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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

Stockpiling assets has long been significant in the Thunder's success. This year's potential lottery pick would join a promising group of young guns that include Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III. Together, they form a formidable supporting cast that will complement Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

Additionally, the Thunder still holds its own 2013 first-round selection (likely the 29th overall pick), Charlotte's 2013 second-round selection (likely the 31st overall pick) and a future first-rounder from Dallas.

You won't find another team in basketball that can match both the Thunder's present and its promising future. The other great teams don't have the plethora of youth and assets. The rest of the pack doesn't pack the present day star power.

Though the Harden trade continues to be a topic of debate, it's undeniable that the Thunder has put itself in a position of strength by executing the deal when it did.

Only nine of the 25 playoff teams that have held a lottery pick since 1994 have gone into the draft owning the pick as opposed to trading up for it leading into the draft or on draft night.

Garnering a lottery pick leading into the draft historically costs much more and returns less.

Indiana in 1996, for example, had to trade away point guard Mark Jackson and the 23rd pick to get that year's 10th selection. In 1999, Atlanta traded Mookie Blaylock and the 21st selection to get that year's10th pick. In 2004, Dallas traded Antawn Jamison for the fifth pick. And in 2007, Golden State traded Jason Richardson to get the eighth pick.

Most franchises would love to rebuild with what the Thunder has in its stable.

Meanwhile, we're barely even discussing all the assets Oklahoma City has at its disposal. More impressive is the Thunder most likely won't have to rely on any of them any time soon.

How nice of a luxury is that?

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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