Thunder is giving you a glimpse at the big picture

It’s a pretty big deal when the Thunder allows a peek over the wall and a glimpse at what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s exactly what happened on draft night.
by Jenni Carlson Published: June 27, 2014

To say that the Thunder is secretive doesn’t do the franchise justice.

The CIA has black site prisons that are more open than the Thunder.

So, it’s a pretty big deal when the Thunder allows a peek over the wall and a glimpse at what’s going on behind the scenes. That’s exactly what happened on draft night.

We now have a better idea of what the team is thinking and doing.

Oh, Sam Presti and Co. didn’t come out and announce it via neon sign. This is still the Super Secret Society of Thunder that we’re talking about. But in making its picks on Thursday night — power forward Mitch McGary at No. 21, small forward Josh Huestis at No. 29 and point guard Semaj Christon via trade — it gave us all sorts of interesting insight.

Here are some of the things we learned:

* The Thunder is planning for life after Nick Collison.

Collison is one of the original members of the Thunder. He was with the franchise in Seattle before it moved and has been in Oklahoma City since Day 1. He’s been a foundational player. An outstanding character guy, he’s been an example to younger guys and a builder of Thunder culture.

But Collison is 33 years old and only has a year remaining on his contract.

In drafting McGary, a guy who arrives with almost exactly the same size, same build and same mindset, the Thunder is clearly aware that a day is fast approaching when Collison won’t be around. McGary isn’t an exact clone. He is tough and rugged like Collison, but he isn’t nearly the defender that Sir Nick has been. Still, they tick many of the same boxes.

McGary even looks and sounds a bit like Collison.

Yes, McGary comes with way more baggage than Collison ever had. Surgically repaired back. Positive marijuana test. But if injury and knuckleheadedness are things of the past, McGary could be a big-time back-up to Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins/Steven Adams.

*The Thunder has a ringer for Trivial Pursuit.

Huestis is a Stanford alum, so that’s a decent tipoff to how smart he is. But that doesn’t tell the half of it. His two finalists in recruiting were Stanford and Harvard, and he scored a 31 on the ACT.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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