3 players Oklahoma City Thunder should trade for within the next year
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a treasure trove of young players and future draft picks. Regarding the former, the Thunder have the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Theo Maledon, Ty Jerome, Josh Giddey (he was selected with the sixth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft), Tre Mann (he was selected with the 18th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft) and many others present.
As for the pick tally, Oklahoma City has managed to compile potentially 17 first-round draft selections between 2022-26. That’s historically absurd.
At the same time, there are two realities facing the Thunder: 1) their young core was the 14th seed in the Western Conference last season and 2) the organization is going to have to trade a lot of these assets before they lose their value and/or go to waste.
General manager Sam Presti has all the tools to pull off one or multiple blockbuster trades over the next year. Two players he should look to maintain are Gilgeous-Alexander, who has become one of the best all-around guards in the NBA, and Giddey, who has a tremendous passing and rebounding ability.
Here are three players the Thunder should look to trade for within the next year.
Thunder trade targets:
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
At the moment, the T-Wolves appear to be standing pat with their roster. But if the team is quickly out of realistic playoff contention this season, that mindset can change. If and when the T-Wolves become open to trade offers for some of their leading scorers, the Thunder can swoop in and make an enticing offer for Towns.
As previously alluded to, the Thunder can make any trade they want. From Minnesota’s perspective, they can demand a pair of young guards (Maledon and Mann), an athletic forward (Bazley?) and anywhere between two and four first-round selections, some of which could come in next year’s NBA Draft.
Minnesota gets budding players and the chance to quickly add talented youngsters to their depth chart. Meanwhile, Towns becomes head coach Mark Daigneault’s frontcourt mainstay.
The big man is a versatile scorer and a highly productive player. Towns can bang in the paint, stretch the floor with his jump shooting and put the ball on the floor, if need be. For his career, the 25-year-old is averaging 22.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc.
For a team with a lot of precarious pieces to the puzzle, Towns provides Oklahoma City with a much-needed fixture. Towns and Gilegous-Alexander become the bedrock of the team’s future, providing the developing players around them with someone to take attention off them.
Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
Porzingis is a prime candidate to be moved, and it seems realistic to acquire the big man at a lower cost than this talent would typically demand. A swap along the lines of Dort, Bazley and a first-rounder could get the conversation started. Furthermore, the Thunder can trade for Porzingis and still have the plethora of assets to acquire a top-20 player if one becomes attainable via trade.
Porzingis is a unique talent. He has simply become a shadow of his old self because he became a secondary scoring option and eventually a role player in the Mavericks’ offense. This partially took place due to Luka Doncic making an exponential jump to stardom.
Still 26, Porzingis can be a leading source of offense for an NBA team. He has a smooth jump shot, can put the ball on the floor and fly across the baseline. For what it’s worth, Porzingis has still averaged 20-plus points per game in his two seasons with the Mavericks despite being relatively quiet last postseason.
With the Thunder, Porzingis potentially has Giddey getting the ducks in a row and Gilgeous-Alexander attracting attention off the dribble. Porzingis can work from the outside in and do damage in the paint as he gets more acquainted with their offense.
He wouldn’t be the first player defenses focus on. Nonetheless, it would be an opportunity for him to get his scoring back on track. It’s a win-win prospect for the Thunder, who could reap the benefits of a rejuvenated big man. Porzingis’ motivation would be to help get a young team to the playoffs while becoming an offensive pillar once again.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
This thing can really go one of two ways for the Pelicans. They could put it all together with Willie Green running the show or they could continue to be a talented team that comes up short of the playoffs in the Western Conference. Zion Williamson’s future is an enigma, and that likely makes Ingram at least capable of being acquired if matters go south in New Orleans. If that indeed takes place, the Thunder should be all over Ingram.
Ingram has become a prolific scorer. He gets to the rim off the dribble with ease, has become an efficient shooter and someone an NBA offense can be run through. In his two years with the Pelicans, Ingram has averaged 23.8 points per game in back-to-back seasons (that’s really something) while shooting a combined 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Ingram becomes a way for the Thunder to bypass the growth of their young forwards. They swap out a couple of those players, as well as a young floor general and multiple first-rounders to get the rangy forward.
While the Thunder will and have hit on their fair share of players, not all of their draft selections will become reliable players; it’s only natural for some to not pan out.
The Thunder can get their hands on both Ingram and one of Towns and Porzingis. If they do as such, they could find themselves in contention for the NBA Finals in 2023. That’s the way their asset stocking of late can culminate if they play their cards right.