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June 26, 2014

Thunder may need urgent approach to draft

NORMAN — The most telling statistic for Oklahoma City this year took place in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Facing elimination, the Thunder were only able to manage 5 points from their bench in an overtime loss to San Antonio.

Point guard Derek Fisher scored all five of those points. But now that he’s the head coach for the New York Knicks, the Thunder has no bench player on its roster who notched a single point in the most important game of the season.

That’s the most pressing problem General Manager Sam Presti must address tonight in the 2014 NBA Draft: Find a player who can help today and not years down the road.

Oklahoma City holds two picks in the first round with the No. 21 and No. 29 selections. For a team that made it to the final four, it seems to offer up a myriad of possibilities for Presti.

“We have to figure out where the value is,” Presti said. “We have to figure out how to best utilize those tools to improve the team now or in the future. My job is to calculate how to get the best out of the team so that the coaches have as many options as possible to build the deepest team and put players on the floor who are going to grow throughout the season and probably throughout the years.”

However, at a closer look, the options are not as vast as the team would hope. And it all has to do with expectations.

Whether the players, coaches and management want to admit it, the franchise is now in the position where anything less than a NBA title is a failure. It’s something almost the entire organization rejected during exit interviews last month, but that is where they are.

With that being the case, when the draft starts, Presti has to be asking who can help the team win next year? While he has proven to be a master at finding gems in past drafts, there’s no guarantee he can do it again this year with the picks coming so late in the round.

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