Thunder Journal: Thunderkinds vs Rockets Rookies
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Rockets vs Thunder. Green vs Giddey. Sengun vs Mann. Garuba vs JRE.
Tonight will bring out the hot takes from all corners of NBA social media because one 48 minute sample size will no doubt be considered the final referendum on the entirety of the 2020-2021 season, the NBA Draft Lottery and the NBA Draft.
But first, let’s rewind for context.
NBA Draft Lottery night was supposed to be a night of fun celebration for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team had a 76% chance of landing one top 5 pick and a 23% chance of landing two top 5 picks. They ended up with none.
Tonight’s opponent, the Houston Rockets, were the big beneficiaries of the Thunder’s coin flip lousy luck. Instead of OKC drafting the likes of Scottie Barnes or Jalen Suggs at #5 overall, the team that started out with James Harden and Russell Westbrook and ended with the worst record in the NBA selected Jalen Green with the #2 pick. Parades were held in downtown Houston for the first time since Michael Jordan took a break to play baseball.
And instead of drafting Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley with one of the top few picks, the Thunder selected Josh Giddey with the #6 pick. At the time, analysts and fans were a cocktail combo of shocked and disappointed. Since then, the Wizard of Aus has overruled the court of public opinion.
To further complicate an already convoluted drafting and trading relationship, OKC traded away their #16 pick to Houston for the rights of fan and Pelton favorite Alperen Sengun for two future 1st round picks. Two picks later, OKC drafted Tre Mann. Another head scratcher when bigs were obviously the Thunder’s biggest need.
One more final pinch of salt was poured in the wound when the Rockets selected Usman Garuba, yet another center Thunder fans had fallen for, at #23. OKC finally landed a big in the second round with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, but before he opened some eyes with his play in Summer League, the selection rolled some eyes on draft night.
In the envious eyes of many, the Rockets had the draft night that was supposed to be the Thunder’s density.
But draft picks cannot be judged on draft night, nor on opening night, nor on the second game night that so many connected rookies face off for the first time. You think that’s going to stop the hot takes, though? Absolutely not.
If Green struggles to score and Giddey flirts with a triple double, the OKC faithful will roast Rockets fans. If Sengun has the best performance in a Thunder game for a Turkish center, Houston fans will taunt Thunder fans endlessly.
On paper, Thunder vs Rockets is a battle of two of the worst teams in the NBA.
On social media, it’s the game with the most on the line for Thunder and Rockets fans all season.