Inevitably, NBA general managers will goof in Thursday night's draft and allow impact players to slide out of the first round or go undrafted altogether. For myriad reasons — scouting departments zeroing in on what players can't do rather than what they can do being the leading cause — late-round selections find success each year. That's the case in drafts that are deemed weak, and it certainly will occur in this year's draft, one that is considered strong and deep. With the Thunder holding two second-round picks, the 32nd and 51st selections, OKC is in a great spot to strike gold on one of the overlooked prospects. Here are five potential steals to keep an eye on come Thursday.
Artsiom Parakhouski→School: Radford. →Position: Center. →Age: 22. →Height/weight: 6-11, 270. →2009-10 averages: 21.4 ppg, 13.4 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 1.1 apg. →The skinny: He played in a weak conference and dominated against inferior talent in the Big South. But he shined against the nation's elite as well, scoring 23 points with 14 rebounds and three blocks against Duke and center Brian Zoubek, while also netting 21 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks against Cole Aldrich and Kansas. Parakhouski, a native of Belarus, also led his team to an NCAA Tournament two seasons ago. He was coached by Brad Greenberg, a former NBA executive and player personnel director for Philadelphia and Portland. He's doesn't possess great athleticism but does have prototypical size to be a true center. →Projected: Mid-to-late second-round.
Dwayne Collins→School: Miami →Position: Power forward. →Age: 22. →Height/weight: 6-8, 230. →2009-10 averages: 12 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.1 bpg. →The skinny: A hard-nosed, blue-collar player, Collins can make a living by simply rebounding and dunking. Think P.J. Brown minus three inches and a reliable jump shot. But Collins is a hard-worker and has the motor to match. In the right system and with the right tutelage, he could become a solid role player on the back of his post defense, rebounding skills and toughness. →Projected: Late second round.
Elijah Millsap→School: Alabama-Birmingham. →Position: Shooting guard. →Age: 22. →Height/weight: 6-6, 220. →2009-10 averages: 16.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.6 spg. →The skinny: If the last name stands out it's because you're thinking of his older brother, Paul Millsap, a rugged big man with the Utah Jazz. And baby brother Elijah has some of the same ingredients that made Paul successful. He has ample energy and a knack for rebounding, but as a wing player lacks the consistent shooting touch he needs on the perimeter. But with great size for his position and tremendous athleticism, Millsap has the tools to become a versatile threat. →Projected: Second round.
Trevor Booker→School: Clemson. →Position: Power forward. →Age: 22. →Height/weight: 6-8, 240. →2009-10 averages: 15.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.4. bpg, 1.3 spg. →The skinny: On his side is a long list of "undersized” power forwards who've recently found success — Paul Millsap, Carl Landry, DeJuan Blair and Glen Davis. And in a copycat league, GMs won't want to miss out on the next in line. Booker has an underdeveloped offensive game, but he stands out in every aspect defensively and has the athleticism, toughness and physicality to be a standout role player. →Projected: Late first to second round.
Ryan Thompson→School: Rider →Position: Shooting guard. →Age: 22. →Height/weight: 6-6, 210. →2009-10 averages: 17.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.2 spg. →The skinny: His older brother Jason plays for Sacramento and was picked 12th overall out of Rider in 2008. But Ryan displayed extraordinary inconsistency throughout his four seasons with the Broncs. He has great size and is extremely savvy but might not have the athleticism to make it in the league. He'll need to find one skill and focus on excelling in that area in order to carve out a career. →Projected: Second round to undrafted.