SLAMonline Mock Draft: Solomon Alabi, No. 26
Never too many bigs.
by Emry DowningHall / @EmryDH
There are few situations sweeter for a franchise attempting to build a contender through patience and the Draft than dealing with a team desperate to shed salary. When the final trade offer was presented back in 2007, I remember debating whether I should pause in finalizing the deal as to not appear too eager, or expedite the process before they had a second to reconsider.
In exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2009, we acquired Kurt Thomas (who was traded to San Antonio in 2008 for another first-round pick) from Phoenix as well as first-round picks in 2008 (Serge Ibaka) and 2010.
That trade is the reason we’re back on the board with the 26th selection in this year’s Draft. With the 21st pick, we’ve already selected 19-year-old Daniel Orton out of Kentucky. While we’re confident in Orton’s ability to contribute immediately in certain areas, he’s obviously extremely raw. With patience as the key ingredient to our potion in Oklahoma City, five picks later, our team needs (which were outlined before the Orton selection) remain the same though our depth on the frontline has improved.
With the 26th pick in the 2010 SLAMonline Mock Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select…
Solomon Alabi from Florida State University.
If your first reaction to this selection is that it’s somewhat redundant after taking Orton, I’m not mad at you – just hear me out.
Short of extortion or a variety of other felonies, we’re going to do everything in our power and then a good deal more to keep Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. It’s his team, and every guy on the roster understands that. Along with Kevin, we have an all-star talent in Russell Westbrook, and extremely capable starters in Jeff Green and second year combo-guard James Harden. Guys like Eric Maynor, Thabo Sefalosha, and Nick Collison are capable contributors leaving only our center position in limbo.
While Serge Ibaka’s game is often described using the same title as a 2009 Lil Wayne mix tape (No Ceilings), he’s yet to prove he can contribute as a full time starter in the NBA. Nenad Krstic has shown he’s more than capable through six seasons in the League, but we’re not exactly pinning our tails to that donkey with a one-year player option remaining on his deal. That leaves BJ Mullens, and this year’s selections, Daniel Orton and Solomon Alabi.
All three of these guys are extremely unfinished products and that’s fine. Electing to operate under a center by committee approach will serve to accelerate the development of these young players as individuals through both skill development and competition for minutes.
While Orton brings athleticism and the ability to defend the 4 and 5 slot, Alabi is a true center standing 7-1. He’s one of the biggest players in this year’s Draft, and though that doesn’t guarantee a thing, you can’t teach size, trust me, we’ve tried. Though he’s far from feeble, he’ll have to focus a great deal on his body and gaining strength to hold position on the block at the NBA level.
Last season at Florida State, Alabi averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. While his arsenal in the paint isn’t polished, he has shown a nice touch from the free-throw line, having converted 80 percent of his attempts last year.
The biggest knock scouts have on Alabi is his lack of commitment to rebounding, something that will have to change quickly to find success on the next level. We tell all of our bigs to set strong, wide screens, protect the basket, block out, and clear the glass. Our most efficient rebounder will see the most time next season, and it will be a primary focus right away.
Alabi’s ability to run the floor, protect the rim, and bring energy to the game made this a fairly easy selection this late in the Draft. Often when dealing with bigs the hardest thing to institute is the will that allows a young guy to battle against his opponent, and block out every possession with limited opportunities on the offensive end. Alabi has already shown through two seasons at FSU that he’s capable of accepting this role and this had a heavy influence on this selection. Quite frankly, we’re shocked he’s still available and would have been thrilled to get him with the 21st pick had Daniel Orton’s name already been called.
|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|
|7||Detroit||Ed Davis||22||Portland||Eric Bledsoe|
|8||L.A. Clippers||Al-Farouq Aminu||23||Minnesota||Quincy Pondexter|
|9||Utah||Cole Aldrich||24||Atlanta||Lance Stephenson|
|10||Indiana||Ekpe Udoh||25||Memphis||Elliot Williams|
|11||New Orleans||Gordon Hayward||26||OKC||Solomon Alabi|
|12||Memphis||Luke Babbitt||27||New Jersey|