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Thunder Journal: Mailbag and Bolts

Thunder Journal: Mailbag and Bolts

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May 13, 2022

Catch our recent mailbag article if any of your burning Thunder questions aren’t answered below!

Who is a surprise player that could fall to the Thunder at #12?

Jalen Duren. The 18-year-old center is a lot of Thunder fans’ favorite choice if the ping pong balls bounce badly again and OKC’s pick falls to 6 or 7. Despite Duren’s athleticism, rim protection and his talent as a lob threat, it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch to think a traditional non-shooting big could tumble to the late lottery. Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe are a given. That’s five. Keegan Murray, Bennedict Mathurin and AJ Griffin are likely. That’s eight. All it would take is three of Johnny Davis, Dyson Daniels, Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason, Malaki Branham and Ochai Agbaji to go before Duren. Remember, some analysts thought Alperen Sengun could go as high as #6 last season and he fell to #16, and the Turkish center was a much more buzzed about center prospect. My guess is Sam Presti values Duren’s defense over Sengun’s offense since the OKC GM said no thanks to Sengun falling in the Thunder’s laps.

If the Lakers were giving out multiple picks, do you still think the negatives of having Russ would outweigh the positives?

There are zero on-court negatives nor positives to Oklahoma City trading for Russell Westbrook… because it would be with the intention to buy Russ out and let him sign with a playoff team. OKC loves Russ. Russ loves OKC. But the timing is just not right for a reunion for either side. The Thunder are rebuilding around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, both of whom just happen to play Westbrook’s position. Russ wants to compete for a title, while OKC wants to compete for the top pick in the draft. Let’s just wait a few years for the Brodie Farewell Tour so he can play his final season off the bench in OKC with a ready-to-contend SGA, Giddey, Holmgren, Victor Wembanyama and MVPoku starting lineup.

If Shaedon Sharpe is still on the board, would you package Lu Dort & the #12 pick to move up to #6?

I respect Luguentz and everything he stands for too much to say I would trade him away for draft positioning. So I’ll just beat around the bush instead. I am recklessly high on Sharpe’s upside and potential. Drafting an unknown, unproven newly minted 19-year-old so high is a risk. Dort is due for a significant pay raise and OKC may want to reserve that cap space for other moves. There should be some nice talent available at #12. Let’s say it’s Duren or Daniels. One of those guys plus Dort is a lot to give up for a player with zero college or international tape. Dort is still young and is a hard-working, culture-fitting defensive monster with an improving offensive game. But it’s not crazy to think Sharpe could end up being the best player in this year’s draft.

OKC has to draft a center, right?

OKC has to draft the best talent available. Whether that’s a center, a point guard, a shooting guard, a small forward, a power forward, an outside linebacker or a first baseman.

Brandon, who are the Thunder going to draft?!

The names I keep seeing in my head for OKC are the likes of Banchero, Sharpe, Daniels, Duren and Ousmane Dieng. I like to play the odds. The odds say OKC has a 51.5% chance to get a top 4 pick and a 58.4% chance to land a top 5 pick. It’s significantly lower for a top 3 pick. So I say OKC gets the #4 or #5 pick and the #12 pick. I’ve already said I think Duren might fall…but Daniels feels like such a perfect Presti prototype pick. I’ll go Sharpe and Duren. Oodles of upside, youth, two way potential and athleticism. Even without one of the Big 3 bigs, that’s a fun and successful draft.

With the Miami Heat eliminating the Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden, I’d thought I’d check in on the former Thunder players still alive in the playoffs.

Starting with the Heat, who are advancing to the East Finals, former Thunder guard Victor Oladipo will get a chance to head to the NBA Finals against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics, joined by Markieff Morris on the Miami bench.

Serge Ibaka and George Hill are mostly riding the pine for the Bucks, while Al Horford, one of the keys to the Celtics’ playoff run, is on the other side.

Flipping to the West, Chris Paul and Cameron Payne of the Phoenix Suns are headed to a decisive game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks.  On the opposite end, Steven Adams and the Memphis Grizzlies trail 3-2 to the Golden State Warriors.

So that leaves 8 former Thunder players still alive to win a NBA Championship.

John Napier

The Bolts:

As noted by Clemente Almanza (Thunder Wire), Bill Simmons thinks the Los Angeles Lakers should pursue Sam Presti for GM.  Not gonna happen, though.

Ben Creider (Inside the Thunder) runs through the Thunder’s tradition of giving players with Oklahoma roots a chance in OKC.  “Outside of the surface level statement, the Oklahoma City Thunder have tapped even further into the state-wide sentiment. I say this because, as of late, the organization has looked in-state for its on-court production. Last week, the Thunder officially kickstarted their pre-draft efforts. In this batch, Thunder GM Sam Presti brought on Oklahoma guard Jordan Goldwire and Iona guard Tyson Jolly for inspection – two players with Oklahoma ties.”

Rylan Stiles (Thunderous Intentions) graded the Thunder’s starting five from this past season.

Also via Clemente Almanza, Josh Giddey posted a TikTok after the Sixers were eliminated, starting with a clip of the 76ers broadcast earlier this year after a hard foul by Joel Embiid sent Giddey tumbling. On the replay, the analyst said the he “could [sic] care less” about Giddey.”  From there, the Thunder’s 2021 top draft pick took a quote from Spiderman (“be careful what you wish for”) with highlights from Giddey’s rookie campaign.