end. But man, he can block shots.
24. Dexter Pittman – 6’10, 310, C, Texas – video highlights
Pittman was a BIG underachiever (pun sorta intended) at Texas. He has some unique gifts and decent athleticism for his size. He lost a ton of weight and actually had a pretty good physique for his senior year. At times, he looked like one of the best big men in the country. But as mediocre players are prone to do, he’d also disappear, get in foul trouble and toss up a major stinker in a big game. He’s also a question to put on 50 pounds in an offseason. But he’s a big, big man. He’s tough to move off the block, has good hands and finishes well. He’s the kind of guy that you can maybe stuff on the block for 10 minutes a night to push around on Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. Maybe.
25. Brian Zoubek – 7’1, 250, C, Duke – video highlights
If you need an example of how coveted big men are, just look to Zoubek. He basically did nothing in four years at Duke, had a decent senior campaign but played a solid Final Four. And he went from nobody to a potential second round steal in the minds of some. Obviously you love the size, but there has to be something to the fact he only averaged 5.6 ppg and 7.7 rpg. A guy his size should be a double-double candidate for sure. He lumbers, isn’t quick and might have difficult with athletic centers. But if you want someone to lean on Pau Gasol, grab a few rebounds and stand tall in the post, he could work.
26. Latavious Williams – 6’8, 190, PF, Tulsa 66ers – video highlights
Williams made history going straight to the D-League last year. It was up and down for him, but in the end, he definitely got better. He had some big games (a few 17 and 18 rebound games) and showed flashes of serious skill. He needs muscle and needs some coaching and would likely spend next season in Tulsa again, but if he’s there at 51, I’d be happy with him.
27. Andy Rautins – 6’5, 190, SG, Syracuse – video highlights
I know most don’t even have Rautins getting draft and my infatuation with him is probably very stupid, but for whatever reason he seems like a great sleeper-shooter-pick. Rautins is an excellent shooter. He’s got some size and some length. Two things hurt him: He played in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone so we have no idea what kind of defender he is and along those same lines, who/what can he defend? He’s caught a little between point guard and shooting guard and doesn’t really fit in either category. But he’s a solid passer (4.9 apg his senior year) and a dead-eye shooter. He’s best coming off screens and has a great off-balance release. The Thunder need a guy to hit something from the outside and really just serve as a specialist. I think Rautins could be that guy. But he could also very well be a five-time All-Star for Barcelona. Guys like him don’t always work out. Kyle Korver has. Steve Novak really hasn’t. Rautins is somewhere in between that.
28. Manny Harris, 6’5, 190, SG, Michigan – video highlights
I know. Why not Willie Warren? Look, I’m an OU fan and Warren is a lottery talent. And I don’t think he was even the problem on last year’s Sooner team. But I just want to avoid that entirely. Warren might work as an offensive bench player, but Harris was statically better, more of a team guy, doesn’t need the ball in his hands and probably a better shooter. Warren thinks he’s really, really good and might have trouble truly fitting into the team concept. Harris probably would do better at that. He scores especially well in transition and loves to slash, pass and create. If OKC is still looking for a shooter/extra scorer in the late second, Harris is a good option.
29. Derrick Caracter – 6’9, 265, PF, UTEP – video highlights
Caracter has major character issues (hahahahaha, but seriously though, he does), which is what’s likely keeping him from the late first round to early second round. He’s a beast that’s built like a tank. He reminds me of Joey Dorsey, but with more offensive game than just bulldozing in the lane to the rim. OKC doesn’t really ever go after someone with issues but maybe a good locker room environment can change him. Not likely, but maybe.
30. Jon Scheyer – 6’6, 195, PG/SG, Duke – video highlights
Did you know Scheyer was 6′6? I didn’t. I thought he was more like 6′4. But he’s a guy that can shoot, can handle and get even get to the rim. He could run point or play off the ball. Obviously again, like Rautins, you wonder if he could defend Kobe Bryant, but as for a marksman with other abilities, Scheyer could fit.