NBA Draft 2013: Oklahoma City Thunder Potential Lineups After the Draft
When Oklahoma City traded James Harden to Houston on the eve of the season, Jeremy Lamb and Kevin Martin joined Oklahoma City as well as Toronto's first-round pick for this year's draft. Kevin Martin is a outside contender for sixth man of the year honours while Jeremy Lamb has seen more D-League action than NBA action since his arrival. With Toronto looking like a late lottery pick, Oklahoma City has a chance to improve its roster with another potential superstar, not to mention the first pick in the second round of the draft.
Jeremy Lamb could feature more next season if his progression is similar to Reggie Jackson's, whose improvement at the position made trading Eric Maynor to Portland an easier situation. Knowing that Jackson would provide adequate backup for Westbrook. Derek Fisher joined the team in the run up to the playoffs and with the starters Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha makes drafting a guard, much less a point guard more of a luxury than a need.
The forward position is also potentially stacked with Nick Collison, Ronnie Brewer and also Perry Jones III coming off the bench to provide backup for starters Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. Perry Jones, like Jeremy Lamb, has seen more D-League action than NBA minutes but shouldn't be setting off alarm bells anywhere. The biggest need is at centre, with Kendrick Perkins being almost invisible on offence and while no quality backup in place (sorry Thabeet, you just don't cut it) this is most likely where one of the two draft picks will be.
Picking between 8-12 and 31st offers Oklahoma City the opportunity to take a chance on a potential stud like the next Serge Ibaka or they could be fortunate enough that a player of quality drops down the draft and they are simply able to pick the best player on the board.
All Selections Are From Mock Drafts
First Round - Viktor Oladipo - SG/SF - Indiana
First Round - Tim Hardaway Jr. - SG - Michigan
Second Round - CJ Leslie - PF - NC State
Oladipo would be another explosive athlete on the Thunder who could potentially become Sefolosha's replacement while Hardaway would add even more depth at shooting guard. Leslie offers cover for Ibaka and allows the Thunder to potentially move Ibaka to the centre and let Leslie compete with Jones for the starting PF position.
Oladipo's and Hardaway's selections would potentially make Martin expendable or would give Oklahoma City some leverage in making Martin sign a smaller contract.
Potential Lineup - Westbrook-Oladipo-Durant-Ibaka-Perkins
First Round - Kelly Olynyk - C - Gonzaga
First Round - Dario Saric - SF - Croatia*
Second Round - Russ Smith - PG - Louisville
*Saric did not declare for the NBA Draft
Olynyk is the obvious successor to Perkins while adding a national champion in Russ Smith to add an uptempo second squad point guard at the Thunder. Olynyk is a selection based on a need for a centre but his three-game suspension for violating Gonzaga's student code of conduct won't win over GM Sam Presti.
Smith would add another young talented guard to an already stacked roster as well as the potential of an insanely athletic small ball lineup should Lamb make a similar leap to Reggie Jackson in season two.
Potential Lineups - Westbrook-Sefolosha-Durant-Ibaka-Olynyk
Small Ball Lineup - Westbrook-Smith-Lamb-Durant-Ibaka
First Round - Trey Burke - PG - Michigan
First Round - Isaiah Canaan - PG - Murray State
Second Round - Lucas Noguiera - PF/C - Brazil
The Thunder just drafted the guy who won most of the National Player of the Year awards as well as a centre that they desperately needed. Burke is undersized at just 6'0" and the only real way he'd get starter minutes is a complete overhaul with Westbrook moving to shooting guard or being traded, both seeming unlikely. Canaan seems like a strange selection after drafting Burke and having Westbrook and Jackson. Noguiera would be another Ibaka project, a raw talent that needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball. He would probably end up remaining in Europe for at least another season before attempting to play in the NBA.
This draft does little to improve Oklahoma City's starting line up, but adds even more depth as well as potential trade chips. Burke or Canaan could be used on a draft day trade to secure a starting centre.
First Round - Rudy Gobert - PF/C - France
First Round - Allen Crabbe - SG - California
Second Round - Lucas Noguiera - PF/C - Brazil
Two projects and a replacement for Kevin Martin would be my selection. Gobert and Noguiera give Oklahoma City two chances at a potential replacement for Perkins while Crabbe would take the pressure off any Kevin Martin negotiations with Lamb and Crabbe both on the roster.
It's unlikely that either of the three would break into the starting role, but the Thunder just won 60 games this season so there's no real need for any massive overhaul.
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