The Oklahoma City Thunder have just one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft Thursday night, the 28th pick in the first round.
The Thunder have a history of making great draft picks although most of those came in the lottery in the top five. The picks of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are the biggest reasons why the Thunder have become so good, so quickly.
Making good picks later in the draft is what can keep the Thunder at the top for years to come. The Thunder have done this once already drafting Serge Ibaka in 2008 at the end of the first round but aside from that pick, haven’t really hit on any non-lottery picks in the draft.
The 2012 Draft is a deep one and the Thunder will have options in front of them with the No. 28 pick. OKC may not be looking to keep the pick however as they are first and foremost trying to ensure enough cap room to keep Harden and Ibaka down the road.
Thunder GM Sam Presti said though that if the right player is available then the Thunder will take him.
Here is a look at a few potential draft picks the Thunder might make Thursday night:
Most likely picks
Draymond Green – Michigan State, PF
Green is projected to go late first round with a lot of mocks having him go before No. 28. The feeling is that if Green is on the board when the Thunder are picking, it would be really tough for them to pass on him.
It’s usually tough to find a player at No. 28 who can play right away but Green played all four years at Michigan State and is already 22-years old. He played the four a lot in college but has the skills to be a 3-4 in the NBA, the type of player OKC was really missing in the last two rounds of the playoffs this season.
Jeff Taylor – Vanderbilt, SF
Taylor is also a player who played all four years in college. These are the types the Thunder would definitely consider taking. Taylor shot 42.3 percent from three last year and a shooter is something the Thunder would definitely consider adding in this draft.
At 6-foot-7, Taylor would also bring size and athleticism to the floor and again, thinking about the Thunder last year they didn’t really have a player like this. Taylor possibly assuming the Daequan Cook role and as Durant’s backup makes some sense.
Doron Lamb – Kentucky, SG
Lamb is a player that will most likely be on the board when the Thunder are picking. Lamb is another shooter who has drawn some comparisons to Jason Terry. Lamb shot 46.6 percent from three last year with Kentucky.
Lamb is very confident like Cook but again, has a little bit more size and athleticism. Every championship team needs an irrational confidence guy and Lamb could very well suit that role for OKC down the road.
Festus Ezeli – Vanderbilt, C
The Thunder are drawing a lot of Vanderbilt players in their mocks. Ezeli is a 7-footer who is athletic and could be a potential replacement for Nazr Mohammed with the Thunder next season. Cole Aldrich’s future is uncertain as he hasn’t played much at all for OKC this past few seasons so the team may be looking for someone else to fill that role.
The Thunder won’t be looking for much in terms of centers going forward. It feels like their future will consist of smaller lineups closing games with Durant at the four. But it never hurts to have some 7-footers on the roster.
If they fall to OKC, they’re probably not passing on them
Royce White – Iowa State, F
White is a player that has gotten a lot of attention leading up to the draft mainly for his fear of flying. He was originally expected to be a late-first rounder until the Celtics reportedly made a promise to him that they would take him at No. 21.
You never know though and White would be a perfect fit for OKC if he’s sitting there at No. 28. He’s described as a more athletic Boris Diaw which is a scary thing to think about.
Jared Sullinger – Ohio State, PF
Sullinger would have been a sure lottery pick had he left Ohio State last year after his freshman season. He stayed another year and now there are talks of him possibly falling out of the first round due to back problems.
The Thunder would be crazy to pass on Sullinger if he is there. They could definitely use someone like him with great hands, who can score down low and rebound. OKC passed on DeJuan Blain a few years ago and they won’t be making that mistake again if Sullinger is available.
Andrew Nicholson – St. Bonaventure, PF
Most mocks have Nicholson going right before the Thunder will pick. If he’s there then the Thunder will definitely think about snagging him. Nicholson can be a stretch four compared to Ryan Anderson and has the size to even play some center in the NBA.
Nicholson scored 18.5 points per game last year in college so he knows how to fill it up. It’s a position the Thunder would love to upgrade on their roster.
Storing a player overseas
Evan Fournier – France, SG
The Thunder aren’t totally committed to drafting someone this year and if there is no one on the board and they can’t trade their pick, they might elect to take Fournier who probably won’t be coming over to play for a year or two.
The Thunder did this with Ibaka a few years ago and also more recently Tibor Pleiss. Fournier wouldn’t be an exciting pick for OKC fans but one that they might expect maybe more than any other. Fournier has been compared to John Salmons and Chris Douglas-Roberts.
Tags: Andrew Nicholson Doron Lamb Draymond Green Evan Fournier Festus Ezeli James Harden Jared Sullinger Jeff Taylor Kevin Durant NBA Draft Oklahoma City Thunder Royce White Russell Westbrook Sam Presti Serge Ibaka