Over the past several years, the Oklahoma City Thunder have had quite a bit of success developing players through two-way contracts. These allow the team to carry an additional two players outside of the 15-man roster that can split time between the NBA and G League.
Although there was a bit of late shuffling, it appears the Thunder are locked into carrying Paul Watson Jr. and Aaron Wiggins into the upcoming season as their set of two-way players.
This means both of these players will have the opportunity to play with the Thunder as well as the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League. With that in mind, both of these prospects have very different outlooks as NBA players.
In several consecutive seasons, OKC has converted one of their two-way players to a full-time NBA contract. Most recently, Lu Dort and Moses Brown benefitted from this process and thrived when given this opportunity.
Which of Oklahoma City's current duo could have the best chance to be converted to a full-time NBA deal?
Age and Position
Neither of these prospects are all that young relative to many other two-way players around the league. Wiggins is currently 22 years old as a rookie, but will be 23 for the second half of the season. On the flip side, Watson Jr. is a 26-year-old who will be turning 27 in December.
Both Wiggins and Watson Jr. stand at 6-foot-6 and will likely play on the wing. The real difference between these two at this point is the amount of NBA experience. Watson Jr. has 37 games under his belt while Wiggins is a rookie who has yet to touch the floor in a regular season NBA game.
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Future and Upside
While Wiggins was drafted No. 55 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, Watson Jr. went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. With Wiggins being four years younger, it’s pretty safe to assume he has a higher ceiling at this point without seeing both of these prospects on the floor together in extended minutes.
In 27 games with the Raptors last season, Watson Jr. averaged 4.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per contest while shooting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc. Last season at Maryland, Wiggins produced 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while converting on 35.6 percent of his threes.
It’s nearly impossible to compare two players like this that have drastically different sample sizes of data, but the competition will heat up once the season kicks off.
Given the age and ceiling of these two players, it really makes the most sense for Wiggins to have the best shot at being promoted to a full-time NBA contract this season. Unless Watson Jr. is converted solely to flip in a trade, he just doesn’t fit the timeline of what the Thunder are trying to accomplish.
Either way, both of these prospects are fairly old in terms of who Oklahoma City has historically rostered on a two-way spot. They’ll both have plenty of opportunity to showcase their skills in attempt to be promoted.
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