The OKC Thunder have the opportunity to come away from the 2021 NBA Draft as unequivocal winners.
Due to the fact that they finished with the fourth-worst record in the association this past season, Oklahoma City boasts the fourth-best odds of landing the top slot come July’s illustrious night, and a 52.5 percent chance of having their pick land within the top-5.
On top of this, thanks to the stupendous wheeling and dealing efforts from Sam Presti over the last several years, they’ll be in possession of two total first-round picks, which includes their own and the more favorable one between the Houston Rockets’ (top-4 protected) and the Miami Heat’s.
Now, while they should certainly be game-planning for who they may wish to pick with both of their selections this year, odds are the best player they’ll be able to land will be with their own pick, for in most NBA Mock Drafts the Rockets find themselves falling within the top-4, thus having them keep their pick, while the OKC Thunder typically slots in at fourth on the board.
With this turn of events, often we see the franchise still being linked to some of the best talent coming out of this draft, with the likes of Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green both finding their way to the Sooner State in the majority of these hypothetical scenarios.
Recently, our sister site Sir Charles in Charge put together their own mock which, as per usual, saw OKC landing at the fourth spot. However, unlike the rest of the mock drafts we’ve seen of late, the Thunder are seen taking Florida State wing, Scottie Barnes, with their first selection.
Citing his high potential and raw talent, writer Michael Saenz believes that taking a chance on the 19-year-old could prove to be the type of risk-reward move the OKC Thunder have the luxury of being able to take:
It’s tough to gauge how good he’ll be at the next level for several reasons. For one, no one really knows what position he’ll play in the pros. He’s has the size and length to play all over the floor but that could be viewed as both a strength and as a weakness.
Secondly, drafting Barnes this high would essentially be saying that he’s going to be head and shoulders a better pro than he was a collegiate player. That’s a difficult conclusion to arrive at considering he left much to be desired during his time at Florida State.
All that said, the Thunder should absolutely take the risk if they believe in this pick.
During his lone season at the collegiate level, the 6-9 baller posted per-game averages of 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, four boards, and 1.5 steals per game on 50 percent shooting from the field.
Now, while we at TI are truly set on someone like Jalen Green at fourth overall — assuming, of course, he’s available, which he was in this mock — the idea of taking the high upside Scottie Barnes isn’t such a far fetched idea.
His ability to impact the game across the board is evident and, with the right development, he could turn into a true difference-maker at the next level.