At the beginning of the day I never thought I’d be writing this article.
It was draft day and OKC had no picks for the first time since they had moved to OKC. It seemed to be okay with the organization snd the fans. Maybe hop into the second round if something presents itself but that’s it. No one thought that a move would happen that would change the entire landscape of the team.
Around 4pm Eastern time there were reports that the Thunder were shopping Serge Ibaka. Most people including myself thought those rumors were false. How could OKC trade a guy who was a huge part of the playoff push this past season? He was such a big part of the Warriors series, how could they get rid of him?
The Thunder have always made business decisions that have benefited the team. James Harden wasn’t going to take less than a max so they traded him and ended up with Steve Adams out of it. Yeah, Steve Adams isn’t Harden, but he is a lot better than the return we would have got if Harden left as a free agent.
Then Reggie Jackson wasn’t happy with his role on the team and was becoming a cancer to the team. So what did the organization do? Trade him to end up getting Enes Kanter.
The Thunder know how to work trades in their favor, even if it is a hard one to swallow at first.
The Ibaka trade hurt at first. Not the team, or our chances at KD, but emotionally. Ibaka has been with the team during their runs at the final (and been a big part). He was their during the injury seasons. He was one of the consistent in a Thunder team that was in the playoffs. He was part of the big three. He was a face of the newest and one of the best teams in the NBA. Losing someone like that makes it feel like there is a hole in the team. Not seeing Ibaka do a chase-down block in those awful orange jerseys is going to take some getting used to.
With all that being said, the trade was a great one for OKC.
The Thunder will be adding a previous number two overall pick in Victor Oladipo, the number 11 pick in this year’s draft, Domantas Sabonis, and Ersan Ilyasova.
The Thunder turned a player who looked as though he was plateauing, into a young shooting guard who can fix their two-guard woes that have been persistent since Harden left, a 20 year old, 6’ 11” power forward, and a solid back up big man.
Oladipo was electric in college and has shown glimpses of his explosiveness but being on a team that had little to no talent around him, he has been a disappointment. But now he doesn’t have to be “the guy” and can let the game come to him while he plays lock down defense on a team that could use a great defender.
Sabonis has a lot of hype around him, and for good reason. He’s 6’ 11” power forward who can fit into the role Ibaka played, if not come off the bench behind Kanter. He averaged a double double on the 26-7 Gonzaga Bulldogs, becoming a big part of their post-season run. He also had 64 assist and shot 36% from beyond the arc, which was better than Ibaka last season.
He will now get to develop behind two of the best big men in the league. Kanter and Adams which show him how to get in position for rebounds and how to bang down low to get the dirty points.
The last part of this deal was Ersan Ilyasova. Now there have been rumblings that the Thunder may cut him, but if not (and they shouldn’t) they will be adding a solid back up to Adams. Ilyasova averaged ten and five last season and will add a big body off the bench who will do the dirty work and not beg for more touches. He is the type of player average fans won’t know, but avid fans will know that he is a key piece of the OKC puzzle.
All in all, the trade may be a tough pill to swallow but it makes OKC better than before. The only downside about this trade is that now I have no idea what position to make on 2k to team up with Westbrook and Durant. Seriously, what position do they need?