SLAMonline Mock Draft: Daniel Orton, No. 21
A potential lightning bolt up front.
by Emry DowningHall / @EmryDH
Let me start by saying that boxing out is going to be a major focus of this summer’s player development in Oklahoma City. If you caught our Playoff appearance this year, you know what I’m referring to.
We entered the post-season with a large stack of house chips. We outperformed even the most optimistic of expectations. We were able to gather invaluable Playoff experience, and while we weren’t happy just showing up, there’s no shame in pushing the Western Conference (and potential NBA) champs to six games. If we box out, we’re headed back to Los Angeles for a seventh. Anything can happen in 48 minutes right?
We’re not much for the past and we’re not going to get nostalgic about a first round exit. We’re looking to improve and we have two opportunities in the first round to do so (No. 26 pick). With our point guard and small forward spots locked down tighter than a pair of line dried skinny jeans, and Jeff Green doing a very adequate job, albeit out of position at the four, let’s evaluate what we need to speed up our Association takeover.
Between Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden our two guard depth is solid. Sefolosha’s a lockdown wing defender but his reluctance to contribute offensively compromised our sets at points against The Lakers. A lot of people second guessed the Harden selection after Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry and Brandon Jennings all had terrific rookie seasons, but we’re very pleased with his contribution last year and his unselfish nature fits well with our scheme. Although people points to his inconsistent stretches, contributing as a rookie on a 50-win team is extremely difficult and he was able to do just that.
Our front court is where things get interesting and a bit more depleted. Nick Collison, Nenad Krstic, and BJ Mullens aren’t exactly igniting panic attacks for opposing pivot men, but there’s something to be said for size and knowing your role. While we’re thrilled with selecting James Harden with the No. 3 pick in last year’s Draft, Serge Ibaka had a greater impact as a rookie. Ibaka is one of those players Sam Presti threw on ice after selecting him with the 24th pick in 2008, and now he’s contributing. He gave us 25 minutes, 8 points and 7 rebounds during the Playoffs and he’s still learning how to play.
Here’s the thing, when you overachieve like we’ve been able to do, you’re awarded the opportunity to take some risks. We take pride in the fact that our guys love playing here. We’re professionals but we have fun doing it. That’s why they call us Thunder University after all. That said…
With the 21st pick in the 2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select…
Daniel Orton from the University of Kentucky.
Outside of the statistics, this was a pretty obvious selection. If you’re less than impressed after checking out Orton’s freshman numbers of 13 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds and a block you’re not alone. A lackluster freshman year is exactly why we have the opportunity to snag an athletic big man with enough upside to make Jay Bilas order and chug six consecutive Jager-Bombs with the 21st pick.
As usual, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Orton is a home town boy, straight out of Bishop McGuinness high school in Oklahoma City. He was a five star recruit and the biggest signee of the much-maligned Billy Gillispie era at Kentucky. He’ll be at home here – literally — and eager to move beyond last season’s disappointment.
A knee injury during his senior year of high school stunted his offensive development and the signing and then outstanding play of DeMarcus Cousins and the return of Patrick Patterson relegated him to a bench role at UK. Though Orton would have started for most programs in the country, he found himself playing spot minutes and struggling to stay out of foul trouble and fit in to Calipari’s offense.
Orton will have the opportunity to contribute right away in OKC because he’s a terrific athlete and that’s all we’re going to ask him to be. We need a guy to set wide screens, rebound the ball, challenge shots and most importantly, box out. Orton can contribute in all those areas and even though we’re OK with the talent currently on our front line, our five spot isn’t locked down by any means. He’ll have an opportunity to compete for playing time right away.
His lack of offensive polish is a knock but it’s not much of a concern because quite frankly we don’t plan on running any sets for the post outside of when Kevin has a mouse in the house. Our bigs are rewarded when they start the break and run the floor and that’s when they’ll touch the ball.
The fact is Daniel Orton is 19 years old. He’s 6-10 with an NBA body, exceptional touch and he’s motivated to prove that last season at Kentucky was a fluke. Like I said, we’re playing with house money and we have the best infrastructure in the League, I like our chances at making it work. Also, you have to feel good about your selection anytime it causes the other 29 GMs in the League to drop a collective f-bomb. Orton is that kind of pick.
|2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft|
|1||Washington||John Wall||16||Minnesota||Damion James|
|2||Philadelphia||Evan Turner||17||Chicago||James Anderson|
|3||New Jersey||Derrick Favors||18||Miami||Avery Bradley|
|4||Minnesota||DeMarcus Cousins||19||Boston||Jordan Crawford|
|5||Sacramento||Greg Monroe||20||San Antonio||Hassan Whiteside|
|6||Golden State||Wesley Johnson||21||OKC||Daniel Orton|
|8||L.A. Clippers||Al-Farouq Aminu||23||Minnesota|
|11||New Orleans||Gordon Hayward||26||OKC|
|12||Memphis||Luke Babbitt||27||New Jersey|