The Draft Dilemma
Never before has it been so unclear as to what the Thunder will do with their first round draft pick. And this one could be special. I mean, it is a lottery pick. Given Presti’s astute draft reputation, this has the potential to be a home run for the Thunder, a team already stacked with talent. But could that possibly be a bad thing?
Presti is on the record saying that anything is possible when it comes to the No. 14 overall pick, and quite frankly, I one-hundred percent believe him.
The front office is in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to next year’s roster situation: There are 13 guaranteed contracts already on the books, with the league limit allowing 15 total.
Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler are the sole free agents from last years’ roster. Obviously, the Thunder have every intent to re-sign Kanter, and Presti has even expressed a strong desire to re-sign Singler. Oh, and don’t forget about ‘ol Josh Huestis, OKC’s 2014 first round pick, who spent his entire rookie year down in the D-League. If they feel he’s progressed adequately, they might just ditch Singler and roll with Huestis.
Let’s keep things simple. OKC will either keep the pick or trade the pick. Here’s a breakdown as to why each respective decision could be made:
Keep the pick
- Why not add talent, and potential greatness, to a roster you’re already quite fond of?
- Whoever the Thunder draft could serve as prospective insurance in a scenario in which KD and/or Russ bolt upon free agency (Please God, no).
- There’s always the chance you could come away with an absolute steal. Recent players drafted in the Thunder’s range include Giannis Antetokounmpo (15), Kawhi Leonard (15), and Markieff Morris (13).
- OKC’s roster is already heavy on the wing position, but perhaps they can finally find that 3-and-D guy at the 2-guard position they’ve so desperately wanted/needed. Conceivably a guy like Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter.
My Take: If OKC decides to keep the pick, I love the idea of drafting a point guard. D.J. Augustin is going into the last year of his contract, so it’d be a great time to develop a young point guard under the veteranship of Westbrook and Augustin to play back up to Russ in the future.
Trade the pick
- Maybe the Thunder doesn’t need the extra talent. Perhaps overloading the roster with talent only creates headaches for new coach Billy D (is that what we’re calling him?). You can’t play everybody 20 minutes. It’s not far-fetched to think that egos could be damaged, creating a rift in the roster, just as the Thunder experienced this past year with Sir Reginald Jackson.
- Notice point No. 3 for keeping the pick - none of the mentioned players were drafted at No. 14. The best player to be drafted at No. 14 in the last ten years is probably, sigh, John Henson.
- Trading the pick ensures the roster space to re-sign both Kanter and Singler. Duh on re-signing Kanter - it’s a must - but Singler could prove to be a really valuable veteran off the bench. Glue guys are just good to have, and aren’t easy to come by.
- Due to injuries, this re-vamped Thunder squad just didn’t get enough court time together last year. The roster looks top-3 on paper, so keeping the team exactly the same could have substantial benefits.
My Take: If OKC trades the pick, they could likely get an equally valuable future pick in return, perhaps for a time more useful. Even the option of packaging a player, like Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones (or both), with the pick could bring in an indispensable asset.
If I had to put my money on it, I say the Thunder trade the pick. I believe Presti really likes the way this team is currently constructed, when healthy, of course. Look for both Kanter and Singler to be re-signed, (sorry Josh Huestis), and for all of us to finally be able to see this team healthy as one. Rejoice!