Thunder land recent lottery-selected big man in wild new trade idea

Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets
Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

The OKC Thunder may be in a serious position to take the number one seed in the Western Conference ahead of the upcoming postseason, but many still doubt the club's viability of being a legitimate title contender this year.

While some have claimed their inexperience is a factor that could hold them back from embarking on a deep and prosperous run, the most recent argument being brought up among fans and media pundits alike is the club's lack of size and strength, particularly within their frontcourt rotation.

Outside of Chet Holmgren, the Thunder only have two other standard contract players who measure in above 6-foot-8 and no one within their current assortment of players boasts all that menacing of a build in the muscles department.

Because of this, Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley believes that if trades were still able to be executed, Sam Presti and company would be scouring the market to find some big man reinforcements, and, in particular, he sees one trade idea that Oklahoma City likely "wishes" they could pounce on.

Thunder add Jalen Smith in trade idea OKC 'wishes' they could still make

Jalen Smith, Thunder trade

Though the Thunder did try to address their size issues with the recent acquisitions of Bismack Biyombo and Mike Muscala, Buckley argues that neither should be seen as sure-fire contributors within this title-hungry team's rotation.

Because of this, he believes that, if OKC still had an opportunity to strike on a trade, they would look toward the Indiana Pacers in an effort to bring on recent lottery-selected big, Jalen Smith.

"They might still need another big man, then, particularly one who can protect the paint and shoot from distance. Smith checks both boxes. This season, his per-36-minute averages include 2.2 threes (on 44.2 percent shooting) and 1.3 blocks (which is actually lower than his career average of 1.5).

Smith is versatile enough to play behind or alongside Chet Holmgren, and Oklahoma City could continue playing five-out offense with either one."

Zach Buckley

Selected 10 overall back in the 2020 NBA Draft, Smith has managed to establish himself as quality floor-spacing and rim-protecting tweener big man who, in theory, could be of great service to a team like the Thunder is ever acquired.

Through 44 games into his first full season with the Indiana Pacers, the 23-year-old is posting impressive averages of 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and just over half a block while shooting 61.2 percent from the floor and 44.3 percent from deep on 2.4 attempts per night.

With his sturdy physique, two-way strength, and willingness to get scrappy on the hardwood, Jalen Smith seems to check a ton of boxes when it comes to Oklahoma City's current needs. This along with his ability to allow the Thunder to continue playing a five-out offense makes him an interesting name to watch heading into this offseason, especially if he opts out of his $5.4 million player option and tests the waters of NBA free agency.