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2012 NBA Mock Draft: Thunder Linked To Vanderbilt SF Jeffrey Taylor

While there are many reports floating around the internet about the Oklahoma City Thunder trading up in the 2012 NBA Draft, the more realistic scenario for the defending Western Conference champions is staying put at No. 28.

Oklahoma City, a small-market team with a serious salary cap crunch ahead of them, doesn't have the luxury of ignoring the end of the first round. They need to find players who can contribute on cost-controlled rookie salaries in order to afford paying three or four near-max salaries to their stars.

In the final mock draft from, Sam Amick has them playing it safe and taking a four-year senior with limited bust potential at the end of the first:

Taylor would give the Thunder another potential defensive stopper to go with shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and get small forward Kevin Durant more backup help. He can score, too. Most of his offense came from attacking the rim in his first three seasons at Vanderbilt, but he started developing three-point range as a junior and made it a weapon as a senior when he shot 42.3 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 16.1 points.

Taylor would give Scott Brooks a two-way role player on the wing behind Kevin Durant, something Sefolosha (who can't shoot) or Daequan Cook (who can't defend) didn't provide last year. Of course, that doesn't matter if he decides to play Derek Fisher 25 minutes a night in next year's playoffs.

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