It’s the day after the NBA Draft, and many here in the land of Thunder have mixed feelings, if not outright disappointed.
For this week’s DHD, I’ll discuss the Thunder’s limited involvement in this year’s draft, as well as share overall thoughts and observations of the NBA Draft.
1. Draftees and dads
The biggest encouragement I got from watching the NBA Draft last night was the representation of fathers being involved in the lives of the players who were drafted. What I saw was a message to men to be involved with their families.
Maybe these fathers’ motives could be questioned, or one could wonder if they pushed their sons too hard through the process of becoming an NBA draft pick. That is a legitimate but separate argument.
I worked full-time in college athletics for 13 years. I’ve done volunteer ministry and mission work throughout my life. My wife has been a mentor with the Police Athletic League for most of our 12 years of marriage. I have seen and been familiar with a lot of children, young people and student-athletes who were raised by single moms or grandmothers. And I’m sure many who read this could surpass me in the count of the number of families known that had to deal with deadbeat dads who run off and don’t support their families.
To see lottery picks like Ja Morant, R.J. Barrett and Jarrett Culver being interviewed on ESPN with their dads was refreshing, to say the least. The emotion that was demonstrated by both son and dad should resonate to viewers on how important fathers are to their children.
There were also those who were drafted who commemorated their fathers who died. It was a special message on how fatherhood is valued.
2. Zion and mom
Zion Williamson is the biggest news of the NBA Draft, as the former Duke standout was the No. 1 pick. From reports that I have read, Williamson was coached by his stepfather as well as his mother.
I was impressed with how special the relationship Williamson has with his mom, and you can tell in his ESPN interview how emotional he got talking about his mom who was also interviewed.
Fathers are important, but there are many “warrior” moms who endure and overcome, doing whatever it takes to support their children.
If you are not as familiar with the name Zion Williamson, you will soon be hearing a lot about him in the years to come.
3. Draft confusion
Tim Reynolds wrote how the “hat game” during the NBA Draft made the process confusing for onlookers.
Draft picks that were used in recent trade agreements cannot be confirmed until the new salary cap year begins, which starts July 6. Players who were selected last night with the traded picks had to represent the team that originally owned the draft pick by wearing that team’s hat, though it had been unofficially announced they are going to the team receiving the pick via trade.
Confused? You’re not alone.
From a P.R. standpoint, it looked bad. They need to figure out how to make it possible for all drafted players to represent the teams that actually selected them.
4. ESPN’s Draft coverage
Rece Davis was the host of ESPN’s broadcast of the NBA Draft. That was a little odd for me because I usually associate him with ESPN’s GameDay for college football. Yes, I know he also does college basketball “GameDay,” but that’s overshadowed by football.
But the trio of Davis, Chauncey Billups and Jay Bilas was pretty ho-hum. The one who stood out from the broadcast was Maria Taylor who interviewed the players after their selections were announced. It’s been said one of the greatest achievements for a reporter is to get the interviewee to cry. Taylor had many great achievements last night.
5. Thunder’s draft night
Now, here’s what you really want to read—my take on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s involvement in the NBA Draft.
Well… in one word—anticlimactic.
In some ways, though, this would be par for the course. Two years ago, I expected very little action to come from the Thunder in the offseason, but then they pulled off a monster trade to get Paul George. This year, I expected something nearly earth shattering to happen from the Thunder camp, which could have included their first round draft selection, but all that happened last night was they moved down two spots and got a 2024 second round pick in a trade with Memphis (yawn).
I know hardly anything about the player the Thunder drafted. In fact, I just had to use Google to remember his name—Darius Bazley. Basically, he’s a project with a unique story, and he did not play organized ball last year. In a few years, he could become a major contributor, but I doubt he sees much action next season.
I would be thrilled if I’m wrong and would love to see this Bazley kid shock the world next season. However, I’m not holding my breath.
But I’m not all grouchy and gloomy either, like I’ve seen other Thunder fans react. I was not expecting the Thunder to get a world beater late in the first round. I actually thought the pick would be used as part of a trade.
And who knows what will happen in the days ahead?
6. Thunder in the offseason
Which brings me to my final DHD point.
It seems more likely that the Thunder will make more of a clamor, involving the free agent market, a trade or the waiver wire. I don’t expect them to get a huge name added to the roster, but it could be possible the Thunder get a veteran shooter and add frontcourt depth.
They do have salary cap concerns, and it’s possible a player like Dennis Schroder won’t be on the Thunder roster next month, in order to relieve the team’s payroll. I don’t know exactly what will happen, but it’s likely the roster will have some changes.
But here’s the good news. There’s a lot of unknowns across the NBA next season. Though it’s unfortunate the Golden State Warriors suffered two critical injuries with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, causing a major shakeup in the projections for title contenders, it means the Thunder has about as good of a chance as any team to make a legitimate run.