Did you know the Thunder have two first round picks in this draft? I know, right?
(And they even have the second pick in the second round too.)
Almost all the focus is on the No. 12 pick, as it should be. Late first round picks often don’t mean much, but it is an opportunity to select a young player and as we’ve seen in this postseason, sometimes it’s those guys that end up making all the difference in the world.
The Thunder’s pick they earned this season sits at No. 29, second to last in the first round. Here are the last 10 29th overall picks: Marquis Teague, Cory Joseph, Daniel Orton, Toney Douglas, D.J. White, Alando Tucker, Mardy Collins, Wayne Simien, David Harrison and Josh Howard.
The lesson: The 29th pick doesn’t have a great history. But there are still potential rotation guys to be found late in the first round.
I’ve heard a few murmurs that the Thunder might move the 29th pick for a future first-rounder or as something larger, but at this point, all that stuff is mostly hearsay. Let’s assume the Thunder are keeping it — something that will most likely happen — and take a player. Who could be available at 29 and what should the Thunder be looking for?
Obviously, the 29th pick will be impacted by whatever the Thunder do at No. 12. If OKC goes big at 12, they might look shooter at 29. If they take a guard, they might try and find a project big. Keeping both of those things in mind, here are 10 players I’m interested in that could be there:
Reggie Bullock, 6-7 small forward, North Carolina
Some mocks have Bullock going as high as in the late teens, other have him slipping near the bottom of the first round. If he’s available at 29, I think he’s the pick regardless of what happens ahead of him. He’s already worked out for OKC and with his range from the perimeter and potential to be a quality defender, he seems to be a really nice fit. Bullock shot 42.9 percent from 3 last season and while he’s not a player that creates his own well or uses the dribble much, he can knock down open shots. If he adds a little strength and stays committed to defending, he could be an ideal future role player.
In other words, the next Danny Green?
Allen Crabbe, 6-6 shooting guard, Cal
Assuming Jeremy Lamb blah blah blah, the Thunder don’t especially need another shooting guard. Crabbe has some size and could conceivably play a little 3 as well. He’s a rangy guard that can fill it up. I don’t know if that’s exactly what the Thunder need (is he just going to be the next Marcus Thornton, a high volume guard with questionable shot selection?) or could he be a good role fit, someone that can space and score?
Glen Rice Jr, 6-7 shooting guard, D-League
Rice ripped up the D-League late in the season and in their playoffs. He can shoot, he can score, he can play. Does he fit the Thunder squeaky clean culture, though? He got kicked off Georgia Tech’s team and was forced to play in the D-League. He had significant struggles during the season, but showed his pure talent late in the year. He’s got red flags, but he’s got serious talent.
Tony Mitchell, 6-8 forward, North Texas
Full disclosure: Since he played at North Texas I never saw him play during the regular season and the tape I’ve found so far is kind of limited. But I hear a lot of people say nice things about him and as one NBA person told me in San Antonio, he’s a “perfect fit” for the Thunder. The book on him is he’s an athletic wing and that he can play both forward positions. I don’t especially love bringing in another stretch 4, seeing as Perry Jones is already on the roster, but still, in today’s NBA that position matters and having two of something just gives you a better chance of one working out.
Mike Muscala, 7-0 center, Bucknell
If the Thunder don’t land the big guy they want at No. 12, or heck, even if they do, Muscala could easily be available as a quality Plan B option at 29. Thing is, he could also be available at No. 32 as well. He’s a big body, and a player that will need a little work. But by all appearances he’s a blue collar guy and plays with high energy. His actual potential and talent are the questions, but he tries hard.
Insert draft-and-stash guy
Depending on what the Thunder do with Kevin Martin and/or what money they’re willing to spend this season, hanging on to that $1.1 million or so owed to the 29th overall pick might be worth it. The Thunder aren’t like the Lakers in that they’re willing to just dump picks for next to nothing, so there’s a good chance it could be spent on a classic draft-and-stash player. That’s not sexy and it also means the player might not be heard from again for a couple years (remember Tibor Pleiss?). But it saves immediate money while still allowing the Thunder to hold on to a future asset.
Rudy Gobert, 7-2 center, France
He’s falling on some draft boards and if he’s available at 29, take him. Depending on what they get at No. 12, it could make that player a bit more expendable, or at least open up some possibilities.
Gorgui Dieng, 6-11 center, Louisville
Same story as Gobert. Some injury issues have caused him to slip from late lottery to in the 20s. Sam Presti might be able to roll the dice and take the best available player at 12 and just hold out hope that either Gobert or Dieng slips to him at 29. Because really, at this point, can you say there’s that significant a difference between Gobert and Dieng versus Adams and Olynyk?
Jeff Withey, 7-0 center, Kansas
Actually, no thank you.
Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-6 shooting guard, Michigan
A long, lean and athletic guard that has an NBA-ready body with a skillset that could be improved. Possible future replacement for Thabo?