As Oklahoma City goes through yet another disappointing year I start to wonder, how does such a good team look so bad, and what do they need to do in the off-season? Well it surprisingly isn't as much as most people think.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have some bright young stars on the rising that include:
Kevin Durant - F/G
Russell Westbrook - G
Jeff Green - F
No offense to the other Thunder players but those three are the players I would build around if I was the Oklahoma City Thunder. A regular NBA starting line-up usually consist of a Center, two Fowards (Power and Shooting) and two Guards (Point and Shooting). Oklahoma City will also probably have a high draft pick.
Oklahoma had the 3rd worst record in the NBA behind only Washington and Sacramento, so if the NBA Draft were logical they would have the third pick, unfortunately we don't know where Oklahoma City will gain or fall to, but I don't see them falling out of the top 5 and they aren't very likely to fall out of the top 10. So Oklahoma needs another Guard (Shooting) and what I think is a bigger need, a Center who can help that Oklahoma defense.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder get an earlier pick I can see them getting Hasheem Thabeet, which would give them a great big man down at the Center position. But what if they raise to the 2nd or 1st pick? I could see them wanting Blake Griffin to play Forward for them to compliment Kevin Durant, that way they have one of the best young Forward combination in the NBA. Either way the Oklahoma City aren't a complete team until 2012, as whatever hole they DIDN'T fill with this year's pick, a Forward, Center, or Guard I predict they will fill in the 2010 draft, but that still leaves on HUGE hole, the Oklahoma City bench. The reason they probably won't pick up another guard to help Westbrook is because the early selection of this years draft have some very talented big men.
Since I don't expect the Thunder to be very active in the Free Agent Market this year, they seem to want to fill starting roles in the draft and bench roles in free agency. The Thunder next year, even with their weak bench, will greatly improve I predict. However future success of the team will depend on if the Oklahoma City can find cheap good players on free agency to add to their bench depth, it is what teams like Boston and Cleveland thrive on, don't think LeBron James and Kevin Garnett are the only players each team has. Oklahoma shouldn't be involved with many trades as they seem unwilling to trade Durant, Green, or Westbrook so any trade would involve their bench or veteran Nick Collison, if they can get a trade done I would expect it to be for another draft pick as their are some interest forwards available in the later in the 1st round, also the Thunder have the 25th pick in this years first round. If they get a trade done with say Denver, who would want to increase their bench than maybe Tyler s falls into the Thunder's lap.
However that would be a risky move on Oklahoma's part if they pick up a guard with their early pick. I believe next year we will see better guards in the first round this year however if the Oklahoma City Thunder can get a trade done I can see them getting Blake Girffen or Hasheem Thabeet, Tyler Hansbrough either falling to them at 25 or earlier with a potential trade, than the Thunder get a guard with the third pick (if they can make a trade) than getting another guard like Marcus Thornton or Wayne Ellington.
If the Thunder can strike a deal involving Nick Collison, unlikely, than they can easily find a way to fill all three holes in this year's draft. If not in next years draft. However this all means the same, the Oklahoma City Thunder could be a scary team in the future. All they need is that bench to seal the deal and we could be seeing a team competing with teams like the Nuggets and the Lakers in a matter of 2-4 years. So for the Thunder this draft looks very bright for them.
The Oklahoma City Thunder could indeed be a playoff team in a few years, they will have the youngest core of players but all those players will be talented.