Thunder 2021 NBA Mock Draft: Here’s what Oklahoma City could do with six picks and wide-open roster

The Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have quiet offseasons. Sometimes they’re trading their All-Stars for massive piles of draft picks, other times they’re building up around those All-Stars. But Sam Presti, their longtime lead basketball decision-maker, doesn’t do quiet.

The Thunder enter the 2021 NBA Draft with six picks, more than any other team. Three of them are first-rounders, and two of the second-rounders are in the mid-30s. That’s a ton of draft capital for a team that is rebuilding around a young core that may not return a single player over 30 years old.

The Thunder have a ton of options with this stash of picks — plus all the future assets and desirable young role players they’ve acquired in trades of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul and more. Here, we’ll break down what to expect from the Thunder in the 2021 NBA Draft, which is Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (watch live coverage on CBS Sports HQ).

The picks

  • No. 6 overall 
  • No. 16 overall (from Boston)
  • No. 18 overall (from Miami via the LA Clippers, Philadelphia and Phoenix)
  • No. 34 overall 
  • No. 36 overall (from Minnesota via Golden State)
  • No. 55 overall (from Denver via Golden State and Philadelphia)

Team needs and potential fits

Via CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger, who broke down all teams’ needs here:

Get used to seeing the Thunder’s name in the draft quite a bit over the next several seasons. They’re in prime position to use their multiple first-rounders to trade up on Thursday if they want to get into the top of the draft. If not, they’ll have several swings to get a potential foundational piece to aid the rebuild. OKC, like most young teams where winning isn’t an immediate priority, shouldn’t be concerned with positional fit at all.

Potential fits: Scottie Barnes, Jonathan Kuminga, Alperen Sengun

Two-Round Mock Draft

CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone released his final two-round mock draft Wednesday, and here’s what he had to say for the Thunder picks:

No. 6 — SG James Bouknight, Connecticut: Bouknight’s stock has risen substantially since the end of the season. After hitting 29.3% of his 3-pointers last season at UConn and dealing with an elbow injury mid-season that required surgery, he’s reportedly impressing in team workouts and answering questions about his jumper to boot. At 6-5 with a soft touch and strong finishing skills around the rim, he looks like one of the more polished scorers in this class.

No. 16 — PF Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky: OKC should be in the market to add to its center rotation — via the draft or free agency — so in Jackson they get a young, promising prospect on a rookie-scale deal. He’s a springy leaper who, with his long and wiry arms, can do a little of everything around the rim.

No. 18 — PG Jaden Springer, Tennessee: A scout told CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger earlier this year that on his own personal projections he ranks Springer ahead of Jalen Suggs in this draft. That praise might be pouring it on a tad thick, but it shows there really are believers in what Springer can do. He’s a bulldog defender who has a real edge and swagger to his game that shows up on both ends, and there’s enough play-making and shot-making in his game to find a strong role on a young team like OKC.

No. 34 — PF JT Thor, Auburn: A real riser in the draft process, Thor has the potential to be a true floor-spacing big man at the NBA level, though he needs to add muscle to his frame and develop into a better rebounder. 

No. 36 — SG Brandon Boston Jr., Kentucky: Once considered a top-10 prospect, OKC gets excellent value here in Boston, a scoring wing who struggled at Kentucky and may need time to develop before making his imprint on an NBA team.

No. 55 — PF Isaiah Livers, Michigan: Injury problems plagued Livers’ college career but if he’s able to stay healthy, OKC can get a wing who is a high-level defender and a career 41% 3-point shooter.

One Trade Idea

Via CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone, in a piece of five draft trades that we’d love to see:

  • Thunder would get: No. 3 pick in 2021, Kevin Love
  • Cavaliers would get: No. 6 and No. 16 picks in 2021, Heat‘s 2023 pick

The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers, picking No. 3 in this draft, have received “significant trade interest” from teams trying to move into their draft slot. And while No. 3 in this draft might simply be too valuable to move out of, Oklahoma City could offer the perfect 1-2 combo to get this done: cap relief and a load of picks. In taking Kevin Love‘s deal off their books it’d give Cleveland the chance to move on from a bad contract while parting with the third pick in return for three valuable firsts — two in this draft (No. 6 and No. 16) as well as OKC’s 2023 first-rounder from the Heat. 

This has been similar to OKC’s calling card of late to acquire assets, as the team has taken on Kemba WalkerChris Paul and Al Horford in recent years — considered bad contracts — to acquire picks in return. Now it’d be a similar structure while paying a premium to move into the top three of a loaded draft, ensuring you get a star to pair next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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