Perhaps more clearly than any franchise in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of an extended rebuild. To be fair to Sam Presti and company, the Thunder are just two seasons away from a Chris Paul-led playoff appearance, but Oklahoma City then boldly announced a full-scale teardown that resulted in the virtually absolute accrual of the future-facing draft capital. On the floor, the results have been pretty ugly for the Thunder, with only 46 combined wins in the last two seasons.
After a disappointing lottery result in 2021 led to only one top-tier draft pick (Josh Giddey), the Thunder were a bit more fortunate this time around, landing in the top tier of the 2022 class. That gave Oklahoma City the opportunity to add to an already intriguing stockpile of intriguing young pieces, and, along with another lottery pick at No. 12, there was plenty of ammo for the Thunder to make some noise on Draft night.
Roster Needs: Top-tier talent, shooting, reliable play in the frontcourt
Chet Holmgren (No. 2 Overall), A: The Thunder take the best player available in my view, which is usually a good idea. Holmgren certainly has some risk with his well-documented frame concerns, but he is a preternatural defender with elite length and the rim protection ability. Holmgren also brings a varied, impressive skill set on the offensive end, and he brings substantial upside to the table for a Thunder team that is still looking to accumulate talent.
Ousmane Dieng (No. 11 Overall), C+: The Thunder traded multiple first round picks to land Dieng and get back-to-back picks late in the lottery. In a vacuum, Dieng is fine in this range, and this is a draft with a flat stretch here. However, Dieng ahead of players like Jalen Duren and AJ Griffin feels a touch aggressive. Dieng does have an interesting set of skills at 6’10 with lead guard acumen and playmaking chops, but he’ll need to figure out his jumper and improve as a defender to make proper use of his frame. He also fits in snugly with the incredible length/range of the roster OKC is building.
Jalen Williams (No. 12 Overall), B-: One pick after making a move to nab Ousmane Dieng, the Thunder select a player that zoomed up the board during the pre-draft process. Williams is a fairly limited athlete, but he has a 7’2 wingspan and checks myriad boxes on the offensive end. He is comfortable running pick-and-roll, is a developing shooter, and has great feel as a passer. With defensive acumen and projected versatility, OKC adds a quality bet as a role player.
2022 Free Agents:
Melvin Frazier (RFA)
JaMychal Green (player option)
Mike Muscala (team option)
Kenrich Williams (non-guaranteed)
Lu Dort (team option)
Isaiah Roby (team option, non-guaranteed)
Theo Maledon (non-guaranteed)
Vit Krejci (non-guaranteed)
Aaron Wiggins (non-guaranteed)