The 2013 NBA Draft class has been described as particularly weak. Especially when you compare it to 2012, top projected picks Cody Zeller, Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad simply don’t stack up to Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal.
That’s why scouts are advising teams to trade their lottery picks this season.
“I don’t think this is a good draft,” said one scout. “This is the year you should consider trading your draft pick – no matter where it is.”
It appears unlikely that any lottery-bound team in the upcoming draft will find a franchise difference maker.
“The draft lottery was always supposed to be about exceptional players going to the worst teams,” said one of the scouts. “We’ve eroded the concept of ‘exceptional’ – exceptional doesn’t really exist anymore.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder is a team that may be able to take advantage of this advice and move up in the draft.
Why would the Thunder want to do this if the draft is so weak?
A draft being described as weak really only means that if a bad team has a high lottery pick, drafting one player at that spot won’t turn that franchise around. But if a good team like the Thunder moves up, even in a weak draft like this one, they could land a player ready to come in and contribute right away for their team.
The Thunder have assets to spare too. That’s what they received in the James Harden trade with the Houston Rockets. Not only did the Thunder receive Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, but also three draft picks.
The Thunder received Toronto’s first round pick this year and will only keep it if it lands between picks 4-14. They received Dallas’ first round pick as well and get to keep that if it is above 20, which is looking unlikely right now. The Thunder also received Charlotte’s second round pick which would be the 33rd overall pick as of right now.
Right now, the Toronto pick would be No. 10 overall for the Thunder. Let’s say they wanted to move up into the top five by trading the No. 10 pick as well as their own first rounder and possibly Lamb, Perry Jones III or Reggie Jackson.
It’s easy to see that the Thunder could move up with the pieces they have.
They key is if Thunder GM Sam Presti has a prospect that he really likes. It might be hard to move up into the top four where Zeller, Noel, Muhammad and Ben McLemore will likely go. But after that if Presti likes someone like Alex Len, Anthony Bennett or Otto Porter, trading up to get that guy would be very possible.
Being a team that can trade up in the draft is a big reason why Presti pulled the trigger on the Harden trade. The Thunder are much more flexible in terms of forming their roster now than had they extended Harden.
So while scouts are advising all of the bad teams to trade down in the upcoming draft, keep you r eyes on the Thunder as a team who could shoot up the draft board and take a player they really want.