Thunder Active On Draft Night, Acquires Three Rookies And Future Draft Pick

Deep inside the Integris Health Thunder Training Facility in north Oklahoma City, past a pair of double doors and on the other side of where a roller skating rink used to stand was the busiest draft room in the NBA on Thursday night.

The Thunder has long taken the approach of always looking for ways to better the organization, and Oklahoma City found several of them in last night’s NBA Draft.

Oklahoma City started wheeling and dealing on the eve of the draft when it sent the No. 32 pick to the Miami Heat in exchange for the No. 18 pick and shooting guard Daequean Cook.

The Thunder used the No. 18 pick to select Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe, who the organization eventually traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future first-round draft pick.

The Thunder drafted Iowa State forward Craig Brackins with the No. 21 pick and Washington’s Quincy Pondexter at No. 26 before Executive Vice President/General Manager Sam Presti released the following statement:

“This evening we selected Craig Brackins with the 21st overall pick and Quincy Pondexter with the 26th overall pick of the NBA Draft. At this time we are currently in negotiations to trade our draft rights to Brackins and Pondexter; however, we will not be able to complete a trade until after the moratorium period concludes on July 8th.”

“With that said, we cannot identify the team that we are negotiating with or discuss any specifics of potential trades. Therefore we will have no comment on these selections until we have completed all trade talks.”

But that didn’t stop the Thunder from continuing to acquire assets.

The Thunder acquired 7-0 German center Tibor Pleiss, the No. 31 pick, from the Atlanta Hawks via the New Jersey Nets in exchange for cash considerations. And it took Louisiana Tech center Magnum Rolle with the No. 51 pick before trading his rights to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Florida State forward Ryan Reid (57th overall).

The Thunder capped the draft by acquiring one of its own in forward Latavious Williams, the Tulsa 66ers forward who the Miami Heat drafted with the No. 48 pick.

“We’re pretty happy with how things turned out for us at the moment,” Presti later said. “I think that each draft is different. You walk in, try to do the best that you can with the picks that you have and the different things that are at your disposal.”

One of the biggest assets the Thunder had at its disposal was that No. 32 pick, which at the end of the day turned into a future first-round pick plus a guard in Cook who can stretch the floor with his shooting.

Presti expects Pleiss, 20, to play in the Euro League next season; he’s also expected to play for the German National Team this summer. Reid, meanwhile, is a defensive-minded player who comes from a Florida State program that ranked 19th in the nation in scoring defense last season.

A few days before the draft, Presti talked about the organization remaining consistent with its draft approach from season to season. On Thursday, he spoke about how the Thunder strives to stay consistent in all phases. The acquisitions from this year’s draft class were the latest example.

“We’re looking at how this basketball team can get better and meet our objectives,” Presti said, “and when I say consistency I mean coming in each day and getting the job done and trying to move the needle a little bit. In this case we felt like we were able to add some physicality in the draft and some other areas that would help us. It’s certainly not going to complete the puzzle for us or make us a perfect entity but it’s not going to happen with silver bullets. We’re just going to have to keep chipping away each step of the way.”

Check back on Friday for more on the Thunder’s trio of draft picks, including what Presti and Director of College/International Player Personnel Rob Hennigan had to say about them.

Contact Chris Silva

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