Around the Association: 2010 NBA Draft Previews - Oklahoma City Thunder: drafting bigs?

Only 16 more days until the 2010 NBA Draft!

I'm really starting to get behind here, but let's forge ahead today with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

They own the 21st, 26th (via the Kurt Thomas trade with the Phoenix Suns), and 32nd and 51st (both via the Etan Thomas trade with Minnesota) picks.

This is a team with a lot of cap space, plenty of picks, and a roster that made a solid foray into the playoffs.

It's clear they need a big man, maybe more.

In a Draft that's deep with bigs and a free agent frenzied summer, this appears to be a great opportunity for the Thunder to continue to improve their roster.

Let's take a look at who's committed and not for 2010-11...

COMMITTED MAYBE OUT?
pg Russell Westbrook
Eric Maynor
Kevin Ollie
sg James Harden
Kyle Weaver
sf Kevin Durant
Jeff Green
Thabo Sefolosha
pf Serge Ibaka
Nick Collison
c Nenad Krstic
B.J. Mullens
Etan Thomas

There's already talk that the Thunder are trying to move up into the lottery, but that should come as no surprise, especially with multiple picks. I think it's inevitable that their 21st, 26th, 32nd and 51st picks will turn into something else on Draft Day.

So let's take a look at the bigs in the bottom half of the lottery, since that's where the Thunder appear to be headed.  If they manage to snag a Top-7 pick, then I'll have wasted my time here, but oh well. We'll also take a look at what the mock drafts say in case the Thunder keep their picks.

According to NBAdraft.net, the bottom-half-lottery bigs are Hassan Whiteside (project), Donatas Motiejunas (international man of mystery) and Cole Aldrich (slow but effective). I don't see the Thunder picking another slow center to be paired with Krstic, so I think Aldrich is out, if they manage to fanagle a lottery pick.

According to DraftExpress, the bottom-half-lottery bigs are Ekpe Udoh (raw), Greg Monroe (good passer), Ed Davis, Patrick Patterson (solid NBA-ready), Moteijunas, Daniel Orton (high ceiling), and Whiteside. At this point, let me say that any of these guys would be welcomed on the Thunder roster, as compared to Collison, Krstic, Mullens, or Thomas.

If the Thunder held onto their picks, here's what the mock drafts say...

No. 21 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Luke Babbitt (sf/pf, 6'9", 218, Nevada, sophomore). A "Baby Dirk", I don't see him fitting the OKC roster that well. You already have a small forward shooter in Durant. Green likes to shoot, too. You already have a natural 2-guard in Harden. I still think you have to spend the pick on a big.
  • DraftExpress: Solomon Alabi (c, 7'1", 251, Florida State, sophomore). While I haven't seen Alabi play much, I think they do need a guy in the 6'11" and taller range to remove the need to play Krstic so much. Ibaka is doing a solid job with rebounding at the pf, so you might want to consider a reliable rebounder like Gani Lawal as well.
  • Chad Ford: Moteijunas (pf, 7'0", 220, Lithuania, 19 yrs old). At 220, he's 20 lbs lighter than Krstic, so apparently more mobile, which the Thunder really need. Sounds like this is a solid pick for what the Thunder need.

No. 26 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Dominique Jones (sg, 6'4", 216, South Florida, junior). Despite the fact we are not talking about big men, the position OKC needs to fill so badly, I actually like Jones better than I like Harden! I saw Jones play on TV multiple times and he's a really strong (216 lbs ought to reveal that a little) penetrator who can score and handle the ball pretty well.  He's got a decent outside stroke. And he definitely had alpha dog mentality which is so, so needed to make the next level.
  • DraftExpress: Elliot Williams (sg, 6'4", 175, Memphis, sophomore). You can see that the mocks like the Thunder picking a shooting guard, but I don't really like DraftExpress's pick here because, obviously, I think Jones is better than Williams (c'mon, 216 vs 175 lbs -- no contest!). But I must admit, I have not seen Elliot Williams play, so of course I'm a little biased towards Jones.
  • Chad Ford: Craig Brackins (pf, 6'10", 229, Iowa State, junior). I haven't seen him play, but he's been praised by the mocks and was apparently a hot commodity last season if he had stayed in the Draft. Again, we are witnessing the assumption that OKC will be drafting a big.

No. 32 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Ironically, NBAdraft.net has Brackins here, where Ford had him at 26th!
  • DraftExpress: Jordan Crawford (sg, 6'4", 195, Xavier, sophomore). I think this is a solid pick for a shooting guard. Here's another mock suggesting that OKC take a shooting guard.

No. 51 pick

  • NBAdraft.net: Charles Garcia (sf/pf, 6'9", 232, Seattle, junior). I like this pick. I saw him play in person. He reminds me a bit of Thaddeus Young. Just a crazy lanky body, someone really tall whom you don't expect to be able to put the ball on the floor, dribble, face-up, and make skilled moves to the hoop. He'd be an interesting backup to Durant. If Garcia comes on board, I think you annoint Green as a shooting guard disguised as a small forward, to be able to fit all the pieces together. Then put the starting 2 spot up for grabs between him and Harden.
  • DraftExpress: Robin Benzing (sf, 6'10", 210, Germany, 21 yrs old). Aside from the fact that small forward is a low-priority position to fill for OKC via the Draft, the problem I have with him even being on any mocks is that DraftExpress described him in 2007 as being "soft" then in a 2009 update, described him as "not very tough or intense". This is the NBA. No Boys Allowed. If you're not tough/intense, you shouldn't be on a mock draft board. Sorry!

Then again, all of this is a bit moot because OKC is definitely going to do something with its multiple picks! Can't wait to see what happens.

NEXT: New York Knicks

PREVIOUS:
LAL - D-Fish most talked about this summer? (43rd, 58th picks)
BOS - Oh Danny boy! (19th, 52nd picks)
PHX - Shoring up behind Amare? (46th, 60th picks)
ATL - Calling all shooting guards not named Joe (24th, 53rd picks)
ORL - Improving while Dwight improves (29th, 59th picks)
DAL - Depends on Dirk and Dampier dollars (50th, 57th picks)
CHA - S-Jax stuck (no draft picks)
DEN - Just need Coach Karl back? (no draft picks)
CLE - If you leave (no draft picks)

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