So the rumors are starting to fly (per Chad Ford) now that every team outside of the Top 4 (Wizards, Sixers, Nets and T-Wolves) are interested and open to trading down in this draft (with the Pacers, Bulls and Hornets open to trading OUT of the draft altogether), which means picks 5-14 in the lottery are potentially up for grabs and an option if said team that’s trying to trade up has enough assets (cap space, players, picks, charming good looks) to get a deal done.
And guess which team Ford lists as one of the five most likely to make a trade…that’s right, your Oklahoma City Thunder.
But in a draft where the Top 9-10 players are easily head and shoulders above the rest, is there really value in moving up from #21 to any spot in the lottery that’s not a Top 10 pick? Would the Thunder be better off just standing pat and selecting the best player available at #21 or selecting a player who would fill a need at #21 instead of giving up solid assets for a minor bump in potential production?
We’ve all speculated for the last, oh, two months and some odd weeks about where the Thunder could move up to given their assets and who they should pick at said spot, but with the draft a mere three days (THREE DAYS, PEOPLE) away, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.
I’m going to throw out three scenarios in which the Thunder trade up and acquire the 5th pick, 8th pick and 11th pick (two of those being trades I can actually see happening, whereas the Kings moving the 5th pick is, well, a bit of an impossible dream—though the Dalembert trade certainly opens that possibility up a bit especially after reports from Cousins camp came out that he’d prefer to slide to Detroit and is not the biggest fan of Sac-town, per DraftExpress).
So to get us going, I’m going to put my picks out there first and I bet a few of them surprise you…as they certainly surprised me!
5th Pick – Thunder send cap space, their two first round picks, their promised first born and at least one player of SIGNIFICANT value to the Kings (it would probably be someone who can play the 3, defend the perimeter and slash—two people come to mind, so pick one so I don’t have to!) for the fifth overall selection
The Thunder select…
DeMarcus Cousins, C, University of Kentucky
Oh, yes I just did!
When it comes down to it, I just don’t think if you’re the Thunder and you find yourself with the opportunity to select the most dominant and productive big man the NCAA has seen since one of the best centers to ever play in the SEC (that would be His Shaqness) dominated the college landscape and the only reason you have to give pause is because he’s immature and would need a terrific support system and organization to help him flourish and develop—that you pass him up when that is exactly what your organization does best.
We always talk about the Thunder having a family atmosphere and being some of the most supportive yet wonderfully self-accountable teams in the NBA. Doesn’t that mean that they, more than any other organization, has the built-in infrastructure to not only “handle” Cousins but actually encourage and even inspire him to not only mature as a basketball superstar, but as a person?
I say you go for Cousins here, roll the dice, and set yourself up for the chance to win CHAMPIONSHIPS, yes, plural.
Downside — Cousins is the next Zach Randolph before his Grizzlies turnaround (though a pending investigation means I might just need to say Randolph in general) and ruins everything Presti and Co. built over the past 3 seasons…you know, no biggie.
10th Pick – Thunder send cap space, their first two picks, a solid rotation wing player (lots of options here) and a nice backup big (think DJ White—or better, kind of depends on how badly the Pacers want to trade down) for the 10th overall pick
The Thunder select…Ed Davis, PF/C, North Carolina
That’s right, you can add the “/C” after PF for Ed Davis. Apparently after his workouts, measurements and play style, most NBA GM’s and Scouts are rumored to believe that while Davis has the athleticism to be a PF at the next level the growing consensus is that he’s actually more suited to playing center with the right frontcourt mate at his side (he’ll have to put on more mass and develop offensively either way).
Check his #’s from college and if you ever saw the way he played, you can start to understand their line of thinking. 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 26.9 minutes with no real mid-range game and a knack for getting his points in and around the basket or on the break using his above-average athleticism.
Doesn’t that sound like the type of 5 the center could pair with Serge Ibaka at the 4 eventually? Or vice versa.
Now Davis is a little undersized in terms of standing reach to play center (9’0 standing reach; you’d really like at least 9’2) but his athleticism, timing and knack for blocking shots and rebounding more than make up for that IF he can add the muscle he is expected to at the next level since he has the frame to be able to body people down low.
I know Aldrich is the safe choice here but, I’m sorry, if I’m giving up picks, cap space and guys I’ve groomed in my system for some years, I’m swinging for the fences on a potential All-Star candidate instead of a solid rotation guy.
And Ed Davis has that type of potential at either spot down low.
Downside — Hey, look! Another PF/C tweener who can’t beat out Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison…
11th Pick — Pretty much the same stuff they’d have to give up to get to 10th, give or take a backup role player or size of the cap space hit. The Hornets seem VERY likely to move this pick so this is probably the most realistic trading partner.
The Thunder select…Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Daniel Orton, Hassan Whiteside…you tell me!