The NBA Draft cometh.
What should the Thunder doeth?
Stand pat and draft 12th, 29th and 32nd? Package something together and try to move up? Package something together and try to move down?
I say trade down.
Admittedly, that isn't a very sexy option. Doesn't really add much sizzle to draft night, does it?
And we had the hope of some serious sizzle when the rumors started percolating Monday night that the Thunder had expressed interest in the No. 1 pick. Apparently, Cleveland is interested in shopping it, and Oklahoma City was interested in looking at the price tag.
I'm pretty sure the conversation went something like this:
Cavs' front office: “We'll take all your draft picks plus Serge Ibaka.”
Sam Presti: “In your dreams.”
Bye, bye sizzle.
Then again, this Presti-led franchise has never been about making a sexy pick on draft night. The Thunder picked the then-unheralded Russell Westbrook instead of Kevin Love, Eric Gordon or one of the Lopez twins. It went with James Harden instead of Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio or Stephen Curry. It zags when most teams would zig.
And the decisions work out smashingly for the franchise.
Trading down this year would, too.
For starters, this is a draft with a lot of good but not great players. The player drafted 12th is going to be about as good as the player drafted 20th or 22nd.
Why not turn one pick into two?
Maybe you get two picks this year. Maybe you get one this year and one next year. Either way, offer No. 12 and maybe even No. 29 and see what happens.
I suspect someone bites.
Someone like Atlanta. The Hawks have the No. 17 and No. 18 picks and have been rumored as interested in moving up the draft board. It's impossible to know what players will still be available when the 17th and 18th picks roll around, but here are a couple possibilities.
All of those are pretty decent options for the Thunder, and most importantly, most of those guys could fill future needs in Oklahoma City.
There will come a day, for example, that Kendrick Perkins is no longer the starting center in Oklahoma City. That day is probably a year or two away, though, so the Thunder would have a chance to develop a young big man like Plumlee, Dieng or Gobert.
If I was in the Thunder war room, I'd go with Dieng. He's big and broad, 6-foot-11 and 230 pounds, but he's nimble and athletic, too. He's tough on the defensive end and promising on the offensive end. Dieng passes it well and has a little baby hook that is nice.
He also seems like a guy who would fit the Thunder culture. Rick Pitino, his coach at Louisville, has raved about his magnetism and charisma, which would play well on a team that preaches community involvement.
Plus, Dieng has a pretty decent upside. Even though he's 23 years old and one of the oldest players in the draft, he only started playing basketball six years ago. He still has room to grow.
Concerns have surfaced in recent days about the health of Dieng's knees, and if valid, the Thunder should steer clear.
But remember before the 2007 NFL Draft when concerns surfaced about Adrian Peterson's knees?
Sometimes that pre-draft talk isn't always founded.
If all is well with Dieng's knees, the Thunder should snag him, then get a guard who cannot only score but also guard a bunch of different positions. Thabo Sefolosha, after all, isn't under contract beyond next season. If he and the Thunder can't get a deal done, a strong perimeter defender will be necessary.
Franklin would be my pick.
I had a chance to see the former San Diego State forward play in person against Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. He hustles. He scraps. And with a 7-foot wingspan on his 6-foot-5 frame, he has a chance to develop into a defensive terror.
Neither Franklin nor Dieng are without their flaws, but their future potential is intriguing. And really, that's what this draft is about for the Thunder — building for the future.
Trading down would be the best way to build up.