The Main Event: Centers of attention -- what direction will the Thunder go in the upcoming draft?

BY JOHN ROHDE, STAFF WRITER, JROHDE@OPUBCO.COM Modified: June 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm •  Published: June 20, 2010
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photo - Former Florida State center Solomon Alabi (right) has good size, a long wingspan and reach, and has a good basketball IQ. He's projected near where the Thunder has its first pick (No. 21). AP PHOTO
Former Florida State center Solomon Alabi (right) has good size, a long wingspan and reach, and has a good basketball IQ. He's projected near where the Thunder has its first pick (No. 21). AP PHOTO

The positions of point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward are pretty self-explanatory. The center position is not so explicit.

The Thunder needs a center, but exactly what type of center?

- A bulky center, someone at 270-plus pounds?

- An athletic center, someone who can run and jump?

- Someone tall, a 7-footer with a ridiculous wingspan and reach?

- Perhaps an international flavor, someone more adept at shooting and drawing defenses away from the basket?

The Thunder won 50 games last season starting an international center in 7-foot, 240-pound Nenad Krstic. Reviews were mixed, but mostly favorable. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 22.9 minutes.

Off the bench came veteran Nick Collison, a 6-foot-10, 255-pound power forward with an ability to stand his ground against those bigger in stature.

Then along came 20-year-old surging rookie Serge Ibaka, an athletic, 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward who carries a center's presence with his length and leaping ability.

Farther down the bench was 21-year-old rookie Byron Mullens, a 7-foot, 275-pounder who has developed nicely and had flashes when given a chance to play.

To recap, the Thunder has an international center, a physical center, an athletic center and a project. Depending on your viewpoint, this means the Thunder either has four centers or none.


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