3 OKC Thunder players who benefit from the 23 Draft class

Cason Wallace arrives prior to the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Cason Wallace arrives prior to the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Ousmane Dieng #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images) /

Ousmane Dieng

It’s time to let Ous loose!

Nearly a year ago to the day, the OKC Thunder traded three first-round picks to move up to 11 in the 2022 NBA Draft. The player they coveted was a 6’10 216 pound forward with all types of guard skills and a sky-high ceiling.

It was far from an easy adjustment for the seventh youngest player in last year’s draft. Dieng definitely took a different path going from playing in his home country of France to New Zealand to play for the Breakers, and finally, his journey led him to Oklahoma City.

Ousmane Dieng had far from a perfect rookie season and was the victim of some unfair comparisons to the guy drafted right after him for the Thunder at 12, Jalen Williams.

Williams was a much more ready-made prospect who hit the ground running. Unfortunately, Dieng dealt with two different wrist injuries to his right arm during the season. This injury derailed many plans and hurt Ousmane Dieng right as he started to catch a rhythm playing at the highest level of basketball.

How does Ousmane Dieng benefit from the 2023 Thunder draft class?

Similarly to Pokusevski, Dieng mainly benefits from the lack of extra competition brought into the 4 and 5 positions for the Thunder. This is not to say the Thunder lack depth in the front court. Chet Holmgren will soak up most of the minutes at either spot. Kenrich Williams was the secret ingredient to a great Thunder stretch of games as a small ball five. Then you also have Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl fighting for minutes.

Believe it or not, developmental prospects like Ousmane Dieng actually need time and minutes to develop! Some players like Jalen Williams are ready out of the box to go and play in the NBA. The Thunder know what they got themselves into and will play the long game in Dieng’s development. As previously mentioned in Poku’s section, bringing in two guards under 6’5 helps Dieng that the Thunder have sort of carved out some minutes for either him or Aleksej Pokusevski to grab.

The OKC Thunder aren’t just setting aside these minutes for either guy with no consequence. Mark Daigneault has proved many times he is not afraid to pull guys. The lack of extra bigs and wings coming into this Thunder roster in 2023-2024 provides a window of opportunity for Ousmane Dieng. Still, it is up to him to grab it and show off his unique potential as a player and why the Thunder were high enough on him to trade three first-round picks to get him.