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Had Toronto just cooperated, Thunder's draft could've been much better

COMMENTARY — Raptors were better than expected, so Thunder picked 12th, instead of higher up in a mediocre draft.
by Berry Tramel Modified: June 28, 2013 at 9:30 am •  Published: June 28, 2013

The night began with a stunner. Nevada-Las Vegas' Anthony Bennett went first overall, which not even Vegas saw coming.

Then the Bobcats took Indiana's Cody Zeller fourth overall, apparently so they could improve their lottery chances in the 2014 draft.

And Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore kept falling and falling in the 2013 NBA Draft.

With every passing pick, the most prevalent thought in Thunderville was this.

Dang Toronto.

Nothing against Steven Adams, an affable New Zealand giant who figures to make the Thunder an even more likable squad.

But this night could have been quite the celebration in Boomtown, had the woebegone Raptors cooperated just a little.

Armed with the Raptors' first-round pick, the Thunder figured to get an impactful ballplayer.

Maybe that still happens, though the potential of Adams, like most of the battalion of big men available in this draft, is a crapshoot.

That's what happens when you pick 12th in a mediocre draft.

The Thunder had every reason to believe the pick would be higher. The perennially woeful Raptors, who had won 22 and 23 games the previous two seasons, turned respectable after a Jan. 31 trade for Rudy Gay.

On Feb. 1, Toronto was 16-30, tied for the NBA's sixth worst record. Give the Thunder the sixth or seventh pick in this draft, and either McLemore, the sweet-shooting Kansas guard, or Noel, the 7-foot Kentucky defensive whiz, would be Oklahoma City-bound.

The Thunder would have a player it could reasonably assume would replace Kevin Martin as a sixth man or replace Kendrick Perkins at center in a year or two.

Instead, Toronto traded for Memphis' Rudy Gay, went 18-18 after January and eventually handed the Thunder the 12th pick.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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