I think it’s fair to say that Sam Presti’s history warrants his reputation of being a draft genius.
The Oklahoma City Thunder own two top-12 picks in the 2022 NBA draft: second and 12th. While his history of non-lottery picks is somewhat questionable, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a reputation of being an elite draft selector at these premium pick positions.
Let’s take a look at all of the players Presti has drafted in the top 12 during his 16-year tenure with the Thunder to give fans a point of reference when it comes to predicting how the team’s first two draft picks will perform in their NBA careers.
“I don’t think he’ll be as good as someone like Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Davis. Defensively, he can be better than KAT. I’d compare him to Kristaps Porzingis.”
With it looking increasingly more likely that the Oklahoma City Thunder land Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren second overall in the 2022 NBA draft, some within the NBA are concerned about his physicality and frame.
HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto published his mock draft recently and was able to get the opinion of an NBA executive and NBA scout on their thoughts of Holmgren overall.
“‘As tough as he is mentally, he may not be able to withstand the physicality of the NBA game early on,’ an NBA executive opined. ‘I’m not sure he’s going to fill out his frame well. He has skinny shoulders. I don’t think he’ll be as good as someone like Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Davis. Defensively, he can be better than KAT. I’d compare him to Kristaps Porzingis.’
‘Chet’s the biggest risk at the top of the draft, but he could be the best player,’ an NBA scout opined.”
Holgrem’s frame at being a slender seven-footer has been one of the few criticisms on his game. With that said, I’m sure that’s a fixable problem when he is introduced to an NBA weight room and dietitians. Even if Holgrem doesn’t become a jacked athlete, that does not mean it will be a hinderance to his development as a player.
There are plenty of players in the league’s history — most notably Kevin Durant, who Thunder general manager Sam Presti drafted second overall in 2007 — that have slender frames and managed to carve out Hall of Fame careers. Being all muscled up is not the end all be all in the NBA for a measurement of success.
“We were critical of the Lakers’ decision to not pay a team cash to take DeAndre Jordan at the trade deadline, but it may pay off at the draft. L.A. has been open about using its remaining cash stash (the Lakers can put $4.7 million into a trade between now and July 1) to buy its way into the second round, where the Lakers currently do not have a pick. The Lakers’ scouting department has built up an impressive track record of finding sleepers late in the draft, so it will be interesting to see who they might target.”
This year’s NBA draft is considered top-heavy and not very deep, but there still could be a few gems later on, and perhaps one of them will fall into the lap of the Lakers.
Most teams within league believe Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren will go first and second, respectively, in 2022 NBA draft.
In his latest article, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports those within the NBA expect the Orlando Magic to select Jabari Smith Jr. first and the Oklahoma City Thunder to select Chet Holmgren second.
“Tuesday’s lottery removed one of the big questions from the 2022 NBA draft — who is picking first? — and cleared a path for Smith to make a short trip from Atlanta to join what’s becoming one of the most interesting young rosters in the NBA in the Orlando Magic. While Magic executives have made it clear they will conduct a thorough process — even extending beyond the widely believed top three prospects in Smith, Holmgren and Paolo Banchero — most NBA teams firmly believe that’s a formality and that Smith is all but assured to become the top pick. Smith, for his part, appears thrilled with that development. So is Holmgren over his looming marriage with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also the overwhelming expectation from NBA executives with whom we spoke at the draft combine.”
All the pieces to the puzzle were there for one to safely conclude that Holmgren was going to be taken by the Thunder. Following the 2022 NBA draft lottery, most draft experts had Holmgren going to the Thunder in their post-lottery mocks. Givony — one of the best NBA draft experts out there — just added a ton more legitimacy to this with his recent article that detailed many teams inside the league expect Smith Jr. and Holmgren to go first and second.
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes proposed two trades that involved the Oklahoma City Thunder in his latest article that lists surprising potential offseason trades for lottery teams.
The first of the two includes the Thunder trading up to first overall by sending the Orlando Magic the second and 12th pick in exchange for the first and 32nd pick.
“The Orlando Magic have the No. 1 pick and should have their sights set on Jabari Smith Jr. The sweet-shooting Auburn forward’s perimeter stroke and defensive versatility would complete one of the best young frontcourts in the league alongside Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner.
Meanwhile, Chet Holmgren’s rim protection and draft-best upside should make him the Oklahoma City Thunder’s top priority. OKC picks second, which you’d think would remove any intrigue.
Orlando should still put the squeeze on, hemming and hawing as if it isn’t sure Smith is its perfect fit. This deal hinges on the Magic bluffing and the Thunder wanting Holmgren so badly that they decide it’s not worth the stress of calling them on it.
Oklahoma City shouldn’t leave anything to chance, and its hoard of draft assets means it can easily afford to skip the staring contest with Orlando by paying a fee to move up from No. 2 to No. 1.
Thanks to the Thunder’s war chest of picks, this hypothetical trade could take several forms. Oklahoma City could offer a heavily protected future first in any of the next several drafts (and probably wouldn’t even notice it was missing), but the easiest route might be giving the Magic No. 2 and No. 12 (via the Los Angeles Clippers) and calling it a day. We’ll even throw OKC a bone with Orlando’s 2022 second-rounder, which will be No. 32.
Orlando gets the player it wanted all along, plus another asset, while the Thunder land their man as well.
This is an intriguing trade to propose. On one hand, if the Thunder truly believe Holmgren is a franchise type of player, then parting with the 12th pick should be an easy decision. But on the other hand, this is sounding like a two-man draft between both players, so the Thunder ending up with Smith Jr. is an extremely nice consolation prize — if it can even be called that. Unless Holmgren becomes the clear best prospect, the Thunder should stick to their guns and pick whichever of the two is available.
Jaden Ivey, who some compare to Ja Morant, is being linked to the Thunder.
In Yahoo Sport’s Krysten Peek’s article from last Friday, she mentions some new information that previously hasn’t been talked about regarding the Oklahoma City Thunder and who they might take second overall in the 2022 NBA draft.
The article mentions how the Thunder really like Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and that there were rumblings during the combine that he is a wildcard candidate for going second overall.
“There are essentially four players in play for the Thunder’s second pick: Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey. Smith and Holmgren are favored to go one and two, but there have been rumblings this week at the draft combine in Chicago that the Thunder really like Ivey and he could be Ja Morant 2.0.”
The top two picks in most mocks have Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren going one and two in one order or another, so it’s a little bit surprising to hear this tidbit of news about the Thunder liking Ivey. With that said, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a history of going against the grain with drafts, with the most famous example being selecting Russell Westbrook fourth overall in the 2008 NBA draft.
It is important to keep in mind that it’s that time of the year where draft rumors and speculation are flying everywhere as sources have ulterior motives when it comes to leaking information to the public. So it’s best to just wait and see what happens while keeping information like this under consideration.
Caleb Houstan, who was once considered a top-10 prospect, could potentially go 30th overall by the Thunder in 2022 NBA draft.
In their article that dropped on Monday discussing the 2022 NBA draft combine, The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie talked about the possibility of the Oklahoma City Thunder once again promising a draft prospect they will select them in the draft.
Michigan forward Caleb Houstan did not participate during the combine, leaving many league insiders to believe that he has gained a draft promise from an NBA team.
“Finally, Oklahoma City’s pick at No. 30 was the topic of other speculation. Michigan forward Caleb Houstan was notably absent from the week’s proceedings, with many league insiders suspecting he had a promise from a team in return for shutting down his draft process. Suspicion immediately went to the Thunder, given their surplus of picks and long history of making their draft pick in April. Houstan wouldn’t even be the first Michigan guy they did this with. (Hello, Mitch McGary!)”
Like the article mentioned, the Thunder have a history of making promises to draft picks with Aleksej Pokusevski being the most recent notable example of this. With that said, this does not mean Houstan is a lock to go to Oklahoma City; plenty of other teams make draft promises too, it’s just that the Thunder are one of the more widely known teams to do so.
“The Thunder have precious few roster spots at their disposal and four draft picks (three first-rounders), meaning there is a decent chance they won’t be making this selection ultimately. One of the big mysteries surrounding the 2022 NBA draft will be where Caleb Houstan, a onetime projected top-10 pick, ends up. Houstan declined his invite to the NBA combine, indicating there might be something to the rumors of a first-round promise, or that Houstan has a landing spot he’s comfortable with. Houstan’s positional size, defensive awareness and perimeter shooting gives him a high floor as a prospect, despite his disappointing freshman season at Michigan.”
If the Thunder are to select Houstan, it will likely be with one of their latter picks at 30th overall or 34th overall.
The Nebraska guard shot 27.4 percent on nearly five three-point attempts per game
During the 2022 NBA draft combine, several draft prospects revealed the fact they they have met with the Oklahoma City Thunder. One of those prospects being Bryce McGowens, according to The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov in his latest article.
McGowens spent his lone college season at Nebraska, where the guard averaged 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists on 40.3 percent shooting in 31 games. McGowens was a poor outside shooter as he shot 27.4 percent on three-pointers on nearly five attempts per game.
The 19-year-old is projected to be a late first round to second round selection. The Thunder own two picks in that range at 30th overall and 34th overall.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. was the No. 5 recruit in his high school class.
During the 2022 NBA draft combine, several draft prospects revealed the fact they they have met with the Oklahoma City Thunder. One of those prospects being Patrick Baldwin Jr., according to The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov in his latest article.
Baldwin Jr. was one of the top names to watch out for this past season before a poor year in Milwaukee with his dad as head coach plummeted his draft stocks. In 11 games, Baldwin Jr. averaged 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists on a poor 34.4 percent shooting and horrendous 26.6 percent three-point shooting.
After starting the college season out with hopes of being a high lottery pick, Baldwin Jr. now looks like he will be selected near the end of the first round. The Thunder currently own two picks around that area at 30th overall and 34th overall.
During his analysis, O’Connor added an interest side note about how he doesn’t believe Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a guarantee to be on the team for the long run as he thinks Josh Giddey will be.
“I think it’s worth noting as a quick aside here, (Josh) Giddey’s likely there for the long term, that (Shai) Gilgeous-Alexander stuff — he’s already into his second contract. They already had trade talks potentially trying to go for Cade Cunningham last year according to multiple reports. He’s not necessarily a part of the long-term future. Maybe he’s a guy they flip again, but why would you not want to keep Gilgeous-Alexander? He’s just the guy that you’d be open to moving if the deal’s right.”
Hearing this might be a little concerning for the Thunder fanbase as Gilgeous-Alexander is easily the best player on the team currently. He also fits relatively well with a potential Giddey and Smith Jr. timeline as they will all be 24 years old, 20 years old and 19 years old respectively at the start of the 2022-23 season.
From what it sounds like, it seems like this is more O’Connor spitballing with the Gilgeous-Alexander stuff than it is about him reporting anything he knows. The Gilgeous-Alexander for Cunningham stuff is pretty interesting though as some have reported that to be the case, so O’Connor chiming in and saying it happened adds more legitimacy to the rumor.
Either way, it’s too early to worry about Gilgeous-Alexander’s long-term future with the team. There’s always a possibility that he’s not here for the long run, but that shouldn’t be on the fanbase’s mind as of right now as the team prepares to select second overall for the first time since Kevin Durant in 2007.
Gilgeous-Alexander is under contract for the Thunder until 2027 as his rookie extension kicks in next season. To read what else O’Connor had to say about why the Thunder should take Smith Jr. second overall, here’s the full analysis transcribed.