The 2009 NBA Draft is almost three months away, but with Oklahoma City already on summer vacation, it's time to start talking about the draft.
For those who don't know, the NBA Draft is set up as a lottery. The bottom 14 teams have a chance to win the first pick. The team with the worst record (this year, it's Sacramento) has a 25 percent chance to get the first pick and every other team has a slightly worse chance based on their win-loss record.
Oklahoma City has the fourth worst record in the NBA and has an almost 12 percent chance to get the first pick. While this may seem like a low percentage, remember that Chicago got the first pick last year with a 1.7 percent chance. It is a very rare occurrence that the team with the worst record to get the first pick.
Everyone in the NBA wants Blake Griffin. He has a great combination of size, speed, and power, which will make his transition to the NBA an easy one. If Oklahoma City can land Griffin, many experts expect for the Thunder to be in the playoffs next season.
Rubio, the Spanish star, is widely considered to be the best PG in this year's draft. If the Thunder get the second pick, Oklahoma City could pick up Ricky Rubio and move Westbrook to SG.
Hasheem Thabeet is one of the tallest players in the draft. He was also one of the most dominate defensive forces in college basketball last season. If the Thunder end up with the third pick, expect for them to grab Thabeet and get the dominant paint presence Oklahoma City lacked last season.
James Harden would add a big time scoring threat to the SG position that OKC lacked this season. The acquisition of Thabo Sefolosha helped the Thunder defensively last season, but a scorer at the two would greatly help one of the worst scoring teams in the NBA. The only draw back on Harden is whether or not he can defend the great SGs of the NBA.
He's the other PF of this year's draft. Most casual observers have overlooked Hill, because his last name isn't Griffin. Hill is a solid scorer, but needs to add strength and explosiveness to compete with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol, two players who were dominant against OKC this season.
Tyreke Evans, another SG, might be a more defensively minded scorer than Harden. He averaged 5.4 RBs, 2.1 STLs, and .8 BLKs per game at Memphis last season, and those stats seem to fit into Scott Brooks' defensive system.
Stephen Curry seems like the NBA's Mark Sanchez this year. In the past few months, he has fallen out of the lottery, then back into it, then out again, and now into the top 10 on many draft predictions. Curry has showed that he is a scoring threat, averaged 28.6 points this year, but he has also show a great court vision with 5.6 assists in his new role as PG for Davidson. A Curry-Westbrook back court is intriguing because both players can play either role.
Any of these players could have an immediate impact on the Oklahoma City Thunder. While the experts say that Griffin is the only way to the playoffs, don't be surprised if Oklahoma City's management uses the draft, and a couple of smart offseason moves to make the playoffs next season, even if they don't get Griffin.