What kind of player will the Thunder take in the NBA Draft?

Post by Matt Ravis – @MattRavis on Twitter

The NBA Draft is the lifeblood of a team like the Thunder. They are an ascending team in the West to be certain, but with so much depth in the conference, and a looming Victor Wembenyama in San Antonio, the margin for error shrinks.

What type of player could the Thunder go after in the draft? Let’s discuss.


Every NBA team needs these players. And when you think you have enough, it’s time to add more.

Ideally, this player would space the floor on offense by hitting shots — giving SGA and others more room to drive to the rim — and provide at least average defensive efforts. The ability to handle the ball and put it on the floor also seems to be a priority for Sam Presti.

Perhaps Kansas’ Gradey Dick could fill that role for the OKC, but I doubt that he will be available at 12. Keep an eye on UCF’s Taylor Hendricks, Michigan’s Jett Howard, and UConn’s Jordan Hawkins.

The only problem? Many Thunder fans have wanted Sam Presti to draft and acquire these types throughout the years, and oftentimes the team will instead take a swing on a player who is more of a project.


You might be thinking, “but the Thunder already have a million guards?” And you wouldn’t be wrong. But if they are to use a “Best Player Available” approach, it appears that a guard may be just that player.

Something else to remember: the bench unit will need someone to create opportunities. Presti seems to place a premium on players that can create for themselves and others.

With Tre Mann’s future a question mark, maybe Presti will look to add a guard in the draft. If so, look potentially toward Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino, Arkansas’s Nick Smith, or Kentucky’s Cason Wallace.

True center

Fact: the Thunder haven’t given major minutes to a *true* center since Steven Adams. Al Horford was quite serviceable, but I view him as a hybrid between the four and five.

This begs the question: is this an anomaly, or the way forward? The answer likely depends on Chet Holmgren’s development. Do the Thunder want to see what they have in Chet before bringing in a center?

Add that to the fact that this draft appears relatively thin at the position, and it makes sense that the Thunder would pass on drafting one, at least in the first round.

If they do pick one, look to Duke’s Dereck Lively, a mobile five with good size and defensive ability.

Centers can be found cheap and plentifully in this league. I would be a little surprised if the Thunder spent a first round pick on one.

True Project

Thunder fans are familiar with this pick. In recent years, Ousmane Dieng and Aleksej Pokusevski have entered the league extremely raw skills-wise but with great physical tools.

If Presti wants to go this route, perhaps Leonard Miller from the G-League Ignite. Rayan Rupert out of Australia’s NBL, or South Carolina’s GG Jackson fit the bill. Each of these players are relative unknowns, but you can see the upside as well. With as many picks as OKC has, it might make sense to keep making swings.

While this is a possibility, I question bringing in *another* project, barring a Poku trade this year. I just don’t see where the minutes would materialize so they can develop the way they would need to.

I’m not ruling it out, but based on the current prospects, where the Thunder are picking, and their current rotation, I would be a little surprised if this is the route they decided to choose.

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