The Oklahoma City Thunder own the Toronto Raptors’ first round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Thunder will only keep that pick if it falls in the lottery and not the top three.
As of right now, the Raptors are 11th in the Eastern Conference standings and 6.5 games behind the 8-seeded Boston Celtics.
Some are expecting the Raptors to possibly make a push for the playoffs this season after trading for former All-Star Rudy Gay two days ago.
If the Thunder do end up with a lottery pick via Toronto this summer, what kind of player will they target?
The Thunder could look to upgrade the center position and Kendrick Perkins.
According to 82games.com, the Thunder are outperforming their opponents at every position this season with the exception of the center spot, where opponents have a player efficiency rating 5.9 points higher (17.6 vs. 11.7). Can you imagine how good this team could be with a league average center, even if it’s just a better version of a guy like Perkins who just rebounds, defends and takes up space in the middle?!
Looking at the top centers on the Chad Ford’s Big Board, three are currently projected to be top 10 picks: Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel (1), Maryland’s Alex Len (4) and Indiana’s Cody Zeller (7). Now, the Thunder would almost certainly have to trade up to get Noel, but Len and/or Zeller could conceivably be available for them take somewhere in the middle of the lottery like picks 4-8. Others big bodies who rebound well like Mason Plumlee (12), Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein (23), France’s Rudy Gobert (15), Pitt’s Steven Adams (26), Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng (31) and Kansas’ Jeff Withey (25) are other possibilities for somewhere later in the lottery.
This is something many people will agree with. The Thunder could definitely stand to upgrade the center position.
Unless they are able to get a Nerlens Noel or Cody Zeller, whoever they draft likely won’t be able to take many minutes from Perkins, who is beloved by the Thunder coaching staff.
The Thunder might have the opportunity to move up in the draft however. They currently have many assets besides the Raptors pick including a couple of other first rounders, an early second rounder via the Charlotte Bobcats and rookies Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones, III who aren’t getting much playing time this season.
If Thunder GM Sam Presti sees someone he really likes, he will be able to move up the draft board if he wants to.
Unless the Thunder get one of those top three big men, don’t expect a big that they draft to get much playing time under head coach Scott Brooks.
Brooks hasn’t exactly been playing young guys drafted in the past few seasons too often. From Lamb and Jones this year back to Cole Aldrich the past few seasons, Brooks seems to favor the veterans quite a bit.