Skip to main content

Draft Contenders: Top Options for OKC Thunder at Pick No. 12

The OKC Thunder possess plenty of options to close the lottery.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have made themselves tidy in this year’s draft board.

After four ping-pong balls went Sam Presti’s way Tuesday evening, the Thunder have fetched national attention for their No. 2 placement in the 2022 NBA Draft. However, the gold mine gets even deeper for Presti and company, as Oklahoma City is the lone team with two lottery selections, carrying an additional lottery pick at No. 12.

While the top conversations will rest on the Thunder’s grand prize at No. 2, a bevy of potential long-term contributors will be available at Pick No. 12.

Here are three contenders for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s No. 12 selection:

Dyson Daniels

Dyson Daniels, 2022 NBA Draft

The Oklahoma City Thunder have a plethora of ball-handling prospects in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Tre Mann, to name a few. Dyson Daniels would ripen the pot even further in the handling department.

After Josh Giddey made the jump to the NBL, Daniels kept the NBA Academy lineage strong, building his stock to attract five Division-1 offers and a contract from the NBA G League Ignite. He took the Ignite route. While playing for the Ignite, he drew multiple comparisons to Giddey as his 6-foot-8, 6-foot-10 wingspan placed him in a jumbo-guard category with Oklahoma’s own.

Daniels averaged 11.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.9 steals in 14 games for the Ignite. The guard saved his best performance for the big stage, placing 18 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists against the Canton Charge at All-Star weekend.

Offensively, Daniels has the game down as a playmaker. He goes an excellent job pegging the roll-man in pick-and-roll situations while also being one of the better cross-court passers in the draft class. Daniels possesses a good touch around the basket, however, his 13-of-51 (25.5%) output from three does create an improvement area for him moving forward.

On the defensive front, Daniels carries lucrative potential. Daniels has a great gauge of overall spacing and potential passing lanes in the halfcourt. As a result, he’s prone to jump into passing lanes or make use of an errant bounce pass. Daniels’ frame also makes him a good rebounder.

Daniels adds another lethal playmaker to the Thunder squadron. His potential is through the roof for a late-lottery prospect, however, the fit will need to be worked out under he solidifies his jumper. Overall, Daniels is a premier pick at 12, but based on the success of Giddey – it may take a trade-up to get in range for the Aussie.

Jalen Duren

Jalen Duren, 2022 NBA Draft

The Thunder have the sediments to create one of fastest-paced rosters in the league. Jalen Duren kicks them into turbo.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

Duren is listed as a 6-foot-11, 250 pound center by ESPN. There’s been varying reports on the Memphis Freshman’s height, dipping to the 6-foot-9 range. However, Duren did not participate in Combine measurements. So, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt at 6-foot-11.

In 29 games at Memphis, he averaged 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. He is expected to be the youngest player in this draft to receive lottery consideration as he doesn’t turn 19 until August.

Duren is the up-tempo lob threat franchises are chomping at the bit to grab. With an explosive first-step off of high-ball screens, Duren is able to run into the lane for loft passes over his defender and alley-oop passes which end on a highlight reel. His under-the-basket activity is what has made his stock as he’s an interior enforcer who gets down the court faster than most bigs.

The rim protection is the talking point for Duren’s defensive play. He capped the season averaging 2.1 blocks for the Tigers, finding these stats from standstill rejections and chasedown blocks. The speed from Duren is the key note, however, he still needs to work on both off-ball defense and boxing out.

Duren is still a project piece moving forward. However, his elite athletic ability makes him a hot name to watch in the lottery. On paper, Duren is an excellent fit with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey as a screener. But, his lack of a consistent jump shot is a potential pushback as this deficiency could lead to centers playing in drop coverage.

Ousmane Dieng

NBA Combine

If multi-positional pieces pique your interest – Ousmane Dieng is someone to keep tabs on.

Dieng, age 18, carries a lucrative frame at 6-foot-10, 200 pounds. Dieng’s length comes at a premium as the guard was not landlocked to a set position for most of the season, taking turns defending both backcourt and frontcourt members.

With the New Zealand Breakers, Dieng averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists across 23 games.

When you look at Dieng offensively, he made his money’s worth operating in the pick-and-roll. Dieng is quite nimble for his size, and with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he’s able to loft passes over guards and bigs alike to his roll man while surveying for cross-court dimes. He also showed flashes of self creation from three. But, the success came in segments.

Defensively, Dieng is the ideal project piece. He exchanged reps playing 1-3 this season, and with his size and agility, he was able to soar up for some blocks, too. Dieng shifts his feet constantly on defense, which could lead to some fallbacks. But, he is great at regaining this lost space.

If the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to go for the potential grand slam at Pick No. 12 – Dieng deserves to be in the conversation. His length and current blend of defense and passing ability gel right into the Thunder’s system. He needs to roughen out a few edges, but at 18, there’s room in the figurative growth plates.

Want to join the discussion? Like SI Thunder on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest Thunder news. You can also meet the team behind the coverage.