The OKC Thunder controls the 2022 NBA Draft, with picks at 2, 12, 30, and 34 Thunder General Manager Sam Presti holds the cards at every level of the draft. This leads to speculation, rumors (both real and fake), and visions of trades dancing through the Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase.
While some have speculated about the possibility of trading down from the second overall pick, the more entertaining possibility for the OKC Thunder fanbase is trading up from the 12th overall pick, or even packaging their picks in the high 30s to move up.
While trades are exciting for NBA Twitter, fans, and media alike, is there a case to be made to not move up in the 2022 NBA Draft? I know, what fun is that? We have a month to kill, why not lean into the fun? Allow me to be a wet blanket on possible trades.
The case for the OKC Thunder staying put at pick 12 in the 2022 NBA Draft
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been fantastic at flipping picks around and shuffling the deck, they are sitting on a historic pile of assets even after selecting twice in the first round in 2021. The team traded Alprene Sengun to replenish their stock which includes three first-round picks in the 2022 draft, four first-round picks in 2023, and four first-round picks in 2024, A number that does not reduce to three first-round picks until 2026.
While it is easy to explain why Sam Presti should move up from pick 12 if he has his heart set on a player that is slipping down draft boards, that is why you acquire all these assets, it comes down to a cost analysis.
With a very fluid 2022 NBA Draft class, everyone’s board is different, which will lead to draft day surprises and someone falling unexpectedly on draft night. If you look around at mock drafts right now you will often say to your self “how did he fall to 12?! That is a great value selection!”
Someone like Jalen Duren, AJ Griffin, Bennedict Mathurin, Jeremy Sochan, or Dyson Daniels, will likely be available when the 12th pick is on the clock. Is the difference in waiting to see who falls versus going up to get a prospect while using an additional asset worth it?
The Oklahoma City Thunder have positioned themselves in such a way that any move makes sense, including not making one.
One of the under-the-radar options for the 12th pick is trading it away ala Alprene Sengun for a future selection(s) and continue to restock draft assets while still owning the 2nd pick and 30th pick in this year’s first round. Not to mention a valuable second-round selection (34) the same slot they owned in the 2021 second-round before trading up to select Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.
The options are plentiful for Sam Presti and OKC, but I would not rush into trading up from 12 given how razor-thin the edge is between this crop of prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft.