Daily Thunder

Lottery Sim No. 3: OKC has 2 top-5 picks. Now what?

Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a new series in which we will take a look at lottery sim results from Tankathon.com, and attempt to map out who the Thunder might select with their pick(s) in the 2021 NBA Draft. Lottery Sim No. 1 | Lottery Sim No. 2

Well folks, this isn’t the dream scenario, but it’s as good as any Thunder fan could reasonably ask for.

In this week’s lottery sim, Oklahoma City landed the No. 2 and No. 5 overall picks. That means no Cade Cunningham, but it does mean the Thunder have two chances to land elite prospects.

Here’s a screenshot of this week’s results:

Let’s get to it…

  1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State

I do think Detroit would field trade calls for this pick (more on that later) but Cade is probably too good to pass up for them.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Evan Mobley, C, USC

I love Jalen Green, but Evan Mobley’s longterm fit with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander makes so much sense. That combination could produce very similar results to what Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have done for the Utah Jazz, and the Thunder wouldn’t be nearly finished building out their core.

I’m typically against drafting centers this high, but an elite player at that position can carry a lot of weight. Mobley can be a game-changing defender and his offensive skillset fits Shai and the modern game.

Other players considered: Jalen Green

3. Chicago Bulls: Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga

The Bulls probably can’t take Green here due to the overlap in skills between him and Zach Lavine. Suggs is also more NBA-ready and fills their point guard need immediately, which is what the Bulls need. Chicago would have a nice core built around Suggs, Lavine, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green, SG, G-League Ignite

Incredible break for the Cavs to get Green at No. 4. This would probably trigger a Collin Sexton trade at some point, but the Cavs should try to work through a 3-guard lineup with Green, Sexton and Darius Garland.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, F, G-League Ignite

Kuminga’s draft stock has fallen to the point where he’s probably underrated at this stage. Yes, the jumper might be a problem. But he has the frame to be an awesome defender and is an elite passer for his size. Putting him in a lineup with Shai, Mobley and Aleksej Pokusevski would be remarkable to see.

I also trust OKC to figure out Kuminga’s jumper, at least to a league-average level. The Thunder’s coaching staff has done a tremendous job with adjusting mechanics of Lu Dort, Shai and others.

Other players considered: None

Trade-up scenarios?

I think this outcome would result in a couple interesting trade possibilities for Oklahoma City.

First, the obvious one: OKC could pair the No. 2 and No. 5 picks and trade up to No. 1 overall and select Cade Cunningham. If Detroit believes in Evan Mobley as much as they do Cade (some scouts do), this becomes a very realistic scenario. The Pistons are in asset-accumulation mode, and securing Mobley plus the No. 5 pick to add to their draft from a year ago would be a big win.

From Oklahoma City’s perspective, this would be a good way to consolidate assets and take the consensus No. 1 prospect who just happens to be from the region. Cade would immediately be a perfect running-mate for Shai, and OKC would have their back court of the future already locked up.

However, if Detroit doesn’t bite, I still see other trades for OKC to make. After taking Mobley at No. 2, the Thunder could still move up from No. 5 to make a run at Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs.

I’d expect Chicago to be more receptive, especially if OKC is targeting Green. There’s a scenario where the Bulls trade back to No. 5 and still get Suggs because the Cavs go with Kuminga at No. 4. If that’s the case, I’d expect the cost for OKC to be relatively mild — perhaps Phoenix’s 2022 first round pick.

Author

Spenser Davis
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