A report by the Web site Draftexpress.com says the Thunder is leaning toward selecting Arizona State shooting guard James Harden with the third overall pick in next month’s draft and has little interest in point guard Ricky Rubio.
The Web site, reporting from the Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, said Harden has canceled his interviews with every team drafting outside of the top five and will not conduct any workouts with anyone during the draft process.
“A source close to him tells us he feels very good about the possibility of being selected by Oklahoma City or Washington, and for right now is not planning on visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Most teams we’ve spoken to in Chicago are indicating that they believe Oklahoma City is indeed leaning towards taking Harden. They also believe the Thunder are not enamored with Rubio at all, as they are committed to developing Russell Westbrook at his natural position — point guard.”
While Harden seems to be a great fit on the Thunder alongside Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, don’t read too much into the report. For starters, it’s May 29, nearly a full month before the draft. Secondly, the Thunder’s brass is impressed with the skills of Rubio and likely wouldn’t pass up on him because of Westbrook. With Westbrook in the fold, things are a little more complicated if you add Rubio to the mix. But the Thunder is looking to add talented players, not necessarily players that fit best based on need. And finally, we all know Thunder general manager Sam Presti is as meticulous as they come. He hasn’t even had a chance to get much one-on-one time with the top prospects to evaluate them so it’s unlikely he’s “leaning” either way at this point.
Presti saw reports like this coming on the night of the lottery when he cautioned the media and fans to not run with rumbling that creeps up.
“Much will be said up until the draft about players will go here and players will go there,” Presti said. “I can tell you that we won’t have it all figured out. We continue to do our work, collect information and on the 25th we’ll be ready to make a pick.”