The Oklahoma City Thunder held their 2021 draft class press conference this afternoon. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti sat down with Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, and Aaron Wiggins.
Here are the biggest takeaways from their 30-minute presser:
When it comes to how the Thunder’s draft evaluations have changed recently, Presti confirms that the team has focused more on cerebral, defensive-minded players over long, athletic, raw players due to the changing landscape of the NBA,
Presti emphasizes the value of culture and community with this draft class, citing that they looked at qualities beyond the basketball court in the decision-making process of drafting.
“This is a very, very hard-working group of guys,” said Presti. “They know how to work, they know how to put the time in, they know how to play for one another.
“We draft people first and players second,”
Giddey said that he had no idea that the Thunder would draft him until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the selection on draft night. This is relevant because the Thunder has been known around the league as a team that likes to make promises to draft prospects to draft them if given a chance.
Presti also said that he watched the film on Giddey for the first time in the G League Bubble during his four days of quarantine. Notes that was really the moment that caught Presti’s eyes on Giddey.
Giddey also said he is excited to play with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He thinks playing with SGA will help elevate his game as a big playmaker who can take off some of the facilitating responsibilities.
When asked whether he thought about playing in college instead of the NBL, Giddey said he thought about playing for Colorado but decided to back out.
When asked why he chose No. 3 instead of his NBL No. 6, Giddey said Gabriel Deck already took the number.
Tre Mann said that he is comfortable playing both on and off the ball and doing whatever the team asks him. He also said that he is unsure if he has stopped growing; Mann grew two inches between his freshman and sophomore season at Florida, which propelled him to be a first-round selection this draft.
JRE said that he takes great pride in his defense and rebound. He loves all the small details in the game.
Aaron Wiggins said that he was excited to join OKC and that he already has a good relationship with high school friend Jaylen Hoard, with who he spoke about the organization.
When asked how they’re all dealing with the Oklahoma heat, none of them faltered and said it’s too unbearable. If these guys can handle triple-digit heat, then they can handle pretty much anything basketball-related.
“The heats good. We don’t get this in Australia too often,” said Giddey.
The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto reported Saturday night that second-round pick Aaron Wiggins would sign one of the two two-way deal roster spots with the team. The other is still vacant.
Second-round pick Aaron Wiggins will sign a two-way contract with the Thunder. The Thunder's other two-way slot is open for now.— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) August 1, 2021
A two-way contract means that a player can play for both the NBA team and the G League team with a guaranteed salary.
Considering that Wiggins was a late second-round pick, getting playing time with the Thunder would have been difficult to foresee; this will give the 22-year-old the chance to get consistent playing time in low-pressure situations with the Oklahoma City Blue.