The OKC Thunder took a big swing in the 2020 NBA Draft. Was that the right pick? That is a different question than the best value.
The Oklahoma City Thunder grabbed Aleksej Pokusevski with the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft via a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Sam Presti telegraphed his love for Pokusevski in the pre-draft process. It likely forced the need to trade up and get him as the Dallas Mavericks floated out a smoke screen that they were also interested in the potential unicorn prospect.
In hindsight, there was obviously better production on the draft board, but let’s rationalize this pick for a moment. The OKC Thunder wanted to be bad, to tank, in the 2020-21 NBA season. They were not looking for a quick return on their investment and were willing to swing and miss on a potential unicorn. The hype around this seven-footer who could play make, block shots, and showed some shooting touch was real.
Behind Pokusevski, the OKC Thunder could have selected Josh Green, Saddiq Bey, Precious Achiuwa, Tyrese Maxey, Zeke Nnaji, Immanuel Quickley, Jaden McDaniels, Desmond Bane, Isaiah Joe, Kenyon Martin Jr, and Paul Reed.
Ultimately, the best player from this group is the TCU sharpshooter Desmond Bane. A career 42 percent three-point shooter for the Memphis Grizzlies, Bane has played a massive role in the revival of the Grizzlies and a member of the 2020-21 All-Rookie team.
It is a close call between him and Tyrese Maxey in an expanded role or even Jaden McDaniels for the element he provides, but ultimately, we have seen what shooting provides the OKC Thunder, and it is hard to pass up a 40 percent shooter.