The Oklahoma City Thunder held their annual rookie introductory press conference with their 2023 NBA Draft class. The event features interviews with head coach Mark Daigneault, General Manager Sam Presti, 10th overall pick Cason Wallace, and 50th overall pick Keyontae Johnson.
The OKC Thunder not only made a draft day trade for the sixth straight year to leap up the board to grab Kentucky guard Cason Wallace but stayed put at pick 50 to grab some great value. Keyontae Johnson provides an interesting dynamic on the floor, and his journey to this point is also incredible.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will add Keyontae Johnson to a two-way contract, according to General Manager Sam Presti at Saturday’s Introductory press conference.
On Saturday, Sam Presti held a media scrum, announcing to the assembled local media that Keyontae Johnson will be signed to a two-way contract. This is a common practice for players selected in Johnson’s range. Typically in the 30s, you will see contracts that mirror that of a first-round pick, with more outs for teams along the way. Around the mid-40s, those quickly turn into two-way pacts, especially under the new CBA.
The NBA and NBA Player Association agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement that features a third two-way slot, one more than in previous years. The OKC Thunder have maximized these two-way pacts in the past, funneling Lu Dort, Aaron Wiggins, Lindy Waters III, and Eugene Omoruyi, among others, through the two-way deals into standard contracts to varying degrees of success. The Thunder’s two-way rap sheet is longer than most organizations.
Aaron Wiggins, for example, found himself in a similar situation as Keyontae Johnson. Wiggins was selected with the 55th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft before quickly proving he was worth a standard contract. Wiggins had to wait until after the trade deadline for his deal to be converted. Johnson hopes he can have the same success.
This is the first of three two-way contracts the OKC Thunder has filled. Jared Butler and Olivier Sarr are each restricted two-way free agents.
Keyontae Johnson played 36 games a year ago for Kansas State on his way to averaging 17 points, nearly seven rebounds, and two assists per game. Johnson turned in 51/40/71 shooting splits while swiping a steal per contest. Johnson offers an interesting 6’5 239 pound frame, giving him the necessary positional versatility to play in Bricktown.
Keyontae Johnson will spend a lot of time with the OKC Blue, which is not a bad thing. In the G-League, Johnson will be equipped with some of the best developmental coaches, headlined by Kameron Woods. The synergy between the Blue and Thunder allows young players to maximize their developmental path and give them the best shot at NBA success. Lucky for the 50th overall pick, many G-League success stories are on the OKC Thunder roster.