With one of the youngest rosters in the entire NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder is slated to select three rookies in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Oklahoma City has one first-round pick (No. 12) and a pair of second rounders (No. 37 and No. 50) to work with. There’s no guarantee the Thunder makes all of these picks, as trades could happen anytime over the next month or even on draft night. Furthermore, the team will be bringing in many players for workouts between now and June’s event as the talent evaluation process continues. As such, it’s difficult to project exactly which prospects will be available in what range and who OKC could target with these three picks assuming no trades happen.
Regardless, this class is projected to be extremely deep with talent all throughout. The Thunder will be able to find value with each of the three picks currently slated to take place. Furthermore, the team is at a place in which positional need isn’t as important, so taking the best player available is still the best path forward.
As of today, which prospects could be considered in each of the three ranges that Oklahoma City is slotted in?
Pick No. 12
At this point in the pre-draft process, there seems top 10 tier of players beginning to form as a consensus. From there, the class of prospects is wide open. As such, the late lottery into the middle part of the first round could feature a variety of different players taken in any order. Due to this, the No. 12 pick could be traded if the Thunder prefers to move up to get its guy or back to extract more value while still landing a quality prospect.
Taylor Hendricks (UCF)
With the tools to be the ideal modern NBA forward, Hendricks has legitimate two-way impact. He’s one of the best rim protectors in this class and also projects to be a quality floor spacer at the next level.
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Cason Wallace (Kentucky)
He may not have the upside to lead the league in scoring during his career, but Wallace is a fantastic connector. He’s also an elite point of attack defender that should make an impact defensively from day one.
Gradey Dick (Kansas)
Arguably the best pure shooter in this class, Dick has good positional size on the wing. If he can continue to develop his self-creation skills and improve defensively, he could be one of the better players to come out of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Dereck Lively (Duke)
Although Lively has more defensive upside than nearly any big that will hear their name called next month on draft night, he’s nowhere near ready to contribute offensively. If a team buys into his development on that end of the floor, he could emerge as a top center in the league down the road.
Keyonte George (Baylor)
Guards with standard NBA size that are best with the ball in their hands generally aren’t valued as highly today given there’s a ton of those prospects out there. However, George has elite scoring upside and is an underrated facilitator.
Jett Howard (Michigan)
At 6-foot-8, Howard projects to be a jumbo shooting wing that is the perfect complimentary piece. He has work to do as an on-ball threat, but at minimum should provide floor spacing at the next level.
Leonard Miller (G League)
He’s still somewhat raw, but Miller has great size and strength at the forward position. He lacks a consistent jumper and post moves, but produced at a high level in the G League last season and is an elite rebounder.
GG Jackson (South Carolina)
With the unique ability to create for himself and score in isolation at 6-foot-9, Jackson could evolve into a star forward at some point. It feels like he’d have to land in the right situation and become a much more efficient scorer and better decision maker, but the raw upside is as high as anyone in this class.
Dariq Whitehead (Duke)
With a season hindered by injuries, Whitehead went from a potential top five pick to a prospect that is currently projected to fall outside of the lottery. However, the team willing to take the risk on him and invest the time and resources into getting him back to full strength could end up with the steal of the draft.
Pick No. 37
Every year, there’s a handful of first-round talents that fall to the second. With Oklahoma City owning the seventh pick of the second round, this could be a highly valuable selection. In the past two drafts, the Thunder has taken frontcourt players in this range and clearly thinks highly of early second-round picks.
Ricky Council (Arkansas)
On a loaded Arkansas team last season, Council was often the best offensive player on the floor. He’s a walking mismatch with his size and strength as a guard, but has shooting mechanics that may need to be tweaked.
Dillon Mitchell (Texas)
Although he was projected to be a lottery pick entering his freshman season, Mitchell left much to be desired and now could fall to the second round if he doesn’t go back to school. The 3-point shot is unknown given he didn’t take a single attempt at the college level, but in the right system could easily be a starter down the road.
Amari Bailey (UCLA)
One of the most smooth guards in this class, Bailey is an offensive engine that has a clear path to being one of the best bench scorers in the league one day. He still needs to improve as a decision maker, but the offensive production is impressive.
Tristan Vukcevic (International)
A floor-spacing forward, Vukcevic fits the mold of a modern NBA big. He was inconsistent in international play last season, but checks the boxes in terms of what teams value in a 7-footer.
Jordan Walsh (Arkansas)
The offensive side of the ball has a long way to go for Walsh, but at minimum he projects to be a respectable 3-point shooter moving forward. On the flip side, he’s one of the most versatile perimeter defenders in this class.
Julian Phillips (Tennessee)
An elite athlete, Phillips is a defensive-minded forward with a ton of upside on that end. He needs to develop a more well-rounded game if he’s going to reach his ceiling, but he’s an attractive target early in the second round.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana)
There were few players at the college level last season that were as productive and impactful as Jackson-Davis. He’s extremely strong and dominates the paint, but the 3-point shot isn’t a proven part of his game.
Andre Jackson (UConn)
One of the most versatile guards at the college level last season, Jackson can defend a variety of positions at a very high level. He’s not known for being a scorer, but is great at setting up his teammates and dishing the rock.
Julian Strawther (Gonzaga)
As a high scoring wing with good positional size, Strawther could make an impact early in his NBA career. He’s been in a great system at the college level and has shown promising development.
Pick No. 50
While it’s less common for prospects taken this late in the draft to end up being top players on NBA rosters, there’s still value to be extracted. This could also be a spot in which the Thunder chooses to package the selection to move up some. Regardless, the depth in this class is impressive enough to be willing to take a swing at No. 50 overall.
Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
One of the most productive players in the country the past two seasons, Wilson’s game may not translate as well to to the NBA. He has good size and mobility for a forward, but may struggle as more of a true wing.
Zach Edey (Purdue)
With ridiculous size at 7-foot-4 and more than 300 pounds, Edey simply dominated college basketball last season. He would likely be more of a situational big at the next level, but provides unique tools.
Kobe Brown (Missouri)
Following a breakout season, Brown has set himself up to potentially be drafted in June. He’s a much improved 3-point shooter and is good with the ball in his hands for a forward.
Mouhamed Gueye (Washington State)
A mobile and athletic big, Gueye would be a project pick that could pay off. He has a smooth jumper, but would need to consistently knock down triples to emerge as more than just a rim-running big in the NBA.
Dillon Jones (Weber State)
A stock riser over the past few months, the Weber State product has been able to showcase his well-rounded game in a variety of settings. Jones leverages his strong frame to get to the rim and can also knock down jumpers.
Jaylen Clark (UCLA)
Although he tore his Achilles late in the season, Clarke is still worth a second-round selection. During his time at the college level, he was known for being a playmaker on the defensive end.
Seth Lundy (Penn State)
A sharpshooter with good size, Lundy has increased his stock tremendously in the pre-draft process. In the right system, he could be the ideal role player on a good team.
Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona)
Strong, productive forwards with adequate jumpers always have a chance to make it at the next level. Tubelis is a monster on the glass and efficient in the paint as well.
Kevin McCullar (Kansas)
In terms of two-way talent, McCullar is one of the best second-round prospects. On both ends, he makes things happen on the perimeter.