Perry Jones III: Thunder SF Made Parting with James Harden Possible

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Perry Jones III: Thunder SF Made Parting with James Harden Possible
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off a huge trade on Saturday, sending James Harden to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and future draft considerations.

OKC is definitely is looking to the future with this move. Harden is a star player that makes an immediate impact on the team.

Martin hasn't lived up to expectations, and Lamb hasn't been as impressive in recent weeks compared to his play in the summer league.

So how can the Thunder make this move without hurting their chances of returning to the NBA Finals?

In large part, the play of Perry Jones III.

Jones was a big part of the best draft in June. When Heat with Superior Draft">discussing  the Thunder's selections, I stated Oklahoma City "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."

Jones has the size, athleticism and skill to be a star in the NBA. He played well enough at times in college to be considered a top-five pick. 

Since being drafted by the Thunder, he's only helped his case. 

It looked as though Daequan Cook was going to step in and take over some significant minutes this season, but Jones has outplayed him thus far.

The versatility and athleticism of the Thunder allow the flexibility of moving players between the guard and small forward spots. Jones will be a key part of the equation that replaces the production of the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.

The Thunder are building through the draft and are being rewarded for taking a few chances. By trading Harden, they are getting value from a player they would have lost at the end of the season, as Harden rejected a four-year, $52 million extension.

The trade includes substantial draft consideration. According to recent reports, it is a package of three picks.

While some teams largely ignore the draft, the Thunder are mostly built from their selections. Perry is their latest success story, and he will make the transition from Harden painless for the team and the fans.

Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.

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