We're still 2 1/2 weeks away from the June 25 NBA Draft, but the league's rumor mill already claims to know which player the Thunder will select with the third overall pick.
First, it was Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet, then Spain's Ricky Rubio, Arizona State shooting guard James Harden and now USC's Demar DeRozan.
But the truth is, eight different players could wind up being the guy Oklahoma City comes away with depending on what it does at No. 3. Our list might even be on the short side when you consider cagey general manager Sam Presti is making the call.
Anything could happen.
We break down the impact that eight players who are most likely in the Thunder's sights could have on the roster and how they might affect the won-loss column.
2008-09 averages: 13.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 4.2 bpg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 apg.
Strengths: Rebounding. Shot-blocking. Interior defense. Tremendous size. Hard worker.
Weaknesses: Limited offensively. Strength. Footwork. Passing skills. Below average hands.
How he'd fit: It's no question that Thabeet fits the Thunder's most pressing need of interior defense. What's up for debate is whether OKC can afford to take a chance on Thabeet's limited skill set with such a high pick. Thabeet isn't likely to come in and supplant Nenad Krstic as the starter. The Thunder would be banking on the 22-year-old Thabeet to develop into a more complete player down the road. But assuming Robert Swift doesn't return, Thabeet would give the Thunder some much-needed frontcourt depth behind Krstic and its only player who would make opponents think twice about coming into the lane.
Stock report: Up. Sometimes it's better to be great at one thing rather than good at everything.
Chances he joins Thunder: 30 percent.
+/- Wins/losses: 2-3 wins.
Position: Point guard.
2008-09 averages: 10 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.6 rpg, 2.2 spg, 3.0 tpg.
Strengths: True pass-first point guard. Has good size for his position. Knows how to run a team. Crafty with the ball. Exceptional ball-handler. Exceptional decision-maker. Exceptional passer. Sees the court well. Can finish with either hand. Has good upside. Confident in abilities. Plays the passing lanes.
Weaknesses: Perimeter shooting. Slow shooting release. On-ball defense. Strength. Average athleticism.
How he'd fit: If he winds up in OKC, last year's No. 4 overall pick, Russell Westbrook, will have to move to off guard. That might not be the best situation for the development of Westbrook, who showed this season that he can indeed be the team's playmaker. A Russell-Ricky backcourt, while talented, also has the potential of getting exposed by bigger, stronger guards on the defensive end. Rubio's play-making skills, however, would instantly create easier scoring opportunities for everyone else.
Stock report: Down. He was once considered the no-brainer second selection but is now a part of a two-man discussion that includes Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet.
Chances he joins Thunder: 50 percent.
+/- Wins/losses: 5-7 wins.
Position: Power forward.
2008-09 averages: 18.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 1.5 apg, 0.9 spg.
Strengths: Good athleticism. Long wingspan. Rebounding. Upside. Tough. Plays with great passion. Works hard. Wants to get better. Unselfish.
Weaknesses: Footwork. Outside shooting. Post-up moves. Man defense. Foul prone. Strength.
How he'd fit: Hill has all the tools to be a solid rebounder and shot-blocker and has the potential to develop into a useful player at the offensive end as well. But he's not ready to contribute any of those things. He would come in staring at backup minutes behind Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic and D.J. White, meaning he'll have to develop and expand his game on the practice court next season.
Stock report: Down. He's long been considered a top five pick, unexpected to fall past Washington at No. 5. But a few guard prospects are now generating more buzz and could cause Hill to slip.
Chances he joins Thunder: 15 percent.
+/- Wins/losses: 1-2 wins.
School: Arizona State.
Position: Shooting guard.
2008-09 averages: 20.1 ppg, 5.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 1.7 spg, 3.4 tpg.
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