The Oklahoma City Thunder disappointingly fell to the eventual NBA Champions the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Western Conference Finals, but they are still considered one of the favorites to contend once again in 2015. With reigning MVP Kevin Durant, blocking-machine Serge Ibaka and explosive – yet sporadic – scorer Russell Westbrook on their squad, the Thunder look to be in great shape moving forward.
However, one of the key problems with OKC last season was their inability to have success against elite opposition when Westbrook and Durant weren’t able to take control of the game. Part of that problem had to do with the inconsistency of their depth, especially offensively. With key members of their team becoming free agents, as well as Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison becoming free agents in 2015, the Thunder must choose wisely in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Only participating in the first round barring some type of trade, OKC has two picks. One pick is at No. 21 and the other at No. 29.
At No. 21 overall, the first pick should address an immediate need, such as a consistent scorer from range or a backup point guard. Unfortunately at this point in the draft, the NBA-ready point guards will all have been taken; therefore, the Thunder would benefit from selecting a shooting guard.
James Young had an outstanding season with the Kentucky Wildcats, and, although he took a backseat to Julius Randle, was every bit as important to their run to the 2014 NCAA Tournament Championship Game as anyone else. Young is a young player who would benefit from learning behind elite scorers like Durant and Westbrook.
At No. 29 overall, the Thunder have an opportunity to trade down or select a player for the future. Most likely looking for a big-man, OKC should go with an international player with a lot of upside. Jusuf Nurkic, the 6-foot-11, 280-pound center from Bosnia and Herzegovina, is just 19 years old with a lot of potential. If the Thunder decide to retain some of their free agents, he could continue to play in Europe and free up cap room.