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Well, the rich get richer. The Oklahoma City Thunder are probably drafting in the lottery this summer despite being the second-best team in the Western Conference (check the details on page 2). They had to trade away James Harden to be in this position, but with the eye of Sam Presti overseeing the draft, no matter the perception of the talent ceiling he may find a gem for the future.
Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
ONE: What Do We Know About The Oklahoma City Thunder?
They are great; do we need to elaborate?
Right now the team is built around the trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka on the court and in the salary cap. Starting next season, they will combine for $45,717,082 of the team’s salary cap and that escalates every year for the next four seasons. Those three do all the heavy lifting, while the younger players on the roster — Thabo Sefolosha, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones III and this year’s pick — will be complementing pieces.
On both ends of the floor the Thunder are the most complete team in the Western Conference, so the rich get richer this summer.
TWO: What Do They Need?
The only significant loss this summer will likely be that of Kevin Martin unless he takes a major pay cut from the $12.9 million he is making this season. He is one of the major contributors on the league’s second most efficient three-point shooting team. Adding three-point shooting will alleviate the loss of Martin, but they already have Lamb waiting in the wings for that role.
Another potential position of need for the Thunder going forward would be the center position. In today’s NBA that is a lost need, but having a center that fits the team’s personality and make-up can make a team diverse enough to win a championship.
THREE: Stock Rising
Reshaping your body and your game is something not a lot of players have the opportunity to do. This past year, Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk was afforded just that as he went from a skinny three-point shooter to a legitimate center that can shoot the ball. He has the ability to score inside now with post moves and strength. The shooting is still there, making him a very intriguing prospect in the back half of the first round for a team looking for a stretch four/five.
FOUR: Stock Falling
This is not a fall like some have had this season, but any time you are the consensus No. 1 among scouts and fall to the back half of the top 10, it is noteworthy. After talking to a few scouts and general managers about Cody Zeller, the positives and negatives of his game are universally known, and today he is floating between 5-10 on most draft boards.