With the Thunder’s trade for Kemba Walker and the 16th pick, the Summer of Presti has officially started. With the NBA Draft Lottery a few days away, we asked our team some of the most pressing questions before what is sure to be a pivotal day for the franchise.
You can only choose one: two top five picks or the number one pick and Cade Cunningham. Which do you choose?
Bobby Howard: Give me Cade. The Thunder have plenty of picks in the future, but the chance to get a transformative player like Cunningham doesn’t come around often. The Top 4 are all solid, but Cade is the best bet for a superstar.
Jamison Maxwell: You take Cade if you believe he is a franchise cornerstone. Having another young superstar paired next to SGA allows the Thunder to be in a position in two years to make a big time trade for a disgruntled star to begin the push. All in all, I am not enamored with Cade (I want to see more aggressiveness and not get lost in the game), but he has the best tools to be that guy the Thunder are looking for.
Hunter VanDeusen: Two top-5 picks! Don’t get me wrong, I love Cade Cunningham but Mobley, Suggs, and possibly Green all have similar ceilings. Then, Presti gets first dibs at any player he wants outside the top-4. I’ll take my chances with two top picks and Sam Presti.
Jessie Postier: don’t think you lose with either scenario here, but… Cade, Cade, Cade! Presti has put together a nice collection of “positionless” players (Bazley, Roby, Poku) and I think Cade could easily be thrown into that group. Add a 40 point game against OU, a game-winner against Wichita State, and shooting 40% from three on the season into the mix and I’m sold. He’s exactly the type of player you dream about pairing with SGA.
Jason Uhrynowycz: Players like Cade Cunningham are the reason “Tanking” exists. This draft is loaded with great prospects but Cade is the cream of the crop. Cunningham is a generational talent that could transform a franchise. Give me Cade and don’t think twice.
Let’s say the Thunder end up second overall. Who do pick after Cade?
Bobby: I think it’s Evan Mobley. I know, I know: big men aren’t what they used to be in the NBA. However, Mobley brings a rare versatility to the position that is just hard to pass up.
Jack Foster: Evan Mobley for sure. He is too good of a fit for OKC to pass up here. The versatility he could bring to OKC as a potential partner with Shai, Dort, and co. is a frightening thought for future NBA teams
Hunter: Mobley might have the highest ceiling in this draft but his floor is extremely low. That being said, I’m taking Jalen Suggs. The 6’4 guard is a fierce competitor with great court vision and a devastating mid-range game. Some worry about his fit alongside Shai, but the NBA is a guard’s league so I’m sure Mark Daigneault would figure something out.
Jason: Evan Mobley is the pick at 2. With comparisons to Chris Bosh or a more mobile/agile Lamarcus Aldridge, Mobley has the skill set to be an All-NBA type big man down the road. In any other draft, Evan Mobley would be the number one overall pick. As far as consolation prizes go, Mobley is as good as it gets.
Cody Beat: It really depends on who the organization feels pairs best with SGA. Do they pick the explosive scorer in Green, the two-way spark plug in Suggs, or the versatile big man in Mobley? Presti’s track record of swinging for the fences hints that he would select Mobley at 2, but I would not be surprised at all if he took Green or Suggs.
I feel bad for even speaking of this possibility, but we need to think of it anyways: if the Thunder ends up sixth, do you trade up? If so, who would you give up to get a guy like Green, Suggs or Mobley?
Bobby: Absolutely, yes. I’m a believer in this top 4 and if we have to sacrifice Darius Bazley or one of our billion picks to get Suggs or Green, I’d say yes.
Jamison: 100% you trade up…if you can find someone to budge. The top 5 of this draft is extremely top-heavy, and the treasure chest of picks that the Thunder have acquired throughout the years does not mean the opportunity to try out 30+ rookies, but the ability to get any player they want through trades. Unless they view a Scottie Barnes or someone else as the 2nd best player in the draft, or a negligible difference between Suggs/Green, then I will be extremely surprised if they do not trade up.
Jessie: SGA and Lu are off the table in my opinion. Even if you don’t believe in the Dorture Chamber (if this pertains to you, we need to chat), Lu’s contract is a steal. Everyone else is fair game. If you can get Mobley, Suggs, or Green, you absolutely trade whatever is necessary. Presti made it clear in his end-of-season interview that he would not cut corners on the rebuild. I’d rather see a power move in this draft than play around with the possibility of tanking again next season.
The noise around this draft and how top heavy it is mainly in regards to the top 5. If OKC misses out on a top 5 pick, they absolutely need to do what they can (within reason) to move up. Let’s say the Thunder end up with pick 6, 16, and 18. Would a package of those along with a Bazley or another young player be enticing enough to move up? It’s hard to say – maybe a team prefers Barnes or Kuminga and additional draft assets over Suggs or Mobley. Buckle up Thunder fans, the Kemba trade only intensifies the flexibility of Presti’s war-chest of picks.
Jason: Depends on if the organization “loves” a certain player or not. I don’t think you move up just for the sake of doing so. For example, if Jalen Suggs is Sam Presti’s guy, OKC should be aggressive and do what it takes to go get that player. This draft is rich with talent but so are the Thunder with assets. The flexibility OKC has right now gives them the power to potentially get to anywhere they want on the board and I’m here for it. Excluding SGA, I say everything is on the table to acquire the player or players this franchise covets the most.
Okay, that was intense. Let’s lighten it up a bit: if you could pick anyone to represent the Thunder at the lottery, who would you pick?
Bobby: How could it not be Poku? I know my guy is just chillin’ in Serbia right now, but if he strolls up rocking a fanny pack and a Hawaiian shirt, OKC getting #1 and #5 is a lock.
Jack: Nick Collision is hard to beat here. With the amount of talent that this draft class could bring to the NBA, the 2021 draft haul could serve as a metaphorical bridge to the next era of OKC basketball, and who better to be the face of that transition than Mr. Thunder himself.
Hunter: You gotta send the franchise star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I can already see SGA pulling up to the lottery, making a fashion statement as he sits down with the chance of a co-star, on the line. However, I think Mr. Thunder will be the man representing OKC next Tuesday.
Jackson: There is an obvious answer here:
Now if our guy is unavailable, then give me Rumble. Break out the trampolines and let him dunk the #1 ping pong ball to OKC.
Kade Kimble: Lu The Beast. Dort missed out on both All-Defensive teams, now he will get his revenge on the league by stealing the first overall pick from any other team.
Final question: if the Thunder fails to get a good pick, was the tank worth it?
Bobby: Absolutely. Even the very worst-case scenario places the Thunder in a place to trade up and get a guy they want. If they hovered around a late lottery position, their ability to trade up becomes much less flexible.
Jamison: Yes. If you’re not first, you’re last. This is not the NFL where a 7-9 team can turn around and win a Super Bowl the next year. Draft position is key for us small town folk to be happy like we were in the early Thunder days, and this was the perfect season to do it. Fans couldn’t watch in person or online this year, so did it really happen? I believe the majority of fans who were anti-tank began to see the light as the season progressed.
Kade: Not a doubt. It was a season where we weren’t going to compete either way, why not shoot our shot at the best pick possible? The Western Conference was loaded this season and fans could not watch in person anyways. It was a perfect season to tank and ultimately the best decision for the team.
Hunter: 100%. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of two top-5 picks, but the tank leaves us with the 7th pick of the draft, AT WORST. Sure it would be awesome to Cade Cunningham but it is important for Thunder fans to be excited about whoever sports that Thunder hat on July 29th. After all, we never know who this year’s “diamond in the rough” could be.
Jessie: I don’t think the answer to this question is a clear cut yes or no. We’re in the beginning stages of a rebuild and things do have to go in our favor, but I think you absolutely have faith in Sam Presti to get it done. With that said, I think it’s definitely in the realm of possibility that in 5 years we look back and say “remember the tank?” with sly smirks on our faces.