2014 NBA Draft: 5 Players The Oklahoma City Thunder Should Target
5 Players the Oklahoma City Thunder Should Target
The 2014 NBA Draft is already being billed as one of the deepest drafts in recent history. Highlighted by names like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid, this year's draft will give a number of franchises a chance to turn their organization around for the better.
With all the big names out there, there's even more sleepers who could make a lot of noise next season. Coaches, general managers and owners will have their hands full in hopes of selecting players who fit in perfectly. Even with an extraordinary amount of talent on the board, there's still room for error.
There are thousands of mock drafts floating around the internet, but no one could ever predict exactly how draft night will play out. Barring any trades, injuries or unfortunate events, most teams already have an idea where their focus will be on the big day. For one team -- the Oklahoma City Thunder -- their plan is simple: draft smart.
The Thunder secured their most valuable assets when they signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to long-term deals. They have also picked up the options on Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson, making draft day a bit less stressful than it normally would be if they had to fight to keep key players on the roster.
What this means is that the Thunder can shift all of their focus to two positions -- center and small forward. I believe these are the only two positions the Thunder should be looking at come draft night. If they get rid of Kendrick Perkins, which they should, then they will obviously have a hole to fill at the center position. With Perkins gone, Steven Adams would mostly likely take his job, leaving room for OKC to draft a big man.
Now, as far as forwards go, the Thunder are seemingly in great shape with Lamb and the slowly improving Perry Jones III. Still, the Thunder shouldn't pass up on the opportunity of obtaining a player who could eventually surpass Lamb and Jones' status. Durant needs a consistently productive backup. If Lamb pans out, then he will surely be the man to fill that role. If he doesn't, the Thunder has a chance to open up another lane by drafting yet another prospect at the forward position.
No one is sure what will happen when it is all said and done, but it doesn't hurt to take educated guesses as to whom we believe will land where in this year's draft. With that being said, here's my list of five players the OKC should consider drafting in 2014.
5. Mitch McGary - Michigan
Mitch McGary could be a big help for the Oklahoma City Thunder's inconsistent play at the center position. Steven Adams -- the Thunder's first-round pick in last year's draft -- may eventually take over as the starting big, so OKC will need someone to back him up. Kendrick Perkins' best days are far behind him, and it's hard to imagine him in Oklahoma for much longer. The Thunder should use the draft to stock up on big men if anything, seeing as Perkins may be on his way out and Adams is a prospect at best. McGary will give OKC the size they need down low. His size mirrors that of Perkins', so OKC won't miss his physical presence in the paint. With time and hard work, McGary could work himself up to be a very special piece to the Thunder's puzzle.
4. A.J. Hammons - Purdue
With only one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Thunder has to select wisely. It is obvious that they mostly need a big man. If Perkins is shipped out of town soon, then their need for a big will increase greatly. Even with Perkins, the center position is the Thunder's weakest.
A.J. Hammons would be a lucky grab as a late first-round pick. He's a big player, standing at 7-foot tall, 278 pounds, and he doesn't waste any of that size on either end of the court. So far this season, Hammons is averaging three blocks per game, along with 10.4 points per game. He reminds me a lot of Andre Drummond. If he lands with the Thunder, I believe Scott Brooks can mold this guy into an All-Star quicker than any other coach.
3. C.J. Wilcox - Washington
C.J. Wilcox just seems like a player Scott Brooks would love to coach; he's a hard worker with tons of upside. He's projected as a late-rounder, but he could very well be selected much sooner than anyone is expecting with the talent he's shown so far this year. Wilcox is averaging an amazing 18.6 points per game, while shooting over 45 percent from the field and close to 40 percent from beyond the arch. He's shooting is something the Thunder need coming off the bench, especially if Jeremy Lamb doesn't pan out. Wilcox will provide some extra firepower off the bench, and that's just what the Thunder need. They may need a little luck to land this young stud, but it is very much a possibility.
2. T.J. Warren - N.C. State
It was extremely hard not putting T.J. Warren No.1 overall on this list. His ability as a scorer is phenomenal, making him one of the most sought after late-rounder prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Averaging 23.8 points per game, Warren's transition into the NBA could go a lot smoother than some players whose names are called prior to his. Warren would serve as a backup to Kevin Durant, a role that is perfect for a young player of his caliber. There's no better player in the league right now to sit behind and watch. Durant will need a solid backup if Jeremy Lamb isn't producing at a high level come next year. While the Thunder did sign Caron Butler to fill that role, there's a good chance he will not be with the team beyond this season. If Warren is on the board when the Thunder is selecting, they shouldn't have to think twice about jumping on the opportunity of drafting him.
1. Kyle Anderson - UCLA
Kyle Anderson is one of the only players in the draft that I see having a chance to be a NBA All-Star within his first three years in the league. His length and ability to score makes him one of the toughest players to guard in college basketball.
Anderson is 6-foot-8 and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, the perfect frame for a forward. His guard-like dribbling abilities make his skill set even more special. There are only a handful of players in the world with his size, speed and dribbling skill. With the right coaching and teammates around him, Anderson could quickly become one of the brightest young stars in the league; he's simply a natural born play-maker.
Aside from averaging 14.9 points per game, Anderson also pulls down an average of 8.6 rebounds per night, as well as 6.9 assists. Numbers that impressive need no explanation. If Anderson is available, the Thunder would be insane not to take him late in the first round.
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