OKC Thunder need to find a way into the 2018 NBA Draft

Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images /

In a 2018 NBA Draft class that is projected to be deep, the OKC Thunder will have to find a way into the first round.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the offseason will be a time to right the wrongs of this season and find a way to go deeper into the playoffs moving forward. The OKC Thunder also need to keep adding young players to their roster.

After the success that rookie players have been having recently in the NBA, the need for good young players is of the utmost importance. Rookies like Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell have all been standout players this year.

Meanwhile, youu can just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers what happens when you don’t have any young, up-and-coming players on your team.

With Paul George‘s future in question and the Thunder potentially cutting ties with Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder will need players that they can develop so they can build for the future.

The Boston Celtics are the example of what good drafting can do. Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were all first round picks that have carried the torch for Boston when their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward went down.

After drafting and developing the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, the Thunder need more young players who are ready to play now and develop while they play.

Terrance Ferguson is a young player that showed some flashes (namely in a Jan. 24 game against the Los Angeles Lakers where he put on a show).

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images /

Going into next year, he may have a bigger role if he can improve offensively. In the 61 games he played in last year, he had 21 games where he did not log in any points.

In his first 20 games, he only had four games where he scored points.

The Thunder will need a player that can come in and provide scoring off the bench, assuming Paul George comes back.

How can the Thunder get a first round pick?

Without many intriguing assets, the answer to that question might be found in only one player: Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is the only tradable asset that the Thunder have that could generate a first round pick, though that’s highly unlikely given the season he just had at age 33.

Another problem is the fact that he has a no-trade clause, so he will determine where he goes in the end. The destination would have to be a place that would be willing to give up a first round draft pick. The best option — though it’s definitely a long shot — might be the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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It all depends on if LeBron James decides to come back to the Cavaliers. If the Cavs know LeBron will stay, they may be more willing to let their first round pick go if adding Melo is what the King wants.

An interesting place that Carmelo may not agree to go but would be a place where he could win again is Philadelphia. The Philadelphia 76ers will more than likely have two first round picks after the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick falls out of the first three slots, in addition to their own pick at No. 26. That second first round pick would be the one to target, though again, expecting a first-rounder for Melo at this stage is an uphill battle.

The Sixers could use a forward who can create his own shot. Anthony was known as one of the best pure scorers in the NBA in his prime. One thing the Sixers also have is potential. If a player like Carmelo sees that he is the only piece that is missing, he may be more open to going there.

If the Sixers see that the LeBron sweepstakes is not going to work out (he may finish his career in Cleveland or go to L.A.) or they will not be able to get Kawhi Leonard as he will sign his max contract extension worth more than $200 million with the San Antonio Spurs, then Carmelo Anthony could be one fallback option.

Who to get with the first round pick

The Thunder will not need a high pick in the draft. Even a mid-to-late first round pick would do.

Two players that stand out as good pick, assuming that Paul George stays, are Anfernee Simons and Lonnie Walker IV.

Simons played at IMG Academy for the one year and had to sit out of the draft after high school. He is a 6’4″ shooting guard with superior agility. He has a supreme skill of scoring the ball with his ability to pull up from the 3-point line, as well as knock down mid-range shots and floaters. He is very athletic too.

He was a five-star prospect coming out of high school.

Walker was a talented and strong shooting guard at Miami. He has the ability to shoot anywhere on the floor (also score off the dribble) and his size at the shooting guard position is above par.

He can make tough acrobatic shots at the rim and will be an and-1 threat with his ability to power through contact. Walker was a five-star prospect coming out of high school too.

ESPN has Walker projected to go 14th to the Denver Nuggets and Simons projected to go 21st to the Utah Jazz. That means the Thunder do not have to push for a lottery pick to get either player.

Getting a first round pick will be crucial for the Thunder, because this draft is deep in the first round and this team needs help offensively coming off the bench.

Next: Full two-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With a proven track record of drafting and developing talent, OKC needs to get back to its roots to build something sustainable around Russell Westbrook.