Welcome to OKC, Cason Wallace.
I’m glad you’re here. And I have the receipts to back it up. On every podcast, video stream and radio show that I appeared on in the week leading up to draft night, you were my pick for the Thunder at #12. Shoot, I had you at #6 on my final big board! From our own Daily Thunder Podcast to The Franchise Radio to KREF to Grind City Media to OKC Topic Thunder to Locked on Thunder, I was the founder, president and one of only three known contributors to the Cason campaign. (Shout out to fellow believers Derek Parker and DT’s Aidan Elrod).
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t a lot of happy and excited Thunder fans. The vast majority of the OKC faithful, even if they were hoping for a Jarace Walker or Taylor Hendricks or Gradey Dick, quickly recognized how adding a versatile, elite defender with playmaking, scoring and shooting skills could instantly add more firepower to this young core. Some fans are already dreaming of a Dort and Wallace defensive tag team, while others have visions of an SGA-Wallace-Giddey-JDub-Chet lineup overwhelming teams with scoring, playmaking, shooting, ball handling and defense from all angles.
But some fans still had questions. Actually, I’d say some fans still had mostly one question with a few others sprinkled in here and there for good measure. I’ll try to answer them here. And save the big one for the end.
Why did OKC trade up when Wallace would’ve been there at 12?
There was smoke that a team was maneuvering to jump up to take Cason. Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated reported that the Toronto Raptors, a team connected with Wallace in pre-draft buzz, were in talks with the Orlando Magic at #11 with their sights set on the Kentucky point guard. Sam Presti’s intel last year helped secure Jalen Williams from teams trying to jump them at #11. Rinse and repeat one year later. Let’s hope these draft night tactics lead to even close to the same on-court results.
Why didn’t OKC draft a big?
I get it. We saw many times over the season that the lack of size hurt the Thunder in some close games. Whether it was the inability to secure a rebound or to secure any rim protection, OKC got out-bigged in the paint in some clutch moments and in the play-in loss versus the Wolves. But after Victor Wembanyama, Jarace Walker and Taylor Hendricks went off the board, the only remaining big with any lottery buzz was Dereck Lively II. And while it’s a lot of fun to imagine a Holmgren and Lively frontcourt just absolutely crushing any hope of opponents scoring in the paint, OKC seems to only be interested in bigs that can defend, pass and shoot. The hope is Lively’s pro day stroke is real, but the on-court production in high school and college is a much larger sample size than the empty gym workout video. Ultimately, Lively is a center and so is Chet. Sure, they could play together in certain lineups, but the need for a power forward would remain. And OKC wasn’t going to pass up on a better talent in Wallace to reach for positional need.
Why didn’t OKC draft Cam Whitmore?