Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 Draft Prospects: 4-1 - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 Draft Prospects: 4-1

Posted: Updated:

It's the final day of the Thunder's NBA Draft countdown. To read about how the countdown works and about prospects 25-23, it's highly suggested that you click the link below.

RELATED STORY: Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 25-23

To read about prospects 22-5, click the following links.

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 22-20

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 19-17

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 16-14

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 13-11

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 10-8

Ranking The Thunder's Top 25 NBA Draft Prospects: 7-5

4. Jusuf Nurkic – C – Bosnia

Grade if picked 21st: A+

Grade if picked 29th: A+


To begin with, he's huge. Nurkic stands at 6-foot-11 with a 7'2 wingspan and weighs 280 lbs. He is a big, big dude. Nurkic is a bruising big who finishes consistently around the basket and moves very well for someone his size.


As you would expect with a man that size, Nurkic isn't a great athlete. He doesn't play above the rim, which some project as a problem at the next level. Nurkic also needs to improve his decision making and discipline.

NBA player comparison

Nikola Pekovic

Why he fits the Thunder

One of Oklahoma City's two primary areas of need is big man, and Nurkic is one of the few NBA-ready big men in the draft. He's strong and skilled enough to make an immediate impact and should provide the Thunder with excellent depth for the future.

3. P.J. Hairston – SG – D-League via UNC

At 21: A+

At 29: A+


At 6-foot-5 with a 6'9 wingspan, Hairston has the size and length of a true 2. Unlike many wing prospects in this draft, Hairston is also very strong. He has the body of a 10-year vet. Hairston isn't the best athlete in the draft but is well above average. He uses his body to take advantage of different defenders and attack the basket. But perhaps Hairston's biggest strength is his shooting ability. Playing for the Texas Legends of the D-League last season, Hairston shot 55 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3. At UNC, Hairston shot 40 percent from 3. He can catch and shoot, shoot off the dribble and rise up in a defender's face.


He needs to improve his ball handling and passing, not to mention his sometimes trigger-happy shot selection. He also gets beat defensively at times, but has the physical tools to improve in that area.

NBA player comparison

J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford with Lance Stephenson's body.

How he fits the Thunder

Hairston is a perfect fit. He proved in the D-League that he is NBA ready and can perform at a high level. He would give Oklahoma City a dangerous wing weapon off the bench and an insurance policy if Jeremy Lamb doesn't work out. This guy is a winner, he's fearless and is one of the best-case scenarios for the Thunder.

2. Adreian Payne – PF – Michigan State

At 21: A+

At 29: A+


Payne, 24, is one of the oldest players in the draft. He's got solid length for his position at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan. Payne is truly a complete offensive player. He shot 54 percent from the floor last season and 42 percent from 3-point range. He possesses an array of post moves and can spot up and knock down jumpers – a must for an NBA big.


To start, Payne weighs just 240 lbs. He was bullied at times last season, once specifically by then-freshman Julius Randle. Payne's defensive potential is better than his actual defense. Without superior athleticism and considering the fact that he's already 24, Payne's ceiling is lower than many of the players on this countdown.

NBA player comparison

Patrick Patterson, Amir Johnson

How he fits the Thunder

Like many of the Thunder's top prospects in this draft, Payne is experienced and can make an impact right away. He'd earn some minutes next year and would eventually make a smooth transition into the rotation as Kendrick Perkins' and Nick Collison's careers continue to decline. There is just no way Adreian Payne will be a bad NBA player. Very safe pick.

1. Gary Harris – SG – Michigan State


Back to back Spartans top off the countdown. Harris is as solid of a player as there is. At 6-foot-4 with a 6'7 wingspan, he has enough size and length to defend his position – and defend it well. He's a terrific defender with a high basketball IQ. But unlike some of the Thunder's "defensive specialists," Harris can actually play offense, too. Harris shot 35 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the line last season. He doesn't make many mistakes.


Like his aforementioned college teammate, Harris doesn't have a very high ceiling. His lack of athleticism and explosiveness likely destine him for a 10-year career as an effective role player.

NBA player comparison

Aaron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, O.J. Mayo

How he fits the Thunder

Fortunately, a really good role player is all the Thunder needs. Harris is an intelligent player who can space the floor and provide quality depth. With all the talk about OKC needing more 2-way players, Harris is exactly that. He'll never be a superstar, but he'll make a solid impact right away.

Stick with news9.com all day on Thursday as we bring you full coverage of the NBA Draft. 

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

More Sports

  • OU Sooners

    Find the latest sports news, schedules and more for the OU Sooners now!

  • OSU Cowboys

    Get all your OSU Cowboys information from sports highlights to the latest news & videos.

  • TU Golden Hurricane

    Follow the TU Golden Hurricane! Get sports scores, news and highlights.

  • ORU Golden Eagles

    ORU Golden Eagles fans can find the latest news on the team, scores and video here!

Powered by Frankly
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.