The NBA Draft will happen next Thursday and the rumor mill is already in full flow. Over the last few weeks, Oklahoma City have been linked to quite a few players in the Draft and it has been difficult to work out which rumours should be considered and which should be discarded.
I have seen the Thunder linked with taking Shaedon Sharpe, Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr, Patrick Baldwin Jr and Jalen Duren. Oklahoma City have three picks in this Draft and may not even use all of these assets.
All rumors will be graded from 1 to 10, ‘1’ will be the most far-fetched, least believable rumors. ‘10’ will be the rumors which are logical and have some weight to them.
Rumor #1: Oklahoma City are planning on taking Jaden Ivey with No. 2.
Jaden Ivey had an impressive season at Purdue and elevated himself into the top tier of the Draft. I have no issues with putting Ivey on Jabari and Paolo’s level, I think his game will only improve in a league where spacing is significantly better.
Ivey excels at getting downhill and could not always maximise his ability in the college game. College basketball has a narrow painted area which greatly improves the value of a traditional center. The narrow lane means that non-shooting centers can position themselves closer to the rim and shoot over the top of the defense more easily.
Coach Matt Painter chose to play a center rotation of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams to take advantage of this part of college basketball’s meta. Both players were non-shooters and cramped the interior space available to Ivey.
In the pro game, Ivey will have a wider lane to operate in and centers who have some modicum of shooting range. He will have more space to attack and should be able to realise his potential at the NBA level.
Ivey is known to be a player that the Thunder is interested but I do not think that Sam Presti would use the No. 2 pick on a player who does not necessarily meet the Thunder’s needs. Oklahoma City need a young player with almost unlimited ceiling at the center position. Chet Holmgren fits that description to a tee.
It is more likely that Sam Presti will try to swing a trade for No. 4 so that he can acquire Ivey. Sacramento are in win-now mode and seem happy to deal the pick if they get a player who can improve their short-term outlook. The Thunder could offer that with Kenrich Williams or Lu Dort along with future first round picks.
Rumor #2: Shaedon Sharpe is intentionally bombing his workouts to get to Oklahoma City at No. 12.
Shaedon Sharpe is the man of mystery in this current class. He did not play college basketball for Kentucky and we last saw him in a competitive environment playing for Dream City Christian in Arizona.
He is a difficult player to evaluate for the fact that there is so little film on him. It is tough to form a conclusion on his potential without seeing Shaedon play against high level competition.
At the start of the week, Andrew Schlecht of Down to Dunk stated that he heard Shaedon had performed poorly at workouts subsequent to his visit to the Thunder. Sharpe revealed in his media interviews on Saturday that the Thunder liked what they saw.
Shaedon Sharpe on his workout with OKC: "They were my first workout. The feedback I got was pretty good."— Brandon Rahbar (@BrandonRahbar) June 17, 2022
These two pieces of information have led to many to believe that Sharpe would like to end up in Oklahoma City and is happy to worsen his draft stock to achieve this goal. It does sound like a far-fetched claim but I think there is an element of truth to this rumor.
Shaedon shares a lot of ties with the Thunder. The first of which being his advisor. Sharpe is being advised by Dwayne Washington. Washington was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s AAU coach and has worked with Shai as his brand manager.
There is a good relationship between the two guards and it is possible that Gilgeous-Alexander’s time in Oklahoma City has informed Sharpe’s perception of the Thunder.
It is also worth noting that the Thunder have had a lot of Kentucky Wildcats come through their doors, 9 players in total. There is a wealth of experience for Sharpe to tap into and that experience comes from up and down the roster.
A lot of the background information is tangential to where Sharpe lands but I thought his list of workouts was quite interesting.
Shaedon Sharpe said he has worked out for OKC, Orlando, Detroit, Charlotte and San Antonio. He said he has upcoming workouts scheduled with Indiana and Portland.— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) June 17, 2022
The list is only six teams and all six teams arguably have other matters to deal with. Orlando is nailed on for Jabari Smith Jr. Detroit and Portland are both trying to swing deals to move up and get somebody like Ivey or Banchero. Charlotte and San Antonio are both too low to have a chance at landing Sharpe.
To me, I think there is enough in these rumors for them to be believable. Sharpe is the sort of high-risk, high-reward prospect that Presti likes. Sam has no qualms about high schoolers, please see Darius Bazley or raw talents, please see Poku. Shaedon is excellent value at 12.
Rumor #3: The Thunder are considering dealing SGA to Washington.
I must say, I laughed when I heard this one. There is no way that Sam Presti deals one of the most promising young guards. Shai has five years on his deal left. It would have to be a ‘Godfather’ offer to even get Sam to the table.
The Wizards have nothing that the Thunder really want. No. 10, Rui Hachimura or Deni Avdija is not sufficient return in the slightest.