The Thunder had a lot of potential heading into Tuesday night. With the possibility of getting both picks 1 and 5, the draft had a lot of Thunder fans very excited.
Luck was not on the Thunder’s side Tuesday night.
With the Thunder slated with the 4th best odds to win the lottery, they dropped back two spots to 6th. To add to the disappointment, the top 4 protected swap from the Houston Rockets owed to the Thunder also failed to convey. Having their own pick fall and not snagging Houston’s is one of the worst possible outcomes for the Thunder. However, even with the disappointing lottery results, the deep 2021 draft and the Thunder’s versatility with their picks still can draw some excitement.
The Thunder have been heavily linked to Florida State forward Scottie Barnes following the lottery. The 6’9 combo forward has been praised for his defense and feel for the game. He has shown potential offensively, and is a surprisingly good passer for a player of his size and age. Thunder fans should prepare for a reality where they end up staying put at 6 and selecting Barnes. He would be a great fit for the Thunder, but not the star they are looking to add to their core. It would probably mean another year in the lottery for Oklahoma City.
As mentioned before, the Thunder have a lot of versatility heading into the draft. While we’ve talked about the 6th overall pick, they also have obtained the 16th and 18th overall pick in separate trades. These, along with the 35th and 36th overall picks, could be packaged together to move up in the draft. If the Thunder are eager to find another franchise player to pair with Shai Gilgous-Alexander, they could combine some of their several picks, and maybe even some players, to snag a top player this year. Cleveland, slotted at 3, seems like a likely trade-down candidate.
If the Thunder do choose to trade up, they would be looking at Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs. Hypothetically, if they gave up some of their picks to Cleveland to move up to the 3rd pick, Cunningham and one of Mobley, Green, and Suggs would be off the table. The hope would be that Mobley would be there, as he would be the best player available, and would fill a need for a center on this Thunder team. He has been touted as a franchise changing player and could be an incredible second option to Shai Gilgous-Alexander. He has a lengthy, mobile frame, and has great defensive instincts as well as a nice post up game.
The Thunder should be disappointed with the results of the lottery, but they’ll have other chances, and 13 first round picks in the next 4 years. Sam Presti doesn’t need to rush it, but he needs to be keeping a heavy eye on if his team can be of championship caliber. Finding a clear second option next to Shai Gilgous-Alexander is a must, and Presti should be thinking over whether or not that guy should be taken in this year’s draft.