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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder in a rare position

Oklahoma City can compete for a title and still improve through the upcoming NBA Draft.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 14, 2013

Here's something few around these parts are talking about.

The NBA Draft.

That's how it goes for championship contending teams on the verge of a 60-win season.

But while non-playoff teams like Monday night's visitor, the Sacramento Kings, are left to play out the string in this final week and look ahead to draft prospects for hope, the Thunder is in the rare position of competing for a title and still improving through the upcoming draft.

Oklahoma City owns Toronto's first-round pick this year, a selection the Thunder received via Houston in the James Harden trade. If the Raptors selection falls between four and 14 in next month's NBA Draft Lottery the pick must be sent to the Thunder. Toronto only keeps the selection if it's a top three pick.

The Raptors currently are slated to receive the 10th pick if they don't jump into the top three.

Let's examine for a moment exactly how rare having that pick would be.

Of the 251 total lottery picks since the current weighted format began in 1994, only 25 have been held by a team with a winning record. Over that span, only 22 playoff teams have had a lottery pick.

Crunch the numbers by win totals and the odds dwindle even more.

Only six teams that have won at least 50 games have had a lottery pick since 1994. Only one 60-win team, Seattle in 1994, has picked in the lottery over that span.

The Thunder can finish with 61 wins and possibly become the second.

Here's another way of looking at the position in which the Thunder finds itself. In full 82-game seasons since the current draft lottery format began in 1994, teams with the 10th overall pick have won only 36 games on average.

By comparison, the Thunder could win 33 more games than the Kings and pick only five spots behind them.

Why does any of this matter?

Above all, this is one of the many resourceful ways in which the Thunder must continue to build its roster in order to achieve stability and remain a title contender. While other teams in other markets can simply buy championships, or at least attempt to, the Thunder must stick to being creative.

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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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