Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for OKC Thunder
The NBA draft has usually been a favorable night for the Oklahoma City Thunder thanks to the drafting prowess of general manager Sam Presti. The 2014 haul drew more questions than usual, however, and you’ll see why as the post-draft depth chart is examined.
Namely, it’s because the Thunder’s biggest need was perimeter shooting, and they had a chance to add a high-quality floor-spacer with either of their first-round picks and chose not to do so.
Presti has earned some leeway from the fanbase, and his picks will certainly fill a specific role. Furthermore, the draft isn’t the end of the offseason, so he still has time to acquire more shooting and some solid two-way players.
Here’s the roster as it stands right now.
Starter: Kendrick Perkins
This may finally be the summer that Kendrick Perkins gets amnestied, but until that point he’s locked in as the starting center.
He is certainly overpaid and an offensive nonfactor. He can also be terrible depending on the matchup, but his defense and toughness are still very important for this team.
Backup: Steven Adams
It will be interesting to see how Steven Adams’ role evolves this season. He was brilliant at times for OKC in his rookie campaign, greatly exceeding expectations, but he still might not be ready to be more than the energy guy.
He looks like a long-term starter for this team thanks to his athleticism, defensive activity, physicality and underrated offensive skills, and it’s quite likely that he’ll split time with (or even get more minutes than) Perkins.
Depth: Hasheem Thabeet
Thabeet didn’t receive a lot of playing time because he may actually be slower than Perkins and fouls at a high rate on defense.
As a third-string center, however, he’s a nice option who brings a gigantic frame and rim protection to the table.
Starter: Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is one of the NBA’s best two-way big men, and his value was clear during those two games that he missed against San Antonio.
Elite rim protection and excellent shooting make it easy to forget that he’s still only 24 years old and has plenty of room to grow.
Backup: Nick Collison
Collison is the perfect reserve for this team. He has a high basketball IQ and brings energy and quickness to the court, but he’s getting older, which is why OKC drafted...
Energizer Bunny: Mitch McGary
McGary was a reach at No. 21 because of his injury and relative lack of development in his sophomore season, but he fits in nicely as Collison’s long-term replacement.
The Michigan product is energetic and tough, and at the very least it will be fascinating to see how long it takes before the duo of Steven Adams and Mitch McGary instigate an all-out brawl, because they are destined to get under the skin of opposing frontcourts.
Reserve: Grant Jerrett
Grant Jerrett was signed at the end of last season, but he’s nothing more than a practice player at this point (and with the aforementioned depth ahead of him).
Starter: Kevin Durant
OKC has the good fortune of trotting out the reigning MVP at the small forward spot. ‘Nuff said.
Backup: Perry Jones III
Perry Jones gets the nod over the next two players because he’s a better offensive player (which isn’t saying much).
He has developed nicely and was a surprisingly good three-point shooter last year—something the Thunder could really use. As a versatile defender with the ability to cover 1 through 4, he’s a nice backup to have on the roster.
Defensive Specialists: Andre Roberson and Josh Huestis
This is why the No. 29 selection was puzzling. Huestis and Roberson are very similar players, so how do they both fit into the long-term plans?
Both are long and athletic and excel on the defensive end of the court.
They also struggle offensively and need to develop that facet of their game to earn any kind of consistent playing time.
Starter: Jeremy Lamb
This is why the selection of Josh Huestis is even more puzzling. Jeremy Lamb did have some good moments last year, but he hardly looked ready to take on a starting role, which is what he’ll have to do by default this season.
Free Agents: Thabo Sefolosha and Caron Butler
These two are both free agents, so there’s a chance that one or both of them are brought back, which would kick Lamb back to the bench.
Until then, however, it’s Lamb and only him at shooting guard.
Starter: Russell Westbrook
Is there anything I could say about Westbrook that hasn’t been said a thousand times over?
Backup: Reggie Jackson
This is a slot where Jackson doesn’t want to be, after stating in his exit interview that he wants to be the starter next year.
First of all, isn’t that what you want from every player?
Second, he’s not going to be the starter...at point guard.
Lineups with Jackson and Westbrook on the floor at the same time were devastating offensively last year, but they would put OKC at a disadvantage defensively.
For that reason, Jackson probably won’t get his wish this season, but he’s sure to see starter’s minutes at around 30-35 minutes per game.
Backup: Semaj Christon
The Thunder traded for the rights to Semaj Christon, which may actually be their best pick of the draft. He joins a logjam at point guard, but he’s a nice fit (and upgrade) to replace Derek Fisher as the third-string point guard. He provides insurance in case Jackson leaves next summer.