Thunder NBA Draft Prospect Board

Saturday, June 18th 2011, 3:20 pm
By: News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – While the first few picks in the NBA draft are sometimes clear-cut even before the big day, the later picks become a little bit murkier.

The OKC franchise (when it was still the Sonics) had one of the easiest draft-day selections in history by picking Kevin Durant after Greg Oden was off the board.

But since then, GM Sam Presti has gotten more creative and unpredictable with his picks.

Oklahoma City has the 24th pick in the 2011 draft, which will take place June 23, and there are a couple of different directions the Thunder could go with the pick.

News 9 Sports has broken down those options as well as a number of potential candidates that could be joining the OKC franchise later this week.

Option 1: Scoring forward to back up Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City has one of the deepest and most effective benches in the league, but its star player essentially has no real backup. Of course, any backup to Durant is only going to be playing six or eight minutes each game, but that's about all you can ask out of a 24th-overall pick. The Thunder would want someone to fill in at the small forward position for small stretches, helping take over the scoring load when the league's leading scorer is on the bench. Of course, playing solid defense will be a priority as well. Here are a couple of players who fit that mold.

Jordan Hamilton, 6-8 228 G/F, Texas

Hamilton will likely not fall far enough for the Thunder to snatch him up, but if he did he would be a bit of a steal for OKC. Hamilton's scoring ability is just what the Thunder would need when Durant was out of the game, and his legit size will keep him able to compete at the small forward position. Hamilton will not hesitate to shoot it, which can be both a blessing and a curse. He is confident, but would have to understand his role backing up Durant for only a handful of minutes a game.

Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8 187 G/F, UCLA

Honeycutt is a very versatile player who could contribute on both ends while Durant is out of the game. He is extremely skinny for a player of his height, but uses his length effectively to rebound and defend extremely well. Honeycutt is not the consistent scorer that Hamilton is, but he is well-rounded, smart and would minimize mistakes in his limited time on the court. UCLA has a history of producing solid pros (Westbrook, Kevin Love, Arron Afflalo, etc.).

Justin Harper, 6-9 228 F, Richmond

Kevin Durant sometimes plays and defends both forward spots, and Harper is a player that could pick up where KD leaves off when he exits the game. Harper is more of a power forward than a small forward, but has shot lights out, including nearly 50 percent from 3-point range. His shooting is a huge plus, but might have trouble defending some of the league's more prolific wing scorers such as Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant.

Option 2: Foreign player to leave overseas

What sort of a gift do you give to the person who has everything? How about nothing? At least for a little while. With a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belts, the young Thunder don't have very many gaping holes on their roster at the moment. Which makes them the perfect candidate to continue the "Spurs model" by beginning to draft foreign players and stash them overseas. This gives the players time to improve and adapt their game to eventually benefit the NBA franchise in the future when it was ready for them. It worked beautifully with Serge Ibaka, and could work with others.

Bismack Biyombo, 6-9 243 F/C, Congo

Something sounds familiar here. A 6-9, athletic shot blocker from the Congo with excellent reflexes and explosiveness around the rim who moved to the Spanish ACB league to showcase his talents. The similarities are impossible to ignore. However his career turns out, Biyombo will unfairly catch comparisons to Serge Ibaka based on things beyond his control. Biyombo put up a triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit and is one of the hottest names leading up to the draft. He's no Serge Ibaka yet, but ironically the Thunder (then-Sonics) took Ibaka 24th overall three years ago, and have the 24th pick again this year. Is it a sign?

Davis Bertans, 6-9 211 SF, Latvia

Bertans is one of the most impressive pure shooters in the draft, and also fits the "scoring small forward" mold that the Thunder might have their eyes on leading up to the draft. Bertans would not be ready to enter the NBA from day one, however, which is completely fine with OKC. He is a couple years away, but could certainly provide some delayed gratification to a team like OKC which doesn't have any glaring needs at the moment.

Option 3: Wild card

Reggie Jackson, 6-3 200 G, Boston College

Jackson canceled all his NBA combine workouts, and he is not injured, which usually means that a player has received a "promise" from a particular team. Rumors have been swirling – as usual – over the past few days about the Thunder attempting to move Westbrook or Maynor (both names have come up), which ties into the drafting of a point guard. But those rumors have been unfounded and are starting to clear up. Portland, which has the 21st pick, has a history of letting players know beforehand that it will select them in the draft. Add in the idea that the Blazers are attempting to move point guard Andre Miller, and you have the makings of a Jackson-to-Portland combo. However, if draft day comes and Jackson is not taken 21st overall, things could get a little bit interesting for Thunder fans.