The Oklahoma City Thunder head into the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery with an 85.2 percent chance of landing the 12th overall pick. While the OKC Thunder have odds to jump into the top four, the franchise will likely exit Tuesday night with the 12th overall selection.
On Tuesday, the NBA will find out the new home for prized prospect Victor Wembanyama and the rest of the NBA Draft order. In All likelihood, the OKC Thunder will end up being slotted for the 12th pick, with two additional selections in the second round. So should OKC trade down from the 12th overall pick?
Should the OKC Thunder consider trading down in the 2023 NBA Draft if they remain at 12 after the Draft Lottery?
With the number of future draft assets Sam Presti already owns, specifically four picks in the 2024 NBA Draft, the focus for Thunder fans has been trading up in the Draft this season. However, should Oklahoma City trade back?
Put your pitchforks down, do not sound the alarms, and do not head to Twitter to rip on Presti for “only caring about future first-round picks!” Do not ponder, “How many first-round picks does Presti need?!” Just hear me out.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) being put in place on July 1st changes the landscape of the NBA precisely regarding team building around massive contracts.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has already inked his max contract. Jalen Williams, Josh Giddey, and Chet Holmgren project to earn the same result. Building around this core is going to take cost-controlled improvements.
With the amount of money this core should demand (if they all pan out), the external additions might be limited. However, with Sam Presti stock-piling first-round picks, he keeps OKC flexible by adding slotted-in rookie-scale deals to place around their second and eventually third-contract stars.
At the 12th overall pick, it comes down to who is available. If this draft does not include surprises and names like Gradey Dick, Taylor Hendricks, and Jarace Walker do not fall, why not explore trading back?
The difference between selecting a Cason Wallace, Leonard Miller, Rayan Rupert, Kobe Bufkin, and the list goes on is minimal if you can pick up a future asset in the process while getting the same caliber of player a few spots lower.
At his annual exit interview, Sam Presti said it himself; you can never have too many future first-round picks. While on the surface, this decision would be the biggest joke on Twitter about Presti hoarding selections, there is still good reason to do so, given the future implications of the new CBA.
There is also a reason to move up from 12, trading back into the first round for an additional pick, and stay at 12. The bottom line is Sam Presti, and the OKC Thunder have a ton of leverage in the 2023 NBA Draft. Unlike the last two drafts, this cycle does not pressure the franchise. They can evaluate all their options and make the best decision.
But do not rule out trading back from the 12th overall pick.