Thunder: The Most Promising Future in the NBA


by Jack Bogda, Reporter

Throughout the NBA, the draft has been the most prominent way for NBA teams to get their future franchise players and stars. For example, Michael Jordan with the Bulls, Lebron James with the Cavs, Stephen Curry with the Warriors, and as of recent, young stars like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant were both drafted to their respective teams, the Pelicans and the Grizzlies.

Draft picks have been important assets in trades for a long time now, and can sometimes be the difference between a getting a really good player, and getting nothing. One team in particular, has extremely prioritized getting these draft picks, and for good reason. The Oklahoma City Thunder have 34 draft picks over the next 7 years, including 17 first round picks and 17 second round picks.

The Thunder once were championship contenders when they had players such as Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, and Dennis Schroder. They ended up losing very early on in the playoffs with this team, which led them to trade both Westbrook, and George, for star veteran Chris Paul, and rising star Shai Gilgeous Alexander, along with a variety of draft picks. They were able to get five draft picks and two picks swaps (a team gets the better pick out of their own and the team they traded with) out of the George trade, as well as two pick swaps and one top four protected pick out of the Westbrook trade.

The Thunder in that next year with Paul as the leader of the team were not expected to do well, and many believed them to be in the running for a lottery pick. This of course was not the case though as Paul led the young Thunder squad into the first round of the playoffs as the five seed where they lost in seven games to the Rockets, who had Westbrook, the player they had recently traded. 

Because of Paul’s expensive contract, and need to go to a contending team in the later parts of his career, he was also traded and in exchange the Thunder got a plethora of players and a first round pick. The Thunder were able to exchange some of the players they had gotten for the Paul trade and were able to net another two firsts and two seconds.

In the end, after the Thunder were able to flip all of their assets for draft picks, they now have one of the biggest stockpiles of draft picks in NBA history. The Thunder have an extremely good reason for doing this. The draft picks they are getting in the end could net them some very good young players, but they could also use an assortment of draft picks to trade for an all-star to put on their team and get back to contention.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a small market NBA team, making it extremely hard for them to get all-star talent players in free agency over teams such as Brooklyn, both LA teams, Miami, and other big city teams where NBA players might want to live. 

The way they got around this though, is by having acquired a ton of assets in order to be able to trade for the players they want and also, so they can get quality players out of the draft. The Thunder will most likely choose to use most of their draft picks, as their general manager Sam Presti has a lot of success in the area.

Sam Presti acquired Kevin Durant, Westbrook, and James Harden in three consecutive drafts. All three players have now won MVPs, and two won their MVPs with the Thunder. If Sam Presti can reclaim that same success, the Thunder will be back in contention in no time, and maybe this time they can get the finals trophy that every team is so desperately after.