Xavier point guard Semaj Christon will start his professional career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that has made it to the Western Conference finals in three out of the last four NBA playoffs.
Christon was taken with the 55th pick in Thursday night's NBA draft by the Miami Heat who had already traded the pick to the Charlott Hornets along with the No. 26 pick in the draft for the rights to the No. 24 pick, Shabazz Napier. The Hornets then turned around and traded Christon to the Thunder for cash.
Christon will arrive in Oklahoma City with very little immediate playing time available, but the uncertain future of the Thunder's current backcourt rotation may give him an opportunity to make the roster.
Athletic combo guard Reggie Jackson's emergence was a big part of the Thunder's success last season. Jackson developed into one of the top sixth men in the league while backing up Russell Westbrook at point guard, and then the Thunder found a lot of success starting him at the two alongside Westbrook in the playoffs. The other point guard on the roster, 39-year old Derek Fisher, played just under 18 minutes per game last season, but was hired as the head coach of the New York Knicks earlier this month.
Jackson is under contract for the 2014-15 season, but if he continues the progress he showed in the playoffs then it could be difficult for the Thunder to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent after next year, especially considering the fact that they have $49.6 million tied up in Westbrook, reigning MVP Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka alone heading into 2015-16. Christon will have to prove that he's a worthy insurance policy for the Thunder to try and groom behind Jackson.
Christon is the seventh former Musketeer to be selected in the NBA Draft since 2003 National Player of the Year David West was selected with the 18th overall selection in the 2003 first round by New Orleans. Jordan Crawford was the last Musketeer drafted by the NBA, the 27th overall selection in the 2010 first round by New Jersey. West, a two-time NBA All-Star, played for the Indiana Pacers this past season while Crawford played for the Golden State Warriors.
Blessed with great size and athleticism for a point guard, Christon has the physical upside to become a contributor in the league. He is a nightmare to keep out of the lane, he finishes well around the rim and gets to the free-throw line. He also has the vision and the handle to be a serviceable point guard. The glaring deficiency in his game is his lack of an outside jump shot, but his decision-making has also been called into question by analysts.
Christon is the ninth former Musketeer to be selected in the second round of the NBA Draft, joining Derrick Brown (2009), Romain Sato (2004), David Young (2004), Lionel Chalmers (2004), Torraye Braggs (1998), Derek Strong (1990), Vic Fleming (1984) and Bob Quick (1968).
With 1,034 career points at Xavier, Christon is only the second sophomore in Xavier history to reach the 1,000-point mark. He added 281 career assists.
Oklahoma City also selected forwards Mitch McGary and Josh Huestis with the 21st and 29th picks of the draft Thursday night. McGary was a teammate of Christon's for a year at Brewster Academy prep school.