- We’ll update our Team Capsules with more specific info once the lottery is complete.
Oklahoma City Thunder
2008-09 Record: 23-59; 5th Northwest
Draft Picks: 4, 25 (Pending Lottery)
Key Free Agents:
Damien Wilkins (Early Termination Option)
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Jeff Green
C: Nenad Krstic
Key Bench: Nick Collison, Earl Watson, Kyle Weaver
How they got here and what they need:
Despite their 23-59 record, the franchise’s first year as the Oklahoma City Thunder can be considered somewhat of a success. They now have an established star in small forward Kevin Durant who still hasn’t come close to reaching his ceiling as a player. Many pundits are now referring to Oklahoma City as “the next Portland”. While Portland has more overall talent, only Oklahoma City has a true superstar in the making (Brandon Roy is a very good player, but he probably isn’t going to get much better than he is now where as Durant will be a top 5 player in the NBA).
The Thunder came dangerously close to making what might have been the trade of the year in the Tyson Chandler deal, but team doctors prevented it. With Tyson, this would have been a complete starting lineup. As it stands, the Thunder’s starting five is still a pretty solid lineup, but there are flaws. Despite his stellar rookie season, there is a school of thought that Russell Westbrook cannot be a point guard on a championship team. Westbrook average 5.3 assists per game, a good total for a rookie. However, he also averaged 3.3 turnovers. He absolutely must improve both areas in order to establish credibility as a point guard.
Another issue is bench support; an area the Thunder will address in the offseason. Oklahoma City can probably pick up a capable backup with the second of its two second round picks. With their top pick, look for Oklahoma City to add size in their front court.
Who they take:
Oklahoma City’s record gives them a very good shot at the first overall pick. Like just about any team picking there, they’d go with Blake Griffin. That said, three to five is a much more likely draft position. The ideal choice in this scenario is Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet will be able to contribute right away on the defensive end, and with scorers like Durant and Westbrook, there won’t be too much pressure to produce offensively during his rookie season. If Thabeet is unavailable, look for the Thunder to look at Arizona State’s Jordan Hill.
10 Year Draft History (as Seattle Supersonics):
2008: Russell Westbrook (4th); Serge Ibaka (24th); Walter Sharpe (32nd); Trent Plaisted (46th); DeVon Hardin (50th); Sasha Kaun (56th)
2007: Kevin Durant (2nd); Carl Landry (31st); Glen Davis (35th)
2006: Saer Sene (10th); Denham Brown (40th); Yotam Halperin (53rd)
2005: Johan Petro (25th); Mickael Gelebale (48th); Lawrence Roberts (55th)
2004: Robert Swift (12th); Andre Emmett (35th); David Young (41st)
2003: Nick Collison (12th); Luke Ridnour (14th); Willie Green (41st)
2002: Peter Fehse (49th)
2001: Vladimir Radmonovic (12st); Earl Watson (40th); Bobby Simmons (42nd)
2000: Desmond Mason (17th); Oluminde Oyedeji (42nd)
1999: Corey Maggette (13th)
Stephen Curry - PG/SG - Davidson
Tyreke Evans - PG/SG - Memphis
Blake Griffin - PF - Oklahoma
James Harden - SG - Arizona State
Jordan Hill - PF - Arizona
Ty Lawson - PG - UNC
BJ Mullens - C - Ohio State
Ricky Rubio - PG - DKV Joventut
Brandon Jennings - PG - Arizona
Hasheem Thabeet - C - UCONN