Tonight is the night for the Thunder that could seriously dictate the future of the franchise. Landing one of the top three picks will mean that Oklahoma City can select one of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr or Paolo Banchero. All three players have incredible potential and would change the ceiling of the Thunder’s core.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the Draft Lottery. It is an event which determines the order in which teams can pick from an excellent source of talent. A top pick means that a team can get a quality talent on a cost-controlled contract for at least four years.
The Lottery’s importance is the reason why many Thunder fans woke up this morning with sweaty palms and pulsing hearts. There is a sense of nervous anticipation and excitement associated with an event that is completely random. It is a gamble that the Thunder hope they win.
Winning the Draft Lottery will be unbelievable and a just reward for enduring a painful last few months. Nobody enjoys watching their team lose but the Thunder have tanked to ensure a better long-term future for the team.
On the other hand, the Draft Lottery can be a truly miserable affair and we only need to look back at last year’s example. Oklahoma City had something like a 53.8% chance of landing a top-5 pick in what was a loaded draft class. The Thunder ended up slipping to #6 and it did cause a lot of anguish among the fanbase.
The sacrifices made seemed worthless without getting the proper, justified reward. It was difficult to watch a franchise like Cleveland move up to #3 after having so many high draft picks fall in their lap over the last ten years.
Last year was also an important lesson; Thunder fans have to trust in Presti. The Draft Lottery did not go OKC’s way and yet we ended up with Josh Giddey. Giddey was excellent in rookie season and he outperformed many of his counterparts.
It is entirely possible that the same thing happens tonight; Oklahoma City slip down a spot and land in an unenviable position. If that occurs, it will be pretty painful in the short-term but Presti will make the best of it as he has always done.
Regardless of whatever happens tonight, it is important to keep perspective. Oklahoma City have a solid young team, a good coach and one of the better GMs in the league. The Thunder are on an upward trajectory and will only improve next season.