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Opinion: Thunder Can Take a Chance on Poor Shooter in 2021 Draft

The Oklahoma City Thunder are at a point in their rebuild where they'll be able to take a chance on a poor shooter.

The 2021 NBA Draft has loads of talent stirring around near the top.

What has been a clearly-cut five-man draft for months now has quickly blossomed into six with the 2021 Draft Combine.

Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, the projected fifth and sixth prospects, Jonathan Kuminga and Scottie Barnes, both need a bit of help in the shooting department.

Lengthy, explosive athletes, Barnes and Kuminga can do it all. Defending and inside scoring come naturally to both. Barnes especially thrives as a playmaker, and both have a fairly tight handle for their size.

The only knock on either of their games is their shooting, which each struggle with.

Kuminga is a confident, but streaky shooter. He is a talented shot creator, and even has decent mechanics, but has just lacked the numbers thus far that would propel him further up draft boards.

As a shooter, Barnes is much more raw. In college, his release had a hitch, and his

Barnes shot 28 percent on 1.7 attempts at Florida State. Kuminga shot 25 percent on 5 attempts with the G-League Ignite.

Neither are tantalizing prospects from beyond the 3-point line, but Oklahoma City is in position to take a chance on either. While not a great 3-point shooting team (29th in the league) the team has the personnel to pick up slack in that area.

Scottie Barnes

Potential Thunder target Scottie Barnes.

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The Thunder have also shown 3-point shooting to be of paramount importance, as prospects from each of the last two draft, as well as star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, have all improved in that area.

Gilgeous-Alexander has made the most significant jump, remarkably shooting a markedly better percentage on more attempts last season. He improved from 34-percent on 3.6 attempts to 41 percent on 4.9 attempts.

Luguentz Dort has come alive as a shooter as well. While not steadily efficient, he’s already surpassed what was formerly his ceiling as a scorer. Theo Maledon, while already a threat from deep, hit more three’s than other other Thunder in a rookie season.

Theo Maledon, Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards

Thunder guard Theo Maledon in his rookie season.

Potential is there for Kuminga or Barnes to make big improvements. And should they gain reputation as a shooter, there is serious franchise cornerstone potential for both, something Oklahoma City should be searching for in the 2021 Draft.

Should the Thunder opt not to trade out of the sixth spot, they’ll undoubtedly choose one of the two, and fans of the team should be excited with either.

Barnes will more than likely be the pick at No. 6. Through video of him practicing and his combine performances, it’s clear his shot has already improved.

Kuminga has fine mechanics and is confident enough to give hope. Should Barnes stock soar, he could potentially slip to No. 6.


The 2021 NBA Draft will take place on July 29 at 7:30 p.m.