Thunder Journal: Draft Scuttlebutt Mail Bag
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It’s time to open up my Twitter mailbag and answer some of my favorite questions from Thunder fans over the past week!
What do you think the chances are that OKC packages 12, 30 and 34 together to move up? How far can they move up?
The Thunder trading up from #12, with some choose your own tradeventure combo of Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams, Vasilije Micic or first round picks, is one of the most popular ideas on social media. While a player like AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren or Jeremy Sochan may fall to OKC if Sam Presti stays pat, moving up opens the door to the possibility of Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels or Bennedict Mathurin. OKC walking away with arguably the draft’s best player at #2 and another top tier talent would be a banner night for the rebuild. Presti will surely have a guy in that 7-10 range that he covets and will try to consolidate OKC’s picks at #30 and #34, along with who knows what else, to move up and get him. Scared money and all that. Sammy obviously has the assets, but he also has a limit for how much he’ll pay. I’d still play the odds and say OKC drafts at #12 because the price to move up won’t be worth the cost. Especially if and when a couple players Presti likes start dropping. I think the chances are higher OKC packages #30 and #34 together to move up into the early/mid 20’s.
Why do some many people want to trade Lu Dort?
What’s more exciting than the good young player you already have? The imagination of an even better, even younger player you don’t have. To be clear, the majority of Thunder fans hope OKC signs Dort to a contract that keeps him playing at The Paycom Center for a long time. But it’s that same contract that has some fans weary. Is the price going to be too high and limit OKC’s future ceiling and flexibility? Should Presti cash in Dort while he has one year left on the biggest bargain contract in the league? Especially when there are win now teams at #7 and #8 in the draft in the Blazers and Pelicans? But on the flip side, isn’t giving up a 23-year-old defensive ace with an ever-improving offensive game to move up four or five spots in the draft a massive overpay?
Can you sell me on Chet Holmgren?
He’s a 7’1” center with a 7’6” wingspan who has the makings of a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate while shooting near 40% from three with the ball skills of a guard. Holmgren’s basketball IQ, feel for the game and competitiveness are exactly what a team hopes for in a franchise cornerstone. The consensus is Chet has the highest ceiling in the entire rookie class, but his combination of skill, length and feel make his floor as high as some prospects’ ceilings. He’s most draft experts’ #1 rated player, but if he was even 20 pounds heavier, he’d be the unanimous top pick. And he’s already become Instagram BFFs with Josh Giddey.
How good is Vasilije Micic?
There’s real buzz the Serbian combo guard wants to leave the EuroLeague and finally come stateside to play in the NBA. OKC owns his draft rights, but the whispers from European hoops media is Micic’s agent is negotiating a trade to a place where his client will get a featured role on a playoff team. It all leads to the question… what can the Thunder get for him? He was the 2021 EuroLeague MVP and led his Anadolu Efes team to back to back championships as a back to back EuroLeague Final Four MVP. Micic is a phenomenal passer and a certified bucket getter while playing solid defense. Basically, Vasilije is one of the best players in the world not currently playing in the NBA. He’s in the prime of his career at 28 years old, so he’s a win now player. His age hurts his trade value, but he can step in and help any team for the next several seasons. Finding out his value is one of the more underrated and intriguing storylines for the Thunder this offseason.
Do you believe any of the Jaden Ivey smoke?
According to a few NBA insiders, there’s whispers of Thunder interest in the crazy athletic guard from Purdue. To add to the rumor mill, apparently some front offices have Ivey as the #1 or #2 prospect in the draft class, an idea that goes against the generally accepted belief that he’s a tier below Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Jr. and Paolo Banchero. Some have even insinuated that a deal with the Kings to trade back to #4 to select Ivey is already in the works. Look, I don’t doubt Sam Presti likes the idea of a Ja Morant clone skying for lobs from SGA and Josh Giddey. I don’t doubt Presti is keeping all his options open, including drafting a potential star in a trade down while also picking up a 2023 lottery ticket for another chance at Victor Wembanyama. But I do doubt Presti would tank for two seasons for the chance to draft at #2 for a potential franchise changer like Holmgren and then pass up the chance to draft him. And more than anything, I absolutely doubt any draft analyst, talking head or writer, myself included, has any idea what Sam Presti is planning.