Most NBA fans’ attention right now is going towards the NBA Playoffs, and rightfully so. Over the next two months, 16 teams will battle it out in the quest for the ever-elusive championship. However, it’s also important to remember that 14 teams have already entered the offseason. Some teams were never in the playoff race, but others like the Oklahoma City Thunder were oh so close to making the playoffs.
Most expected the Thunder to be in the basement again this year, but they broke out to win 40 games and claim the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. There, they beat the New Orleans Pelicans before suffering a season-ending loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Despite coming up just short of the playoffs, this season was still a massive success for Oklahoma City. The Thunder took a huge step toward becoming a contender, and with so many future draft picks, they should only improve further. Not to mention that they did this without Chet Holmgren, last year’s second overall pick who missed his entire rookie season with a Lisfranc injury.
After this success story, Oklahoma City now looks to the 2023 NBA Draft in June. While the Thunder have a glut of future picks, this is one of the few drafts in the near future where they only have their own pick. The Thunder tied with the Chicago Bulls in the final standings, but after a random drawing on Monday, will now pick at 12th overall behind the Bulls.
Now that the Thunder know their exact draft position (unless their 1.7% chance to win the lottery wins out), who should they be eyeing with that pick? Without further ado, here are three players who might make sense at that spot.
3. Keyonte George, Baylor
Oklahoma City already has a very strong backcourt, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey looking like cornerstone players for years to come. However, there isn’t a ton of depth behind them, which was a problem at times this season. So taking George to shore up that depth might be something to consider.
George’s upside is clear to see. The 19-year-old has great playmaking ability, and his athleticism helps him effectively drive to the rim. His shooting could use some work though, as he shot just 37.6% from the field this season. He could also work on cleaning up his turnovers, of which he averaged 2.9 per game.
Those issues are fixable, though. With just a bit of development, George could have a long and prosperous NBA career.
2. Jett Howard, Michigan
Howard, the son of former NBA star and current Michigan coach Juwan Howard, would be another intriguing option for Oklahoma City. He has strong playmaking ability like George, but his different skillset might make him a better target for the Thunder.
First, Howard is a true wing, and therefore is much bigger at 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds. Additionally, Howard has the edge in shooting, as he shot 41.4% from the field and 36.8% from beyond the arc.
His defense leaves some room for improvement, but he has shown a willingness to defend even if it’s not his strong suit. The Thunder already have several strong defenders, so they could help make up for Howard’s deficiencies and help him improve. With the Thunder’s current roster construction, adding a player with Howard’s offensive upside could be ideal.
1. Gradey Dick, Kansas
Considering where Oklahoma City is picking, Dick may be the best offensive player on the board. He may actually go even earlier, requiring the Thunder to trade up to get him. However, an offensive dynamo like Dick would be more than worth that price.
As alluded to, Dick is an exceptional offensive player. His shooting stats this season were phenomenal: 44.2% on field goals, 40.3% on three-pointers and 85.4% on free throws. He also has strong playmaking ability and can get open very easily. Finally, his 6-foot-8, 205-pound frame allows him to be a force on the boards as well.
Like Howard, Dick also has his deficiencies on the other half of the court. However, he clearly has the desire to become a better defender and could drastically improve with more development. All in all, Dick would be the perfect fit for Mark Daigneault and the Thunder.
The post 3 early 2023 NBA Draft targets for Thunder with No. 12 lottery slot in first round appeared first on ClutchPoints.