Thunder Are Still Playing The Lottery

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In their strangest of times, the response begins in the strangest of places.

The Thunder, absent from the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2010 while contemplating what could have been if not for the Russell Westbrook knee injury, are in the lottery again — a land they appeared to have left behind.

James Harden got traded, Westbrook got hurt, Oklahoma City got beat in five games in the semifinals and, now, the Thunder will be picking 12th on June 27. Of all the developments that would have been difficult to imagine nine months ago, this is the one they welcome.

2013 NBA DraftOr sort of welcome. The ideal OKC outcome would have been for the Raptors to land in the top three on lottery night. Toronto would have kept this pick and had the choice set to be conveyed to the Thunder carried over to 2014 in what is shaping up as a much better Draft. But Toronto held at 12, the protection became irrelevant, and the Thunder would have to be satisfied by having one of the best teams in the league and still being able to add a late lottery pick.

No. 12, part of OKC’s three picks in the first 32, is still a good spot to address needs (or at least uncertainties) with Westbrook coming off a knee injury and Kevin Martin heading into free agency. OKC is in the right range for Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk if it wants an offensive-oriented big man to offset Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, or inexperienced German point guard Dennis Schroeder to develop behind Westbrook. They could also nab scoring guards C.J. McCollum from Lehigh or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from Georgia in case Martin prices himself out of a return. (The NBA.com mock draft has Olynyk going to Loud City.)

The Thunder liked the fit with Martin accepting a reserve role, making his spot next season more a financial issue more than anything. They’re encouraged by what 2012 lottery pick Jeremy Lamb did in the NBA D-League, so going shooting guard when they will have at least one backup returning seems unlikely. Bad Draft or not, OKC has options with picks, prospects and veterans, along with a history of an aggressive approach. GM Sam Presti with options and in win-now mode is potential trouble for the rest of the league.

The pick started in Toronto, went to Houston in the Kyle Lowry trade of July 2012 and then from the Rockets to the Thunder in the October 2012 Harden blockbuster. When the Raptors did not beat long odds in the lottery to finish in the top three, the choice was handed over to Oklahoma City.

“I think it’s somewhat hypothetical because the draft is so much more art than science,” Presti said of the bad break of getting the pick a year before it likely increases in value. “But our organization, we’ve always looked at the draft as another opportunity to find a way to improve, whether it’s marginal or on a bigger scale, and we’ll try to look at every opportunity available to us at that time.”

Especially in their organization. Presti made a hard call on Westbrook, with a limited body of work at point guard, at No. 4 in 2008 and got a huge payout. The same night, he gambled again at 24 with Ibaka and it paid off. A year later, he nailed the Draft again by taking Harden third.

This year, the Thunder also have their own pick, No. 29, and also No. 32, a choice that started in Charlotte.

32 Comments

  1. John says:

    There’s no way McCollum will still be available at 12. He may be gone by 5 if the Suns want him and Burke is already gone.

  2. JV says:

    They should also pursue splitter in free agency

  3. John smart says:

    Could thunder send pick 29 and Perkins for gasol
    Maybe straight pick 12 for gasol.
    Ibaka and pick 12 for Kevin love

    • BasketCase says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHA
      Pick 12 for Gasol? Which one? Pau would only be slightly more ludicrous than Marc, why not try trade pick 12 for Lebron?
      C’mon dude

  4. Art says:

    Thunder should trade 12th & 29th picks for 7th or 8th pick and select Len.
    Then select best available SF with 32nd pick.

  5. Max says:

    Thunder should take Steven Adams with the 12th pick. he will be better than Olynk IMO. solid big C to replace Perk who should be Amnestyed

  6. RipSonics says:

    smh at the comments

  7. John says:

    Just trying to work out a deal for OKC. Could they package Perkins and pick 14 and getting anything in return? Maybe for Nene. The Wizards will still have Okafor and pick 3 so they would like that. Perkins and pick 29 might be more realistic.
    Defensiev stoppers are always in demand so maybe Perkins Sebolsha and pick 14 might be package for a higher pick. Phoenix need depth in almost every postion and so do Sacramento.

  8. MJfromOKC says:

    Really hope we get a decent big, theres three or four of them and its hard to tell which will be the best. OKC can polish pretty much any player. Mason Plumlee might be the best choice for OKC but it really doesnt matter the draft has no big standout and they all need work.

  9. Sunny says:

    Imagine if they had not traded Jeff Green and James Harden. They would have scoring at the 1,2,3 and 4. They would have won a championship this year or next year for sure. Perkins is the worst NBA player. I feel even Thabeet can clean up better, atleast he will not have 3-4 offensive fouls each night.

  10. Alphacuz says:

    Thunder need a scoring big. They could make a trade for Jefferson and Milsap from the Jazz, and get rid of Perk and Martin and have Ibaka run at SF as well as PF. It would be good to see them give Lamb some more game time too.

  11. J says:

    they will prob nail the pick

  12. jv says:

    Thats what they got after trading james hardern. When one of them is not playing (westbrook) they all depend on kevin durant which is wrong. Ibaka is inconsistent as well not like Deng from the bulls. Kevin Martin is weak (i dont like the way he shoots the ball), compare to harden which is really valuable to the team so thats really a wrong move from okc.

    • alp says:

      to give majority of the blame to ibaka is just wrong because the last 2 games of the series ibaka played well, MY opinion was that it was mainly sefolosha, jackson and perkins fault. sefolosha couldn’t buy a bucket in any of the games AND couldn’t D mike conley. Kendrick perkins who is really only a defensive guy was pretty much invisible on the court as mark gasol was DESTROYING HIM. then finally and MAINLY reggie jackson. where do i start? yea ok, he had his moments, flashy plays and all but he can’t shoot, can’t play defense, makes VERY poor decisions and very out of control. i KNOW im not the only guy who would see him get a rebound and try to blow by EVERYONE on the court and it would be a 1 on 3 fast break and he would force an incredibly tough low percentage shot. also i saw KD getting frustrated time and time again because reggie jackson wouldn’t give him the ball when he was calling for it. westbrook can get away with it because he’s a proven player in this league, reggie jackson is trying to make a name for himself and NOT giving the teams best player the ball in crucial situations? you gotta know your personnel at point guard. and yea im bashing reggie jackson because nobody else did when he was CLEARLY a huge part to why the thunder could have won the series but didn’t. I actually have one more guy to call out who i didn’t list and thats scott brooks. poor play calling, having the ball in durants hands when you know they are going to throw a double team at him every time. yea, im a mad thunder fan because its annoying to see a guy on your team play so hard, but up such incredible numbers and see the team get crushed like that. thats why i called out who i did, cuz they DESERVE it.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        I wouldn’t jump to bashing Jackson, he was in his 2nd year, 1st time in the playoffs and asked to step in for the best PG in the NBA, you can look at Jackson as a reason we lost, but I look at him as a reason we were in all of those games, he picked up some of the slack. What killed us is missing open shots, Thabo, Ibaka, Perkins (Missed 3 point blank layups in a game that went to OT) Martin was off and on etc…

  13. devilsadvocate says:

    everyone needs to stop smoking crack. When was the thunder a genius drafting team? Seattle left because the arena was garbage and the owner didn’t want to stay. The thunder will keep martin cause I don’t see huge offers coming from anyone. And the thunder will try to trade or draft a bigman.

  14. doddska says:

    i agree number1

  15. Nba fan says:

    Everytime the thunder get a lottery pick the rest of the league cowers in fear. They are just so good at picking out talent.

  16. Clyde says:

    The most ideal pick for now is Kelly Olenyk. Kelly is a great center and the Thunder really need many great bigmen. In my opinion, Kendrick Perkins isn’t that much of a great center for OKC and Kelly can be a great backup. It’s about time they fix the center position, cause Ibaka is already enough for the Power Forward position: he can shoot AND dunk.

  17. dan yes says:

    u mad bro? Seattle fan bro? stop hating on okc. the seattle fans didnt even like the sonics, thats why they left in the first place. so just keep watching the sonics on youtube clips

    • J says:

      thats dumb why would a city not like its own team when the sonics where great unless u r the fans of the charlotte bobcats

    • randy robinson says:

      thank you someone finally so sick of hearing seattle this seattle that buy the kings!!!

      • NoWestbrookNoring says:

        I know seattle fans are so hypocritical. Its ok for them to buy the kings but not ok for okc to buy sonics. They left for a reason. Still though I want seattle to get a team….can’t wait to beat them year after year

  18. Number1HoustonRocketsFan says:

    How about get a scoring back-up SF or scoring/rebounding C. You already have Jackson as PG back-up, KMart as SG back-up, no SF back-up, Collision as PF back-up. I hope Lamb gets minutes next season as well as Perry Jones those are UNDERDOGS.. if Lamb did not get traded to OKC, he could’ve been the top 3 rookie in the league behind Lillard and Davis

  19. dan no says:

    Sorry, but OKC got their big draft picks when they were a big market team called the Seattle Super Sonics. That team had been going through a low down rebuild, which resulted in the high picks Durant and Westbrook, plus Ibaka. That team was subsequently stolen, and OKC gets an almost instant contender. Seattle went through the tough years to get there, and OKC fans think basketball was just invented three years ago.

    • NoWestbrookNoring says:

      Let it go seattle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait til you guys get a team again so you can stop calling us Sonics. Lakers came from Minnesota so should they be upset too????

    • OKCKD35 says:

      serious bitter much? Seattle had every chance to keep the team but the city did not step up. Just like Sacramento had every chance to keep the Kings, but they actually stepped up and did so. Sonics fans are funny ( I was one of them) so its not ok for OKC to take the Sonics, but its ok for Seattle to take the Kings?

      • TrueNBAFan says:

        Wrong. The owner of the Thunder bought the Sonics with every intention of moving them regardless of what Seattle did… Seattle games were still selling out arena’s and even though they were going through a tough patch, they were still a marketable team. Seattle lost their team through no fault of their own. It was a very low move by the owner… used Seattle while the team was struggling to get draft picks and build a team… then jumped ship to a new city and changed the name… which as dan no said, gave OKC a contending team right off the bat… oh and btw I’m a Thunder fan, but I never liked the Sonics, I’m just not bias or stupid enough to try and dellude myself lol

  20. dan'o says:

    Have nothing but faith in OKC inc to make a smart pick and nurture another weapon. A great example for the persistent whiners about small market teams’ inability to compete.