2014 NBA Draft: Oklahoma City Thunder Reached Too Far With Selection Of Mitch McGary At No. 21



The biggest problem the Oklahoma City Thunder had in the 2013-14 NBA season was their inability to score points with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the bench.

Reggie Jackson provided streaky spurts of athleticism and offensive efficiency, but couldn’t produce at a steady enough rate to allow Westbrook and Durant to earn a well-deserved water break. Durant led the league in points per game (32.0) but also finished third in minutes per game at 38.5 — 0.2 behind league leaders Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler.

Plain and simple: Durant and Westbrook need offensive help. Mitch McGary does not rectify the offensive ineptitude the OKC bench exhibited at times during this past season.

With Thabo Sefolosha becoming a free agent, guard Jeremy Lamb likely slides into the starting rotation for the Thunder, taking with him his 8.5 PPG. This leaves more of a void on the Thunder bench. A more appropriate pick at 21 for the Thunder would have been someone like Cleanthony Early, P.J. Hairston or Shabazz Napier.

All three of these players would provide the offensive spark off the bench the Thunder desperately need when Batman and Robin are taking a seat. Hairston can flat-out score the rock. Napier simply makes plays. Their offensive creativity and playmaking ability could have propelled the Thunder to another Finals appearance, perhaps a ring this time. Sadly, they didn’t select any of those three.

McGary’s toughness and size will be good complementary pieces to future All-Star Serge Ibaka and future starter Steven Adams. If they re-sign him, Kendrick Perkins can teach McGary how to be intimidating and use his size to his mental advantage. McGary isn’t a bad pick, but has had problems with drugs.

If he can stay out of trouble and polish his offensive game to provide the Thunder with quality minutes as a big off the bench, GM Sam Presti may have worked his magic again. With that said, he is not the player the Thunder needed.

Matt Barnes is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @mpb9792.

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  • KevinWarren

    The Thunder were 5th int he league in scoring last year. The playoffs proved they needed to play better defense first. SA lit them up whenever they were without Ibaka and they are looking at one more year with Perk. They selected a defensive PF/C in McGary and a defensive SF in Huestis.

    Sure they could use more scoring but it was lack of defensive depth that cost them a shot at the title.

    • Matt Barnes

      Their scoring was dependent upon Durant and Westbrook. With Ibaka in, they defended well enough but couldn’t produce points when their scoters weren’t on the floor. If Ibaka is healthy games 1 and 2, perhaps we’re talking about the Thunder and Heat in the finals. A healthy Ibaka, Adams and Perkins play good enough defense, even great defense if you’re talking about Ibaka. They couldn’t match the spurs production from the bench. McGary may back up those frontline bigs, but they couldn’t find a go to scorer off the bench that they desperately need.

      • Lozz111

        I didn’t think they would draft Shabazz Napier because of Westbrook and Jackson in the team. However, I thought they would pick up PJ Hairston because the guy can score by the bucket loads, hes 6″5 with a 6″9.5 arm span and a shooting guard that could light up the scoreboard with Jackson off the bench. I didn’t quite understand the drafting of Josh Huestis since we already have Perry Jones III, another one way player so I am not sure how they are going to fit them in. I am thinking a trade is coming. The thunder still have that dude overseas, the shooting guard. I believe in the Thunder GM though. He is probably the best draft GM in the league.

  • Andrew

    Hairston would have been a good pickup for the Thunder, but I didnt think they would take him. High character guys are what the Thunder like and he didn’t fit the bill. A little surprised they took McGary because of his drug suspension, but apparently Presti felt comfortable with him. I do like him as a possible Collison replacement since Nick has only 1 more season on his contract and is getting up there in age. Should be a nice energy big off the bench who can defend and finish around the basket. Now…the other pick at 29…just wow. What the heck? He’s the same player as Roberson. The Thunder needed a player who could put the ball in the basket, Early or Robinson III or…damn, anyone else. I don’t get this pick, but I do trust Presti, and I hope that once again he proves me wrong. Hopefully, though, the Thunder sign someone in free agency like CJ Miles or Jodie Meeks who will knock down 3s and give the Thunder a little more spacing on the floor. More room for KD and RW to operate would be amazing. Also, getting the lane-clogging Perkins off the floor more might help. Adams clogs the lane a bit too, but at least he can finish around the rim when KD and RW dump it down to him.