Thunder Prepared for 2013 Draft

For organizations in every professional American sport, and in particular the Thunder, the yearly amateur draft has been a crucial component to team development and sustained success.

General Manager Sam Presti and his basketball operations staffers are in their final stages of preparation for Thursday night’s 2013 NBA Draft, where the Thunder holds three of the top 32 selections. With the #12, #29 and #32 picks, the Thunder has plenty of options and a host of assets to utilize in the way it sees fit in order to best improve the team.

As a small market club that has always built through the draft, the Thunder hopes to use Thursday night as an opportunity to put the team in the best possible position, accounting for both the short and long run.

"It is a time of year that every team is given an opportunity of some variety to improve based on their current circumstances and strategic outlook,” Presti said.

“This off season we’re going to look at everything we can to try to improve,” Presti explained, in regards to the Thunder’s specific viewpoint of Thursday’s draft. “But we also need to take into consideration our parameters and consider the short term and long term impact as we make decisions going forward, but that’s been no different than we have any other season.”

For a team that won 60 games in 2012-13 and finished first in the Western Conference, it is extremely rare for the Thunder to have the chance to draft in the Lottery, with the #12 selection, as it does this year. The organization has developed players who it has drafted high like Kevin Durant (#2 overall in 2007) and Russell Westbrook (#4 overall in 2008), in addition to those drafted late in the first round like Serge Ibaka (#24 overall in 2008) and Reggie Jackson (#24 overall in 2011).

Thanks to its assets, the Thunder has the flexibility, options and ability to improve the team in a variety of ways, and it shows why Presti and the organization value the draft process so highly. Regardless of where the Thunder selects in this draft, the team will feel confident that it can find a way to incorporate and assimilate players into the culture of the organization and into the team as a unit.

“It sounds cliche' but we really and truly will look at everything,” Presti said. “Having picks in different ranges of the draft presents a lot of different options and ideas, but it is all governed by our vision for the Thunder and how those options can help strengthen the organization.”

With a dedicated team of scouts and staffers, the Thunder’s procedure for identifying and selecting new players to join the team is one that is in constant, ever-vigilant motion. The ability to assess and select new players who fit while still continuing to refine and perfect the internal processes of the organization is a vital piece to overall growth.

"We want to take as much information into account as possible,” Presti said. “A big piece of the process is managing and interpreting that information. With that said, probably more important than external evaluations is continued internal study as to what drives our program. We have always aimed to work from the inside out as an organization and we will have to continue to maintain that approach based on our goals of sustainable success.”

With Durant and Westbrook as the tone-setters for the organization and with strong up-and-comers like Ibaka and Jackson continuing to define the standards for work ethic within the organization, the Thunder will try to use the draft to further elevate the squad, accounting for the nucleus that is already in place.

The young core of the team is strong and has another summer to mature, but the addition and assimilation of new players has always been the lifeblood of the Thunder as an organization as it attempts to be successful now and in the future.

“We also want to continue to supplement (the team’s core) with players that complement them and also are continuing to grow as well as some players that are stabilizing forces,” Presti said. “As we go through this we hope to put the best team on the floor, not only today, but also to put ourselves in position to where year-in and year-out where we feel like were within a handful of teams that can compete for a title.”

“It’s one thing to win in the NBA, and it’s another thing to win under varying conditions over a long period of time,” Presti continued. “Obviously, the goal of our organization is to be good for a long period of time.”