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No Blake Griffin, no problem for Thunder

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 20, 2009 at 12:39 am •  Published: May 20, 2009
So we’re going to have to do this the hard way.

What? You thought just because it’s the Thunder, lightning would strike twice, and the same cosmic forces that landed Kevin Durant in the Ford Center would keep Blake Griffin in Oklahoma?

No, that’s not how the NBA or life works.

You mix a little luck with a lot of smarts and hard work, and maybe you get a basketball team that will send you home happy on many a winter’s night.

So while the NBA Draft lottery sent the No. 1 pick — and Griffin’s wondrous talents — off to the Clippers, the Thunder settled for the consolation prize of the third pick.

Could be UConn shot-blocker Hasheem Thabeet. Could be Arizona strong man Jordan Hill. Could, I suppose, be Spanish point guard phenom Ricky Rubio, if the Grizzlies of Memphis lose their mind and bypass him at No. 2.

Either way, doesn’t matter. Since Thunder general manager Sam Presti took the basketball reins of this franchise, in June 2007, he’s had overall draft picks 2 (Durant), 5 (Jeff Green), 4 (Russell Westbrook) and now 3.

If you can’t build a quality roster with that positioning, nobody to blame but yourself. Not that Presti has done anything to make us think he won’t ace this selection, too.

The Durant pick was a no-brainer, but the Green and Westbrook additions have been home runs, so Presti seems unlikely to screw up this pick.

If Rubio is the player he’s projected to be, I would love him on this roster. You talk about versatile. Westbrook could be a combo guard, playing the point some and off the ball some, just as he did with Earl Watson this past season.

If the 7-foot-3 Thabeet is another Samuel Dalembert, the 76ers’ athletic center, I’ll take that, too. Both will drive you bananas on offense, but if Thabeet can defend the basket like Dalembert can, that will improve this team quickly. Interior defense is priority A for the Thunder.

And who knows what other curveball Presti might throw? Who saw Westbrook coming at No. 4 last June?

Presti said he was "thrilled” that the lottery moved up the Thunder from fourth to third, though he didn’t tip his hand on who that third pick might bring. No way to know until Memphis makes its call, anyway.

Getting Griffin would have sent revelers into the streets, and trade talk will bubble between now and draft night.

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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