Holden Krusemark | Sports Producer
The NBA Draft produces countless mock drafts from experts as a player’s stock rises or falls, but it can always be summed up in one word: unpredictable
However, with all of the unpredictability comes predictability and Sam Presti. There were options galore at the 14th pick, with Kelly Oubre Jr., Jerian Grant and Sam Dekker all on the board, but Presti stuck to his guns and went with his reported draft promise.
The Thunder are now selecting Cameron Payne – the sophomore point guard from Murray State, who averaged 20 points and 6 assists this past season – as their prized possession in this year’s draft.
So, what exactly can people faithful to Oklahoma City expect from the lottery pick this year?
This has to be a dream come true for Payne. Not only can he tell everyone he’s a lottery pick, but he files into a roster that is an immediate title contender, leaving him with no pressure whatsoever to be an immediate franchise savior.
The Thunder already have proven backups at the guard position, and depth is what makes them a threat to win it next – with the added bonus of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Cameron Payne gets to learn behind the veteran guards Westbrook and D.J. Augustin, and most importantly he’s a rookie with no expectations. He gets to go to work every day trying to prove himself to the coaches, while bulking up and working on fixing the flaws in his game.
This pick goes well beyond this year, because Sam Presti knows that his team will be title contenders, with the exception of another freak injury-prone year. So, that allows him to plan for the future in typical Presti fashion – never caught up in the present and always scheming for the future to keep his team in position to win each year.
Next year, D.J. Augustin will most likely be on his way out of Oklahoma City, leaving Cameron Payne as the backup – and a darn good backup at that.
Then the thing nobody really wants to talk about, Russell Westbrook becoming a free agent. Now, there’s no reason to believe that Westbrook will be leaving the Thunder, but if he does happen to bolt for, say Los Angeles, guess who Presti has to replace him in this scenario? It’s his lottery pick from two years ago, Cameron Payne.
The key to this draft is what it always is: trust Sam Presti and look forward to winning.