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How many future draft picks do the Thunder actually have? It’s complicated

How many future draft picks do the Thunder actually have? It's complicated

The Thunder have amassed the deepest collection of draft picks in NBA history

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On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up two second round picks for taking on the salary of Kevin Porter Jr., whom they immediately plan to waive. It’s the sort of transaction the Thunder have become famous for in recent years. One of the players they sent out for Porter, Victor Oladipo, was acquired in a similar manner this summer. The Miami Heat paid them two second round choices to take on Oladipo as part of a salary-clearing deal.

Oklahoma City may have built the bulk of its draft surplus through blockbuster deals like the Paul George and Russell Westbrook moves, but lately, they’ve been reinforcing it through this deft cap management. Whether it’s Oladipo, Chris Paul or Al Horford, Oklahoma City has mastered the art of receiving picks for both absorbing a player and later giving him away. After years of making these trades, the Thunder have amassed the largest pile of draft picks in NBA history. But just how big is it? Well… that’s complicated. Let’s go through Oklahoma City’s next seven drafts and figure out how many picks the Thunder have amassed. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll count a draft pick in the first year in which it can convey.

2024

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2024 first round pick. However, of the four first round picks it currently has, the lowest will convey to the Indiana Pacers.
  • Houston’s first round pick, protected 1-4. If Houston does not convey this pick, it will convey its unprotected 2025 second-round pick instead.
  • The Clippers‘ unprotected first round pick.
  • Utah’s first round pick, protected 1-10. If Utah does not convey this pick in 2024, it remains top-10 protected in 2025 and drops to top-8 protected in 2026. If Utah still hasn’t conveyed a pick to Oklahoma City by then, the obligation is extinguished.
  • Houston’s unprotected second round pick.

2025

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2025 first round pick.
  • Miami’s 2025 first round pick, protected 1-14. If Miami does not convey this pick in 2025, it becomes unprotected in 2026.
  • Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2025, protected 1-6. If Philadelphia does not convey this pick in 2026, it becomes top-4 protected in 2026 and 2027. If Philadelphia has not conveyed a pick to Oklahoma City by then, they will send Oklahoma City their 2027 second round pick.
  • Philadelphia’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Atlanta’s second round pick, protected 41-59. If the pick lands in the protected range, it goes to Portland.
  • The more favorable second round pick between Boston and Memphis, both unprotected. The less favorable pick goes to Orlando.

2026

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2026 first round pick.
  • Houston’s first round pick, protected 1-4. If Houston does not convey this pick to Oklahoma City, it will convey its 2026 second round pick.
  • The Clippers’ unprotected first round pick.
  • Golden State’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Oklahoma City has the most favorable of its own, Dallas’ and Philadelphia’s second round picks in 2026. The second-most favorable goes to Houston and the least favorable goes to San Antonio.

2027

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2027 first round pick.
  • Denver owes a 2025 protected first round pick to Orlando, and two years after that pick conveys, it owes a pick to Oklahoma City that can convey as early as 2027. That pick is protected 1-5 in 2027, 2028 and 2029. If that pick has not convey by 2029, Denver will convey its 2029 second-round pick to Oklahoma City.
  • Minnesota’s second round pick from the Porter Jr. trade. It is not yet known whether that pick is at all protected.
  • Oklahoma City will receive the three most favorable of their own, Houston’s, Indiana’s or Miami’s second round picks.

2028

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2028 first round pick.
  • Oklahoma City has its own 2028 second round pick.
  • Utah’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Milwaukee’s second round pick from the Porter Jr. trade. It is not yet known whether that pick is at all protected.

2029

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2029 first round pick.
  • Denver owes Oklahoma City another first round pick two years after the previous pick it owes conveys. The earliest this pick can convey is 2029. It is top-five protected in 2029 and 2030. If Denver does not convey a pick to Oklahoma City by then, it instead conveys its 2030 second round pick.
  • Oklahoma City has its own 2029 second round pick.
  • Atlanta’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Boston’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Houston’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Miami’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Phoenix’s unprotected second round pick.

2030

  • Oklahoma City has its own 2030 first round pick.
  • Oklahoma City has its own 2030 second round pick.
  • Houston’s unprotected second round pick.
  • Miami’s unprotected second round pick.

Swaps

  • Oklahoma City has the right to swap its 2025 first-round pick with either the Rockets or the Clippers. Houston’s pick is protected 1-10, but the Clippers’ pick is unprotected. 

Total

Alright, people, let’s take a deep breath here. On paper, this adds up to 15 first round picks and 22 second picks. This is the number you’ve likely seen thrown around on social media today in the wake of the Porter trade. However, the true answer is a bit more complicated. Notice all of the protections on these picks? Many of them are quite nebulous.

Of those 15 paper first-round picks, just nine are absolutely guaranteed to arrive in the first round. Five of them can revert to second-round picks if they never fall out of their protected ranges. Those picks are the two owed by Houston (2024 and 2026), the two owed by Denver (2027 and 2029) and the one owed by Philadelphia (2025). A sixth pick, originally belonging to Utah (2024) may not convey at all. It never reverts to a second-round pick. If Utah doesn’t give up a first-rounder by 2026, its obligation extinguishes. As for the second round picks, only one, Atlanta’s in 2025, has the potential to extinguish. If the Thunder don’t get it in 2025, they get nothing at all.

So where does that leave us? Basically, it gives us a range. With all of these picks accounted for, the Thunder will have between nine and 15 first round picks in the next seven drafts and between 21 and 27 second round picks in those drafts. The total number of picks will be 37 if they all convey, but can drop to 35 or 36 depending on what happens with the Utah and Atlanta picks. That 2025 swap with either the Rockets or the Clippers is the cherry on top of the deepest collection of draft picks any NBA team has ever assembled.

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