OKC Thunder: 10 young cores who offer templates for rebuilding

OKC Thunder rebuild Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with Jaylen Brown (7) : Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder rebuild Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with Jaylen Brown (7) : Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder rebuild: Domantas Sabonis (11) looks to shoot: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Mediocrity isn’t the answer for OKC Thunder:

The Magic land in Kram’s tenth spot and while they’ve been to the postseason it’s been peppered by early exits. Although the Magic drafted some sound prospects many are gone or didn’t fit the overall construction of the roster.

Case in point:

2013: Victor Oladipo selected second overall. Traded to OKC, then to Pacers

2014: Aaron Gordon selected fourth overall – while an obvious talent his fit within the Magic roster and system has created no end of second-guessing from the various coaches he’s played for.

2015: Mario Hezonja selected fifth — a whiff on a top lottery pick and proof, not all teams do their homework. This wasn’t a stellar class, however, given the Magic spent copious years searching for a point guard and offensive production particularly from wings consider the players they passed over for Hezonja — Justise Winslow (10), Myles Turner (11), Devon Booker (13), Kelly Oubre (15), Terry Rozier (16) Josh Richardson (40), and Norman Powell (46). Any of these picks would’ve been a wiser selection and better fit for Orlando.

2016: Domantas Sabonis selected 11th- (traded to Thunder -then to Pacers). Although this move was made for the Thunder it also highlights how poorly the Magic navigated recent drafts that they didn’t recognize Sabonis talent could’ve been a great fit for themselves instead of trading for Serge Ibaka and then allowed them to move Nikola Vucevic for other assets.

2017: Jonathan Isaac selected sixth. Of all the draft picks made by Orlando this was a slam dunk although his injury history has delayed his inevitable rise to stardom.

2018: Mo Bamba selected sixth -another head-scratcher, given the Orlando roster compilation. Moreover, considering the Magic were still desperate for a starting-caliber point guard how did they let Shai Gilgeous-Alexander slip to 11th?  Factor in the needs on the wing and both Bridges (Miles and Mikal) made more logical sense.  Perhaps the Magic didn’t want to take a chance on Michael Porter Jr’s back but in hindsight, that was also a missed opportunity.

The moral of this story for the OKC Thunder is how important a strong draft scouting group is. Furthermore, while taking the best talent on the board is always advisable, it’s equally important to draft prospects who’ll complement the existing talents.