7 Predictions About the Oklahoma City Thunder and the 2021 NBA Draft
It’s finally draft day in Oklahoma City.
Here are seven predictions about how tonight will go for the Oklahoma City Thunder:
1. OKC will find a way to trade into the top four.
I’ve said this since lottery night and I’m sticking with it. Cleveland and Toronto both seem like good possibilities. There’s also been chatter about Collin Sexton trades with the Cavs and the Raptors are reportedly interested in both Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga.
At some point on Thursday, I expect Sam Presti will blink and pay a premium to jump up to No. 3 overall and select Evan Mobley. At No. 4, the choice could be either Jalen Suggs or Scottie Barnes — neither would shock me.
2. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will not be traded.
Shai isn’t going anywhere, folks. I’ll continue to bang that drum until Woj proves me wrong. I think everyone (including Sam Presti) understands that Shai will be much more valuable league-wide in a year, and there’s absolutely no reason to trade him now. It would be truly baffling if Presti trades a potential super star shooting guard after a promising Year 3 in the NBA — again.
3. If OKC stays at 6, the pick will be James Bouknight.
I think the Bouknight noise is real and not a smoke screen. I think questions about Jonathan Kuminga’s G-League season will push him to the Magic at No. 8. Moses Moody should be considered here, but there hasn’t been any chatter about that from national NBA writers. Jalen Suggs and Scottie Barnes are presumably off the board in this scenario.
4. At least one of Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams or Ty Jerome will be dealt on draft night.
OKC will be trying to secure another high lottery pick next season, and those players would be more valuable to other teams.
Dort, especially, could garner quite a bit of value from NBA teams who are hoping to contend. He has two years left on his contract and then will be up for a big pay day. This is probably the time OKC can maximize his value in trades and it will help the Thunder achieve their on-court goals for next season. The main downside is he’s one of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s closest friends — but Shai wants to win longterm and business is business.
Williams and Jerome are floor-raisers without star potential, which is not what OKC is looking for right now. Both players (especially Williams) would be more valuable to teams looking for a cheap 3-and-D wing.
5. OKC selects no more than 3 rookies who will play for the Thunder in 2021.
The Thunder will be nearing a roster crunch soon, and I don’t expect them to draft more than three rookies despite having six picks in this year’s draft. Sam Presti will obviously be trying to consolidate on multiple levels (from 6, from 16/18 and from 33/35). There’s also Vit Krejci, who will be playing his rookie season this upcoming year after rehabbing from a torn ACL last season.
Even if the Thunder end up making more than three selections, I’d expect the 2nd rounders to be either G-League players or European stash projects.
6. OKC will make at least 2 trades involving players or a 1st round pick on Draft Day.
I think the over/under for this should be 1.5 trades, and I’d take the over. Might even take the over at 2.5. There’s so many different assets the Thunder could end up trading on Thursday that it’s tough to believe they’ll only be involved in one First Round trade.
7. Kemba Walker will find a new home
This is perhaps a bit greedy, but there’s been an increased amount of chatter about Kemba Walker from national reporters in recent days. There’s also a large number of potential suitors who need a point guard, and not many who would be cheaper (in terms of assets) to acquire. Anything of value that Sam Presti is able to acquire for Walker would be a bonus given that OKC received the No. 16 pick in exchange for taking on his supposedly-burdensome contract.