A trio of international talents was selected by the OKC Thunder on draft night with pundits offering praise for the most part.
Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder had a busy 2020 NBA Draft Night adding a trio of international talents. Specifically, those prospects included Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, and Vit Krejci.
Entering Wednesday night OKC was on tap to select from the 25th and 53rd positions. As it turned out the Thunder didn’t pick in either of those spots but did make three selections as noted above.
Those shifts came about based on trades made earlier in the week and on draft night. The Lakers sent their 28th pick to OKC as part of the Dennis Schroder deal. Danny Green who was part of that package was sent to the 76ers on draft night and part of the return package included Philly’s 34th pick which became Maledon.
The blockbuster deal that sent Chris Paul to the Suns provided the Thunder with the draft capital to exchange Ricky Rubio with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 17th pick that became Pokusevski while the 28th pick was sent to Minny.
OKC swapped their 53rd pick with Washington for their 37th pick which became Krejci.
How pundits graded OKC Thunder draft picks
Everyone has opinions on draft night and the analysts, writers, blogs, and fans are no different. While Thunderous Intentions made our feelings known here’s how sites and writers graded the draft picks and compared the Thunder to the competition.
The Step Back:
Gerald Bourguet of FanSided’s The Step Back graded all 30 teams on their picks. Sam Presti and the OKC Thunder were among the teams who earned high praise from Bourguet.
The following is an excerpt of his thoughts particularly regarding the moves Sam Presti made to snag Aleksej Pokusevski. To view his full comments on the Thunder and all 30 teams click here.
If any team could afford to use its abundance of wealth in this year’s draft on a home-run swing like Aleksej Pokusevski, it’s the Thunder. – – By moving up eight spots, he snagged a seven-footer who plays like a wing, has potential as a shooter and can create for others. Poku is about two years away from being a real NBA player, but if anyone can take a chance on a boom-or-bust prospect with immense upside, it’s the rebuilding Thunder.
The crew at CBS examined each individual pick on a one-off basis. The following notes the grades for the trio of prospects OKC selected provided by writers Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone.
CBS Grade for 17th pick – Aleksej Pokusevski:
At 7-foot, under 200 pounds, he obviously will need to add weight. But this is a smart move for a team that is undergoing a huge rebuild. He’s only 18 and can play on the perimeter right now. He’s probably a ways away from playing at an NBA level, but he has the potential to be a top 10 player in this draft with his massive upside. It’s a solid big-swing pick. Grade: B-
CBS Grade for 34th pick – Theo Maledon:
Having dealt Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, the Thunder needed to invest — and do here — in the point guard position. Maledon is a versatile combo guard with good ball-handling skills and an improving jumper that should allow him to play on or off the ball in the NBA, a necessary skill that will allow him to thrive next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I had a first-round grade on him, so 34 is excellent value. Grade: A
CBS Grade for 37th pick – Vit Krejci:
OKC makes its second international pick of the draft. Krejcí is a 20-year-old Czech standout guard who has played professionally since he was 14. The Thunder could stand to add depth at guard as they replace CP3, and he gives them an intriguing developmental talent — someone who, at 6-8, has some intriguing long-term upside. Grade: B-
To view details and grades provided by Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone for all 30 teams click here.
SI.com Grade for Thunder:
Writer Michael Shapiro of SI like most of the pundits noted the big swing move Sam Presti made to grab Pokusevski but he ignored the trades required for that pick to occur. Shapiro provided a grade of B to the Thunder.
The Thunder are able to take a risk as they embark on a major rebuild, and Oklahoma City took a swing as they selected Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski. The Thunder reportedly are enamored by Pokusevski’s potential, and this is a franchise with more than enough time to see his development through. Perhaps Sam Presti will find an early steal amid his haul of draft picks in the coming seasons.
Shapiro was stingy with his A grades dishing out an A-minus to the 76ers, Hawks, and Hornets and a full A grade to the Mavericks, Kings, and Wizards.
Writer Ricky O’Donnell serves up his grades for the 30 first-round picks. His grade for the Thunder was an A. For the full article and grades for all 30 picks click here.
Here’s why he liked Presti’s selection of Pokusevski:
The Thunder are in tear down mode, and Pokusevski is the best possible player to take a chance on for a team in their situation. Poku is a 7-footer who offers a dribble, pass, and shoot skill set while playing with tremendous confidence offensively. He’s the youngest player in the first round at 18 years old, and he has a rail thin frame, but if he develops the right way, Poku has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft class long-term. The Thunder will be patient with him and hope he can be an offensive star down the road.
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Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer looked at each draft pick individually and noted in his upfront spoiler only three teams’ in the top 10 were deemed “A” worthy. In all Tjarks doled out 11 top ratings of “A” including one to the OKC Thunder.
Tjarks is one of the best follows throughout the year regarding the draft. His takes on all the picks are worth the read and can be found by clicking this link.
This pick made too much sense not to happen. A Thunder team that is two years away from no longer obsessively trading for future draft picks took an 18-year-old who is at least two years away from being a productive NBA player. But what a talent he is. Pokusevski is a 7-foot, 200-pound guard who plays with the confidence of someone who has read all of the glowing internet scouting reports about him. It will take a long time for him to develop physically, and it’s unclear what role makes sense for him at the NBA level. The good news is that a team with a literal war chest of first-rounders has nothing to lose if this doesn’t pan out.
New York Post
Unlike his counterparts, New York Post writer Greg Joyce was unimpressed by the risk-taking and fancy draft pick accumulation of Sam Presti. Joyce gave the OKC Thunder a “C” grade. Click here, to peruse the entire article and analysis.
Contrary to popular belief, the Thunder do not own every first-round pick of the next five drafts — but they certainly seem to be trying. After a busy week of trades, they had a mostly quiet draft by picking a pair of international prospects. Pokusevski needs some time to develop, but the Thunder are in no rush.
As for Thunderous Intentions, our grades for all 30 teams’ moves and selections can be found by clicking the link below.