As we should all know by now, who knows what the Thunder braintrust has cooking for draft night. They could be working a deal to move up, move down, stay put or move out completely.
With a pretty stellar draft record, what I do know is that more than likely it’ll be a wise, well-reasoned decision. Regardless, allow me to offer 10 players that best fit the thoughts I had yesterday, free of charge. I know they’re down a man without Rob Hennigan and all. You’re welcome, Thunder.
Royce White, PF, 6-8, Iowa State: I like White so much and what he could add that I’d fully support moving up to get him. He’s big, strong, physical, can handle and pass, and can score. He reminds me of Boris Diaw before Boris Diaw developed some serious man boobs. Yes, he has the anxiety issues and is seriously afraid of flying, but I feel like if any organization could guide him through that stuff, it would be the Thunder.
And no, I’m not just a fan because of his name. OK, that’s part of it. But in terms of a late-round fit, I’m not sure there’s a better one than White. The are whispers that he has a promise from someone already, and I doubt the Thunder really would want him enough to give up Reggie Jackson and No. 28 to get him. But I think it might be worth the consideration. He’s the upperclassman, versatile big man fit the Thunder could’ve really used in the NBA Finals.
John Jenkins, G, 6-4, Vanderbilt: Here’s the first words on Jenkins from Chad Ford of ESPN.com: “Big-time shooter with deep range on his jumper.” Yes please. And thank you. He’s got some size, he’s coming into the league as a junior and he’s got a high basketball IQ. The negatives on him is that he’s not the best athlete ever and will likely just be an NBA specialist. But like I said yesterday, Daequan Cook is only around for next season. And OKC’s paying him more than $3 million a year. Here’s a chance to get possible replacement at half the price.
Jeff Taylor, SF, 6-7, Vanderbilt: I watched some video of Taylor this morning and all I could think of was “Thabo Sefolosha.” He’s long, has a big wingspan, athletic, and has great instincts and is pretty explosive. The Thunder still don’t have a natural backup for KD and while they may not actually need one, Taylor certainly provides a little more depth and wing athleticism.
Jared Sullinger, PF, 6-9, Ohio State: It’s probably a bit optimistic to think OKC has a shot at Sullinger, but with him supposedly being medically red flagged because of a back issue, there’s a chance he could free fall in the first round. (Or he could still go in the lottery. Nobody really seems to know.)
And while the Thunder already are pretty set in the frontcourt with Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison as bigs, adding a banger and interior scorer like Sullinger wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. He’s got too much ability to pass over and for OKC, he’s a pretty low risk investment at No. 28. The Thunder aren’t necessarily looking to hit a home run with this pick. But if Sullinger fell there, they would. Remember, the Thunder passed on one guy with medical issues before (DeJuan Blair) and I doubt they’d make that mistake again.
Will Barton, SG, 6-6, Memphis: He was a pretty good scorer in college, can light up from outside and has quality size. He’s a shooting guard and the Thunder might need a shooting guard soon. That’s pretty much it.
Draymond Green, PF, 6-8, Michigan State: It’s looking more and more likely that the Pacers have their eye on him at No. 26, but he’s basically a poor man’s Sullinger, but maybe with a bit more range. He’s a good passer, a good shooter, a smart player and a great teammate. The issue is that he’s a total tweener. Not athletic enough to defend small forwards, not big enough to defend power forwards. So pretty much almost exactly what the Thunder could use.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, 6-10, St. Bonaventure: The Thunder have already worked him out, so they clearly have interest here. He’s long, athletic and can shoot out to the 3-point line. He lacks interior strength and isn’t a great rebounder, but offensively, could provide a new, much-needed dynamic for the Thunder. It’s not hard to picture the Thunder playing Perk or Ibaka/Collison at center, with Nicholson as the power forward while staying big, but also going to a smaller, more versatile lineup.
Like White, he’s almost worth a look at moving up for. That much ability with that much fit makes a player extremely intriguing.
Fab Melo, C, 7-0, Syracuse: The Thunder already have Fab Melo, and his name is Cole Aldrich. But, consider this: If the Thunder let Nazr Mohammed walk in free agency with the intention to turn the backup 5 role to Aldrich, they’re down a big man inside and don’t have a third guy in the rotation. Bringing in a new big man to mold for later might be worthwhile, if there aren’t better fits still on the board.
Almost look at Melo as a placeholder. If one of the better fits are all gone, Melo, Festus Ezeli, Miles Plumlee, Kyle O’Quinn or Henry Sims could all fit there too.
Evan Fournier, SG, 6-7, France: If the Thunder are looking to draft and stash, Fournier might make the most sense. He’s a long shooting guard, can fire away from deep and at 19, has a bright future potentially ahead. He doesn’t appear to be NBA ready, but that might not even mean he has to stay in Europe. He might be ready enough to sit on the bench and bounce between Tulsa and OKC preparing to contribute in the next few years if the Thunder end up having roster issues because of the cap.
Quincy Miller, F, 6-10, Baylor: Miller very likely could get picked in the mid first round, but there’s a chance some teams take a pass too. He’s a little raw, needs to add some serious muscle and doesn’t really have a position yet. But he can shoot a little, is a smart player and is definitely athletic. He’s an ideal tweener with length, ability, rebounding qualities and can even defend the rim some.