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After months of buildup, anticipation, exploring the roster, gnashing of teeth over Celtics and Clippers wins, lottery draft nerves, lottery draft letdown, and prospect research and debates, 2021 NBA Draft week has finally arrived.
The next time I write a journal entry, I’ll be bringing hot to lukewarm takes on the Thunder’s draft night picks and trades. This is my last opportunity to predict what the always unpredictable Sam Presti has in store for the most important OKC draft since a scruffy James Harden donned a bow tie and a Thunder hat.
So before the big night, here’s my final Big Board. For fun, I’ve included my thoughts on the Thunder’s chances to draft each of my projected 1st round talents.
- Cade Cunningham. Yeah right.
- Evan Mobley. If the Cavs came to their senses, they’d realize it makes more sense to get off of Kevin Love’s $60 million contract, pick up #16 and another future 1st rounder to drop down 3 spots, draft Jonathan Kuminga (whom they like) at #6 and free up cap space for Sexton, Allen and free agents than to try to fit two centers in a starting lineup in the NBA in 2021.
- Jalen Suggs. Maybe he drops to 6. Maybe OKC trades up to 4 because Toronto likes Kuminga and Barnes. Maybe OKC trades up to 5 because Orlando wouldn’t mind an extra 1st rounder to fall one spot. But is he that much better than Bouknight that Presti would give up an extra 1st to move up one or two spots to get him? Maybe?
- Jalen Green. Future Rocket, so my least favorite player in the draft tbh.
- James Bouknight. The odds-on favorite for OKC to draft at #6.
- Scottie Barnes. The Magic are locked in on Scottie at 5 and there’s a chance Toronto takes him at 4. Pour one out for the Barnes to OKC hype. It was a fun two weeks while it lasted.
- Jonathan Kuminga. The upside is immense and the bust buzz is overstated. If OKC stays at 6, it’s a two-man race between JK and JB.
- Moses Moody. Not good enough to draft at #6, too good to draft at #16. The perfect target if OKC trades back into the top 10.
- Josh Giddey. Some dumb reporter flushed OKC’s chances to draft Giddey away.
- Jaden Springer. Since Sam is such a smart dude, I have faith he’s looking at the vastly underrated Springer with 16 or 18.
- Alperen Sengun. The mocks are all over the place on this one. Decent chance he falls to 16 and OKC snatches him up, but most likely Presti has to trade back into the top 12 for Sengun.
- Franz Wagner. The rare top 10 prospect with no connection nor buzz to OKC. Which means he’s probably the trade up target.
- Jalen Johnson. When you’re in a rebuild and have 100 1st round picks, you wanna take some homerun swings. Johnson is one of the biggest in this draft.
- Corey Kispert. This ain’t your grandpa’s Thunder. OKC actually likes shooters now, so if the best one in the draft is available at 16 or 18, he’s a possible pick despite his age.
- Kai Jones. With OKC’s need for a center, shooting and propensity to seek potential, Jones is one of the best bets for a pick in the teens.
- Davion Mitchell. The national champion is awesome, but Raymond Felton will be OKC’s last short, geriatric player for the foreseeable future.
- Usman Garuba. OKC needs some bigs and some defenders. Garuba is a big and a top three defender in the draft.
- Isaiah Jackson. There were early rumors OKC may have made a draft promise to Jackson. While that buzz has faded, he’s still a perfect fit in the teens.
- Cam Thomas. At 18, there will be a handful of intriguing upside guards. Of those, Thomas may be the best scorer… and the worst defender.
- Jared Butler. If OKC is going to draft a Baylor guard, it’s going to be the less hyped but maybe better Butler.
- Trey Murphy. A 6’10” forward who can shoot (he’s named after a 3 pointer!) and defend, he’s a bigger Moses Moody that OKC doesn’t have to trade up to draft.
- Sharife Cooper. He worked out in OKC for three days, so despite his small size and small 3 point percentage, the Thunder must be intrigued by his passing and elite free throw rate.
- Chris Duarte. Probably the only guard in the teens OKC will overlook because his nursing home has a strict lights out at 9pm rule, so he’ll only be able to play the first half of every game.
- Ziaire Williams. Along with Johnson & Johnson, the biggest outside the top 10 talent swing. Don’t be surprised to see the Thunder throw a dart at one of the three.
- Tre Mann. One of the most underrated prospects in the draft would feel like a reach at 18 if you look at most experts’ big boards. But he’s good enough to be in play at 18.
- Keon Johnson. The athletic nonshooting defender every Thunder fan fears would be a good value, high upside swing. Just as long as it’s not at #6.
- JT Thor. OKC HAS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
- BJ Boston. Presti loves former 5 star recruits who fell off but still have high upside. Boston was considered a top 10 pick at the beginning of the season. In the second round, he’d be a steal.
- Bones Hyland. Projected to go in the late 1st round, OKC would have to trade up from 34 to get one of the best shooters in the draft.
- Day’Ron Sharpe. Thunder would love to snatch a center with 1st round upside at 34 or 36. The question is, would they go Sharpe or Isaiah Todd?
Best of the 2nd round: Ayo Dosunmu, Isaiah Todd, Vrenz Bleijenbergh, Joshua Primo, Josh Christopher, Austin Reaves.