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OKC Thunder's big night comes Thursday: The NBA Draft

Nine players on this year’s roster were drafted by the franchise or acquired via trade on draft night.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 21, 2014
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By building through the draft, the Thunder has landed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson. Other teams angle every summer to assemble that kind of quartet and label them “Super teams.” But right here in Oklahoma City is the league’s leading scorer from four of the past five seasons, the most athletic and relentless attacking point guard, the league’s leading shot blocker four years running and one of the game’s best sixth men.

Complementing that group is Steven Adams, a center with gobs of potential, Perry Jones III, a world-class athlete with multiple skills, Andre Roberson, a lanky defender, rebounder and hustler, and Nick Collison, a wily veteran. All were drafted by the Thunder or acquired via trade on draft night. Grant Jerrett, also acquired via trade on draft night last year, has the potential to develop into a sharpshooting power forward, skills that are becoming more pivotal at that position in today’s game.

The latter five combined to earn about $7 million this past season. Each of their relatively inexpensive contracts is what allows the Thunder to pay, and ultimately retain, its high-priced stars. Three of the five — Collison and Jerrett being the exceptions — still are on rookie contracts. That guarantees the Thunder four years of a player, as well as the first chance to re-sign him before his contract is up. And the goal is for them to get better and contribute more and more even while playing on those relatively inexpensive deals.

With the 21st and 29th selections Thursday night, the Thunder has an opportunity to continue the critical cycle. Under the NBA’s rookie scale salary guidelines, those two draft picks combined are slotted to make slightly more than $2 million.

For a franchise dedicated toward sustaining an elite roster while juggling the challenges of playing in the league’s third smallest market, it’s the only way to guarantee continuity.

It all makes Thursday the most important date on the NBA calendar.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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