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Before we jump into a world of pure imagination, let me preface this fantasy exercise with some friendly sports advice: hope for the best, expect the worst.
There are 14 different possible combinations of picks the Oklahoma City Thunder can end up with on NBA Draft Lottery night. The worst possible outcome is 7 and 18. And the best possible outcome is… what this entire article is about. If you want to view paradise, simply read below and view it.
The dream draft jackpot scenario.
Admit it. You’ve let your mind go there. I’ve done it too. Sam Presti has absolutely done it. Though the odds say the chances are only 6.4% of it happening, there’s a world in which the Thunder could land the #1 and #5 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. So let’s throw joyless realism to the wind and play a fun game of “What if?”.
What if OKC ends up with the #1 and #5 picks?
While the top 5 players in this year’s draft class are considered a tier unto themselves, there is some disagreement about which order Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green should be taken from #2-#4. There is no debate who the #1 and #5 selections will be, though.
Cade Cunningham, who played his college ball down the road in Stillwater, is the easy first overall pick. Jonathan Kuminga, who said no thanks to playing free NCAA hoops and opted to play in the G League, is the clear fifth pick.
After trading away Al Horford and Moses Brown and missing out on Evan Mobley, OKC would still need a center. Enter the #16 pick just received in the Kemba Walker trade. Players like Alperen Sengun, Kai Jones, Usman Garuba or Isiaiah Jackson could all be available in that spot.
This could be the Thunder’s opening night starting lineup:
I’d need the Thunder DJ to blast some Peter Cetera every time there was a Kemba-Kai connection.
But wait, the fantasy gets even better.
More than likely, OKC will consolidate their three 1st round picks to move up in the draft. It could even happen if the Thunder hits the jackpot. Let’s say the Jalen’s both leapfrog Mobley because the teams picking at 2 and 3 either already have their center of the future or because they value guards more than bigs. If the team picking at #4 likes Kuminga enough, combining #5 and #16 to move up a spot to nab Mobley could make sense for both teams.
How about this for an opening night starting lineup:
But why stop there? You can’t put a cap on uncensored, hot and heavy Thunder fan fiction.
After hitting the draft jackpot, maybe Sam Presti feels like he can pounce on throwing a max contract on a young, elite power forward who would fit the OKC timeline. And maybe the Atlanta Hawks don’t match. John Collins could really tie this rotation together.
That lineup doesn’t make a playoff appearance. It makes an arrival.
By the way, yes, Lu Dort does win both 6th Man of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in all of these make-believe timelines.
But alas, we live in the real world. No chance that the Thunder will defy the 6.4% odds to land a couple of franchise-altering players. That’d be like overcoming .2% odds that Chris Paul could lead last year’s OKC squad to the playoffs. Nope, no chance.
So let us know who you think the Thunder should select at #7 and #18 via email or in the comments below.