The Oklahoma City Thunder enter this year’s NBA Draft with arguably the greatest haul. As the lone team with lottery picks, and their highest pick since relocation on deck – they will come out of Thursday with some marquee pieces.
But, they may get more than advertised.
Due to the Thunder’s record-setting collection of picks, and current win-now assets, the organization may wiggle their way into a trade-up. In particular, through the use of pick No. 12.
Here are three potential move up scenarios:
Pick No. 4 – Sacramento Kings
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly carried strong interest in selecting Jaden Ivey. Three days out from the draft – that statement still holds true.
If the Thunder want to position themselves in range to select Ivey, they can exhaust their No. 2 pick in doing so. However, in terms of draft fit, Ivey is by far the hardest puzzle piece of the consensus top prospects.
Oklahoma City has a record-setting 19 first-round pick on deck, meaning home run swings are bound to be in the equation. It’s not a matter of if, but when in this situation. Ivey would be a slam dunk trade-up, if available.
It should be noted, Sacramento’s pick should garner a high volume of trade-up partners. If the Thunder want to surpass the competition, they’d need to open up their draft war chest and shovel out a win-now piece to be in contention. It’d a hefty price, but, that’s ultimately what’s needed to oust better “win-now” offers available.
Sacramento Receives: Lu Dort, Pick No. 12, 2023 First-Round Pick (DEN). 2024 First-Round Pick (PHI)
Oklahoma City Receives: Pick No. 4
Pick No. 7 – Portland Trail Blazers
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The Portland Trail Blazers are basically at a crossroads.
With Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic filling out a high-level returning core – Portland’s roster bottoms out with a slew of prospects on roster. Because of this, they need to do some damage with this lottery pick, whether by trading for win-now pieces, or selecting who they believe is a good co-star.
For the Thunder, trading up to this pick holds some interest if they have a specific prospect in mind from the 5-12 range that they are not confident will fall. Similar to the Sacramento deal, Oklahoma City would need to spruce the pot with immediate help for Portland – leading to Dort being part of a mocked deal.
Based on Dort being in a hypothetical, there’s a big-time risk factor. For some, including myself, this makes the price point almost too steep. But, if the Thunder are sold on a star at No. 7, a deal may be had.
Portland Receives: Lu Dort, Pick No. 12
Oklahoma City Receives: Pick No. 7
Pick No. 8 – New Orleans Pelicans
Unlike previously listed teams, the New Orleans Pelicans are on the up-and-up, and this draft pick only adds to their ceiling. As part of the Anthony Davis trade, they fell into this slot. Plus, with a build core of Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson – they have a bright big three. Mix this with key role players such as Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado, they have a bright group.
Due to the luxury of this pick, taking a dice roll on a high-upside player like Shaedon Sharpe should most definitely be in the cards for New Orleans. However, they may be able to fetch better current deals via trade.
For Oklahoma City, they could replicate Portland’s package if their guy is still available. But, it’s best to keep Dort off deals at all cost.
New Orleans Receives: Pick No. 12, 2023 First-Round Pick (Wizards), Draft Rights to Vasilije Micic
Oklahoma City Receives: Pick No. 8