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Late Round Steals for Sam Presti to Lock Down

There are plenty of strong options at the end of the draft for Oklahoma City's annual sleeper pick.

While Oklahoma City has two lottery picks in the draft, Sam Presti has made a living out of finding diamonds in the rough. All eyes will be on pick No. 2, but the late-round additions could find a way into the lineup soon.

Starting with Serge Ibaka, it seems the Thunder have had an underdog to root on for quite some time. Ibaka was selected with pick No. 24 in 2008, as was former backup point guard Reggie Jackson in 2011.

Presti also drafted Alex Abrines and Josh Huestis with late-round selections, and each went on to start key games for the Thunder, even if they didn’t stick around as long.

The latest player in a long line of Thunder development has been undrafted free agent Lu Dort, who has experienced immense success in OKC. Dort has been a staple in building the culture over the past two seasons and has quickly become a fan favorite. While he used to be a defensive energizer, he’s developed into an up-and-coming young player in the NBA. He’s known for his stifling defense but raised his averages to 17.2 points per night in his third season.

With many holes to fill on the current roster, a late-round addition making a playing time push is more likely than not. Here are a few NBA draft candidates that could surprise people next season.

Trevion Williams

Williams is a strong, imposing big man that is very physical on both ends of the floor. He brings plenty of experience and expertise after four years with the Boilermakers.

At Purdue, Williams shot over 50% every year he was there, including back-to-back-to-back seasons in double-digit scoring. His junior season was his best, averaging 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in just 25 minutes per game.

Jabari Walker

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Walker is an off-ball energizer bunny and will be an instant hustle guy for any team that takes a flier. He led the Buffaloes in scoring last season as a sophomore, dropping 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

He’s an elite defender and could turn into a menace on the perimeter at 6-foot-9. Walker is an athletic combo-forward that could turn into a serious 3-and-D prospect in the NBA. He’s only 19, too.

Peyton Watson

Watson was a consensus five-star recruit and a McDonald’s All-American in high school. He was one of the top-rated recruits in all of the country but was never able to find his footing at UCLA.

Watson played just 12 minutes a game on a loaded Bruins team but struggled to make a huge impact on the court. He has great potential on the perimeter, though, potentially becoming a knockdown shooter and an underrated creator. His high upside is reason enough to overlook the stats if it’s for a late-round flier.

Keon Ellis

Ellis is someone Oklahoma City has brought in for multiple workouts, obviously liking his fit in blue and orange. He’s a solid perimeter defender with a growing offensive game.

He averaged 12.1 points for the Crimson Tide last season, knocking down 36.6% of his triples. Ellis is also a great rebounder for a guard, grabbing a team-high 6.1 boards per game.


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