At this point, the rebuilding approach of Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder has been well-chronicled. It may seem odd to say that a team overachieved with a 22-50 record, but that was the case for the Thunder in 2020-21. Oklahoma City had the NBA’s worst net rating (-10.6) by a comfortable margin and, at times, their active roster could’ve (easily) been confused for one deployed in the G League. Still, the Thunder do have a budding star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the cupboard isn’t bare of intriguing players.
Aleksej Pokusevski was certainly a negative on the floor as a rookie, but his talent is undeniable. Lu Dort has established himself as a top-flight perimeter defender. Darius Bazley and Theo Maledon are definitely interesting and, oh, the Thunder also have Kemba Walker on a lucrative, multi-year contract. Beyond that, though, Oklahoma City has an unprecedented chest of draft assets, including a trio of first-round picks in the 2021 class. There isn’t much that Thunder could not do with these selections, but there is also a challenge with having a chess board that is as wide open as what Presti is dealing with at this early juncture.
Roster Needs: Established talent, more wings, clarity at center, potential consolidation
Josh Giddey (No. 6 Overall), Grade: B-
This was certainly a surprising pick but, after the top tier, an argument could be made that things flatten considerably. Giddey has questions, particularly with shooting and defense, but he is an exceptionally gifted passer. On top of that, Oklahoma City is (still) virtually a blank slate, and it is easy to see the upside that Giddey could possess as a 6’8 initiator if he can find a reliable offering as a shooter.
Tre Mann (No. 18 Overall), Grade: B-
This may be a little high for Mann compared to pre-draft expectations. The Thunder don’t have to care about that, though, as they have an impossible number of current and future picks to unload. With Mann, OKC is getting a potential lead creator with an impressive level of craft in the pick-and-roll. He isn’t an elite athlete, but he has more than enough size to offset that at point guard, and Mann should be able to run an offense effectively, even if he doesn’t become a fully entrenched starter.
Gabriel Deck (non-guaranteed)
Kenrich Williams (non-guaranteed)
Isaiah Roby (non-guaranteed)
Charlie Brown Jr. (non-guaranteed)
2021 Free Agents
Tony Bradley (RFA)
Josh Hall (RFA)
Jaylen Hoard (RFA)
Mike Muscala (UFA)
Svi Mykhailiuk (RFA)