If you are like most Thunder fans, you’ve spent the past ten or so days conjuring up trades to land a top-4 pick. It is safe to say Sam Presti has been doing much of the same: tirelessly evaluating every option, searching for his next great lottery pick.
Over the course of the next month, we will examine a large number of prospects, highlighting 3-4 players every few days. During these times of uncertainty all we can do is prepare for all scenarios. Therefore, today’s focal point revolves around three players that will not fall to 6th. Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, and Evan Mobley, will make instant impacts, wherever they land. So let’s dive in.
Cade Cunningham | Oklahoma State | 19 years old | 6-8 wing
Stats: 20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.6 STL, 43.8 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 84.6 FT%
Yes, I know this is highly unlikely, so I will try to keep it short. Offensively, Cade boasts a silky smooth jumper (seen below) and guard-like handles. Gifted passing and court vision could transform his game and ultimately make Cade a hall-of-fame caliber player. Despite shooting 40% from deep, Cunningham could struggle getting to the rim, as he lacks elite burst and athleticism. However, the consistent shot will prove elite enough to average 20+ in the NBA. Defensively, he guards multiple positions but will require an increase in physicality to lock up NBA-caliber players. You will struggle to find a safer bet in this draft than the freshman from OSU.
Tough defense does not prevent Cade from getting to his spots, which is shown in the game-winner above.
Cade Cunningham in OKC would be a match made in heaven. The fit alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is flawless, as the two create match-up nightmares for opposing teams. Presti has pulled big moves before but this would take the cake as his biggest move yet. What do you say Mr. Presti? Let’s keep the kid in the great state of Oklahoma.
Jalen Green | G-League Ignite | 19 years old | 6-5 guard
Stats: 17.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.5 STL, 46.1 FG%, 36.5 3P%, 82.9 FT%
Looking for a pure bucket getter? This is your guy. From the moment Green steps foot on an NBA court he will torch opposing teams with his limitless range. The quick first-step coupled with elite pull-up game will prove unstoppable. Nevertheless, Green’s decision making is a cause for concern but should improve with better coaching. There is plenty of room for improvement on the defensive side of things. Throughout the past season, Green struggled to consistently defend opponents. However, the length and scoring ability are more than enough to overshadow and defensive shortcomings.
As seen above, Jalen creates big separation with his step-back jumper, a move that will easily translate to the NBA.
Following a season that saw SGA blossom into a tremendous point guard, it’s hard to imagine a better fit than Green’s elite scoring ability. The compatibility of the two guards cannot be overstated. Where Jalen struggle decision-making wise, Shai more than makes up for and vice-versa. Look for Presti to call if Green slides down to Cleveland’s pick later this month.
Evan Mobley | USC | 20 years old | 7-0 Center
Stats: 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.9 BLK, 57.8 FG%, 30.0 3P%, 69.4 FT%
Typically when you see a center ranked this high you want to run. Luckily, this is not your stereotypical big-man, Mobley’s versatility fits today’s NBA extraordinarily well. With a consistently soft touch, the 7-footer’s jump hook terrorizes defenders. He is capable of zipping passes other bigs wouldn’t dream of. Defensively, not many shots will pass the preposterous wingspan of Mobley. Athleticism paired with length will make Evan a true defensive star. The only true concern with Evan is a lack of strength in the low post. Adding some strength and physicality will only heighten the ceiling for the big man.
Mobley’s elite length is a menacing trait that leads to insane plays like the monstrous dunk shown above.
Of all the prospects Mobley is probably my favorite fit. Currently home to a center-less roster, OKC could fill their hole with a perennial DPOY candidate. Not to mention a pick-and-roll between SGA and Mobley would be breathtaking for years to come. The path to Mobley could prove difficult, but never doubt Sam.
The lottery brought disappointment to OKC fans, but a stockpile of assets can change all that in the blink of an eye. On the other hand, it takes two to tango in order to complete a trade, and that might prove difficult. While Cunningham, Green, and Mobley appear to be the top-3 players in the draft, it rarely plays out that way. As we dive deeper, we will see plenty of generational talent available even if OKC stays put. Until then, Thunder Up!