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Thunder Journal: Pros and Cons at 16 and 18

Thunder Journal: Pros and Cons at 16 and 18

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By now, every Thunder fan from Pawhuska to Pauls Valley can recite the full scouting reports on Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga, the two most likely candidates for OKC to draft at #6.

But Sam Presti has two other 1st round picks in the deep 2021 NBA Draft, players who could be valuable pieces of the Thunder rebuilding puzzle.

Let’s assume for a moment that OKC does not package those trades to move up for another top 10 pick nor combine one or both with #6 to slide into the Big 4. Assuming anything when it comes to Presti picks and packages is an exercise in futility, but humor me. Let’s also assume Moses Moody, James Bouknight, Franz Wagner and Davion Mitchell are all off the board by the time OKC is once again on the clock.

Which players will be available in the #16 and #18 range and why should or shouldn’t the Thunder draft them? Here’s the who, why and why not (shout out Brodie) of OKC’s other 2021 1st rounders.

Keon Johnson

Why: Keon is probably the most athletic player in the entire draft and his defensive motor runs nonstop.

Why not: It seems the Thunder has finally closed the book on shooting guards who cannot shoot.

Jalen Johnson

Why: Based on pure talent, ceiling and potential, Jalen is a top 10 pick in this draft.

Why not: He opted out after 13 games at Duke, and quitting on Coach K has some questioning Johnson’s commitment and focus on the sport.

Corey Kispert

Why: Far and away the best shooter in this rookie class, and his combine results showed he was surprisingly athletic.

Why not:Kispert is already older than Lu Dort, Darius Bazley, Theo Maledon and Poku, and as great as he is scoring the ball, scouts wonder if he can stop anyone from scoring the ball.

Josh Giddey

Why: This massive 6’8” point guard is the best passer in the class, he’s only 18, he was a triple double machine (shout out Brodie) in Australia and big dudes who can handle and make plays are the new Thunder prototype.

Why not: As skilled as he is with the ball, Giddey is only an average at best 3-point shooter. And as prodigious as he is offensively, he could be porous defensively.

Alperen Sengun

Why: At only 18, he was the youngest player to ever win MVP of the Turkish league. Sengun’s scoring skills have some Thunder fans hoping he’s the pick at 6.

Why not: At only 6’10”, he doesn’t have ideal size at center, nor does he have the athleticism to make up for it. And while he is an elite scorer, Alperen hasn’t yet developed a 3 point shot.

Usman Garuba

Why: He’s in a tight two man race with Scottie Barnes for title of best defender in this class.

Why not: He won the solo race with himself for title of lowest points per game in this class.

Ziaire Williams

Why: A consensus 5 star recruit and the #1 ranked small forward of the 2020 high school class who disappointed in his freshman season at Stanford oozes untapped potential.

Why not: But why didn’t he reach any of that potential in college?

Sharife Cooper

Why: Considered one of the highest BBIQ players in the draft, Cooper’s smarts, passing and craftiness in getting to the free throw line are reminiscent of a certain former Thunder player who is on the verge of winning Finals MVP.

Why not: Despite his erroneous combine measurements, Sharife’s height and size are even slighter than CP3. And despite his marksmanship at the line, his 3-point percentage is even slighter than Andre Roberson.

Cam Thomas

Why: You want buckets, Thunder fans? He’ll get you buckets.

Why not: You want buckets, Thunder’s opponents’ fans? He’ll give you buckets.

Isiaiah Jackson

Why: Jackson is a 19 year old, bouncier Nerlens Noel who gets to the free throw line at an elite rate and has shown promise as a midrange shooter.

Why not: Athletic, shot blocking rim runners at the center position in the modern NBA are going the way of the run-blocking fullback in the modern NFL.

Kai Jones

Why: Kai is an athletic 6’11” with a 7’2” wingspan, brings nonstop energy and shot over 38% from 3. Outside of Evan Mobley, he has the most potential as a two way star at center in this rookie class.

Why not: He’s a Texas Longhorn.

Jaden Springer

Why: He is a potentially great shooter who is relentless on the defensive side of the ball.

Why not: Springer isn’t a great playmaker, has a loose handle, is prone to turnovers, lacks explosiveness and his 3-point percentage may be inflated by a small sample size.

Chris Duarte

Why: His efficiency looks like NBA2K stats on easy mode: 17.1 points, 53.2% from the field, 63.1% on 2 point shots, 42.4% on 3 point shots (5.5 attempts per game!) and 81% from the free throw line.

Why not: Duarte is the same age as Devin Booker, who is currently in his sixth season in the league. Drafting rookies who are old enough to collect social security isn’t ideal for a rebuild.

JT Thor

Why: He has flown up draft boards after his impressive combine revealed he had a 7 foot wingspan, elite athleticism and an outside shot.

Why not: There is literally zero reason good enough for OKC not to draft the God of Thunder.