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Thunder Journal: Pre-Lottery Big Board

The Thunder will almost surely be picking in the top-13 of the 2023 NBA Draft. Here are the players we'd like to see cop an OKC hat on draft night.
Thunder Journal: Pre-Lottery Big Board

The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16th at 7:30PM central. At the time of writing this journal, that’s almost exactly one week away.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have a 1.7% chance to win the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes once the ping pong balls have bounced.

OKC has 8% odds for a top 4 pick.

OKC has 93.2% odds for a top 12 pick.

OKC has an 99.9% odds to land a Top 13 pick.

It just so happens that there are 13 players that stand out from the rest of the 2023 NBA Draft class in the eyes of this novice blog boy wannabe scout. They’re not all on equal ground, obviously. The baker’s dozen are divided in tiers, while Wemby is in a class all his own. But there just so happens to be exactly 13 players I’d like to see cop a Thunder cap on draft night and a nearly 100% chance of OKC picking in the Top 13.

Before I list and rank my guys, I’ll confess there are three other players I could be talked into with some nudging. Bilal Coulibaly is an 18 year old high upside package of defense, athleticism and offensive potential. Jordan Hawkins is an elite movement shooter that runs around the court hunting for shots like a certain former Davidson prospect. And Brice Sensabaugh is a big bodied knockdown shooter and scorer. But Bilal is raw and there’s plenty of questions about Hawkins and Sensabaugh outside of their shooting. We’ll consider that trio my honorable mentions. At this point in the draft cycle (the combine may change things), I could get mildly enthused about them, but I’d be pretty disappointed OKC didn’t draft one of the following players.

Here are my 13 favorite Thunder-centric rookies in the 2023 NBA Draft:

13. Kobe Bufkin

Jack of all trades, master of only one: finishing at the rim. With SGA, JDub, Chet and Giddey already in tow, I don’t mind the idea of a high floor/moderate ceiling player that defends, shoots, passes and creates. He may not have superstar upside, but Bufkin could be a star complimentary player to superstars.

12. Leonard Miller

Let’s count all the Thunder boxes that he checks. Jumbo sized for his position. Playmaking potential. Ball handler. Defensive upside. Canadian. Miller is somehow going under the radar. His impressive numbers with G League Ignite and his current draft stock don’t compute. He’s a great rebounder and finisher at the rim. The jumper looks completely wonky, but he hits 33% of his 3’s and nearly 80% of his freebies. My favorite pick if OKC doesn’t trade up and nobody unexpectedly falls.

11. Ausar Thompson

Obviously, I’m much lower on the Thompson Twins than consensus. Ausar’s inefficiency as a 20 year old playing against high schoolers is concerning. But that athleticism, playmaking, defense, improving outside shot and overall upside would be hard to resist.

10. Cam Whitmore

I believe in Whitmore’s scoring, athleticism and upside. There are only two Cam concerns. His listed height is 6’7” and but some believe he is closer to 6’5” and that his reported wingspan of 7’0” may be a few inches shorter as well. The bigger thing in the eyes of the new era Thunder is that he has no interest in passing the rock whatsoever. Whitmore averages only .7 assists to 1.6 turnovers per game. If Mark Daigneault can get Cam to buy into the OKC brand of ball sharing, Whitmore could be a lot of fun.

9. Gradey Dick

This one is pretty self explanatory, and Daily Thunder's Aidan Elrod did a deep dive on what makes Dick appealing. Gradey is a 6’8” elite movement shooter. The idea of slotting him next to SGA, JDub, Giddey and Chet has thoughts of big points dancing in Thunder fans’ heads. While he’s no Andre Roberson, he’s not a total pushover defensively. While he’s no Russell Westbrook, he’s a little more athletic than people think.

And the Thunder Select…Gradey Dick
Gradey Dick has the size to fit in with the lanky Thunder, and the shooting they so desperately need.

8. Amen Thompson

Look, I get that Amen has the biggest superstar ceiling in this draft outside of Wemby. But those long distance and free throw percentages are ugly. The twins are the same age as Josh Giddey and we’ve only seen them against teenagers. I’d be incredibly excited about Amen in OKC… but incredibly nervous that not even Chip Engelland could unlock that shot.

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