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The consensus feeling from fans is the foremost important factor in the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the 2021 NBA Draft.
If the lottery’s ping pong balls bounce just right, OKC could end up with a jackpot scenario of landing the #1 and #5 picks. But even in the worst case scenario of selecting at #7 and #18, the Thunder should land two rookie talents with immense upside.
With so much riding for the Thunder on this year’s rookie class, I’ve done more homework on the 2021 NBA Draft than I did my entire high school career. While that sentiment would be wholly disappointing to Mr. Jenkins (shout out to Social Studies), hopefully my fully loaded draft brain will provide a few minutes of entertainment to you, Daily Thunder reader.
Now presenting my 2021 NBA Draft lottery rankings:
1. Cade Cunningham. The two names thrown around most commonly to compare this Oklahoma State Cowboy are Luka Doncic and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA made an OKC team chock-full of rookies and trade castoffs competitive on his own this season before he went down with injury. Now imagine the damate two SGA’s could do to the league. Or for a sneak preview, stream Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 1991 not-a-classic Double Impact.
2. Evan Mobley. A true 7 foot center who has realistic potential to be elite on both ends of the court is the hoops holy grail. Big men are devalued in the modern NBA, but when one of those rare specimens comes along, such as an Embiid, Jokic or Davis, their team has a real life cheat code.
3. Jalen Suggs. Some fans are underrating Suggs because he’s only 6’4” and shot only 33.7% from 3 at Gonzaga. But they’re overlooking his playmaking, defense, finishing at the rim, leadership, work ethic, basketball IQ and fiery competitiveness. Regardless of the title game results, Suggs was the best player on the best team in college basketball. If he was two inches taller and shot 2% higher from 3, there wouldn’t be a Suggs vs Green debate. There’d be a Suggs vs Cade debate.
4. Jalen Green. Arguably the best pure scorer in the draft, has ideal size at 6’6” and is a walking nightly SportsCenter Top 10 candidate. As exciting as his offense and athleticism are, Green isn’t the polished all-around player as the top three. But he has a Devon Tower sized ceiling.
5. Jonathan Kuminga. Might be the strongest athlete in the draft, has an NBA ready body and has a fearless mindset attacking the basket. Kuminga likely steps on an NBA court and is a top end defender from day one, but also likely shoots and misses several 3s on day one. Despite his shooting struggles, Kuminga still has superstar potential. Which is good news because there’s a 55.3% that the Thunder will draft him.
6. Scottie Barnes. An athletic, versatile 6’9” playmaking forward who projects as an elite defender but shoots like a Stormtrooper, Barnes is the prototypical punchline pick from the Thunder circa 2014.
7. Josh Giddey. This 18 year old, 6’8” Australian prodigy of a point guard packs this draft’s prettiest passes, best court vision and a whole lotta triple doubles in his pouch.
8. Moses Moody. Knocked down most mocks because of a disappointing NCAA tournament, Moody’s shooting and defense makes him one of the draft’s best bets outside of the Big 5 to become a star.
9. Davion Mitchell. A tenacious defender, a lights out shooter, a nonstop basket attacker, a passionate leader and March Madness’s best player and biggest winner, if Mitchell was younger and taller, he’d be knocking on the Top 5’s door.
10. James Bouknight. Despite only shooting 30.4% from 3, his athleticism, ball handling and shot creation are enough to still make Bouknight an efficient, high volume scorer.
11. Jalen Johnson. The draft’s biggest boom or bust player, bronze medal Jalen oozed high end lottery talent in his short time at Duke, but his commitment and attitude are in question after he quit on Coach K midseason.
12. Alperen Sengun. An elite scoring threat in the paint with immaculate footwork and post up skill, the Turkish center could struggle to keep up defensively oh my gosh this dude is Enes Kanter 2.0.
13. Keon Johnson. Though he shows promise as a two way player and a standout defender, I’m lower than everyone else on the Tennessee standout because he shot 27.1% from 3 as a shooting guard, which is 2010-2020 nightmare fuel for OKC fans.
14. Kai Jones. Athletic, defensive minded 6’11” center who has shown potential as a 3 point threat to go along with his rim-running and shot blocking, Kai has shades of a young Serge Ibaka, but Thunder fans will think twice about trusting another 7 foot Texas Longhorn.