Could OKC Move Up? Draft Speculations

By Addam francisco

With the NBA draft approaching in approximately two weeks, Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to make big, unexpected moves which has been the norm for them lately for us. We have the 14th overall pick in this years draft lottery, the highest we’ve had since 2013 when we chose Steven Adams at the No. 12 selection. Sam Presti likes to mix things up as we know, and just under re-signing center Enes Kanter, obtaining a young player that can back up Kevin Durant would be ideal and the biggest thing for us to focus on this offseason, considering all the injuries he’s had and the possibility of his departure after the 2015-2016 season and even if we do keep him, it would be nice to have a back-up small forward that can play both ends of the court. This would be the perfect year to do that too, with the draft being full of talented small forwards, with six of them in the top 15 picks.

Early reports said that the Thunder are interested in the 6’2 point guard Cameron Payne from Murray State, but usually when Sam Presti is expected to draft of sign someone, he goes the complete opposite direction and it seems like that may be the case this year. Rumors have been going around that he wants to move spots in the draft and Presti alluded to that immediately after the draft lottery a few weeks ago.

“I think history shows it’s not an easy proposition to move up into the lottery period. When you get to the place where we’re currently anchored, to penetrate into the top 10, it becomes a little more challenging. It always comes down when making a transactions with another team is finding how to partner so that you have aligned interests with them. That’s what the next several weeks will be about is having those conversations. I could probably write your stories for you guys already, because we’ll have conversations with teams that are in front of us, we’ll have conversations with teams that are behind us, and we’ll probably have conversations with teams that aren’t even in the draft, without picks. So that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, that’s part of the job at this point. Its part of the thorough and rigorous process, but certainly moving up is a different formula than moving out or moving back.”

Unfortunately, Due to the NBA's Stepien Rule a team cannot trade first-round picks in consecutive years which means the Thunder cant offer another first round pick until 2020. So with that rule, we would have to most likely get rid of some of our young talent that doesn't get as much playing time. Players like Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones are players that would be perfect for that. Many know that though Jeremy and Perry love the city, they are a little unsatisfied and want an opportunity to play more, even if that means moving to a different team. Both Lamb and Jones are young players (22 and 23) and could be a great fit for a developing team where they can be more of a focal point in the offense. Lamb’s contract is only worth $3 million and Jones is only worth $2 million so two young, developing players to a struggling team for only $5 million dollars may be the best deal.

So could the Thunder move up to the ninth spot from the Charlotte Hornets for Lamb, Jones, the No.14 pick and their No.48 pick? Or with Dion Waiters finishing the 2014-2015 season strong offensively, could he be good enough to lure the Nuggets from the seventh sport down seven spots to the 14th? Another speculation would be to trade McGary to the Heat for the 10th spot.

One of the small forward names that have been mentioned in the draft for the Thunder if they were to move up has been Arizona’s Stanley Johnson who’s already claimed to be “the best player in the draft” and says OKC is interested in him.

“They really like me. They’ve been watching me since I was in high school. I remember seeing their scout at my practices all the time when I was at Arizona and they know a lot about me. I got coached under Billy Donovan already so he knows a lot about me as well, which makes everything easy. So I think they’re very familiar with who I am and what I do.”

At 6’7 245 pounds, with a 6’11 wingspan, he’s been compared to a mix between Kawhi Leonard and Ron Artest (without the out of control attitude).

In my opinion, this could be good for us, but I don’t think we need to get rid of Waiters or McGary, they could very easily be a big part of the future Thunder roster and I don't think they should mess that up. Although I am a personal Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones fan, I think that would be the best trade to make, only because we wouldn't be sacrificing too much. With such an uncertain future for our team, Presti needs to do his best to move forward and acquire some quality players in this years draft.