For months, the Oklahoma City Thunder have had Tuesday night’s Draft Lottery blotched in highlighter.
Following a 22-50 record in 2020-21, Oklahoma City came up empty in last season’s draft lottery, sliding from potentially controlling two Top 5 Picks to owning Pick 6 and two mid-first-round selections. With veteran leader Al Horford on the move – the Thunder entered this season carrying ten players under 23 years old and no true center on the roster.
Oklahoma City carried much of last season’s teachings into this year. With key players in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort suffering season-ending injuries during the year, the franchise flipped the page into discovery mode to close the year, handing 10-day contracts and rookies starting gigs.
From an outsider’s perspective, the Thunder’s 2021-22 campaign marked the second rendition of a tanking attempt. With meaningful minutes going towards the back of the rotation pieces, the public and media alike poked fun at Bricktown’s battalion. In-house, they’ll tell you they were looking to uncover some future gems. That’s the same process leading into Tuesday night.
After concluding the season 24-58, the Oklahoma City Thunder will enter the NBA Draft Lottery with the fourth-best odds of the top choice in the draft and the twelfth-best odds via the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder will carry the fourth-best odds for the second-consecutive lottery, building off last season’s lottery draw. Unlike last season, the franchise will maintain sole possession of the fourth-best odds, most notably increasing Top 4 odds by three percent.
Oklahoma City carries a 12.5% chance at grabbing this year's top prize at Pick No. 1 while mounting a 48.1% cut at obtaining a Top 4 choice with their own selection. The Thunder’s biggest hurdle in its chase for a top pick will come at picks 6 and 7, as they carry a 42.4% shot at landing at either of those choices.
The most likely scenario pegs Oklahoma City at the sixth spot with a 25.7% cut.
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The Thunder’s own selection can range from the first to eighth slot. In the circumstance all Top 4 teams (Houston, Orlando, Detroit, Oklahoma City) fail to hit the top four – they will spiral to Pick No. 8. The odds of this occurrence are 2.2%.
Oklahoma City carries a unique deck leading into Tuesday as they will be the only team in the lottery with two picks coming in the lottery.
As part of the 2019 trade that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Clippers, who went 0-2 in the Play-In Tournament, have shipped the projected No. 12 pick to Oklahoma City. This pick holds a 1.5% chance at the top selection with a 7.2% roll of landing in the top four.
The Thunder’s most likely scenarios include a package of picks 6 and 12 (22.8%), picks 7 and 12 (13.3%), and picks 2 and 12 (11.4%). The miracle landing of picks 1 and 2 carry odds of 0.16%.
Former Thunder player and current Special Assistant Nick Collison has been named the Thunder's representative for Tuesday’s lottery reveal. In the franchise's three lottery appearances, the organization has called Scott Brooks (2009), Russell Westbrook (2015), and Nazr Mohammed (2021).
The NBA Draft Lottery airs Tuesday at 7:00 CST on ESPN.