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Thunder fans could use a win.
First, the lottery draft went from a 76% chance to at least one Top 5 pick and a 24% chance for two Top 5 picks to the second worst case scenario.
To add salt to the wound, Jalen Suggs fell to #5.
OKC passed up longtime top 5 lock Jonathan Kuminga and new Thunder darling James Bouknight to pick Aussie passing prodigy. OKC had the chance to draft the much buzzed about 18 year old Turkish MVP Alperen Sengun but punted for two more future 1st round draft picks.
Hey, Summer League is here! At least we get to be excited by these new rookies! Whoa, Giddey dunked on his first play!
Then Giddey rolled his ankle and may miss the rest of Summer League. Then news came that Tre Mann, the 18th overall pick and the one pick most fans could get behind, would miss the final two Summer League games with a personal matter.
I mean, come on.
So I scrounged social media and found a win in the form of Richard Stayman, a credentialed NBA Draft analyst and favorite of Draft Twitter. Stayman thinks OKC got the biggest steal in the draft with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and a Top 10-ish player in Mann. (He has Giddey much lower than OKC took him, so even our Ws are lower case, but we’ll take it.)
I asked Stayman why he is so high on Mann and JRE and his overall thoughts on the Thunder’s draft.
You are a credentialed draft analyst. Tell us a little about your history as a draft guy.
I’ve been an NBA fan for my whole life- my first memory of life was seeing Penny Hardaway in Orlando in the 90s at the old Amway Arena, and when I moved to Dallas in 1999, I learned to read by reading the summer transaction list. In 2004, the Magic had the first pick so I “researched” Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor. Ever since that draft, I’ve been enamored with the NBA Draft each year. In 2017 I wanted a platform beyond my personal Twitter account, so I created @MavsDraft to talk about how much the Mavs needed Donovan Mitchell, and from there I somehow stuck around.
You had JRE at #12 on your final 2021 big board, 20 spots higher than he was taken. Why were you so high on him? Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is the most mistake-free player in the class outside of the consensus top 10 players. Jay Bilas called him the best pick & roll player in the country, despite physical shortcomings. He carefully evaluates every play, and doesn’t panic. There’s really nothing he can’t do on the floor, even if there’s not one particular thing he’s great at.
What were all the mocks missing on him? I think in general, draft night and mock drafts choose upside over floor unless a player has a perceived elite floor (Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, etc). He didn’t shoot a great percentage from 3, and that might have been a turn-off. A lot of draft people also don’t subscribe to the theory of being good at everything but great at nothing.
What’s your JRE comp? What do you think JRE’s ceiling is? His floor? A few comparisons I have are Maxi Kleiber if his jumper comes along (JRE has more skills in other areas), Dario Saric, and I like to think JRE is what Jontay Porter could have been if he wasn’t battling injuries.
You had Tre Mann at #11, 7 spots higher than he was take. Why were you so high on him? I saw Tre Mann as the best space creator in the entire draft. He improved a lot as a sophomore, and I think his game scales up as a pure bench scorer. He also plays the passing lanes well, and while he can’t finish against contact that well, he does a good job of dancing around defenders at the rim while maintaining good touch.
How would you compare Mann’s scoring ability to Jalen Green and James Bouknight, considered the top two scorers in the draft? I don’t think he’s going to ever touch the volume those two get, but his ability to create looks is up there with both of them. Mann’s disadvantage in getting to the rim and finishing there holds him back from being the elite scorer those two are.
What’s your Mann comp? What do you think his ceiling is? His floor? I saw a bit of what people high on Tyrell Terry last year saw when I watched Tre Mann. Three other names I really like as comparisons are Luke Kennard, Devonte Graham, and Lou Williams (as low-hanging as that is, he plays the same role as Lou Will).
On the flip side, you had Josh Giddey at #18, 12 spots lower than he was drafted. Why are you lower on him? I think Giddey sticks in the NBA. I worry about his defense, something that should have come more easily given his size at the level he played at, but he rarely put in effort, and when he did he was beat easily. He also has a very long way to go as a shooter, particularly off the dribble. His spot up shot should project, but until he can reliably hit jumpers off the dribble, which is years away, I remain skeptical.
What’s your Giddey comp? What do you think his ceiling is? His floor? I think he’s decently similar to Tyrese Haliburton last year- unorthodox in a lot of ways aesthetically, but his basketball IQ gets him the results he wants.
A lot of OKC fans are upset about trading Alperen Sengun at #16 for two future 1sts. Will OKC regret that trade, or was it a savvy value move? With the amount of assets Oklahoma City has, I think they can rest easy- they’ll have plenty more chances. Sengun will be a nice player and I thought he was a great fit, but I think I’d rather have the future picks over him.
Any thoughts on Aaron Wiggins? I liked Wiggins a lot as a freshman as Maryland, then I felt like he disappeared from my radar. His game is probably the easiest role to scale up from the end of the draft as a 3&D wing with some passing ability, so I see him sticking for a few years, at the least.
What grade would you give OKC’s draft? Despite some concerns I had with some of the moves (Sengun, Giddey at 6), I think they still got better both for this year and the long-run. I give the Oklahoma City draft an A-. I think Giddey is actually a decently good fit, better than given credit for, next to SGA. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Tre Mann were elite values relative to my board. Aaron Wiggins has upside as a 3&D role player off the bench. The upside from this draft of being significantly better as quickly as the 2022-23 season is realistically attainable.
You can follow Richard Stayman on Twitter @MavsDraft.