The NBA Finals are right in the midst of a wild one. Watch out, in a few days the NBA Draft will take place in New Jersey. Oklahoma City is in the NBA Finals, and they already have a draft pick last year who is a project. So, what is a Thunder to do in this draft? There isn’t a lot of money to go around, and we already have a full roster. Here are some of the projected rumors going around, and projected draft picks.
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld:
The Thunder hold pick No. 28, but it’s unlikely that they’ll keep it. Sources close to the situation say that Oklahoma City is satisfied with their young core and they aren’t interested in paying a prospect guaranteed money when he likely won’t be part of the rotation.
That said, I can see this really happening. What weaknesses do the Thunder have? I don’t really see too many, other than the need for a low post scoring presence. Could they find a player to come in and actually relieve KD without being a total liability (see: Lazar Hayward)
Khris Middleton, SF – Texas A&M
- NBA Position: SG/SF
- Class: Junior
- Ht: 6-8
- Wt: 216
NBA Comparison: Gordon Hayward
Strengths: Middleton is a late blooming prospect with solid size for a SF at 6’7 210, and he’s still growing into his body…Silky smooth operator on offense, and can score effectively at all 3 levels…Has a sweet jump shot…Soft touch, and is consistent out to about 22 feet and shows raw NBA range…Able to make shots off screens, spotting up or off the dribble…Functional in the triple threat…Likes to operate in the mid-range area, most comfortable from 15-18 feet, and utilizes a nice pull-up game and an interesting blend of runners in his arsenal…Middleton can stick the 3 ball with his feet set, and he has the release speed and form to get his shot off against contests effectively…Plays the game at his own pace, and has a very unique and unorthodox style of play…Very unselfish and won’t go outside of the offense to get his own shots or production very often, which will benefit his eventual transition to the pros…Doesn’t need to dominate the ball at all to make his presence felt on the court…Nice passing skills…Will contribute some on the glass…Appears to be very coachable, and he still has upside remaining as he get stronger and fills out his frame…
Weaknesses: Has had a lot of work to do to come close to regaining the momentum he had before the season as a prospect…Had an ankle injury that nagged him all of his Jr. season was never 100% and comfortable under the new Texas A&M coaching staff… Didn’t really show any signs of improvement in any aspects of his game…Middleton right now needs to work on getting stronger to maximize his athleticism and ability to withstand tough defense…There are times when he can get pushed around on both ends by physical play…Middleton also would be well-served to continue to work on his ball-handling some more, were he’s currently mediocre…He does sporadically make moves with the ball that show his potential, but he’s not consistent with it yet and he’s not a guy who operates all that effectively in pure isolation sets…Doesn’t handle double-teams or extra defensive attention all that well…Can struggle to finish around the rim at times due to a lack of explosiveness and strength…Could stand to get more aggressive and play with more urgency…Middleton is a middle-of-the-road defensive player, and he can struggle with on-ball defense at times…A bit upright in his stance and middling lateral quickness…
Overall: Middleton’s late blooming status and promising Soph. season making him a prospect worth keeping an eye on…His lackluster Jr. season, despite injury, has dropped his stock from a possible lottery selection to a 2nd rounder… He’s a good shooter with a smooth, unselfish floor game and the tools that project well to the next level as a complementary piece…He isn’t the best defender, but as he grows into his body he can be an even better player and prospect, as it looks like he hasn’t peaked physically or athletically yet…Still has upside as a prospect and could be a big value pick for a team
Draymond Green, SF/PF – Michigan State
- NBA Position: SF/PF
- Class: Senior
- Ht: 6-7
- Wt: 236
NBA Comparison: Luke Harangody/Jared Dudley
Strengths: The ultimate “Glue Guy”, Green’s strongest asset is his ability to contribute across the board … He has a substantial wingspan with a strong frame, and is unafraid to bang with bigger bodies … Good-looking shooter when his feet are set and he catches/releases in rhythm … Can stretch the floor with NBA 3-point range … His vision, passing and ability to facilitate out of the post make it difficult for off-ball defenders to keep their eyes on their man and the ball at the same time … Reliable mid-range jumper … Green is slippery with his back to the basket, with the ability to spin baseline or turn across the lane for the finish … Terrific rebounder thanks to the combination of an aggressive motor and soft hands … Unselfish and timely passer … Overachiever. High basketball IQ … Makes those around him better, possesses sense of maturity and leadership qualities …
Weaknesses: One of those great college basketball players that doesn’t excel in any one particular area … Tweener, undersized for a physical forward yet lacks the athleticism of a wing … Lacks explosiveness, agility, elusiveness and quickness off the bounce … Under the rim finisher, which is troublesome when you consider his size … Not a threat to shake his defender off the dribble … Minimal upside … Vulnerable defending quicker guards on the perimeter … Could stand to drop some weight …
Overall: The Big-Ten Player of the Year, Green has a number of likeable qualities, but not one specific skill that a team may be seeking … He’s a low-risk/low-reward pick considering his role-player potential and ability to fit in … His ceiling dances around the mid-20s, where a playoff can use him right away to compliment its better players …
Orlando Johnson, SG – UC-Santa Barbara
- NBA Position: Small Forward
- Class: Senior
- Ht: 6-5
- Wt: 224
Overall, while I think he will have a career in the NBA with limited talent at the shooting guard position and his ability to provide toughness and shooting in one package, he will need to adjust to the NBA speed. A lot is going to depend on his workouts. I do think he will be solid at the next level as he learns to adjust to not being the go-to-option. He seems like a winner and will adjust his game. I don’t think you can go wrong with drafting him in the late first/early second.
The big thing again is the workouts. If reports are true and he has lost weight and looks quicker, then we are talking about a huge difference. However, based on his game at the college game, he took a while to gather himself to get shots against lower to mid-major type programs. He does seem to have that knack to using hesitation dribbles which has worked for players such as James Harden, Manu Ginoboli, and Paul Pierce, but will need to improve his skill at it to be effective.
The good news for Orlando is even though he played at a smaller school, he fared well against all competition including when playing higher marquee matchups.
Consensus is between these three and honestly Orlando Johnson is a huge reach if you ask me. However, wouldn’t be surprised if Oklahoma City doesn’t do a single thing come draft day. Well, besides trading their draft pick for cash or future considerations. Now, back to freaking out about the NBA Finals.