Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
3. James Harden, SG, Arizona State
I still don't love it since Rubio was still on the board. Harden with Westbrook, Durant, and Green form a tremendously talented young core in OKC. Again, Rubio would have been my pick. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)
25. Rodrique Beaubois, PG, France
The Thunder swapped this pick to land B.J. Mullens whom they reportedly were very fond of. Oklahoma City doesn't have a lot of talent at center besides Nenad Kristic, and since they are in the youth movement, a project pick this late works. (Even though I think Mullens will be a bust.) (Pick Grade: Meh)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Kings sign SF Desmond Mason
Thunder sign PG Kevin Ollie
Pacers sign PG Earl Watson
Thunder acquire C Etan Thomas from Timberwolves for SF Damien Wilkins, PG Chucky Atkins, 2nd-rounder
Thunder cut PG Earl Watson
Thunder acquire SG Robert Vaden from Bobcats for cash
Thunder acquire C B.J. Mullens from Mavericks for PG Rodrique Beaubois
2008-09 Season Summary:
The Thunder were awful in the 2008 portion of the season but were able to come together enough to be a respectable team in 2009. They played in a ton of close games and the roster really grew under Head Coach Scott Brooks after he took over in late November. The core of the team put together by GM Sam Presti truly gelled over the course of the season and is in good shape to build for the future.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Nenad Krstic/Nick Collison/B.J. Mullens/Etan Thomas
PF: Jeff Green/D.J White
SF: Kevin Durant
SG: James Harden/Thabo Sefolosha/Robert Vaden/Kyle Weaver
PG: Russell Westbrook/Kevin Ollie
NBA Free Agents:
PG Shaun Livingston (UFA)
F Malik Rose (UFA)
C Robert Swift (UFA)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $41.7 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. A second two guard - GM Sam Presti has made it clear he intends to build the team's future around Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. However if the Thunder are going to be successful they need a scorer that can play on the wing and can also slash to the basket. Durant is obviously the first scoring option but the Thunder are much better off if Green becomes the third scoring option and Westbrook can become more of a floor general.
2. A Defensive Stopper - While OKC has a good offensive core of players they don't really have anyone that can match-up against the opponent's best scorer on a night to night basis. With all the close games that the Thunder were in last season, a lock down defender could be the difference between a 25 win season and a 33 win season.
3. A Veteran Locker Room Presence - The Thunder are obviously built for the future with all of their young players but the current roster doesn't feature a single player that embodies the "Vocal Veteran Leader" role. Presti needs to get someone that is a so-called "glue guy" that will keep the locker room upbeat and help the young players get acclimated to the NBA life.