Believe it or not, the team that already boasts arguably the league’s two most electric scorers is strongly leaning toward securing even more offensive weapons during Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Such is the style of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even with 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant and last season’s top-scorer Russell Westbrook already in the fold, the Thunder are rumored to be deciding between Kentucky sharpshooting-wingman Devin Booker and Murray State do-everything point guard Cameron Payne with the night’s No. 14 selection. It’s a rare early pick for one of the league’s true perennial contenders.
In either scenario, it would seem OKC rookie coach Billy Donovan can’t lose, particularly when you factor in the Thunder’s roster already also features a frontline complimentary core of veterans Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Nick Collison, and Mitch McGary.
Fans of the high-powered Thunder will indoubtedly be watching this draft closely, as this could be the piece that re-installs them at the top of the Western Conference. Hence why tickets to OKC Thunder games are already selling relatively quickly. In fact, a lot of fans will be watching this year’s draft, which is loaded with top-tier talent, in person, based on the high ticket demand. In fact, the average ticket price for this year’s NBA Draft is currently $103.46, with a get-in price of $51, based on information provided by TotallyTickets.com.
In Payne, the Thunder stand to gain perhaps the only thing they may still lack. That would be a long term back-up to Westbrook that actually sees himself cast in such a role. Dion Waiters has long considered himself more of a scoring guard than a distributor type and with Payne in the mix, he can get back to doing what comes natural for him. This would especially be crucial after dealing away Reggie Jackson midway through last year.
Scouts rave about Payne’s hoops IQ and salivate over the way he already figures to run a pro-style offense, particularly sets like the pick-and-roll. In potentially falling to the Thunder at No. 14, some are already predicting he might be the steal of the entire draft.
Playing in a high-profile program like Kentucky, Booker won’t really surprise anyone based on what he can do. In a league that values shooting as never before, Booker proved himself more than capable during his one season in Lexington.
Overall, he connected on 47 percent of his field goal attempts last season, including 41 percent shooting from behind the arc. He was so noticeably proficient that some predict he could hear his name called among the night’s top-10 selections, namely to Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets at No. 9.
That’s a potential development the Thunder can’t control. Either way, Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves in an enviable position. Given either scenario unfolding, it could be a win-win situation based on the makeup of their roster.