Unlike most teams, the OKC Thunder aren’t in a rush to contend and can spend time developing long-term projects in this draft.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have six picks in next week’s draft. While they’re unlikely to use all six, they should have the mentality of trying to hit home runs.
One way of doing this is selecting guys with high upside, but are extremely young or raw. With the great talent development program in OKC, there’s a good chance they can get absolutely everything out of a long-term project.
Additionally, they’re in no rush to win as they’re currently rebuilding and actually have the time to wait for some of these types of draft prospects to develop.
While these long-term projects can be found all throughout the draft, let’s take a look at five that could make sense for the Thunder.
Ziaire Williams, Stanford
Ziaire Williams grew up a huge recruit and showed flashes of just how good he could be last season at Stanford. The biggest issue with him will be how quickly he can fill out his frame.
Weighing just 190 pounds at 6-foot-9, the 19-year-old could have a tough time adjusting to the physicality of the NBA game. For a team like the Thunder who have plenty of time for him to develop his body over the next few years, he could be a great prospect just outside the lottery.
JT Thor, Auburn
JT Thor has the length at 6-foot-8 that every NBA team craves in a modern forward. While he’s put together a solid jumper and showed the ability to hit 3-pointers at Auburn, he hasn’t done enough of a sample size to be sure it’s sustainable.
Thunder GM Sam Presti had always liked taking some of the younger prospects in the draft, with Thor fitting that mold at just 18 years old. He certainly has the upside to be solid at the next level, and OKC has the ability to take a shot on the risk he brings to the table with one of their first rounders.
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Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina
One of the strongest players in this class, Day’Ron Sharpe is 6-foot-11, weighing 260 pounds. While he isn’t your modern NBA center, he’s a force in the paint that could be a useful in situational lineups.
Just 19 years old, he’s still got plenty of time to develop an outside game and become more of a new-age big. With three second rounders, the Thunder could add some much needed center depth with Sharpe.
Vrenz Bleijenbergh, International
He hasn’t gotten as much hype as other international prospects, but Vrenz Bleijenbergh is an intriguing project that a team like the Thunder could work with. He’s already 20 years old, but stands at 6-foot-10 and plays guard.
While he’s certainly someone that should only be considered by the Thunder in the second round, he fits the positionless style of play they’re building towards. In lineups alongside Aleksej Pokusevski, OKC could have some of the biggest lineups in the entire NBA.
Greg Brown, Texas
Texas has a handful of quality prospects in this draft class and Greg Brown isn’t being talked about near enough. With an NBA-ready frame at 6-foot-8 and weighing 206 pounds, he’s guy worth taking a chance on later in the second round.
Brown has some work to do on his 3-point shot, but plays extremely hard and is an excellent rebounder for his size. As the Thunder look to draft quality role players, a guy like him could fill a real need.