OKC Thunder take a flyer on multiple former first round picks

TyTy Washington Jr. #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
TyTy Washington Jr. #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder have a loaded roster; based on reported deals, the Thunder have 21 standard contracts but are only allowed to carry 20 players during the offseason. That is why some of these transactions have yet to be made official by the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. The latest trade sees the Bricktown boys taking a flyer on two former first-round picks.

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced they have traded Patty Mills, who they acquired earlier this offseason, to the Atlanta Hawks for TyTy Washington, Usman Garuba, Rudy Gay, and a 2026 second-round pick. TyTy Washington was selected with the 29th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, while Usman Garuba was picked 23rd overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, both by the Houston Rockets. Those same Rockets paid to get rid of the two youngsters this offseason, who were eventually rerouted to OKC.

The OKC Thunder are taking a flyer on a pair of former-first-round picks in their latest transaction.

With an overflowing roster, the Oklahoma City Thunder must cut six standard contract players before the season tips off in October. TyTy Washington and Usman Garuba might not be long for Bricktown, but does either prospect have a case to crack the opening night roster?

Usman Garuba, of the two, is the most interesting. At 21 years old, Garuba is 6’8 and 220 pounds, presenting a different look than most on the OKC Thunder roster. A year ago, Garuba played 75 games for Houston posting three points, four rebounds, and an assist per contest on 48/40/61 shooting splits.

According to Synergy, Garuba shot 56 percent at the rim, ranked in the 45th percentile as a pick-and-roll man, and in the 59th percentile as an overall defender. The further you break his game down, you see his rim-running traits highlighted, which can help the OKC Thunder off the bench.

TyTy Washington was once a highly thought-of prospect, and as a Kentucky guard, he is going to get the benefit of the doubt after a rookie season that saw just 31 NBA games and 433 minutes which would span the length of just nine 48-minute games.

However, even in the G-League, Washington struggled at times, shooting just 32 percent as a catch-and-shoot option, but his real threat comes on the ball. In the G-League TyTy Washington was incredible navigating the pick-and-roll (74th percentile), in isolation (80th percentile), and even had 13 offensive put-backs as a guard. With a better culture and developmental staff, Washington can still provide juice for an NBA team.

The issue for TyTy Washington in Oklahoma City is simply the stage of this Thunder squad. While it would not be impossible, getting Washington the developmental minutes he needs would be incredibly hard. However, stashing him with Kameron Woods and the OKC Blue might be the best thing for Washington’s future. The issue is, with six spots to cut, keeping the Kentucky guard forces Sam Presti to make an even harder roster decision prior to the season opener.

It will be interesting to see who survives the roster crunch in Bricktown, but this is what Sam Presti has admittedly strived for. Presti has been very upfront that some players will be left behind during the cycle of this rebuild. This is the first off-season that a training camp cut will sting. Can TyTy Washington and/or Usman Garuba have strong enough camps to force OKC’s hand?

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