NBA Draft 2011: 10 Players the Thunder Should Target with Their Selection
With the playoff results well settled, the Oklahoma City Thunder have to make a decision this Thursday about who can help the team most moving forward.
After consecutive top-five picks between 2007-09, the Thunder’s spot in the draft order has dropped dramatically over the past two seasons.
When they drafted 24th overall in 2010, much of the excitement about the pick was lost. However, the excitement being gone is actually a good thing, indicating this Thunder team is now showing how dominant they can be.
The Thunder may have fewer needs than any other team in the NBA, but room to improve is always there.
Oklahoma City’s biggest need lies in their bench scoring, which is something they will likely address Thursday night. Nevertheless, the Thunder might be smart in taking the best player available towards the end of the first round.
Here are 10 players Oklahoma City should target on Thursday night.
10. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, F/C
Johnson is one of the safer picks the Thunder can make. He spent four years in college, so his game is easily recognizable and has improved consistently over the years.
With his super slender frame, Johnson is able to use his quickness and fluid movement to beat defenders around the court.
Everything about his game is solid, but he will need some fine-tuning at the next level. If Johnson can put on some legitimate weight before next season, this four-year player from Purdue will have a chance to play off the bench for years to come.
9. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, F
Faried being available by the 24th pick would be a miracle. With his explosiveness, leaping ability, hustle and passion for the game, Faried should fit into any NBA rotation.
He is easily undersized for a power forward at 6’7”, but there are plenty of players just like him in the NBA right now. Take Jason Maxiell, Paul Millsap and DeJuan Blair, for example.
Faried is a type of player who you want the rest of your team to play like. He goes 100 percent at all times, never giving the opposing team a possession off.
If Faried is available at this point in the draft, expect general manager Sam Presti to pick him up smiling.
8. Kyle Singler, Duke, F
Singler is easily the safest pick the Thunder can make. There is no doubt that he will bring all of his intangibles from Duke over to the NBA.
Singler is a good shooter, makes the right plays, plays within himself, has a high basketball IQ and most importantly is a winner.
However, the ceiling for Singler to ever become a starter in the NBA is slim. Still, it’s hard to believe Sam Presti will be trying to hit a home run with a pick so late in the first round.
The Thunder need smarts and scoring off the bench, something that Singler will be able to provide for many years.
7. Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA, SF
Selecting Tyler Honeycutt would be another “developmental” type pick. The Thunder have done a phenomenal job of grooming young talent over the years, and Honeycutt could be the next in line.
Honeycutt’s length, instincts and defensive presence right now make him a good player. On the other hand, the Thunder would need to improve his bulk and offensive capabilities.
Currently, Honeycutt has a Tayshaun Prince-type of body. For him to be as effective as Tayshaun, Honeycutt will need to hone in on his offensive game and understand how the NBA game works.
Do not be surprised if the Thunder take Honeycutt with the hope of developing him into a solid all-around player down the road.
6. Jimmy Butler, Marquette, G/F
Jimmy Butler is the definition of a late bloomer. After playing mop-up minutes his first few seasons at Marquette, Butler emerged as a big-time scorer this year.
Besides his scoring, Butler brings many other attractive attributes to the table. His toughness, defense, work ethic and room to improve are second to few.
Butler really needs to implement a consistent three-point shot into his arsenal. With his history of improvement at Marquette, expect him to do just that in the near future.
Oklahoma City could really use a Kendrick Perkins-like toughness that Butler brings to the table. Hopefully the Thunder’s front office is as high on Butler as I am in this position.
5. Reggie Jackson, Boston College, PG
Since Eric Maynor’s contract is due to expire following the upcoming season, Oklahoma City could look for a replacement in this draft.
If they were to do so, Reggie Jackson is their man. Like Russell Westbrook, Jackson is a taller point guard who uses his athleticism and body size to his advantage.
Jackson has great speed, quickness and physical attributes that many point guards do not possess.
However, Jackson needs more time to become a complete point guard. With a season on the bench behind Westbrook and Maynor, Jackson should be able to develop his court vision and passing skills to make him a viable backup.
4. Nikola Mirotic, Spain, PF
The Thunder drafting another overseas talent like Nikola Mirotic is a very serious possibility. Presti loves to stash international players for more development, which is exactly what would happen here.
Mirotic will stay overseas for at least one more season, something that could cause his stock to drop to the Thunder with this pick.
Mirotic would be a great option for the Thunder in future seasons. With his outside shooting stroke, he is able to stretch defenses all game long.
Oklahoma City would draft Mirotic based strictly on potential at this point. Since he’s 6’10” with an exceptional wingspan and a great jump shot, the Thunder will look long and hard into this Spanish product.
3. Josh Selby, Kansas, G
With the 24th pick, the Thunder could acquire a potential top-10 talent in Josh Selby. Coming out of high school just a year ago, Selby was the “can’t miss” prospect with talent oozing out of him.
After a suspension and injuries derailed his one and only season with the Jayhawks, Selby made the questionable decision of entering the draft. Luckily for the Thunder, they could hit a home run by developing his supreme talent into the NBA.
Selby has the shooting stroke, athleticism, quickness, strength and vibrant array of offensive moves to make him a big-time scorer.
He may not have a definite position as of now, but time to season in the NBA could make him a potent threat on offense.
The Thunder should address their biggest need with this pick in bench scoring. Fortunately for the Thunder front office, Selby exemplifies exactly what they need.
2. Justin Harper, Richmond, F
Harper is the combo forward that the Thunder desperately need. Outside of Kevin Durant and the team’s guards, nobody else can hit outside shots.
Enter Justin Harper. Harper is a tall, lean forward who can hit outside jumpers all day long.
Harper will never be a starter for the Thunder, but can be a great contributor off the bench for years.
With his mixture of size and shooting ability, he will be a “change of pace”-type of player who can throw off opposing defenses.
There is very little risk associated with this pick especially since Harper is an accomplished college senior from Richmond.
The Thunder would be making a safe and solid choice by selecting him in this year’s draft.
1. Jordan Hamilton, Texas, SF
First thing everyone needs to know is that Jordan Hamilton will absolutely not fall to the Thunder at the 24th pick. Therefore, Oklahoma City will have to trade up for this Texas product if they are serious about him.
The Thunder need Hamilton for a variety of reasons. First, who is Kevin Durant’s primary backup? Give up? Well, if you could not think of one that’s because he does not have one.
This is where Hamilton comes in. Like Durant, Hamilton is primarily known for his ability to score in a variety of ways.
Also like Durant, Hamilton has an NBA-ready shot. Hamilton is a great three-point shooter, and his perfect shooting form suggests he will only get better.
Hamilton plays with serious passion and aggression that will help him at the next level. He rebounds very well for someone his size, which is another bonus for the Thunder when he is on the court.
The Thunder desperately need Durant insurance, which is exactly what Hamilton brings to the table from Day One.