Welcome to Tankathon Tuesday! Every Tuesday from now until June 22nd, the day of the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, we will take three spins on Tankathon dot com, simulating the lottery and breaking down what each outcome would mean for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently slotted for the 4th best odds at the top overall pick after winning the “coin flip” against the Cleveland Cavaliers as both teams ended the season with a record of 22-50. As we all await the NBA Draft Lottery Night on June 22nd, a night that will change the course of the Thunder franchise in some capacity, why not simulate the outcomes now and see what happens? Thanks to Tankathon dot com and their wonderful work it is possible to sim the lottery using the real NBA lottery odds. We will hit the sim lottery button three times and break down each outcome.
Outcome number one highlights: OKC Gets pick 5 and 18, Houston’s pick falls to four, the Pistons get the top overall pick, New Orleans leaps eight spots to number two overall.
The 2021 NBA Draft has been dubbed a “five-player draft” since what feels like the dawn of time. Landing a pick within the top five of this class has been the goal since the last offseason. With this simulation, the Thunder accomplishes that, but they do wind up at five and are left with the player most view as the “distant fifth” best prospect. The OKC Thunder also miss out on grabbing the Houston Rockets pick. If the Rockets pick falls to five, it is owed to OKC, if it lands in the top four, Houston avoids having a major problem.
In lieu of getting the Rockets pick, the Thunder will cash in the Miami Heat’s pick at slot 18.
At pick five the OKC Thunder will select G-League Ignite Forward Jonathan Kuminga. The super athlete stands 6’8 coming in at 210 pounds and is 18 years old. While Jonathan Kuminga is the best athlete in this class and can pull things off with his size, athleticism, and strength that should not be possible, he is certainly a project. He is going to be very raw as he enters the league and will need time to progress. The G-League Ignite product will be far from a microwave success story. However, if a team gives him time, he can prove to be one of the best players in this draft. Stay tuned for an entire draft profile on Kuminga later on here at Bricktown Buckets, and right now you can listen to a draft profile of Kuminga on the Locked on Thunder Podcast!
With the 18th overall selection, the OKC Thunder would likely go with one of the surplus of true perimeter players in this year’s NBA Draft. One option is Chris Duarte, a guard from the University of Oregon. With the NBA Combined two weeks out, Duarte will not be participating in the Chicago event. This has led many to believe that the 23-year-old has received a first-round promise from an NBA Organization.
This is common around this time of year, teams promise to draft a player if said prospect falls to where the organization is slotted for. The Oklahoma City Thunder are known for handing out these promises, and in the range of pick 18 would be where Duarte is slotted.
Chad Ford, an NBA Draft expert who at the time worked for ESPN now of the Locked on Podcast Network, reported back in 2014 that the OKC Thunder promised to select Kristaps Porzingis, had he fallen to their number 21 pick. Porzingis pulled his name out of the 2014 NBA Draft, so the Thunder never got a chance to keep said promise. Obviously, the New York Knicks surprisingly selected KP at four the next season and the rest is history.
There were even rumors as recently as a few years ago that OKC made a draft promise to Matisse Thybulle.
Chris Duarte is a sharpshooting guard that will play off-ball and compliment Shai Gilgeous-Alexander well, as SGA has mastered his drive and kick ability. Duarte would be a perfect fit for OKC, and immediately be one of the oldest players on the roster. The 42-percent shooter from beyond the arc, who turned in 81-percent from the free-throw line, will be 24 by draft night at the end of July. It is not that hard to figure out who might have assured him enough that he felt comfortable pulling out of the NBA Combined.
Option number 2: THE DREAM SCENARIO HAPPENED, OKC gets picks 1 and 5 (via Houston). Toronto leaps into the top three (3), New Orleans jumps to four.
This Scenario is something that keeps me up at night, in a good way. It is an outcome that in two weeks, on our Locked on NBA Live stream during the Lottery, that I will first cry, then pass out from excitement live on air (so be sure to tune in!). Not only would the Thunder have two (2) draft picks in the Top five (5) in a “five-player generational draft”, but they would still have all their future assets.
Those future assets can be used in a multitude of ways. Would Any team picks 2-4 (in this scenario, Detroit, Toronto, New Orleans) trade back to five while picking up an additional first-round pick or two and allow the Thunder to have Cade Cunningham and an even better prospect than Jonathan Kuminga?
Cade Cunningham is the clear prize in this year’s NBA Draft. There is no question that he will go number one overall and for good reason. He is truly a flawless NBA Draft Prospect. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor dubs Cunningham “A Supersized Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a shorter Ben Simmons with a jumper.” Yeah, that seems pretty dangerous. Cade Cunningham will be an elite player in this league, you just have to sit back and watch him carry your franchise. There will be a full Cade Cunningham draft profile right here on BTB soon, but in the meantime, his audio profile on the Locked on Thunder Podcast is already out!
As far as Jonathan Kuminga, I will refer you to the above option.
Option number 3: OKC gets Pick 4 and pick 18, Houston lands at three, New Orleans jumps to one, and the Pistons stay at two.
This scenario is yet another good one, any time OKC lands in the top five, it will be a success in this class. At slot four, the Thunder could get the number two prospect on my NBA Draft Big Board. Depending on how the board shakes out, the Pelicans (draft Cade Cunningham), Pistons (Drafting Evan Mobley), and Rockets (could draft Jalen Suggs) would leave the door open for Jalen Green being selected by the Thunder.
To me, Jalen Green is the second-best player in this draft. In any other draft, that did not include a flawless prospect like Cade Cunningham, Green would be a lock for the top overall pick. The G-League Ignite product is going to be an NBA scoring champion, multiple times in his career. A bucket getter at the highest level, he will be a number one option on a championship-level team. Jalen Green also has an NBA Draft profile coming, and you guessed it, already up at Locked on Thunder.
At pick 18, the Thunder could go with the aforementioned Chris Duarte, but there are younger options. Such as the high upside play in Ziaire Williams a 19-year old that has great athleticism and could be a steal in this year’s class. Throughout the year Williams was flirting with lottery pick status, and throughout the combine process, private workouts, and interviews it would not be shocking if he climbs up the board. Another name to watch for is Kai Jones, the big man from Texas.
With Oklahoma City’s 18th overall pick, if they do not cash in Houston’s pick, I would expect them to attempt to trade up in the trade using some of their three second-round picks in this draft.
So there you have it, our first Tankathon Tuesday! What Lottery Scenario’s excite you, or scare you, the most?