NBA Draft: Thunder wheels & deals
After a short night’s sleep, some second-day thoughts on the NBA Draft.
* I’m on record for not being crazy about Cole Aldrich. But you’ve got to hand it to Thunder general manager Sam Presti. Slingin’ Sam had another wild night.
The Thunder started the week with picks 21, 26, 32 and 51. They parlayed those picks into Aldrich, Daequan Cook, Morris Peterson (though I doubt he ever sets foot in OKC), Germany’s Tibor Pleiss, Florida State’s Ryan Reid, D-leaguer Latavious Williams and a future Clippers No. 1 pick.
When you look at it that way, that’s a heck of a draft night. Four picks that have limited value — no one really thinks they’re getting an impact player at No. 21; a rotation player can be a stretch — provided all kinds of possibilities.
* I would rate the Thunder commodities this way:
1. The Clippers’ pick. You’re getting a future Clippers’ first-round pick? The Clippers have been in the playoffs four times in the last 34 years. Sure, the pick is lottery-protected, but it’s not lottery-protected forever.
2. Aldrich. I’m skeptical that he can be a defensive enforcer, but others are not. And it’s not like the draft was littered with dominant big men. If you think of it this way, that the Thunder basically got Aldrich for the 21st pick, it’s a steal.
3. Cook. Consider it a no-risk purchase. Almost like a money-back guarantee. The Thunder gets to have Cook for a year, see if he’s a shooter or not, then decide what to do with him. Cook is entering his fourth season, which means the Boomers have all kinds of options. They can extend his contract by a year. They can make him a restricted free agent, meaning OKC could match any offer. They can cut him. Not a lot of gamble in that.
4. Pleiss. A 7-foot-1 German who can run and shoot and is only 20 years old? A player who doesn’t want to come to the U.S. yet? He sounds like a Bavarian Byron Mullens. Stash him, let him develop and see what you’ve got. If you’ve got a bust, you’ve lost virtually nothing.
5. Latavious Williams: I like this guy for one reason in particular. He had the good sense not to go to college when he had no desire to be there. Williams would have played at Memphis U. last season except he made the mature decision to spend the year in the D-League. It’s quite possible Williams would have been drafted higher; he’s a 6-8 forward who has some skills. But it’s clear Williams is a better player now than he would have been playing a year in college. College basketball impedes talent more than it develops talent.
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