It no secret that the Oklahoma City Thunder struggled to gain consistent production from the supporting cast to Russell Westbrook. With free agency rapidly approaching lets discuss potential targets for the Oklahoma City Thunder that can improve the team’s ability to better compete in the gut wrenching western conference.
Gordon Hayward – SF
Hayward is a dynamic and crafty scorer. He possesses the ability to get to the rim as well as hit shots from outside at an efficient rate. Oklahoma City desperately needs a consistent number two scorer and Gordon Hayward possesses the scoring ability needed to fill that role. Not only would Hayward’s scoring ability space the floor allowing for Westbrook to penetrate the paint with greater ease but he would also increase the production from the bench. I do not mean that Hayward will be coming off of the bench by any means, If Hayward signs in OKC expect the lineup to look something like this:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Gordon Hayward
SF: Andre Roberson ( assuming retention )
PF: Damontas Sabonis or Taj Gibson if resigned.
C: Steven Adams
6: Victor Oladipo
Do you see what I mean? Hayward is a more consistent scoring option to have in the starting lineup while Victor Oladipo slides into the role of 6th man. Oladipo leading the second unit puts a player with starter talent on the court when the starters are taking a breather. Oladipo, although put into a 6th man role, will not see a deduction in his minutes. Oklahoma City needs shooters in order to play to spread the floor for Westbrook as well as players who are capable bench scorers such as Victor Oladipo in this scenario. Hayward will require a max contract; This means that if Hayward is signed it will likey be the only FA acquisition greater than minimum contracts.
Prediciton : Hayward signs max deal with Boston
JJ Redick – SG
Some may ask why redick is on this list to which I will laugh and say why shouldn’t he be? Redick is a dynamic mid range and outside shooter who possess the ability to hit of the bounce and spot up. With Chris Paul likely heading for San Antonio, JJ Redick in his older age will likely not stick around. Redick can come off of the bench and be a sparkplug for the thunder when the need it most. Oklahoma City was outscored by an embarrassing margain when Westbrook was off of the court. Redick offers the ability t score and spread the floor. He is worth a 2 year deal. He will likely cost roughly 12-16 m annually depending on his willingness to compete for a ring on a non-super team.
PPG : 15.0 on 44.5% and 42.9% from deep ( Whoa )
Hypothetical offer: 2 years 28 million.
Prediciton: Redick chases a ring and joins Cleveland, san Antonio, golden state, or Houston.
Blake Griffin – PF
We have just discussed the clippers so it is only fitting that we stay in the ballpark for this next free agent. Blake griffin is a scorer and can fit the number 2 scoring niche with ease provided that he stays healthy. Health has been a major concern for Griffin throughout his career leading to some wondering if he’s worth the max deal that he will very likely require. Griffin played his college ball at the University of Oklahoma so we may see him return to the sooner state to finish his playing career. With Chris Paul likely parting from Los Angeles, I expect Griffin to test other markets. With all of this in mind there remains one major question; Does he value money more than championships? Griffin stands to make a substantially larger amount of guaranteed money by staying in Los Angeles per the collective bargaining agreement. Griffin to Oklahoma City is an option many fans in Oklahoma have been clamoring about.
Prediction: Griffin stays put in LA and takes super max deal.
George Hill – PG
George Hill averaged 16.9 PPG quietly in Utah last season. He is an older guy who has veteran experience and can score the rock. Oklahoma City desperately needs a solid backup point guard and George Hill fits the bill. He can lead the second unit on the floor and should be affordable. Sam Presti would be wise to bring Hill in to take care of the talent discrepancy from the point guard position behind the people’s MVP Russell Westbrook.
Hypothetical Offer : 2 years 17 million
Trey Burke – PG
Burke has had a disappointing career to this point as far as expectations are concerned. Burke is only 24 and has room to improve his game. He is a better point guard than any of the backups on the Thunder roster. He will be a cheap option and an upgrade.
Hypothetical offer : 2 years + 1 team option 10 Million.
Darren Collison – PG
Collison has always been a solid point guard, as a veteran he brings offensive production off of the bench for Oklahoma City. Collison will serve as a cheaper veteran presence and an upgrade at the backup position.
Hypthetical offer: 2 years 16 million
Tyreke Evans – SG
Evans entered the NBA averaging 20 PPG and tallied an impressive first stint on his rookie deal with New Orleans. Unfortunately, Evans production has dropped significantly in the past 3 seasons, 11.6 PPG last season. Evans has shown the ability to be a good scorer and his decreased production may lower his value enough to become a key off bench asset for the thunder. Evans has been to the playoffs one time in his career in which his team was one and done. Playing for a potential playoff contender may be what he needs to ignite that spark that he once possessed for the game.
Hypothetical Offer: 2+1 Player 11m annual.
Tim Hardaway Jr – SG RFA
I’ll keep this one short. Young and a productive shooter. The only reason Hardaway will not be covered in depth is due to his restricted free agent status.
Prediction: Hawks match
Jrue Holiday – PG
Here are the facts:
PPG: 15.4 AST: 7.3
Holiday has never played on a good squad in his career. The right offer should be enough to deter him from New Orleans, however New Orleans has the cap space to pay him if they so desire. Oklahoma City could benefit immensely from a guy who can bring 15-7 to the table. Holiday would make for an outstanding backup point guard that could lead and facilitate for the second unit. Oklahoma City must address outside shooting and bench depth this offseason to compete in the west.
Serge Ibaka – PF
Homecoming? Serge Ibaka was frustrated with his role in Oklahoma City before being traded in the Oladipo deal. Kevin Durant has now departed and left an opportunity for Ibaka to have an increased role in the offense if he were to return. Ibaka was is an excellent defender and a stretch 4. This spells perfect fit in the new system.
Hypothetical Offer: 3 years 45 million
Brandon Jennings – PG
Jennings makes this list as a clear upgrade at the backup point guard position. He won’t cost much either. Jennings is a good option for a backup point guard if the thunder were to sign a higher priority free agent this summer.
PPG: 7.1 AST: 4.9 REB: 2.4
Patty Mills – PG
The San Antonio Spurs are targeting Chris Paul and have Tony Parker on roster. Patrick Mills looks as if he will be the odd man out if Paul joins the spurs. A productive backup point guard with the ability to hit the deep ball is exactly what Oklahoma City needs off of the bench. Patrick Mills is productive and likely affordable:
PPG: 9.5 on 43.9%, 41.3% from deep ( outstanding ) AST: 3.5 FT : 82.5%
Hypothetical Offer: 3 years 30 million.
Prediction: If offered Mills joins OKC when and if Paul signs in San Antonio.
Dion Waiters - SG
Short and sweet – bench production for a lower price.
Oklahoma City must bring in a number two scorer and bench production to be competitive. If all else fails, the Thunder would be wise to sign a variety of shooters to come off of the bench such as the players mentioned above. We will see how Sam Presti handles this offseason.
Personal Top Targets:
Gordon Hayward George Hill Patty Mills JJ Redick Serge Ibaka