Sam Presti was up to his old draft night tricks again Thursday, selecting players no one expected, making picks that landed with a collective thud in Oklahoma City.
How many times have we seen this?
How many times have we realized he was right?
On a night when the Thunder had only two late first-round draft picks, there were lots of theories about what the Thunder would do. Draft at No. 21, but trade No. 29. Draft the first, and stash the second. Package the picks, and move up. Package the picks, and move down.
Presti’s answer: none of the above.
The Thunder general manager selected Michigan power forward Mitch McGary with the 21st pick, then took Stanford small forward Josh Huestis with the 29th pick. And while there were rumblings late Thursday night that the Thunder might do a trade with the Hornets for point guard Semaj Christon, all indications at this point are that the Thunder plans to have at least two players with guaranteed first-round contracts coming out of draft night.
It caused a lot of head scratching, especially because Presti made both picks when sexier options remained on the board. McGary went ahead of the likes of Shabazz Napier, Jordan Adams and P.J. Hairston. After Napier was drafted by the Hornets then traded to the Heat, LeBron James tweeted that Napier was his favorite player in the draft.
Then after Presti took Huestis, the Spurs drafted Kyle Anderson with the very next pick. Anderson was a guy that the Thunder worked out a couple times, and since every guy the Spurs take seems to turn to gold, that seems like a pick that sure to haunt the Thunder.
But maybe not.
Who among us thought Russell Westbrook would be worth the No. 4 pick back in 2008? Or Serge Ibaka would become a star when he was taken at No. 24 that same year? Or James Harden would become a star worthy of wailing and gnashing of teeth when he was taken No. 3 in 2009? Or Reggie Jackson would become the next guy that Thunder fans are worried about losing when he was drafted No. 24 in 2011? Or Steven Adams would be the center of the future when he was drafted No. 12 last year?