OKC Thunder’s Second Lottery Pick Brings Underrated Opportunity

The 2022 NBA Draft is just over two weeks away. This will be one of the most important nights of the entire offseason, as nearly every team across the league will have a chance to improve its roster.

All eyes are on the Oklahoma City Thunder and who they could select with the No. 2 overall pick, but their second lottery pick at No. 12 overall could be just as pivotal for the future of the franchise.

In what’s considered a class that has four solidified players in the top tier, anything could happen beyond that range. From the fifth pick to the end of the lottery, there’s a variety of directions the upcoming draft could go.

Due to this, Oklahoma City has a real chance of landing a steal with the No. 12 overall pick. Especially if history repeats itself, the Thunder could take a legitimate core piece at this spot.

  • 2021: Josh Primo
  • 2020: Tyrese Haliburton
  • 2019: P.J. Washington
  • 2018: Miles Bridges
  • 2017: Luke Kennard

There’s certainly a scenario in which the Thunder make a draft night trade to move up in the lottery. However, with how variable this draft could be, it might make sense to stay put.

If that’s the case and OKC ends up selecting at No. 12 overall, who are some prospects the Thunder could have a chance to take in that range?

Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)

At just 19 years old, Daniels opted to take the G League path to the NBA, spending one season playing with the Ignite before becoming eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft. The Australian guard has great size at 6-foot-6 and projects to be a quality two-way prospect at the next level.

Versatility is what makes Daniels stand out among his peers in this class. He’s got the size of a wing, but the passing skills of a point guard. He’s also a solid rebounder and can defend at least three positions.

Daniels’ ceiling will likely be determined by his ability to improve as a 3-point shooter. While he does a lot of things at a high level, he’s an improved perimeter shooter but still has quite a bit of work to do. If that comes around, he could be one of the best players to come from this draft.

The fit in Oklahoma City for Daniels does seem a bit redundant with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey on the roster, but the Thunder are at the point where they need to take the best player available. You can only have so many playmaking guards that can’t shoot, but adding another versatile player makes sense nonetheless.

Jalen Duren (Memphis)

The youngest player in this draft, 18-year-old Duren has a long runway as a prospect and has plenty of time to develop at the next level. Standing at 6-foot-10, he’s one of the most physically dominant players in this class and showed that during his lone season at Memphis.

There’s few rim protectors that make the impact Duren did last season. On the offensive end he’s also an efficient scorer, using his NBA-ready frame to bully defenders.

Duren is undersized for the center position, and also doesn’t have the ability to space the floor. If he’s able to expand his perimeter game, he could become one of the most impactful bigs in the league one day. If not, he could be more of an average traditional center that’s more of a defensive piece.

As a lob threat and legitimate shot blocker, Duren fills some real needs for the Thunder. They lack a traditional center, meaning Duren could become a day one starter in Oklahoma City if he landed there.

AJ Griffin (Duke)

Another 18-year-old, Griffin was a huge contributor for a spectacular Duke team last season. Standing at 6-foot-6 as a wing shooter, he could be one of the highest upside players outside of the top five.

There’s no question that Griffin is an elite 3-point shooting prospect. After knocking down nearly half of his attempts from beyond the arc last season, he projects to be an immediate floor spacer wherever he lands. Additionally, he’s got a strong frame that’s ready for the physicality of the NBA.

Griffin has suffered several knee injuries over the past few years, and the impact is visible. As good as he is offensively, he looks less explosive than before which has limited him on both ends of the floor. If it weren’t for these injury concerns, there’s a real chance Griffin could go in the top five of this draft.

It’s no secret that OKC needs shooters, which is why Griffin makes so much sense if he’s on the board when the Thunder select. Especially since they’re a rebuilding team with a quite a few future picks, taking a swing on a guy with an injury history could make sense. Griffin could be the Thunder’s best perimeter shooter as a rookie.

Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)

A one year player out of Baylor, Sochan is a 6-foot-9 forward that has more defensive versatility as nearly any player in this class. He just turned 19 years old and seems to just be scratching the surface of his overall potential.

A defender that can guard all five positions on the floor, he is exactly he type of player every contending team needs. Playing with intensity and a high motor, Sochan is the ultimate winning player.

As great as his defense is, Sochan’s offensive game has been fairly limited to this point. While he’s a solid playmaker for a forward and is an effective cutter, the shooting just isn’t there. Like many prospects in this class, Sochan’s 3-point shooting stroke could make or break his NBA ceiling.

Sochan recently worked out and met with the Thunder, which went extremely well. He certainly makes sense on a rebuilding team and projects to be a high impact role player in the postseason one day. Sochan might not have the superstar upside, but could end up being a key piece to winning huge games down he road.

Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers)

Perhaps the most risky player that Oklahoma City could take in this range is Dieng, who played in the NBL last season and was pretty inconsistent. A 6-foot-10 wing, he’s just 19 years old and could the biggest boom or bust prospect in this class.

Following an extremely poor start to last season, Dieng ultimately showed a ton of improvement. He’s got elite ball handling for a player of his size and can create his own shot. To be clear, he’s definitely a longterm project but has flashed high upside on offense.

On the flip side, Dieng could end up never becoming an elite player at the NBA level. He’s an extremely poor 3-point shooter right now, and hasn’t completely filled out. As such, he’s limited on both ends of the floor with his light frame and might struggle early on against physical NBA talent.

Again, Oklahoma City has the flexibility to take a risk on a player in this range. Dieng legitimately has the tools to become one of the top players on a contending team one day, but could also completely flop at the next level. If there’s any system in which his chance of thriving is high, it’s Oklahoma City.

Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

Following a breakout sophomore campaign at Wisconsin, Davis has emerged as one of the top guards in this class. He’s got solid size for a modern NBA guard at 6-foot-5 and makes plays on both ends of the floor at 20 years old.

What makes Davis so intriguing is his two-way impact. Not only is he a legitimate offensive threat, but he’s a pest defensively. When it comes to having a well-rounded game and playing with full effort every possession, Davis is among the best.

Davis’ 3-point shooting efficiency fell off last season after being a great perimeter scorer as a freshman. It’s tough to decide which sample size is most representative of him as a shooter from deep at the next level, which could be a concern for some teams. Although he’s got good size, he’s still too small to defend taller wings effectively.

Despite Oklahoma City already having a great core of young guards, it would be tough to pass Davis up if the opportunity were to present itself. He’s one of the most promising players in this class and could truly be a longterm starter for the Thunder as the roster continues to fluctuate over the next several years.

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Matt Lucas

Writer by day and an aspiring Artist by night. Creative thinking is what I'm all about. Lottos are one of my passions and I'm happy to be contributing to Lottery Papa News

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