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Thunder Trade Fallout: Who Has the Best Chance to Stick in OKC

After Oklahoma City agreed to an eight-player deal this week, the team's front office will have even more personnel decisions to make.

Oklahoma City elected to make more major roster changes this week, agreeing to a trade that will send Derrick Favors, Ty Jerome, Théo Maledon, Maurice Harkless and a 2026 second round pick to Houston in return for David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke and Marquese Chriss.

This comes only two days after dealing Czech wing Vit Krejčí to Atlanta for Harkless, who many assumed would be another buyout contract in OKC.

The Thunder’s two trades not only net the franchise more space under the salary cap, but also puts two trade exceptions in General Manager Sam Presti’s back pocket. While neither team gained or relinquished a key piece, there are still players heading to new destinations who can make an impact in their next location.

For Oklahoma City, the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season, Krejčí could become the most impactful loss. Of the four departures who spent time with the team, the 6-foot-8 21-year-old was the only to shoot above 30% from three.

Krejčí, who was selected in the 2020 draft along with Maledon, recorded more starts last year than Jerome and the French guard. Maledon, however, earned 49 starts during the 2020-21 season while Krejčí was sidelined with a knee injury.

While the former Spanish league star didn’t have eye-popping statistics, his shooting splits all indicate that Krejčí can earn a spot in the NBA. Krejčí shot over 86% from the charity stripe while his true shooting and effective field goal percentages were both over 50%, significantly higher than the other players that OKC dished out.

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On the other end of the deal are the newest members of the Thunder. Many speculate that the players sent over from Houston will be swiftly bought out by their new team, but the Thunder may want to get an eye on a few of them first.

Marquese Chriss has a chance to step into Derrick Favors’ former role under the basket in Oklahoma City, giving OKC some much needed minutes from an experienced big man. Chriss played in 34 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season, earning an average of just over 10 minutes per game.

Prior to his time in Dallas, Chriss spent two seasons with the Golden State Warriors, putting together an impressive 2019-20 campaign that saw the 6-foot-9 power forward average over nine points and six rebounds per game while knocking down shots at a 54.5% clip. Chriss’ rebound numbers from that season would place him third on the Thunder’s 2021-22 rebounding statsheet.

If the Thunder can extract this version of Chriss, then it will get a trial run at what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey can do with a young, athletic center, serving as a preview for Chet Holmgren’s return to the court in 2023. 

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