The Way Too Early NBA Draft Guide for the Thunder
As the College Basketball season approaches it isn’t too early to consider who the Thunder would take in the 2017 NBA Draft. Depending on the outcome of the season the needs and draft position could be in flux until the very end of the season.
Trust the Process
Thunder fans have grown accustom to a certain level of winning over the last few years and even early in this season. As entertaining and rewarding as that is, it also means the team picks at the end of the first round most seasons.
In a weak draft those players are glorified second round players with little upside and full of unknowns. But in a strong draft there is great value even in the last five picks of the round. This season has started wonderfully but has the potential to plateau because of a lack of supporting cast for Russell Westbrook. So, their draft position could be anywhere outside of the Draft Lottery.
Even with Kevin Durant gone many NBA experts have the Thunder going deep in the Western Conference Playoffs. While the season has started strong it is still hard to believe that a team with so many unknowns would compete with the likes of the Clippers, Spurs and Warriors for Western Conference supremacy.
Yet, that is exactly what is likely to happen. With that said, the Thunder are unlikely to get an immediate contributor at the end of the first round. However, the piece that will get the Thunder into the NBA Finals could be in this draft. Thunder fans must be patient with the growth process of the new player and even with the growth of this team.
Who the Thunder draft and need will depend on any moves the Thunder may make during the season. If Enes Kanter is traded or if Andre Roberson can’t provide enough offensively, who the Thunder seek to draft will change all year.
Who Will be Available?
Obviously, Draft night trades and changing league needs will shape and shift who is available for the Thunder to draft. At the same time the Thunder must decide if they will take the best available player or the best player that fits their needs. If Oladipo can’t be a consistent threat then maybe they draft a shooting guard? If Kanter is gone or ineffective maybe they draft an athletic power forward? No matter what the Thunder need they will have to deal with who is available to them at the end of the first round.
Want your voice heard? Join the Thunderous Intentions team!
Malik Monk- Kentucky
If the Thunder slip up and find themselves picking in the 20-23 position they could find a gem at shooting guard. Monk is athletic and basically the same size of Russell Westbrook at 6’3 and 200 pounds. This similar size and combo guard style will make him an excellent pick to learn from Westbrook as a very young player.
He has insane bounce off the dribble and already has incredible scoring ability. As a mixtape master, Malik Monk’s reputation as a savage attacking guard is well-known. It even appears Monk’s game is shaped to be Westbrook-like. His primary deficiency is defense but a year in college under Coach Cal will fix many of those issues. This would be an incredible steal for the Thunder but if Monk finds his zen at UK he may already be off the board when OKC’s time comes.
Miles Bridges- Michigan State
Bridges is a 6’7 230 pound beast who carries his weight without losing athleticism. Scouts use Jerry Stackhouse comparisons in that he is strong, unafraid and an underrated rim protector. Bridges needs to get more consistent from the free throw line and more careful with his dribble. Inside, outside and mid-range scoring is the norm for Bridges and shows the no fear decisiveness the Thunder could use in the SF/PF position.
Moses Kingsley- Arkansas
The most likely draft position for the OKC Thunder will be closer to 27-30. It is very likely both Monk and Bridges will be already drafted by this point. Moses Kingsley then becomes a very interesting possibility in the power forward position.
Kingsley will be a Senior this year, thus making his ceiling lower but an easier player to project in the NBA. At 6’10 and 230 pounds Kingsley is a late-bloomer from Nigeria that will be a solid defender in the NBA for a long time. While he has struggled to be a powerful finisher in traffic Moses can split defenders in the open court. Because of his big frame and open court aggression Kingsley gets to the Free Throw line consistently shooting 64% from the stripe. He may not open the floor offensively like Sabonis for the Thunder but he will pair well on defense and in the open court with the new-look Thunder.
Best case scenario the Thunder will make one of the last two picks in 2017 Draft. Worst Case Scenario the season could fall apart and see the Thunder picking in the NBA Draft Lottery.
This early in the NBA season anything is possible. No Thunder fan wants to see them picking in the NBA Draft Lottery but they do want bang for their buck wherever the team picks.
Worst Case Scenario- Grayson Allen, Duke
If the Thunder’s season goes down the drain unexpectedly they could see themselves picking in the 10-12 slot or worse. The good news would be the Thunder getting a more talented player with upside and proven ability.
Grayson Allen is a 6’5, 205 pound Shooting Guard who could be the Player of the Year this year in College Basketball. Allen has shown a great ability to shoot the basketball from deep off the dribble and off of screens. When Allen does pump fake and drive he gets to the free throw line with a 84% clip. While he is not great off the dribble the 2-man elbow offense at Duke has proven him intelligent and able to get his own shot. Alongside Westbrook, Allen would be a great compliment as a shooter who keeps defenders honest.
Best Case Scenario- Justin Jackson, North Carolina
If Sam Presti continues to work his magic and get top picks via trades, Jackson is they guy OKC fans want. Justin Jackson is a 6’8, 205 pound small forward who could become a solid point forward in this newly styled NBA. Jackson needs to put on more weight to go along with his very useful 6’11” wingspan. He will wreak havoc on the wings with his length but will still need work on his overall strength to work in an NBA defense. Offensively, Jackson will have to solidify his identity this season as either an elbow shooter or an athletic workhorse around the basket.
More from Thunderous Intentions
With this pick the Thunder would have to be patient. But it is safe to assume if this years team gets to the Western Conference Finals, Thunder fans will have no problem being patient with a late-round draft pick.
The college basketball and NBA seasons will both see many ups and downs from teams and players alike. It is very possible the Thunder will choose one of the players listed above. Yet, it is also just as possible new players will arise, current college stars will fall and the Thunder will have unexpected needs. As the Thunder morph into their final look after the All-Star break fans will have a much better idea who to focus on in college basketball. Either way, this upcoming college basketball season and current NBA season will shape the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder for years to come.