Thunder is in perfect position to snag a sleeper

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 19, 2011
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Although Ibaka was the unquestioned steal of that year's draft, others became great value picks as well. The next three selections following Ibaka were Nicolas Batum, George Hill and Darrell Arthur. All four could have and perhaps should have been selected in the top 20, if not the top 15.

In 2007, Aaron Brooks became the biggest get late when he was taken 26th overall. But Wilson Chandler (23rd), Rudy Fernandez (24th), Arron Afflalo (27th) and Tiago Splitter (28th) have since become key contributors, too.

In 2006, Rajon Rondo was taken 21st overall, and Kyle Lowry was selected 24th.

In 2005, New York snagged David Lee at No. 30. In 2004, Kevin Martin went 26th.

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins in 2003 was taken with the 27th pick and immediately was followed by Leandro Barbosa and Josh Howard.

In 2001, Gerald Wallace was the 25th pick, Samuel Dalembert went 26th and a teenage point guard from France named Tony Parker was taken 28th.

Mock drafts on DraftExpress.com and SI.com project the Thunder to select Duke forward Kyle Singler at 24. ESPN.com predicts the Thunder will take Serbian forward Nikola Mirotic. NBADraft.net has the Thunder taking Boston College guard Reggie Jackson.

Who knows at this point if any of them can play at the highest level let alone pan out into a steal?

But the Thunder is in a great position to add one to the program and find out.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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SNATCHING A SLEEPER

The top steals of the last 10 years from late in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Year, Player, Selected, Team

2010, Trevor Booker, 23, Washington

You might remember him torching the Thunder this season with a pair of double-doubles in the two regular season meetings.

2009, Taj Gibson, 26, Chicago

Ironically, the Bulls acquired this pick from the Thunder in the trade that brought Thabo Sefolosha to OKC. Gibson just keeps on getting better.

2008, Serge Ibaka, 24, Thunder

The selection that taught most Thunder fans to stop questioning GM Sam Presti. Ibaka led the league in total blocks in only his second season.

2007, Aaron Brooks, 26, Houston

Lightning quick point guard averaged career highs of 19.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 2009-10.

2006, Kyle Lowry, 24, Memphis

Finally given the keys to the Rockets in 2010-11, Lowry averaged 13.5 points, 6.7 assists and 1.4 steals, all career highs.

2005, David Lee, 30, New York

A double-double machine that saw players like Johan Petro and Wayne Simien picked ahead of him.

2004, Kevin Martin, 26, Sacramento

For the past five seasons, he's been at least a 20-point scorer in Houston and Sacramento.

2003, Kendrick Perkins, 27, Memphis

Perkins is now considered by many to be the best low post man defender in basketball.

2002, Tayshaun Prince, 23, Detroit

The five players picked immediately in front of Prince: Casey Jacobsen, Qyntel Woods, Kareem Rush, Ryan Humphrey and Curtis Borchardt.

2001, Tony Parker, 28, San Antonio

He became a three-time All-Star, a three-time champion and the 2007 Finals MVP. You can't find a bigger steal.

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