The OKC Thunder are just hours away from the 2023 NBA Draft. With the 12th overall pick in the draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a few interesting guard prospects to keep an eye on.
From Lottery prospects that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been seen working out with to one of the best shooters in the draft, the guard position is loaded.
Three top guards to keep an eye on in the 2023 NBA Draft for the OKC Thunder
Kobe Bufkin is a 6’4, 195 combo guard from the University of Michigan who averaged 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game as a sophomore. He struggled to start the season but finished the season strong as he became the primary creator of the team.
He improved as a shooter in his second year, shooting 48 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from three, and 84.9 percent from the free throw line. From February 1st until the end of the season, he had averages of 17.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and shot 52 percent from the field, 45 percent from three, and 89 percent from the floor. Bufkin’s appeal as a prospect is he doesn’t have a weakness in his game, and he is good at everything.
The problem is he doesn’t have supreme athleticism, great shooting, exceptional passing, or tenacious defense. He is really good at all those things but isn’t great at it. The floor with Bufkin is high, but the ceiling is low.
The good news is he is a young sophomore who is younger than the Thompson twins. He can assume the 6th man role on the Thunder and provide the necessary spacing and creation that the Thunder bench lacks. He is a direct replacement for Tre Mann, who struggled in his first two years.
Jordan Hawkins is a 6’5, 195-pound shooting guard from the University of Connecticut, who averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game as a sophomore. Hawkins is the best off-movement shooter in this draft and one of the best three-point shooters in the draft.
He shot 38.8 percent from three, 40.9 percent from the field, and 88.7 percent from the free-throw line. He has a quick release, doesn’t stop the ball on the offense, and plays hard on defense.
He struggles as a point-of-attack defender with his smaller frame but he is an above-average off-ball defender who gives maximum effort.
I believe he can become an average defender if he puts on some more functional strength. Hawkins’s fit with the OKC Thunder is clear, he is a floor-spacing marksman who is a good connector piece that plays good defense.
Keyonte George is a 6’4, 205-pound combo guard from Baylor University, who averaged 15.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game as a freshman.
George is a broad-shouldered microwave scorer who had an up-and-down freshman season. He battled with injuries throughout the season and had an inefficient season because of it. He shot 33.8% from three, 37.8 percent from the field, and 79.3 percent from the free throw line.
He is a below-average defender but he wasn’t asked to defend at Baylor. George’s fit with the OKC Thunder is to fill the role that Tre Mann couldn’t. OKC is missing the microwave scorer off the bench and George could fill it from day one. With his bigger frame, he should be able to hold up against bigger guards and he is quick enough to get smaller ones.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have plenty of interesting guard prospects to sift through in the 2023 NBA Draft.