Don't Look Now, but Oklahoma City Thunder About to Get Even Better

Ricky FrechCorrespondent IMarch 11, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Alex Len #25 (L) of Maryland looks to drive around while being defended by Willie Cauley-Stein #15 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the Barclays Center Classic at the Barclays Center on November 9, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Jason Szenes/Getty Images)
Jason Szenes/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder is coming off of an NBA Finals appearance, currently finds itself as the second seed in the Western Conference and is one of the youngest teams in the league.

It doesn't get much better for an NBA franchise, but the Thunder is poised to become even more loaded after the 2013 NBA Draft.

This is because OKC potentially has three first-round draft picks this season, as well as an early second-round pick.

The Thunder has its own pick, the Toronto Raptors' pick (top 3 and 15-30 protected) and the Dallas Mavericks' pick (top 20 protected) in the first round, along with the Charlotte Bobcats' second rounder.

Currently, it doesn't look like Oklahoma City is going to get Dallas' pick, but they will still have three to work with.

Assuming the standings hold, OKC would have the 11th, 28th and 31st picks, which means it should reap some serious rewards.

Probably the best option would be to try to package some of those picks and move up.

After all, Oklahoma City is already pretty stacked across the board and getting a top-five guy might serve them better than adding three young players.

However, I'm going to assume they don't do that, instead focusing on who they should look at with each pick.


Alex Len, C, Maryland 

Alex Len is probably the best offensive big man in this draft, a position the Thunder severely lack in.

Len would be an immediate upgrade over Kendrick Perkins on the offensive side of the ball and could quickly become OKC's starting center, making Perkins a good candidate for amnesty.

The Thunder might have to do what I talked about earlier and trade up a few spots, as many mock drafts have Len going earlier than 11th.

However, it's something they should consider doing.

You just don't find guys that are as offensively polished at the center position often, and Len would give the Thunder the one thing they lack: quality low-post offense.

Other options here could be Cody Zeller or Willie Cauley-Stein, both solid players who could also become a cheap replacement for Perkins.


Tony Mitchell, SF, North Texas

 As Thabo Sefolosha nears the end of his contract, the Oklahoma City Thunder is going to be in the market for a player who can guard multiple positions along the perimeter.

Tony Mitchell has the potential to become that guy.

He's arguably a better scorer than Sefolosha already, and could surpass him on the defensive end with added experience.

Mitchell excels at creating turnovers, averaging one steal and almost three blocks per game.

He's also an elite rebounder at his position, grabbing 8.5 per game this season.

The one big knock on him is that his production has fallen off this season after averaging 14.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3 blocks per game in 2011-12.

However, the skill set is there, and OKC is one of the best at cultivating young talent.

Another option here could be Jeff Withey from Kansas, but it'd be better to wait and pick him up in the second round.


Jeff Withey, C, Kansas

 Jeff Withey doesn't bring the star potential that Alex Len does, but he is a polished prospect who has exceptional defensive awareness.

Withey could develop into a player who reminds people of Nick Collison.

Both players don't have the greatest offensive games, but are very intelligent, play great defense and give it everything they have when they step on the court.

Getting Withey in the second round would be a great move for the Thunder, giving them even more bench depth and a great replacement for Collison in the next few years.

One other player who could go here is LeBryan Nash of Oklahoma State. Nash is a physically elite prospect and could become a great perimeter defender in the NBA someday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is already one of the best teams in the NBA, and it looks like the rich will only get richer in 2013. 


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