Rumor: Thunder promised to draft Cameron Payne No. 14

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In 2011, there were rumors the Thunder promised to draft Reggie Jackson with the No. 24 pick.

The Thunder drafted Jackson with the No. 24 pick.

In 2014, the Thunder made a pre-draft arrangement with Josh Huestis.

The Thunder drafted Huestis with the No. 29 pick.

In 2015…

Chad Ford of ESPN:

As for the Thunder, since late last week there’s been a lot of buzz among rival GMs that the Thunder promised Cameron Payne they’d take him at 14. I don’t know how much of that is smoke, but he is a great fit at 14 and talent wise he may be the best pure point guard in the draft.

This rumor is believable because the Thunder have shown they operate this way. But because the rumor is believable, perhaps opposing general managers are too quick to accept it.

Payne is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Murray State. He blends scoring and passing skills well, but he’s not a big threat to score in the paint through shots at the rim or free throws. Payne is built to run point in a pick-and-roll league, especially if his 3-point shot continues to develop. He should get drafted in the middle of the first round.

Oklahoma City already has point guards Russell Westbrook and D.J. Augustin under contract for next season, and both appear to be better than Payne in the short-term. The Thunder – especially because Kevin Durant is entering free agency – should be focused on winning a title next year.

But it’s unlikely they draft anyone, regardless of position, who substantially helps them achieve that goal. If they see Payne as the best long-term prospect, they should draft him. And if a promise convinces him to skip other workouts, that might be the right way to approach this.