June 25, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Cameron Payne can't wait to challenge Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder selected Payne with the No. 14 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday. The Murray State point guard will get to test himself in practice against Westbrook, the reigning NBA scoring champion and one of the league's best athletes.

''It's going to be a great time for me,'' Payne said. ''He's definitely going to make me a better player. He loves to compete and I love to compete. We're going to go at it. I'm definitely going to try my best to do all I can to make him a better player. He's already an All-Star, so he's going to make me a better player just right off the bat. I'm looking forward to it.''

The Thunder also have another veteran point guard, D.J. Augustin, to help Payne along.

''I think both of those guys are pros pros,'' Thunder general manager Sam Presti said of Westbrook and Augustin. ''He (Payne) likes the idea that there are guys that can help him with that transition. That's not always the case. Sometimes, they see veteran players as roadblocks and not as opportunity.''

The Thunder selected Kentucky center Dakari Johnson with the 48th pick. The 7-footer averaged 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore and helped the Wildcats win their first 38 games. He shot 51 percent from the field and averaged nearly a block in 16 minutes per game.

Payne averaged 20.2 points and 6.0 assists per game as a sophomore last season. He shot 46 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range. Payne said the Thunder picked him because he excels in the pick-and-roll and can push the pace. Presti said 6-foot-2 lefthander likely won't play in summer league because of a right hand injury he considers minor.

Payne said he comes in with a chip on his shoulder, in part because he was the only player in the green room from a mid-major program.

''I'm blessed to be in that position,'' he said. ''To have Murray State in between Kentucky and most teams in Final Four, the Elite Eight - we didn't get to the Final Four of NIT.''

The Thunder gained the lottery pick because they missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker in the loaded Western Conference. It is Oklahoma City's first draft since hiring Billy Donovan to replace Scott Brooks as head coach.

Earlier in the day, the Thunder announced that they had acquired guard Luke Ridnour and a conditional 2016 second round draft pick from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for guard Jeremy Lamb.

The Thunder had no glaring needs, and were looking to add to their depth.

The franchise has a history of draft success under Presti. He picked Kevin Durant No. 2 in 2007, Westbrook No. 4 and Serge Ibaka No. 24 in 2008, James Harden No. 3 in 2009, Reggie Jackson No. 24 in 2011 and Steven Adams No. 12 in 2013. Durant is the 2014 MVP and a four-time scoring champion, Westbrook was the scoring champion and All-Star Game MVP this past season and Ibaka is a three-time member of the All-Defense first team and a two-time league blocks leader.

Expectations are high heading into next season because Durant, who played just 27 games last season because of foot and ankle injuries, and Ibaka, who missed the last month of the season with a knee injury, are expected to be healthy. Oklahoma City entered last season as one of the favorites to contend for the NBA title before the injuries piled up. Even with all the setbacks, the Thunder finished with a 45-37 record.

Presti said he's excited to see the players who return from injury work with the players the Thunder added during the course of last season. Regardless of the lineup, Presti thinks Payne can help.

''We really felt like Cameron was someone that fit, regardless as to the team that we're all waiting to see play.'' he said.

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