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Thunder Draft: Best Non-Lottery First Round Options

With their second and third picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, the OKC Thunder will select at No. 16 and No. 18 overall.
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While the Oklahoma City Thunder's No. 6 overall pick is certainly the most crucial in July's draft, they've still got two additional picks just outside the lottery. 

Both picks acquired through trade, the Thunder will select at No. 16 and No. 18 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, where they'll be able to find quality prospects with how deep this draft is. 

“The draft overall, I like it," said Thunder GM Sam Presti last week. "We value No. 16 for a reason. We think there’s a player there.”

Let's take a look at a handful of players who would thrive with OKC at No. 16 or No. 18 overall.

Ziaire Williams (Stanford)

Ziaire Williams

Standing at 6-foot-9, Williams is the prototypical NBA wing. While he’s only 188 pounds right now, he could build upon his frame and ultimately become the perfect small forward for an NBA team.

In his lone college year, he shot just 29.1 percent from deep, but has a smooth jumper that would make you think he could drastically improve as a young NBA player. With his size, Williams could become an excellent two way player with the defensive upside.

Kai Jones (Texas)

Kai Jones

One of the most versatile defenders in this entire class, Jones projects have the potential to lock down multiple positions. In both of his seasons at Texas, he came off the bench but made a major impact as one of the country’s best reserves.

While it’s unclear whether Jones could become a star in the NBA, at minimum it appears he could develop into an excellent, high energy forward off the bench. While it wasn’t on high volume, he did convert on 38.2 percent of his threes during his sophomore season. 


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Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky)

Isaiah Jackson

When it comes to the Sam Presti mold, Jackson fits perfectly. Being A raw, highly athletic forward with a ton of upside is exactly what Jackson brings to the table.

While he didn’t product jaw dropping numbers as a freshman at Kentucky, he did things very efficiently. His major downfall is the 3-point shot, which we haven’t seen from him at all to this point.

Cameron Thomas (LSU)

Cameron Thomas

One of the best pure scorers in the entire draft, Thomas is a walking bucket. While he doesn’t have a well-rounded, polished overall game yet, he’ll be able to score at a high level in the NBA.

Likely best suited early in his professional career as a bench spark plug, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Thomas grow into a starting guard. There’s plenty of upside to a guy like this, who will at minimum give you scoring. 

Usman Garuba (International)

Adam Silver 2019 NBA Draft

Garuba is a Spanish prospect that stands at 6-foot-8, playing professionally for Real Madrid of Liga ACB. What makes him stick out is his 7-foot-3 wingspan, which makes him one of the most intriguing defensive prospects in his class.

Like many international prospects, Garuba is an extremely smart player, especially on defense. While he’ll need to put in quite a bit of work on offense, he’ll be able to guard NBA level players from day one. 

Alperen Sengun (International)

NBA Draft

The second-best center in this draft, Sengun is an extremely crafty playmaker in the paint. More of a traditional center, the one thing he’ll need to focus on to live up to the hype of a first rounder will be developing more of a jump shot.

What’s most promising is his age, at just 18 years old, is that he is primed to become a rebuilding team’s next project. Sengun recently became the Turkish League’s MVP after averaging 19.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks per contest. 

Sharife Cooper (Auburn)

Sharife Cooper

When it comes to flashy play style and generating offense in multiple ways, Cooper is among the best in this class. A bit undersized compared to modern NBA guards, he’ll have to use his craftiness at the next level to find success.

While he only played in 12 college games, he averaged 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per contest. One major concern was his range, shooting just 22.8 percent from three, but there’s hope that was just a result of a small sample size.