NBA Draft Analysis: Thunder Close Gap on Heat with Superior Draft
While the Oklahoma City Thunder came up short in the NBA Finals, they showed they can be a threat for many years to come. They have a young, talented team that was close to the Heat but obviously not quite at their level.
The 2012 NBA Draft tilted the balance toward the Thunder.
The Miami Heat did very little to improve their team in the draft, at least for now. They did manage to secure a future first-round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers, a move that should help in the future.
The draft pick is lottery-protected through 2015, but that point should be moot. Philadelphia is expected to be in the playoffs next season.
Miami had the opportunity to solidify their lineup by drafting big man Arnett Moultrie. Instead, they moved to pick 45 and drafted Justin Hamilton, a 7' center from LSU.
Hamilton fills a need, but not nearly as well as Moultrie would have.
The Heat appear comfortable with their team as it stands. They are also likely leery of adding another guaranteed contract to a roster that is already deep into the NBA's luxury tax.
Perhaps the biggest concern the Heat have is how they match up against a team that has a dominant big man. That isn't a threat they'll likely face next year, though, when they launch their effort to repeat as champions.
Who should be the favorite for 2012/13?
The Thunder's lineup is also fairly well set for the next few seasons. They needed some help up front and had one of the best picks in the draft by selecting Baylor's Perry Jones III.
If Jones' knee concerns don't become an issue, he has lottery-pick value and will be a great addition to the team. Playing a reserve role should help keep him healthy.
Oklahoma City certainly has their sights set on what they need to do to battle the Heat, and Jones should be a threat to do just that.
The draft may not be enough to put the Thunder over the Heat, but if the NBA has a repeat of the 2012 finals matchup, the series will be much closer.
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