While the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise and fans are no doubt still entirely focused on their Western Conference Finals series, the NBA Draft lottery took place and after the balls had settled, the draft order was set and the Thunder came away with two first round picks – 21 and 29.
The 2014 NBA Draft has been highly touted all year long. Since the fantastic freshmen group of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle signed their letters of intent, they have been followed closely and monitored in great detail. Throughout the course of the year, a number of players played themselves into lottery selection – none more so than Kansas center Joel Embiid and others made the decision to stay in school look like the right choice – Marcus Smart.
There is little doubt that between this local talent and some interesting overseas prospects like Australia’s Dante Exum, the 2014 Draft Class is loaded with talent and even at the end of the first round, the Oklahoma City Thunder will find some terrific value and a talented young player.
The draft and develop strategy of the Thunder – courtesy of General Manager Sam Presti – has worked in the Thunder’s favor so far. They have been able to not only draft young talent like rookie center Steven Adams, but have also found value at the latter stages of the draft with Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. They have also stashed some pieces overseas and while we haven’t seen a great deal of Andre Roberson, all signs point to him being a very useful pro.
Most franchises might view the late first round picks as mundane, but the Thunder fans (and franchise) know that there is always talent to be found, and that Sam Presti knows how to find it. That is why there is a little buzz and excitement around the 2014 Draft, even if OKC can’t allow themselves to focus on it just yet.
With the Western Conference Finals in full swing, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be primarily worried about finding a way to defeat the San Antonio Spurs while also adapting to the loss of Serge Ibaka. The front office though, will also be keeping an eye on the results from the draft combine, any transactions and trades other teams make while also finding a way to better the current roster.
As the draft approaches, we will get a better understanding of where the talent sits on the mock draft boards and therefore we might get a better idea of who the Thunder might be looking at drafting. The case of “best available” might apply to the Thunder, especially since they seem to have good, young, talent at most positions already. Perhaps the Thunder move the picks to make their current roster better now.
Either way, the Thunder have options – which they will address after the playoffs.