3 Favorite center prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft for the OKC Thunder

Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Dereck Lively II #1 of the Duke Blue Devils (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
OKC Thunder
James Nnaji of FC Barcelona (Fernandez ATPImages/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder could trade up to the mid-late first to grab James Nnaji as a project big man who could be a valuable contributor. 

James Nnaji is one of my favorite prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft, coming in at 28 on my NBA Draft Big Board. Nnaji is a high-level on-ball defender, a shot-blocking menace who can gobble up rebounds and score inside. At 18, his stats do not pop, but if you put on his games, his impact leaps off the screen.

Working out with Serge Ibaka, Nnaji provides the best upside in this class at the big-man position. His lack of minutes suggests he should go to a team with a heavy investment in their G-League program. He has to clean up the edges of his game, such as screen setting, timing block attempts, and his passing prowess.

The worrying component of his game is his lack of shooting. He does not stroke it from beyond the arc and likely never will, based on his free throw percentage, which could land him on the bench during critical points of games.

Ultimately, James Nnaji is worth taking a chance on if the OKC Thunder want to move up the draft board. The organization would need to secure a late first-round pick or early second-rounder to grab Nnaji in the draft.