It’s easy to overthink.
It’s easy to come up with hypothetical trades that diminish the Thunder’s luxury tax bill, improve the team or even both.
It’s easy to solve everything. In your head, anyway.
Here’s hoping the Thunder do none of that in Thursday’s NBA draft. Here’s hoping they don’t even go for the best player available. Here’s hoping they go for the thing for which they do not have enough, nor have ever had enough.
Here’s hoping they go get shooting and, wouldn’t you know it, every single mock draft you can find has the draft’s best shooter being available when the 21st pick rolls around, which happens to be the pick the Thunder have.
That player is Cameron Johnson, the rare bound-to-be-drafted collegiate senior out of North Carolina, and the even more rare bound-to-be-drafted 23-year-old.
A year ago, he averaged 16.9 points, which happened to lead his team — a pretty good team, the Tar Heels were the Midwest Regional’s No. 1 seed and the tourney’s No. 3 overall seed — 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Here’s a little more.
He’s 23 years old because he spent five years in college, the first three at Pittsburgh and the last two at North Carolina. And yes, transferring within the same conference is rare, as is not sitting out a year after you do, yet Johnson is a very different guy.
He played eight games as a true freshman at Pitt before losing the season to injury, a season eventually returned to him at North Carolina. And he was, eventually, allowed to play right away for the Tar Heels because, get this, he’d already graduated from Pitt in three years.
Historically, the draft does not like older guys, either because they got old because they weren’t good or talented enough to bolt for the pros earlier or because, in the end, the old guy will have fewer years of service to offer, some of those years already burned up in college.
But that thinking is backward. The number of drafted players to play out their prime with the team that drafted them is not nearly so many. Really, just look at the Thunder for proof.
James Harden, no.
Kevin Durant, no.
Serge Ibaka, no.
Paul George, no.
And, if Johnson were drafted by the Thunder, and became a valued rotation player for, say, the next 10 years, before his body began to give out to too many years in the game, do you know how many people would lament the Thunder making Johnson their pick way back when because they only got 10 good years out of him rather than 13 because he was 23 and not 20 when selected?
Zero, that’s how many.
Let's get to the part about him being the draft's best shooter.
He averaged 16.9 points by hitting 50.6 percent of his shots, 55.6 percent of his 2-point shots and 45.7 percent of his 3-point shots, attempting almost six per game and making almost three.
Hoopshype.com, which operates under the USA Today umbrella, offers a pretty terrific resource to draft watchers, an aggregate mock draft that takes into account five different mocks belonging to NBADraft. net, ESPN, The Athletic, The Ringer and SI.com.
As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Johnson, in the same order as the mock drafts listed above, was predicted to be selected No. 30, No. 21, No. 23, No. 24 and No. 22, making him the aggregate 22nd selection.
Only ESPN sees him going as high as No. 21 to Oklahoma City. The rest see him going later and NBADraft.net sees him going much later, as the final pick in the first round.
The Thunder need shooting and it looks like the best shooter in the draft ought to be available when they select.
It makes too much sense.
Because he’s 23, because he’s played five seasons of college ball, Johnson should be more ready, not less, to play in the NBA than many of the 19- and 20-year-olds sure to be taken ahead of him.
Because he stepped right in and started for two seasons for Roy Williams, a fair college coach, you know he can be coached. The fact he only turned the ball over once a game over 135 college games is gravy.
Though NBADraft.net only puts him No. 30, it’s still the best resource on the Internet, going deep with every player's strengths and weaknesses.
Johnson’s believed weaknesses, in order, are his age, his lack of great speed or jumping ability, his hesitancy to attempt finishing in the paint and his seeming inability, despite his 6-foot-8 height (and 205-pound frame), to morph into a small-ball power forward.
Here are the first two lines of his strengths: “Lights-out shooter … Tall, wiry smooth forward … Consistent shooter off ball screens and dribble pull-ups … Release is very difficult to contest … Consistently hits heavily guarded/tough shots … Limitless range.”
As a Thunder fan, would you stomach those weaknesses for those strengths?
Heck yeah, you would.
Here’s another couple of lines out of a mock draft, from The Athletic’s take on who it sees Utah selecting at No. 23.
Hint: it’s Johnson.
“The Jazz badly need shooting,” it reads. “Johnson is the best shooter in the draft.”
Gee, if only there was a team a choosing a spot or two in front of the Jazz that also needed shooting.
OKC selecting Johnson makes way too much sense and, sometimes, the right choice really is the obvious one.
Wednesday, Sports Illustrated's Jake Fisher cited sources telling him Oklahoma City was looking into all kinds of draft deals, even ones that might include Steven Adams, Andre Roberson or Dennis Schroder leaving the Thunder.
So, really, who knows what Thunder general manager Sam Presti will pull out of his hat today?
Whatever he does, among the ways he can keep from doing the wrong thing, is to keep it simple and not overthink.
Get the best shooter.
Draft Cameron Johnson.
When: 6:30 p.m., tonight
Place: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
TV: ESPN, ESPNU, NBA
1. New Orleans
3. New York
4. New Orleans
19. San Antonio
21. Oklahoma City
28. Golden State
29. San Antonio