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Monday, July 05, 2010

2010 Summer League Rosters: Oklahoma City Thunder

Cliff Hammonds

Former Clemson guard Hammonds is an unusual find on the Thunder roster, because he's already signed for next year. He spent last year in Greece with Peristeri, averaging 12.9ppg, 3.1rpg, 3.7apg, 1.5spg and 2tpps (timely paychecks per season), shooting 48% from the field and 42% from three. He even up his usually dreadful free throw percentage to a vaguely tolerable 71% (still sub-par for a point guard, but no longer sub-50%). Hammonds has signed in France to join ASVEL Villerbanne, a normally elite French team (with 18 championships in 61 season) coming off an unusually dreadful sub-.500 season. It seems strange that ASVEL would let him play here as well. Nevertheless, it's all good for Hammonds, who gets a decent chance at free exposure before beginning his decent new French gig.


James Harden

QUESTION: If the Bulls manage to sign Dwyane Wade, they are then left with the awkward pairing of he and Derrick Rose in the backcourt. Talent wise, it's the best backcourt in the league; fit wise, however, it's far from ideal. Therefore, how far away is a trade that sees Rose traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for Harden, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green?

(Westbrook isn't a great fit with Wade, either. And he's not an insignificant downgrade. However, it may be an acceptable one considering the other parts of the package. Westbrook has significant value and talent, not as much as Rose, but enough to either make it work alongside Wade or land something awesome via trade. Just thinking out loud.)

(And yes, Derrick Rose is quite a lot better than Westbrook. Westbrook is very good, and Derrick most definitely has his flaws, but Rose's consistent ability to score in the halfcourt is bettered only by the game's very elite. How much is that worth to Oklahoma City? Could a pairing of Rose and Kevin Durant not guarantee a decade of championship contention? And if it could, are Harden and Green not a small price to pay? I am not convinced of this trade from either side. But I'm pretty sure it's worth investigating further.)


Serge Ibaka

Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka made a seamless transition last year, going from one of the best young contributors in the ACB to being one of the best young contributors in the NBA. He can defend as well as anyone of that body type and athleticism, run the floor, rebound rather prolifically, and stick the open jumpshots. His rookie PER of 15.2 is pretty close to his age (20), and that gap will be closed next year. Jeff Green has long been typecast as a perfect combo forward sixth man; because of the emergence of Ibaka, I'm pretty sure he soon will be.

(Only one problem with that idea; a lineup of Westbrook, Thabo, Durant, Ibaka and Aldrich/Krstic lacks shooting. You can't bench Westbrook, obviously, because he's too good. And you can't bench Thabo, because he's in there to shut down star opposing wing players, and star opposing wing players don't come off the bench. So benching Green for Ibaka puts all the outside shooting pressure on Durant, which isn't a good idea. Still, though. Even if Ibaka remains a backup, he's an awesome one.)

Ibaka was the result of the first of the two first rounders that Phoenix gave Oklahoma City in exchange for taking on the salary of Kurt Thomas. The second was used on Quincy Pondexter and will soon be a part of the trade for Cole Aldrich. Sam Presti is almost unsurpassed in accumulating assets; in this instance, he freaking nailed it with using them, too.


Marcus Lewis

Marcus Lewis is a 6'8 power forward, formerly of the University of Portland, who transferred the team after his sophomore season after being suspended indefinitely for repeated rules violations. He sat out a year while transferring to Oral Roberts, before putting up 8.6ppg in 5.5rpg in his junior season. Lewis, a big old post player with good hands and good footwork yet without much interest in keeping his weight down, managed to shed 40lbs before his senior season, averaging 13.3ppg, 7.2rpg and 2.3apg. He then spent his first and thus far only professional season with the Thunder's self-owned D-League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, where he averaged 4.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 fouls and 0.9 assists in 16.2 minutes of 49 games.

In many ways, Lewis resembles Michael Sweetney. Lewis doesn't have NBA talent and isn't about to; he's here because he's a Tulsa 66er, who can fill out the roster for a bit. Nevertheless, there should be work for Lewis around the globe if he stays in shape, some of it paying pretty well. May I recommend Japan.

Lewis and Hammonds are two of the only four players on the Thunder's summer league roster who are not former draft picks of the team. The others played for the team last year. It is pretty impossible, therefore, for them to win a spot with the team. But summer league is not always about that.


Eric Maynor

Maynor showed last year that he's not necessarily a score-first player; he can pass first if you want him to. He averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 assists in 81 games last season, split between the Thunder of the Jazz, and his statline was highlighted by his average of only 1.0 turnovers per game. That's a great ratio for any player, and particularly for a rookie. Maynor will never be a great scorer for as long as he lacks a true three point jumpshot and relies so much on floaters, yet he's going to stick for a long time if he keeps up that A/TO ratio.


Byron "B.J." Mullens

This was one that the Thunder got wrong. Partly because Mullens was traded for Roddy Buckets - who has since blown him away as an NBA player - but also because little about Mullens outside of his athletic ability and height suggested he would develop. Mullens can't post, rebound, defend, handle the physical play, get to the line or stop turning it over. His jumpshot is coming along quickly, but little else is.

There's still time, of course. Mullens is only 21. Were there a few less mistakes, I also just described Nenad Krstic right there. However, the early returns aren't great.



Ryan Reid

Would Ryan Reid have made it to a summer league roster had he not been drafted?


Mustafa Shakur

Shakur has been in and around the NBA for the three years since he went undrafted out of Arizona in 2007. He spent a couple of days on the Kings roster at the very start of the 2007/08 season (getting $20,000 for his troubles), and spent three weeks on the Thunder's regular season last year (however, he did not play in any games). Shakur has improved since being undrafted; he's still prone to wildly flailing towards the basket out of control, but he's more controlled now while just as athletic as before, and has improved his jumpshot slightly. He's a 15th to 16th man in the NBA, one of several who just need a stroke of luck to get a chance. The kind of chance that Will Conroy hasn't had yet.

Working in his favour is that the Thunder need a third point guard after the retirement of Kevin Ollie (who has become an assistant at UConn.)


Robert Vaden

Vaden was an ambitious draft choice last year, drafted because of his one NBA calibre skill; his jumpshot. In his first professional season, with Aget Imola in Italy's SerieB, Vaden proved he still has that one NBA calibre skill, averaging 16.9 points per game on 40.0% three point shooting.

Unfortunately, he still has only one NBA calibre skill.


Kyle Weaver

Weaver played only 144 minutes in the NBA last year, and only 5 games in the D-League, due to shoulder surgery. He has a contract for both this season and next; however, neither year is guaranteed. Weaver has done nothing to deserve to lose his roster spot, demonstrating a decent all-around game. Yet problematically for him, Oklahoma City are just running out of roster spots. It'd be magnanimous for the team to waive Daequan Cook to open up a roster spot for Weaver, but considering Cook is earning $2.2 million this season, magnanimity isn't the top priority.


D.J. White

Due to injuries, illness and a depth chart that hates him, D.J. White has not had the opportunity to do anything in his first two NBA seasons. He has played only 232 NBA minutes, although he rocks a sizzling 22.5 PER in that time, shooting 56%. White is a very good jumpshooter, which both a blessing and a curse; he scores a lot but does not get to the foul line, and does not have three point range. He can also finish around the basket, and rebounds pretty well. If he could get more range on that jumpshot, he might help with the aforementioned outside shooting problems. But as things stand, Ibaka is firmly ahead of him in the depth chart.

If one of the two had centre size, then an opportunity would present itself next summer, when both Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison are unrestricted free agents. But since they don't, it's probably not possible. Therein lies the problem that Oklahoma City has with all this depth, the same problem Portland has had; you can't get what you might consider fair returns for certain players if you don't give yourself the opportunities to prove how good they are. It's an unfortunate side effect of good management, and it sucks for White personally.


Latavious Williams

Williams is a prospect, but he's one that developed quickly. He is not much more than an athlete and a rebounder right now, but as long as he does not make too many mistakes, that could well be enough. If he improves his finishing around the basket, and maybe adds a bit of a jumpshot, he could be the next Donnell Harvey.

This is a compliment. Donnell Harvey was all right.



Cole Aldrich will be added to the roster once the trade between Oklahoma City and New Orleans is finalised upon the completion of the moratorium. This is good news for everybody except Mullens.

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