As things stand, the Oklahoma City Thunder will enter the 2021 season without any dominant bigs.
Isaiah Roby, Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski stand as the only Thunder players who have seen action at center after Moses Brown was traded to the Boston Celtics and Tony Bradley and Mike Muscala enter free agency.
Sam Presti could always opt to bring one of Muscala or Bradley back to OKC, and it would be a great short-term fix for the franchise.
But many have projected the Thunder to take a couple of swings at jumbo forwards with their 16th and 18th picks in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft.
OKC has been linked with the likes of Isaiah Jackson and Usman Garuba, all of which have their own strengths.
But the Thunder should trend in another direction.
Just like Presti did with Pokusevski and Bazley, Oklahoma City should take a chance on a forward who could one day develop an offensive game which would allow them to get off their own shot and help take the scoring load off of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Chances are the Thunder will be able to find a big body who can provide a defensive backbone down low through either a trade (Bradley) or through keen scouting and free agency (Nerlens Noel).
They should instead look for bigs with a more developed offensive skillset. Whether it be as an inside threat or someone with the ability to stretch the floor, OKC should put playmaking at a premium.
Alperen Sengun, the talented center from Besiktas, would be a good example of one of those guys.
Standing 6-foot-10, Sengun isn’t currently a threat to space the floor and make defenses pay away from the basket. But his inside game will buy him time as he tries to get more consistent when he steps outside of the lane.
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In the mean time, Sengun would add a legitimate post threat, as well as gobble up boards. Sengun could be a great asset when the game slows down, as Gilgeous-Alexander and the rest of the Thunder can feed him and watch him go to work. Should he get into trouble, Sengun is an adequate passer as well, allowing Oklahoma City to run the offense through the post when they want to give defenses a different look.
In the end, Presti may need to trade up to acquire the talents of a guy like Sengun, but spending the capital to move up and grab him could prove to be a much better move than taking a stab at both pick 16 and pick 18.
Should OKC stand pat, Kai Jones or Ziaire Williams would be great options.
Jones still has a long way to go, but his explosive athleticism paired with the chance that he could develop into a scoring threat from deep (Jones knocked down 39.4 percent of his limited attempts from deep at Texas).
Williams, though he shot much worse from beyond the arc than Jones, has flashed the potential to be a consistent scorer. Shooting 79.6 percent from the free throw line last year at Stanford, the foundation for a shooting stroke is already apparent. He’s also shown the ability to be a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, and if he’s able to develop into even a steady role player, the Thunder would be able to attack teams from all areas of the floor.
In their first decade, the Thunder were constantly behind the curve.
When they finally had built a team who could top Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s Lakers, they ran into LeBron James’ Miami Heat. Then the Golden State Warriors took the mantle of best in the West.
To avoid such a fate with their next generation of stars, the Thunder should be proactive in seeking out the next wave of playmaking big men in the NBA.