Who Will Fortify OKC’s Fountain of Youth?


The Oklahoma City Thunder went full tank mode this season.

Even so, they still grew. Besides Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — a borderline All-Star this year — Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort, young players like Theo Maledon, Moses Brown, Isaiah Roby, Ty Jerome and even Aleksej Pokusevski flashed potential. Take those names and add one more from the 2021 NBA Draft, where OKC will probably have a very high pick.

Which young prospects could fit the Thunder squad going forward? Let’s take a look at these four names.

Cade Cunningham

Of course. Sam Presti is plenty aware that Cunningham is the best player in the draft. The Oklahoma State guard was phenomenal in his freshman season, averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He can basically do it all.

He has good range — 40% from deep in nearly six attempts per game — proving he can be a threat from three-point territory. The 6’6″ guard can also snag rebounds with ease due to his size, and he has the strength and athleticism to finish around the rim against bigger defenders. Because of those same reasons, he can also go to the post and win mismatches. Topped off with He’s also a good passer and smart defender.

Oh, and he shows up in the clutch too.

His only weakness could be that he lacks an explosive first step, but other than that his game is all-around solid. The fit alongside SGA isn’t as clear as with other prospects, but a Shai-Cade backcourt doesn’t sound bad at all.

If OKC somehow wins the lottery, this is the number one pick. Don’t get it twisted.

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Jalen Green

The best type of player that could fit alongside SGA is a three-level scorer– and Jalen Green checks every box.

Green can jump out of the gym and get crafty with his finishing around the rim, knock down some mid-range jumpshots and light it up from deep. He averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 15 games with the G-League Ignite Team, shooting 46.1% from the field and 36.5% from long range. He may be the player with the quickest first step in his class, as he can blow by defenders with ease due to his quickness. He has good body control when going up against bigger defenders as well.

His scoring ability by itself makes him a top-five pick in the draft. He can pull up, hit catch-and-shoot threes — something that could bump up SGA’s assists — and create his own shot comfortably. The defense may be still a question mark, and his body may not be NBA ready yet, but those two things can be developed properly with a good coaching staff.

Pay close attention to him on draft night if the Thunder are in the top five.

Evan Mobley

Despite Moses Brown’s breakout, Mobley seems to be the missing piece of a Thunder starting five. The seven-footer is the best big man in the draft, and just with his defensive presence he’s inserted himself in the top-three conversation.

He’s averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in his freshman season at USC. His defense is elite, not only near the rim, but he isn’t afraid to defend away from the paint either. He has good lateral quickness and great timing to block shots near the rim. Mobley excels in crashing the glass, as he has the athleticism to jump higher than his defenders and the length to corral the loose ball.

Offensively, he has a big repertoire. He can handle the ball and put it on the floor, and has the court vision to find the open man. His post game is solid and he can move his feet very quickly for his size. He also has a smooth jumper — even though he doesn’t take many threes — and can be a multiple threat for the offense when coming off a screen that he sets. A constant lob threat, he can run the floor and finish plays in transition.

The biggest concern with Mobley is his body. When Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and other big men match up with him, they’ll have instant physical advantages. The team that drafts him should be very patient and hopeful that Mobley locks himself in the weight room and puts in the work. Because if he does, he can be very, very special, and SGA could be feasting with him in the pick-and-roll.

Moses Moody

Let’s say the Thunder don’t have a top-five pick. You don’t need to be a basketball expert to figure out what an SGA-built Thunder team would need alongside him: shooters. And Moses Moody may be the best one in the draft.

Moody’s not the best ball-handler, but can shoot it from anywhere and create his own shot as well. He only shot 35% from deep this season in Arkansas, where he averaged 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, but he can get hot at any moment. Pull-up, catch-and-shoot, stepbacks. He’s got many shooting badges.

On top of that, his defense is really solid as well. He makes good reads on and off the ball, and doesn’t back up from anyone. His 7’1 wingspan allows him to get deflections and be aggressive, and can hold his own against bigger defenders. He has a good feel for the game on both ends of the floor.

Moody could turn into a very solid 3&D kind of player, but he’s also developing some ball-handling and playmaking abilities as well. A very interesting prospect — who is only 19 years old too — and that could fit nicely into the Thunder rotation from the get-go.

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About Santiago Núñez

From Argentina. NBA lover. Journalist (in the process).

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