The Oklahoma City Thunder should stay away from Rayan Rupert after many tied the wing to OKC early in the process.
As we sit just a week from the NBA Draft, the Lottery buzz has died down around Rayan Rupert, specifically in connection with the Thunder. However, we know Sam Presti does not operate around buzz.
Admittedly, even I bought into the hype early on in the process. As a peak behind the curtain, I have been talking to people behind the scenes about Rupert since October; he just screamed Thunder. With each passing day, though, Rupert has fallen out of favor at pick 12.
The New Zealand Breaker has an undeniable defensive ability. How good he is on that end of the floor cannot be overstated. The aggression, timeliness, picking his spots to gamble, his length, and ability to annoy the opposition stand out above the rest of this draft class. With an elite motor and intensity, it would be easy for Rupert to endear himself to the Thunder faithful.
The issue with his game comes on the offensive end of the floor. Rupert ranks in the 36th percentile in overall offense, 29th percentile in the half-court, 23rd percentile as a spot-up shooter, and 35th percentile coming off screens. He was below average on layups (52 percent), shot 23 percent on dribble jumpers, and just 32 percent on catch-and-shoot looks.
The only place Rayan Rupert thrived on the offensive end was in transition, a good sign for the Thunder, who were third in the league in pace a year ago, Rupert ranks in the 41st percentile in that category thanks to his playmaking ability at his size. That playmaking allowed Rupert to finish in the 51st percentile as a pick-and-roll ball handler for the Breakers a year ago, according to Synergy.
There is no encouraging sign, besides employing Chip Engelland, that Rupert could become a viable offensive option. While he understands passing lands and how to find open creases to cut, defenses in the NBA will not respect his jump shot and could limit those things he excels at.
The defense is elite for the 19-year-old, but without a proper pathway for him to become a threat on the offensive end, there is far better value on the board for the OKC Thunder at pick 12 than a defensive ace.