Can OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti strike lightning twice via draft picks?

OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant #35, Russell Westbrook #0 and James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant #35, Russell Westbrook #0 and James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Hamidou Diallo #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2023 Draft Picks:

First Round Picks:

This draft year finds the OKC Thunder with the potential to swap their pick with the Clippers. As crazy as it may sound it’s not an automatic the Thunder will have the higher draft selection. In the summer of 2021, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can opt out of their contracts.

As implausible as that may sound think about this past summer. Kawhi Leonard was NBA Finals MVP, won the title was given the key to the city of Toronto, free food for life, a free multi-million dollar condo and still elected to leave what would have been a five-year max offer from the Raptors. Likewise, only one season into a four-year contract Paul George requested (let’s be real he demanded) a trade.

So, if things don’t pan out in two seasons for the Clippers those two superstars could bail on the Clippers for greener pastures. If that happens with a bare draft cupboard the Clippers could be in trouble because of how other free agents would view the team. I can’t even say – hey that’s unlikely to happen, because this summer taught us nothing is set in stone.

The other first-round pick on the table is the Miami Heat selection which is protected 1 through 14. Again, it’s hard to project where the Heat will be in four years. Jimmy Butler‘s deal was for four years but he can opt out in the summer of 2022. And, much like the Clippers the Heat’s draft cupboard is bare.

Second Round Picks:

If the Thunder doesn’t convey their first-round pick to the 76ers in 2020 (due to protections) they’ll lose this second-round pick to the 76ers completing their obligation. Likewise, if the Nuggets haven’t conveyed their picks to the Thunder by 2022 then their second-round pick would be owed to the Thunder.

What’s likely to happen:

Throwing a dart at the dartboard blindfolded I’m going to say the Clippers remain relevant and the  Heat pick falls outside the protection meaning OKC likely keeps their own pick with the Clippers pick being much lower. Since the Heat presides in the East it feels a bit safer to predict this pick conveying. Additionally, I feel fairly confident stating the Thunder finish outside the top 20 so they would be completing their obligation to the 76ers by sending the team’s second-round pick to Philly.