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NBA Draft: 19-year-old shooting guard Evan Fournier might be Thunder's No. 1 pick

Staff writer John Rohde offers his take on the first-round selections for each team.
By John Rohde Modified: June 27, 2012 at 8:00 pm •  Published: June 27, 2012

The Thunder's season ended last Thursday night with a loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Never before has the Thunder franchise played so late in the year. That includes the team's 41 seasons in Seattle, where its latest finish was June 16 in 1996.

Never before has the franchise's season ended so close to the NBA Draft, which will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. Thanks to a lockout, this year's 66-game regular-season schedule didn't start until Christmas Day.

Never before will the franchise draft so late in the first round. After finishing with the league's third-best record (47-19) this season, the Thunder owns the No. 28 selection overall.

Since the Thunder arrived in Oklahoma City in 2008, the draft has become less and less significant, which is a good sign.

The later you pick, the more you've been winning. The less you look to the draft for answers, the fewer questions you have on your roster.

Teams in past Finals have had time to evaluate talent before the draft.

Dallas won last year's crown on June 12, and the draft was held 11 days later.

OKC had a week.

Truth of matter is, the evaluation process goes on year-round. Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his staff have scouted the 2012 draft for years, not weeks.

If Presti opts to trade the 28th pick, the franchise could end up with zero picks.

That, too, has never happened before.

NBA MOCK DRAFT

FIRST ROUND

1. New Orleans Hornets — PF Anthony Davis (Kentucky, freshman), 19 years old, 6-10, 222. Comment: Potential NBA defensive player of the future has a remarkable work ethic and is someone the city could embrace. Obvious choice at No. 1.

2. Charlotte Bobcats — PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas, junior), 21 years old, 6-9, 244. Comment: This pick is in flux due to a potential trade with Cleveland, but there's nothing wrong with status quo and picking the vastly improved Robinson.

3. Washington Wizards — SG Bradley Beal (Florida, freshman), 19 years old, 6-5, 202. Comment: Beal turns 19 on draft day, but what kind of present is being drafted by the Wiz? Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza add stability, however.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers — SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky, freshman), 18 years old, 6-8, 233. Comment: Member of champion Kentucky team offers versatility at vital NBA position, but he must improve his perimeter offensive skills.

5. Sacramento Kings — SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-8, 228. Comment: Appears headed for the talented, but malcontent Kings. Inconsistent and sometimes lazy, Barnes could fit right in, however.

6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn) — PG Damian Lillard (Weber State, junior), 21 years old, 6-3, 198. Comment: Blazers are in need of a point guard and center. Figure to pick point guard here and follow up with a center at No. 11 slot.

7. Golden State Warriors — C Andre Drummond (UConn, freshman), 18 years old, 7-0, 279. Comment: Warriors are always on the lookout for size and Drummond definitely has that. Only 18 and potentially could be molded into shape.

8. Toronto Raptors — SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-4, 221. Comment: Even though Waiters didn't start in his two seasons at the Cuse, he is thought of as a scoring machine who is always in attack mode offensively.

9. Detroit Pistons — PF John Henson (North Carolina, junior), 21 years old, 6-10, 216. Comment: Pistons need frontcourt help and Henson impressed them with superb workout, but there is a hodgepodge of candidates at this position.

10. New Orleans (via Minnesota) — SG Austin Rivers (Duke, freshman), 19 years old, 6-5, 203. Comment: His unlimited range and unlimited confidence make Rivers appealing and the No. 10 spot has had some potential trade traffic.

11. Portland Trail Blazers — C Meyers Leonard (Illinois, sophomore), 20 years old, 7-1, 250. Comment: The second half of the Blazers equation is to get a big man. Leonard is in a group of centers who are slated to go between No. 6-12.

12. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee) — C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina, senior), 22 years old, 7-0, 247. Comment: Rockets scrambled and worked a late trade to move up to No. 12, perhaps positioning themselves to get Pau Gasol.

13. Phoenix Suns — PG Kendall Marshall (North Carolina, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-4, 198. Comment: This might be a tad early to select Marshall, but if Rivers is gone, look for the Suns to start grooming a replacement for Steve Nash.

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