What should the Oklahoma City Thunder do with the 28th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft tonight? After having a short time to recover from the disappointing loss in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat, that's the question of the moment.
Once again, the Thunder is low in the draft as a result of success during the season. Meaning Oklahoma City is much more likely to come out of this draft with a Reggie Jackson-level talent than a Russell Westbrook-level talent.
So what does Oklahoma City need? A team that just made it to the NBA Finals and that is returning it's young nucleus next season doesn't need much.
If there is a weakness to the Thunder, it is it's inability to get offensive production from the power forward and center positions.
The Thunder big men that are under contract for next season are Serge Ibaka, a great shot-blocker; Kendrick Perkins, the team tough-guy and an above-average on-ball post defender; Nick Collison, and energy guy and savvy defender; and Cole Aldrich, who almost never finds himself on the court during competitive moments of the game.
None of those guys has shown the ability to be a scoring threat down low. Ibaka has begun to develop a nice mid-range jump shot, but with the exception of finishing off drive-and dish plays, the Thunder big men do not provide points.
Big men are always at a premium, and the 2012 draft is no different. The one can't-miss big man prospect, Anthony Davis, will be snatched up with the No. 1 pick.
Here are some names of a few forwards/centers that could be available when the Thunder go on the clock for the 28th pick:
Royce White, power forward, Iowa State University
White is listed at 6-8, 270 pounds. He enters the draft after completing his sophomore year at Iowa State, during which he averaged 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot 53 percent from the field, but only 49.8 percent from the free throw line.
Concerns about White have overwhelmingly be about off-the-court issues, such as his much-publicized fear of flying. White was also charged with shoplifting and accused of stealing a laptop computer when he was a freshman at Minnesota. There are no indications that those past issues will lead to future transgressions, but still will give executives cause for concern.
What makes White an attractive prospect is his versatility. He has perimeter scoring ability and ball-handling skills as well as low-post scoring ability. Free throws are his biggest on-court weakness.
Fab Melo, center, Syracuse University
Fab Melo is large. There aren't many seven-footers anywhere nowadays, and Melo measures at 7-0 and 274 pounds. He didn't put up big numbers at Syracuse during his sophomore year, averaging 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. Melo shot 56.6 percent from the field.
The key word with a guy like Fab Melo is "upside", which isn't necessarily a bad word for a team as good as the Thunder. He led the Big East in shot-blocking and was the conference defensive player of the year. He has the ability to shoot face-up jump shots, but overall is a very raw offensive player.
The reason the Thunder might take the risk on a guy like Fab Melo is that he has shown the desire to work hard and improve. Melo lost 30 pounds between his freshman and sophomore years at Syracuse. A guy that can work that hard on his conditioning will likely work just as hard to develop a post game, and again, seven-footers are a rare beast in today's NBA.
Arnett Moultrie, power forward, Mississippi State
Not likely to be as well known to those reading this column as the two aforementioned players, Moultrie has an impressive resume. He averaged 16.4 points and 10 rebounds per game last season, second in the SEC in double-doubles.
Moultrie has a reputation as a high-energy guy and a hard worker, relentless on the boards but also is very skilled. He is a 44 percent three-point shooter and a 78 percent free throw shooter at 6-11, 249 pounds.
Draymond Green, small forward, Michigan State
Green has been popping up at the No. 28 spot in a number of mock drafts, and his projections range from the middle of the first round to early second round. Green is 6-7, 230, and is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades type of player.
Green averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. He can shoot threes and score in the post, and as his stats show, he isn't afraid to rebound.
Green's problem is that he is sort of a "tweener". Who does he guard at his size? He's been analyzed to be too small to bang with post players and too slow to keep up with the quick small forwards in the NBA. Despite that weakness, Green would make a good addition to the Oklahoma City bench, with his ability to be plugged into a number of different roles.