Thunder Draft Preview (C.J. Fair)

By Randy Renner

The Oklahoma City Thunder continue to bring players in to the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center for evaluations and workouts even though the NBA Draft is now just a few short days away.

The Thunder have both the 21st and the 29th picks in the first round Thursday night and no picks in the second round.  However, the Thunder have brought in several guys who most mock drafts have going in the second, even late in the second round, which tells you either the Thunder’s projections on these players are vastly different than some of the folks putting together mock drafts (which is certainly possible) or they’re keeping their options open if they end up trading out of the first round, or at least moving one of their first round picks and end up getting into the second. The Thunder are also likely looking at guys who could end up coming aboard as undrafted free agents.

Remember second round picks are not given guaranteed contracts.

One of the players projected for the late second round is believed to be here in Oklahoma City today so we thought we’d go ahead and tell you about him.

C.J. FAIR (Forward, Syracuse)

Fair thought about coming out early but instead finished up at Syracuse. He’d be a bit of a “tweener” in the NBA, caught between shooting guard and small forward, maybe even power forward depending upon where he signs.

Fair comes into the draft measuring out at 6-8, 215. He has great speed and athleticism and that will help him on the defensive end, but as you’ll see later there are other issues on that end of the floor that could hurt him.

On offense, his jump shot doesn’t have the range you’d like to see from a shooting guard and he’s going to need to get stronger, especially if he ends up at small forward.

Last season at Syracuse he averaged 37.8 minutes a game and scored 16.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting overall and just 27.6 percent on threes (like I said his range isn’t great, but it used to be as you’ll see in a moment). He pulled down 6.4 rebounds a game and managed to hand out 1.3 assists. But, he also turned it over 2.5 times so the assist to turnover ratio isn’t anywhere near what you want.

The thing that is concerning to scouts is that his game might have regressed his senior season at Syracuse, especially shooting the long ball. His sophomore season, Fair hit just 25 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. His junior season his attempts increased substantially and so did his shooting percentage, all the way up to a very impressive 46.9 percent (told ya it used to be good). Then he followed that up with his senior campaign where he again increased his volume of 3-point shots (up to almost three a game) but his percentage went right back in the dumper to the aforementioned 27.6.

Fair generally played at power forward for The Orange but very little of his game came from inside and so when his shot started to fail him his offense became very inconsistent.

On defense the biggest question with C.J. Fair is pretty much the same question NBA scouts have about most any player who’s come from coach Jim Boeheim’s system and that is can he guard his man in one-on-one situations? Syracuse of course plays the 2-3 zone almost exclusively so Fair hasn’t had much experience playing the type his defense he will need to play at the next level. His wingspan isn’t the greatest (6-10) for a 6-8 player so that hinders him also.

But scouts love his motor and his work ethic so if hard work can get it done, C.J. Fair just might have a shot. His opportunity though will most likely come either late in the second round or as an undrafted free agent.