Thunder add depth through trade, draft
The Oklahoma City Thunder had a busy Thursday morning with all of the trade rumors and players swirling around the team. At first, it was reported that they were trading guard Jeremy Lamb for the rights to Matt Barnes, but Barnes was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Later, it was reported (and confirmed) that guard Luke Ridnour was being traded for the third time in less than 24 hours, and joining the Thunder roster, with Jeremy Lamb heading to the Charlotte Hornets. All of this took place prior to the 2015 NBA Draft, on what would be a busy night for most NBA teams.
With the addition of Ridnour, the Thunder added depth to their point guard position and provided Russell Westbrook with a solid backup. His points per game average has dropped into single digits for his career (9.3 ppg), but he also averages 4.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds. Some of his best basketball was played after being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 2003, as he averaged double-digit points and roughly 6-7 assists per game in the five seasons with the club.
The Oklahoma City Thunder also added more depth once they made their selections in the 2015 NBA Draft last night. With the No. 14 pick, the Thunder selected PG Cameron Payne (Murray St.). He averaged 20.2 points per game during his sophomore season to go with six assists and 1.9 steals per game. He also had a higher assist percentage than the No. 2 pick in the draft, D’Angelo Russell. He will be able to provide even more depth than Luke Ridnour, and the Thunder have known that Payne was their man for a couple of weeks.
With the 48th pick in the NBA Draft, the Thunder selected Kentucky big man Dakar Johnson, who saw limited action during his sophomore season. I don’t think that Johnson will be on the Thunder roster anytime soon, and Steven Adams and Enes Kanter (restricted free agent) are a big reason why. Also, Johnson doesn’t seem like a guy that will be able to run-and-gun with the rest of the Oklahoma City offense, mainly because of his size (14.9% body fat) and lack of conditioning.
Overall, it seems that the Oklahoma City Thunder had a decent draft day. Through the Luke Ridnour trade and first round of the NBA Draft last night, they were able to add depth at the guard position–and rid themselves of Jeremy Lamb’s contract–which should help Russell Westbrook stay fresh. With a lineup that had to deal with so many injuries during the 2014-15 season, look for a healthy Thunder team to rise back into the top four in the Western Conference in 2015-16 and be led by the always-hungry duo of Westbrook and Durant.
What are your thoughts on the Thunder’s busy Thursday? Do their two draft picks make sense? Let us know in the comments section below.
Dustin Brown covers the Oklahoma City Thunder and NBA for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @SprtsWritingMan.