University of Kentucky's Daniel Orton (33) dunks over Rider's Novar Gadson during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/ James Crisp)
Orton projects as a defensive-oriented center in the NBA, someone in the mold of Boston’s Kendrick Perkins. And at just 19, Orton has ample time to blossom into a long-term threat anchoring the middle behind Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.
Some NBA observers, however, have questions about Orton’s potential, ranging from his productivity in college to his health. Orton averaged 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during his freshman season. But he averaged only 13.2 minutes for the Wildcats while playing behind DeMarcus Cousins, a projected top 10 pick.
At McGuinness, Orton tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and missed the majority of his senior season. There is concern in some circles that Orton’s knee could become a chronic problem in his career. It’s a red flag that has caused his draft stock to fluctuate between the lottery and the end of the first round.
The Thunder currently owns two selections in the first round, the 21st and 26th overall picks. Oklahoma City also is slated to select 32nd, the second pick in the second round, as well as 51st overall.
The 2010 NBA Draft will air Thursday, June 24 at 6 p.m. on ESPN.