EDMOND — Thunder coach Scott Brooks spoke in general terms about what he expects to happen during Thursday night's NBA Draft.
“I know one thing, we're going to get a good player,” Brooks said Monday before teeing off in the second annual Verplank Foundation Invitational at Oak Tree National, an event hosted by Scott and Kim Verplank that provides college scholarships for young people diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. “It's going to be a player that we can continue to develop and it's going to be a player that we're going to be proud of to represent our team on and off the court.”
When an organization is as tight-lipped as the Thunder — particularly pertaining to the draft — you try to decipher whatever information you can whenever possible.
The Thunder has three draft picks, so what exactly did Brooks mean when he said OKC was going to get “a good player”?
- Does it mean OKC will trade the No. 12, No. 29 and No. 32 picks for a Top-10 pick?
— Will the Thunder keep No. 12 and trade No. 29 and No. 32 for a future pick?
— Will it trade No. 12 and No. 29 for a player/future pick and retain the non-guaranteed second-round pick at No. 32?
— Will OKC keep all three picks, but only expects to get one good player?
Brooks then spoke of the working relationship he has with general manager Sam Presti.
“Sam has done a great job with building this team and he's going to have another great opportunity Thursday night to continue to build our team,” Brooks said. “The good thing about it with Sam and I is we communicate and we understand what works. We want a guy that is very competitive, that plays with toughness, that plays with a defensive mindset, but we want two-way players also.
“We just don't want guys that can't do anything on the offensive end.”
If the Thunder has no interest in one-dimensional players, that would eliminate the possibility of selecting Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk (offense, but no defense), Louisville center Gorgui Dieng (defense, but no offense), point guard Shane Larkin (offense, too small for defense) or center Rudy Gobert (defense, all lob passes on offense) at No. 12.
Is all this reading between the lines making a mountain out of mole hill? Yes.
Is this tongue-in-cheek? Absolutely.
Brooks' remarks obviously were innocuous, but if we hadn't offered these disclaimers, more than a few fans starved for information would have let their imaginations run wild.
Last season ended sooner than expected for the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, which lost three-time All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook to season-ending knee surgery on April 27 during OKC's opening-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
The top-seeded Thunder eliminated the Rockets 4-2, but then was eliminated 4-1 by the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals.
“Looking back, it was not a good way to finish it, but we had a lot of good things that we did this year with the improvements that we made,” Brooks said. “Watching the Finals (won 4-3 by Miami over San Antonio), that was great basketball. There are things that you can learn.
“Just continue to play together and continue to focus on winning the game and playing no-agenda basketball. Those two teams probably do it the best. I think we're right up there, but we can still make another step in that direction. I really love what we've done this past year. It's just unfortunate we ended it the way we did, but those things happen. You have to grow from them and move on with it.”