The OKC Thunder walked away from the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery with the 12th overall pick, a familiar spot for Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder organization as a whole. The Franchise picked at 12 as recently as last year when they brought in four prospects, including three in the lottery.
While Chet Holmgren, picked 2nd in the 2022 NBA Draft, has yet to step on the floor for the OKC Thunder, Jalen Williams stole the show as the 12th pick in last year’s draft. The Santa Clara wing finished runner-up for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
The OKC Thunder picking at 12 should encourage the fanbase, given their track record of success in this slot.
A year ago, Jalen Williams was dominating the NBA Combine scrimmages, which catapulted him up NBA Draft Boards and contributed to him being a Lottery pick on Draft Night. However, even before Sam Presti used the 12th overall pick on the Santa Clara wing, Jalen Williams explained the OKC Thunder were the first team to express serious interest and monitor him closely.
That paid off for the OKC Thunder, as the 6’6 wing posted 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, and 1.9 STOCKS per game (steals plus rebounds). In addition, he amazingly shot 52 percent from the floor, 35 percent from beyond the arc, and 81 percent at the free throw line.
The rising star thrived in March to the tune of 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists per tile with to the tune of 56/46/87 shooting splits in those 15 games. Before the year, Kenrich Williams tabbed the rookie as a potential future All-Star, and he was proven right throughout the season as Jalen Williams produced huge flashes.
However, Jalen Williams is one of many success stories at 12 pick as the OKC Thunder grabbed long-time starting big man Steven Adams at that same slot back in 2013. Adams was also named to the All-Rookie team on his way to seven seasons in Bricktown with a career average in OKC of nine points, eight rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block per game. The surprise pick out of Pittsburgh University eventually netted the Thunder Kenrich Williams when Sam Presti shipped him off to New Orleans. Still, in those nine years, Adams became a fan favorite.
Becoming a fan favorite is a theme for players selected at 12. After just one season, Jalen Williams has already stolen the hearts in the heartland. OKC Thunder fans still long for their New Zealand big man. Then, you have Nick Collison, literally Mr. Thunder, also being a former 12th overall pick for the franchise.
After a successful career at the University of Kansas, Collison was selected 12th overall in the historic 2003 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. Like Chet Holmgren this season, Collison missed the 2003-04 season due to injury. However, that did not stop him from posting a 14-year career, all with the same franchise.
On top of representing the team in the Lottery each of the last two years and still being employed by the franchise in a front-office role, the lottery pick has his number hanging in the rafters of the Paycom Center, awaiting the other franchise pillars to join him one day.
Safe to say history is on the Thunder’s side when selecting at pick 12 in the NBA Draft. Two other times the franchise owned this pick, they selected 2001 All-Rookie team member Vladimir Radmanovic and Robert Swift, who saw his NBA career span just four seasons.