Despite their best efforts to stay afloat in the Western Conference, the OKC Thunder are succumbing to preseason expectations and are making their way down to the bottom of the standings, residing in the 13th seed.
Dropping eight of their last nine outings, despite some reluctance from fans, Oklahoma City looks to be on the right track to strengthening their odds of nabbing a top-tier selection in the notably strong 2021 NBA Draft.
If the Thunder did take full aim at the upcoming draft, the desire amongst fans is that they’d do everything they could to better their odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick, where they could then bring on Oklahoma State combo guard, Cade Cunningham.
In a recent mock published by Bleacher Report, we see OKC falling four slots behind the top selection to fifth overall (via the Miami Heat’s pick) and then another two more slots back at seven with their own selection.
The OKC Thunder select Jalen Suggs and Ziaire Williams in recent mock draft
With these lottery picks, writer Jonathan Wasserman sees the OKC Thunder taking Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs with their first selection and Stanford small forward Ziaire Williams with their second.
Citing Suggs’ fit in the Thunder’s backcourt alongside franchise cornerstone Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams’ upside as major reasons why Sam Presiti should consider this draft outcome, Wasserman broke down why these two likely one-and-done prospects would be ideal fits for the roster:
5. Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga, PG, Freshman)
With multiple first-round picks, the Oklahoma City Thunder will continue to stockpile talent. They should feel confident about their rebuild and future if they’re able to pair Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with Jalen Suggs, another interchangeable backcourt piece who adds more downhill speed, plus extra playmaking and defensive pressure.
He’s been one of the nation’s top pick-and-roll ball-handlers (78th percentile) and pull-up shooters (92nd percentile) while rebounding well for his position (5.4 per game) and registering an outstanding 3.9 steal percentage.
Suggs lacks one elite skill or strength, which may make him tougher for teams to take in the top three. But it’s hard to identify any alarming hole or concern in his scouting report.
7. Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SF, Freshman)
The Oklahoma City Thunder and other teams will look past Ziaire Williams’ percentages and buy the eye test instead.
COVID-19 protocols recently forced him to miss games and disrupted one of his better stretches of the season. At 6’8″, Williams has a smooth shooting stroke off the catch and dribble, as well as the ball-handling skills to create separation or play-make.
The game tape from his triple-double (plus two steals and two blocks) versus Washington showed it all.
Between his shot-making, passing and defensive tools, he’s an obvious fit for the NBA, assuming he starts hitting jumpers at a better rate. It’s a gamble worth taking for a Thunder team using its second lottery pick.
With so many different holes to fill within this rebuilding rotation, going the route of selecting a point guard compliment to SGA and a young & talented forward covers many areas.
That said, for us at TI, we hope that, over time, another center outside of Evan Mobley begins to emerge as a potential high lottery selection, for this position should be prioritized over forward what with the fact that OKC already has Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski at the position.
Luckily, this is a very early mock, and, in turn, many things can change between now and November.
However, if this were to be the actual outcome, as of now, it seems like a solid night for Presit and co.