Posted by briesen on June 14th, 2012
While most NBA teams acquire their talent through free agency and trades, the Oklahoma City Thunder took a different approach and it has paid off handsomely for them. The Thunder have built there team almost exclusively through the draft. Their best player on their current team acquired through free agency or trade is either Thabo Sefolosha or Kendrick Perkins who combined to average 10.4 points per game this season.
Their drafting expertise started in 2007 when they drafted the now three time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant 2nd overall. It continued in 2008 when they drafted Russell Westbrook 4th overall despite Westbrook averaging just 12.7 points and 4.3 assists the year before at UCLA. They also used the 24th pick to draft Serge Ibaka from the Republic of Congo. Ibaka had only started playing basketball recently and didn’t speak a word of English. In 2009, they would use the 4th overall pick to select James Harden. These players are now the four leading scorers on the team.
No team’s perfect though, the Thunder have made a few mistakes in the draft. The only mistakes I could find was: 1. In the 2009 draft they traded the draft rights of Rodrigue Beaubois to Dallas for the draft rights to Byron Mullens; 2. In 2010 they traded the rights to Eric Bledsoe to the Clippers for a future protected first round pick (not exactly a mistake yet, but Bledsoe’s been a nice player.); 3. You could argue drafting Cole Aldrich 11th in the 2010 draft was a bad move, but really there wasn’t much after him: There was Avery Bradley who went 19th and would have been a solid bench player for them, Landry Fields who went 39th and really just would have been a younger version of Sefolosha and Lance Stephenson who went 40th and could have made choking signs at Lebron in the Finals.
These mistakes are all minuet though and because of the Thunder’s impeccable drafting abilities they look to possibly have a potential dynasty. There only challenge will be keeping all their drafted players.