The Oklahoma City Thunder seemingly own the entire NBA Draft from now until the end of time. OKC Thunder general manager Sam Presti has taken some playful jabs from fans and media alike about the pile of picks he has compiled during this rebuild.
Now, the picks are fully coming home to roost in the most Sam Presti way possible. Not only do the Thunder love picks, but they also love weird quirks. As of this moment, the OKC Thunder own four team’s first-round picks; however, that will come down to three by the time the NBA regular season ends, thanks to a mid-summer trade Presti made with Denver during the NBA Finals this offseason.
With so many picks to keep track of and so many twists and turns, we have compiled the full list of who you should be rooting for along with the OKC Thunder during his NBA season to maximize the Thunder’s draft pick haul.
Who to root for to maximize the OKC Thunder’s return on the 2024 NBA Draft this regular season?
Currently, the Oklahoma City Thunder control their first-round pick, the Houston Rockets (Top-four protected) first-round pick, the Utah Jazz (Top-ten protected) first-round pick, and the L.A. Clippers first-round pick. Once the NBA regular season passes, the worst of those four picks (the choice closest to 30) will head to Indiana (after Denver rerouted the selection in a second trade this offseason). This will leave the OKC Thunder with the other three picks to utilize.
The 2024 NBA Draft does not yet have a clear-cut number-one prospect. Ron Holland and Alex Sarr are among two of the best talents in this class, but the board constantly shifts throughout the year.
In terms of rooting interest, it is simple. If the OKC Thunder lose their own pick and convey the other three, that means good things for the franchise. Not only were they better than the Clippers, which should mean OKC is a top-six seed, but Utah and Houston were just good enough (and unlucky enough in the Lottery) to see their pick owed to the Thunder.
Rooting interest this regular season:
- For the Houston Rockets to not have a bottom-four record in the NBA.
While the NBA Draft Lottery will throw a wrench into the top four protection, it is best to root for the Rockets to own the fifth or worst odds in the Lottery to help OKC’s chances. While it might be painful to root for the Rockets at all, luckily for OKC fans, you are just hoping the Rockets find the right “bleh” balance. Not a massive leap into the play-in, or even close, just not one of the worst teams in the league.
- Utah Jazz to fight for a play-in spot all year.
With this pick top-ten protected, the OKC Thunder have to hope the Utah Jazz can once again have a surprise run in them. While the Jazz packed it up at the end of last season, they still had a better-than-expected record after trading away Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. This Western Conference projects to be even tougher than last year, with the Jazz having a high incentive to keep their own pick. Thunder fans are hoping that the Jazz selection falls at pick 11.
- L.A. Clippers to bottom out.
There are some mixed feelings about this because you are having to root against former OKC Thunder legends Russell Westbrook and Paul George, but with the Clippers pick being unprotected, you want the L.A. Clippers to be as bad as possible. However, the team seems primed for a successful season.
The OKC Thunder also own their own pick, but you already know what to root for there. The NBA season tips off on Tuesday, with the Thunder’s season opener set for Wednesday, October 25th, in Chicago. Stay tuned to Thunderous Intentions for coverage all season long.