During this rebuilding process, the Oklahoma City Thunder have accumulated 36 draft picks for the next seven years. That stockpile of picks will begin to pay dividends as the Thunder have three first round picks this year.
With both the 16th and 18th overall picks, Oklahoma City could target Kai Jones. The forward from the Bahamas, declared for the draft after two years at the University of Texas.
During his time there, Jones averaged nine points and four rebounds coming off the bench. His play off the bench earned him Big-12 sixth man of the year honors during his sophomore year.
Although, Jones came off the bench he had impressive performances throughout his college career. Jones had an excellent 20 point performance against Oklahoma State, during a rare start in his freshman year.
Listed at 6’11 and 218 pounds, Jones has great size but will need to put on weight to be able to guard NBA bigs. Jones is very agile due to his track and field background.
With quick feet Jones fits a trending mould of center in today’s NBA. Rim running forwards who do not need plays called for them are increasingly valuable. This sort of modern big man also has the ability to switch onto guards and not be a liability in pick and roll action.
DeAndre Ayton’s impact for the Suns in this season’s playoffs is a great example of what a talented rim running forward can bring to a team.
This is a role that the Thunder’s rotation needs especially after trading Al Horford this offseason. Jones is a raw talent and he has the growth potential to add building blocks to his game, the sort of elements that other Thunder bigs do not have.
Jones could develop into being a stretch five as he progresses through his NBA career. He went from shooting 29% from three his freshman year to 38% his sophomore year. Kai Jones has tangible long distance shooting.
If Jones can develop his skills to match his physical gifts he could be a late first round steal for Oklahoma City. It is possible that Jones follows a similar path to what Serge Ibaka became after being selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2008 draft.