Oklahoma City entered Tuesday’s draft lottery in Chicago with an 85.2% chance of landing the No. 12 overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. With only one lottery pick this year, it was a potentially huge event for the future of the franchise. While there is always quality talent available late in the lottery, jumping into the top four of any draft gives you a better chance of landing franchise-changing talent.
With that in mind, expectations became reality and Oklahoma City officially earned the No. 12 overall pick. Apart from the first six selections, the rest of the top 14 selections fell into place as predicted. The San Antonio Spurs won the lottery, likely setting the stage for French phenom Victor Wembanyama to join the franchise in June.
So what happens from here for the Thunder?
Oklahoma City will have three selections on June 22 during the 2023 NBA Draft. The first will be the 12th pick that was finalized on Tuesday, followed by two second rounds at 37th and 50th overall.
That means that over the next five weeks, the Thunder’s evaluation staff will continue their diligent work on this multi-year prospect class. Like many franchises, Oklahoma City starts tracking these top players as soon as they become teenagers.
At least for the Thunder’s first round pick, the late lottery range is absolutely fascinating. The back half of the lottery, and even the first handful of picks outside of the lottery, could go in almost any direction. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Thunder GM Sam Presti traded up to get the prospects he really wants, or even retires if he thinks his best player in that range is going to slide.
There’s no guarantee that prospects projected in that range will be available at No. 12, but in terms of who would be a great fit in Oklahoma City and could be available at that pick, the Thunder should consider:
- Gradey Dick
- Leonard Miller
- Cason Wallace
- Jett Howard
- Dariq Whitehead
- Bilal Coulibaly
- GG Jackson
- Ryan Rupert
The Thunder have made it clear that position size and playmaking ability are two of the more important traits in a prospect. A lot can change over the next month, but the belief at this point in the pre-draft process is that this is a very deep class. Oklahoma City has a fantastic G League system with OKC Blue, so a player taken in the first round doesn’t have to contribute right away. Mind you, Chet Holmgren will lead the Thunder’s rookie class, regardless of whether he makes his NBA regular season debut in October.
The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22 in New York. From there, the NBA Summer League will take place in Las Vegas in July, followed by training camp and the start of the 2023-24 season in October. External expectations will be high for the young Thunder, with the talent to make the playoffs this season.
Forbes – Business