At No. 3 OKC Thunder Have Options

Shawn ScottCorrespondent IJune 25, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder lays the ball up against New York Knicks on November 14, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Every team looks to improve their roster via the draft, trades, and free agency.  Every year this process has winners and losers, and the past few years have seen the Oklahoma City Thunder become one of the youngest and most talented teams in the NBA in recent memory. 

This is believed by many to be the year that the Thunder rise from the depths of the NBA win/loss column and start to compete with some of the more veteran teams in the Western Conference.

It just happened in hockey, when the much younger Pittsburgh Penguins beat the veteran Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals as a passing of the torch from past to present.  Not to say that the Thunder have an NBA Finals level of play, so much as to say that they are the next big thing. With the right front-office moves, this team could be a dynasty if intact for the long haul.

The "big three" of the OKC Thunder include Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook. The team's starting SF/SG, SF/PF, and PG respectively.  Each brings talent and the potential to play among the upper tier of their positions if properly coached.  With new head coach Scott Brooks this should not be a problem. 

The lineup is talented, but there are also positions of need on the roster, such as shooting guard and center.  There have been plenty of rumors regarding what the Thunder will do with the No. 3 overall pick, and I have a few scenarios that could potentially play out, along with the upsides and downsides of each...Enjoy.

Option No. 1

The Thunder have been a team built around length for a while now, and any addition they make should follow that same principle.  There aren't any prospects in this years draft with both length and skill on both sides of the ball, so a trade is not out of the question.

If the Thunder were to trade their No. 3 overall pick for LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers they could shift their lineup to have Westbrook, Durant, Green, and Aldridge at the PG, SG, SG, and PF respectively.  This would create a very long and talented lineup throughout those positions. 

Aldridge is very talented at 19.5 PPG 7.5 RPG, 1.3 APG. He has height for the position at 6' 11'',and is still on 23 years old.  This would be a great pickup for the Thunder and would take a lot of pressure off Green. Allow me to explain.

Green is talented enough to play in the starting lineup, but at 6' 9'' he is undersized at the PF.  If a shooting guard is drafted with the third pick, Westbrook would play the point, the SG (probably James Harden) at the SG position, Durant at SF, and Green (if he remains in the starting lineup) would be forced into the PF position where he is not suited to play.

This would be an ideal move if both teams could agree to terms for the third-overall pick and any other picks in this year's draft (not including the No. 25 pick we acquired from the Suns), though not very likely.

Option No. 2

The team could opt for another trade option. Although more risky than the Aldridge trade, abounding with more potential than it as well.  An article by Bhavik Darji has a possible trade looking something like this...

"The Clippers draft Blake Griffin, OKC drafts Rubio. A three-player trade would take and would look like this.

Clippers Get: Ricky Rubio & Jason Kidd

Mavericks get: Baron Davis & Marcus Camby/Zach Randolph

(I added the Randolph bit)

Thunder get: Blake Griffin"

This would also allow us to put Green at his natural position and play with a long lineup.  The downside to this trade is that Griffin is not a good defender, but has the potential to be a super-star forward.  I like Griffin to come in and be an impact player, and this trade has the potential to make that happen.

This trade has some serious potential, but if it falls through for any reason and we get stuck with Ricky Rubio we will have wasted this draft. Rubio is a good player, but Westbrook has proven himself and was the No. 4 overall pick last year and does not play well off the ball as a shooting guard. Thus if we were to get stuck with Rubio we would have wasted the No. 3 overall pick on a player we have no use for. Not good.

Option No. 3

To draft James Harden would be a large improvement over Thabo Sefolosha and would give us length at shooting guard. This would also have a negative effect on the Green situation, and may cause negative ripples throughout the starting roster. 

Harden is an excellent scorer and aptly draws comparisons to Paul Pierce. Harden has the potential to share some of the scoring load with Durant and give each of them more open looks.  This is probably the third best option behind the trades, but as far as the options go, this could bring a potential all-star to the OKC Thunder, so you never know. 

Averaging 20.1 PPG, 4.2 APG and 1.7 APG, Harden is one of the top prospects in the NBA Draft and would be a great option at guard to compliment Russell Westbrook because he is a true guard...unlike Kevin Durant. Durant is not a true guard, so Harden might be a better fit but considering the roster issues it might not be the best fit for the team. 

So there are options at this point. 

For those of you with an opinion of your own or who have feedback on the article feel free to leave a comment and let your opinion be heard.


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