The Thunder's season ended last Thursday night with a loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Never before has the Thunder franchise played so late in the year. That includes the team's 41 seasons in Seattle, where its latest finish was June 16 in 1996.
Never before has the franchise's season ended so close to the NBA Draft, which will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. Thanks to a lockout, this year's 66-game regular-season schedule didn't start until Christmas Day.
Never before will the franchise draft so late in the first round. After finishing with the league's third-best record (47-19) this season, the Thunder owns the No. 28 selection overall.
Since the Thunder arrived in Oklahoma City in 2008, the draft has become less and less significant, which is a good sign.
The later you pick, the more you've been winning. The less you look to the draft for answers, the fewer questions you have on your roster.
Teams in past Finals have had time to evaluate talent before the draft.
Dallas won last year's crown on June 12, and the draft was held 11 days later.
OKC had a week.
Truth of matter is, the evaluation process goes on year-round. Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his staff have scouted the 2012 draft for years, not weeks.
If Presti opts to trade the 28th pick, the franchise could end up with zero picks.
That, too, has never happened before.
NBA MOCK DRAFT
1. New Orleans Hornets — PF Anthony Davis (Kentucky, freshman), 19 years old, 6-10, 222. Comment: Potential NBA defensive player of the future has a remarkable work ethic and is someone the city could embrace. Obvious choice at No. 1.
2. Charlotte Bobcats — PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas, junior), 21 years old, 6-9, 244. Comment: This pick is in flux due to a potential trade with Cleveland, but there's nothing wrong with status quo and picking the vastly improved Robinson.
3. Washington Wizards — SG Bradley Beal (Florida, freshman), 19 years old, 6-5, 202. Comment: Beal turns 19 on draft day, but what kind of present is being drafted by the Wiz? Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza add stability, however.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers — SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky, freshman), 18 years old, 6-8, 233. Comment: Member of champion Kentucky team offers versatility at vital NBA position, but he must improve his perimeter offensive skills.
5. Sacramento Kings — SF Harrison Barnes (North Carolina, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-8, 228. Comment: Appears headed for the talented, but malcontent Kings. Inconsistent and sometimes lazy, Barnes could fit right in, however.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Brooklyn) — PG Damian Lillard (Weber State, junior), 21 years old, 6-3, 198. Comment: Blazers are in need of a point guard and center. Figure to pick point guard here and follow up with a center at No. 11 slot.
7. Golden State Warriors — C Andre Drummond (UConn, freshman), 18 years old, 7-0, 279. Comment: Warriors are always on the lookout for size and Drummond definitely has that. Only 18 and potentially could be molded into shape.
8. Toronto Raptors — SG Dion Waiters (Syracuse, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-4, 221. Comment: Even though Waiters didn't start in his two seasons at the Cuse, he is thought of as a scoring machine who is always in attack mode offensively.
9. Detroit Pistons — PF John Henson (North Carolina, junior), 21 years old, 6-10, 216. Comment: Pistons need frontcourt help and Henson impressed them with superb workout, but there is a hodgepodge of candidates at this position.
10. New Orleans (via Minnesota) — SG Austin Rivers (Duke, freshman), 19 years old, 6-5, 203. Comment: His unlimited range and unlimited confidence make Rivers appealing and the No. 10 spot has had some potential trade traffic.
11. Portland Trail Blazers — C Meyers Leonard (Illinois, sophomore), 20 years old, 7-1, 250. Comment: The second half of the Blazers equation is to get a big man. Leonard is in a group of centers who are slated to go between No. 6-12.
12. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee) — C Tyler Zeller (North Carolina, senior), 22 years old, 7-0, 247. Comment: Rockets scrambled and worked a late trade to move up to No. 12, perhaps positioning themselves to get Pau Gasol.
13. Phoenix Suns — PG Kendall Marshall (North Carolina, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-4, 198. Comment: This might be a tad early to select Marshall, but if Rivers is gone, look for the Suns to start grooming a replacement for Steve Nash.
14. Milwaukee Bucks (via Houston) — SG Terrence Ross (Washington, sophomore) 21 years old, 6-7, 197. Comment: This could be a tossup between Ross and Jeremy Lamb, but Ross has a slight size advantage at the same position.
15. Philadelphia 76ers — PF Perry Jones III (Baylor, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-11, 234. Comment: The talented Jones could be long gone by this pick, or he could slip even further down the list. Inconsistency has scared many suitors.
16. Houston Rockets (via New York) — SF Moe Harkless (St. John's, freshman), 19 years old, 6-9, 207. Comment: Wheeler/dealer Kevin McHale appears to be stockpiling picks/players for possible trade or moving up the draft ladder.
17. Dallas Mavericks — PF Terrence Jones (Kentucky, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-10, 252. Comment: The Mavericks are in need of an inside defensive presence since letting Tyson Chandler go and Jones has the size and potential.
18. Houston Rockets (from Minnesota via Utah) — PF Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State, junior), 21 years old, 6-11, 223. Comment: It seems highly unlikely Rockets will hang onto this pick, so add Moultrie to the trade package.
19. Orlando Magic — PF Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-9, 268. Comment: A poor Final Four performance and a bad back have taken Sullinger out of the top 5 in the first round to potentially the bottom 5.
20. Denver Nuggets — SG Jeremy Lamb (UConn, sophomore), 20 years old, 6-5, 179. Comment: Lamb could go much earlier than this, depending on what earlier teams think of Ross. Lamb offers a 7-foot wingspan on a 6-foot-5 frame.
21. Boston Celtics — PF Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure, senior), 22 years old, 6-10, 234. Comment: The Celtics have back-to-back draft picks, which could come in handy depending if Ray Allen decides to return next season.
22. Boston Celtics (via LA Clippers) — SF Royce White (Iowa State, sophomore), 21 years old, 6-8, 261. Comment: White has anxiety disorder and a fear of flying. Had very few workouts, but reportedly has been promised a draft spot.
23. Atlanta Hawks — PG Marquis Teague (Kentucky, freshman), 19 years old, 6-2, 180. Comment: The fourth member of Kentucky's national title team expected to be selected in the first round. Why not join his brother in Atlanta?
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (via LA Lakers) — C Fab Melo (Syracuse, sophomore), 22 years old, 7-0, 255. Comment: Another young piece to the Cavs puzzle. Melo is a big dude, but like a lot of young centers, lacks NBA offensive skills.
25. Memphis Grizzlies — PG Tony Wroten Jr. (Washington, freshman), 19 years old, 6-6, 203. Comment: The Grizzlies might want to take a chance on a powerful, athletic combo guard to add to their already explosive perimeter play.
26. Indiana Pacers — SF Draymond Green (Michigan State, senior), 22 years old, 6-8. 236. Comment: Big Ten country is well-acquainted with the versatile Green, who would seem to fit in nicely with Pacers' unselfish composition.
27. Miami Heat — SF Jeff Taylor (Vanderbilt, senior), 23 years old, 6-7, 212. Comment: With James Jones possibly retiring and Mike Miller aching (despite shooting 7 for 8 from 3-point range), the Heat will need a shooting forward.
28. Thunder — SG Evan Fournier (France), 19 years old, 6-7, 206. Comment: With a roster jam-packed with a solid future, it's time once again for the Thunder to stockpile some foreign talent to potentially be used at a later date.
29. Chicago Bulls — C Festus Ezeli (Vanderbilt, senior) 22 years old, 7-0, 264. Comment: Derrick Rose won't return until late next season at the earliest and Ezeli is a project, but sometimes it's best to combine your growing pains.
30. Golden State (via San Antonio) — SG Will Barton (Memphis, sophomore), 21 years old, 6-6, 174. Comment: There is uncertainty with Steph Curry's ankle problems, and Barton would fit right in with run-and-gun Warriors.
31. Charlotte Bobcats
32. Washington Wizards
33. Cleveland Cavaliers
34. Cleveland Cavaliers (via New Orleans)
35. Golden State Warriors (via Brooklyn)
36. Sacramento Kings
37. Toronto Raptors
38. Denver Nuggets (via Golden State)
39. Detroit Pistons
40. Portland Trail Blazers (via Minnesota)
41. Portland Trail Blazers
42. Milwaukee Bucks
43. Atlanta Hawks (via Phoenix)
44. Detroit Pistons (via Houston)
45. Philadelphia 76ers
46. New Orleans Hornets (via Washington)
47. Utah Jazz
48. New York Knicks
49. Orlando Magic
50. Denver Nuggets
51. Boston Celtics
52. Golden State Warriors (via Atlanta)
53. Los Angeles Clippers
54. Philadelphia 76ers (via Memphis)
55. Dallas Mavericks (via LA Lakers)
56. Toronto Raptors (via Indiana)
57. Brooklyn Nets (via Miami)
58. Minnesota Timberwolves (via OKC)
59. San Antonio Spurs
60. Los Angeles Lakers (via Chicago)