Should OKC Thunder prioritize playoff seeding or multiple draft picks?

OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks to media at preseason media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks to media at preseason media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Question 24 of the OKC Thunder 30 for 30 roundtable focuses on whether playoff position or multiple first-round draft picks has greater importance.

With the whole season in flux, this also will affect draft timing and depending on if the season returns and how it plays out where teams pick. For the OKC Thunder, these decisions are vitally important to their draft this summer.

The Thunder owes the 76ers their first-round pick if they finish 10th or higher. At the time of the suspension, OKC ranked ninth. Therefore, if the season resumes and teams jump right into the playoffs or if games are played and OKC doesn’t drop to 11th they’ll have to convey that pick to Philadelphia.

The Thunder will still pick in the first round by virtue of the first-round draft pick the Nuggets sent in the trade for Jerami Grant.

With that, question 24 offers up the T.I. writing team’s thoughts on whether the Thunder priority should be to keep their seeding (or possibly move up) or try to navigate falling back to 11th to retain both first-round picks.

With that, I give you question 24 from the series…

Q24: Do you think Is it more important for the OKC Thunder to finish 11th and keep both picks or stay in the top 10?

Shontelle Matano:

I think it’s more important for the Thunder to stay in the top 10 and still have the Nuggets pick in the draft. Yes, they should make the most of the picks they have but I think the team owes it to themselves to secure a higher position.

They’ve made it this far and deserve to be in a great situation for the playoffs. A Nuggets pick is still beneficial even if it could be late in round one. Recent history has shown some late first-round gems when OKC is on the board.

Rylan Stiles:

Finishing at 11th accomplishes both of their short term, and long term goals, so getting two shots in a weaker, or unpredictable class is better than one shot while also getting you to the postseason.

The NBA Draft timing will absolutely depend on the NBA Season. If the season does not resume, the draft will not change the same way the NFL Draft is still on pace for an April 23rd start. It may have to be virtual, as the NFL’s is, however, the show will go on.

Matthew Hallett:

More from Thunderous Intentions

The answer is dependant on the decision coming up at seasons end for Danilo Gallinari. If he is going to stay no matter what, then try and keep both pics. If he goes if the Thunder fall out of the top ten then push for the highest seeding possible.

Tamberlyn Richardson:

Two picks afford more options in a weak draft class. Having said that, if nothing changes the Jazz is an ideal first-round matchup. The reason that’s important is this OKC Thunder squad and in particular, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley could greatly benefit from winning a series and learning what it takes to accomplish that goal.

If this was next summer I’d be fully recommending they drop to 11th because it should be the draft where high school players can be selected. There is less certainty about high school players translating to the pro level, but being able to select a teenager and develop them in your specific system, under your team culture is a huge advantage.

The other key caveat is Sam Presti added eight first-round picks and four pick swaps this past summer. Marry those with your own first-round selections and the key point is Presti can always sweeten the pot by throwing in one of those picks to move up the ladder if there is a prospect he absolutely has to have.

Presti has experienced various levels of success in the draft but adding the undrafted Luguentz Dort was a home run. Similarly, undrafted players Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson carved out key roles on their squads.

Clearly the Raptors and Heat are two clubs who excel in scouting and development. If the OKC Thunder can emulate that type of success or repeat the Dort move then Presti can focus on using a portion of those picks to sweeten trades and obtain assets.

How Thunder would perform in various return scenarios. dark. Next

Thursday the Thunderous Intentions writing team serves up suggestions on who specifically the Thunder should look at selecting with those two picks.

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy day.