1. Will Daniel Orton sacrifice potential playing time to stay in his hometown of OKC, or will he go anywhere because he simply wants to play?
Darnell Mayberry: I have no idea what he will do. But I know what he should do. That's stick around. Not simply because this is his hometown. That'd be silly. But also because he's in a good situation with a great organization. Even if he doesn't play much next year he'll still be surrounded by people who genuinely care about his development and well-being. After two wasted seasons in Orlando, chances are Daniel knows just how critical that is in this league.
John Rohde: The kid should be willing to stick around with the Thunder even if it means sitting another year or two. Having a chance to be teammates with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, et al, is rare – especially in your hometown.
Berry Tramel: If Orton has the chance to play somewhere, he needs to take it. If he wants a long NBA career, showing someone that he can play is the way to go. Byron Mullens is a good example. Couldn't get on the court in OKC, went to Charlotte, put up some numbers and now will have a job for the foreseeable future.
2. Is Orton the Thunder's best offensive center?
Mayberry: Statistically, that “honor” belonged to Hasheem Thabeet. But much of his offensive success came via set-ups. All he had to do was finish plays, which, to his credit, he did very well. But as far as I could tell from his limited playing time, Daniel Orton has the best hands, feet and finishing ability of any center on the roster. For the most part, Daniel also seemed more comfortable creating something for himself better than any other player at his position. So my vote, for whatever it's worth, goes to Orton.
Rohde: No question, and he's not even trying to be. Orton primarily has been known for his shot-blocking and rebounding. His offensive skills have only developed the last two years. Of course, being the Thunder's best offensive center is akin to being the tallest midget (short person?).
Tramel: I assume not but it's not a silly question. Somebody has to be.
3. Should he have stayed at Kentucky more than one season?
Mayberry: Generally, I always side with players when they decide to leave school early, even if my initial reaction to some leaving might be something along the lines of “man, that's stupid.” But, really, who am I to sit up here and say a 19- or 20-year-old should put a multi-million dollar salary on hold? That window of earning power is so short in an athlete's life that I believe you have to take the opportunity when you have it. Maybe Daniel wasn't ready, physically, mentally or emotionally. Who knows? But with all due respect to the Kentucky program, there was nothing John Calipari and Josh Harrellson could have taught Orton that Patrick Ewing and Dwight Howard couldn't. And even though Orton fell to the bottom of the first round, much lower than he could have been selected, he earned more than $2 million for his first two seasons. That's two years worth of money and experience he never would have been able to recoup had he stayed.
Rohde: Depends if Orton wanted to win a national title, which Kentucky did last year in what would have been his junior season. Then again, Orton would have been hard-pressed to even start at UK had he stayed. DeMarcus Cousins' departure for the 2010 draft (the same year as Orton) led to the pending arrivals of future No. 1 pick Anthony Davis in 2012 and potential No. 1 pick Nerlens Noel next month.
Tramel: I don't see why, unless he wanted a degree really bad, and I know of no evidence for that. Guys get better on an NBA practice squad than they do on an NCAA champion. He might have been drafted higher, but maybe not, either. Here's the deal. Most of these 19- and 20-year-olds want to be in the NBA. They don't want to be on college campuses. The sooner we clear campuses of people who don't want to be there, the better.