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Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC's best bet in the NBA Draft could be trading back

Five spots below the Thunder's No. 12 pick are the Atlanta Hawks, who own back-to-back selections at 17 and 18. It might be that the Hawks would be willing to part with both to move up to 12 if they are enamored with someone available at that spot.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: June 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm •  Published: June 24, 2013
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photo - Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team general manager, speaks at a press conference at the Thunder practice facility in Oklahoma City Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012.  Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder NBA basketball team general manager, speaks at a press conference at the Thunder practice facility in Oklahoma City Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Ask 10 people what the Thunder should do in Thursday night's NBA Draft and you might get 10 different answers.

Opinions vary for two reasons.

There's not a single can't-miss prospect this year, and the Thunder, with three of the top 32 picks, has plenty of options.

For those reasons, this year's draft-night decisions could be the most difficult the Thunder has ever had to make. Throw in the fact that the 12th overall pick is a selection the Thunder acquired as part of the James Harden trade and even more pressure falls on Oklahoma City to get it right.

The Thunder could go big, which most assume will happen with that 12th selection, or go small. We could see a more polished player's name called, like Duke center Mason Plumlee, or an international project, such as Frenchman Rudy Gobert. It's also not out of the realm of possibilities that the Thunder packages its picks and trades up, a popular idea that would put the franchise in better position to snag a more promising player, such as Maryland center Alex Len or UNLV forward Anthony Bennett.

Anything could happen, and by now we know to expect the unexpected from the Thunder.

But of all the possibilities, the best option for OKC could be trading back.

Yes, back.

It sounds counterproductive, and Thunder general manager Sam Presti has never done it. But here's why the Thunder could and perhaps should consider it Thursday night.

Among the 60 players who will be drafted, approximately three (perhaps at best) appear to be a cut above the rest: Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, Kansas guard Ben McLemore and Indiana guard Victor Oladipo. Everyone else might never amount to anything more than a role player.

The 14th pick, therefore, ultimately could be every bit as good as the fourth pick.

Five spots below the Thunder, meanwhile, are the Atlanta Hawks, who own back-to-back selections at 17 and 18. It might be that the Hawks would be willing to part with both to move up to 12 if they are enamored with someone available at that spot. To sweeten the deal, the Thunder might have to send its 29th overall selection to Atlanta as well. But both options should be on the table from the Thunder's standpoint.

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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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