Obviously, the plan for every re-building team is to stock up on young, promising players and obtain as many future assets as possible. However, it seems that the Oklahoma City Thunder and GM Sam Presti are pretty much hoarding at this point.
Following their most recent spoils from the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline, the Thunder now have a grand total of 34 draft picks in the next seven years.
Yup, that’s not a typo. OKC will have 17 first-rounders and 17 second-rounders for the foreseeable future after they traded George Hill to the Sixers. The three-team deal also involving the Knicks netted them two second-round picks in 2025 and 2026.
Now that just sounds just wrong. I mean, that’s more than half of the players selected in one draft. Leave some for the other 29 teams, am I right? This just speaks to the job well done by Presti and the rest of the Thunder front office.
Plus, it’s not like they were blatantly tanking to acquire the haul of assets that they have. While the current Thunder-ensemble is not exactly playoff-bound, they’ve remained competitive with the promising Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the charge.
If they can add in more youthful talent to that core in the coming years, then the Thunder have a high chance of being contenders once more in no time.
Of course, not all these picks will be guaranteed impact players and there won’t even be enough roster spots to accommodate everyone. Still, it’s going to be one wild, selective process for the Thunder in years to come.
So how exactly did the Thunder accumulate such a bounty of wealth? Let’s have a look at their most recent and most high-profile transactions that gave them 17 first-round selections.
Russell Westbrook deal to the Rockets (2019)
The Thunder already knew what they needed to do the moment their former superstar Russell Westbrook demanded a trade two years ago.
It was going to take some time and a lot of patience, but OKC understood entering a rebuilding stage for the next couple of years was the best move.
They started by replacing Westbrook with Chris Paul, but it was the first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the right to swap first-rounders in 2021 and 2025 that they were really after.
The right to swap picks in next year’s draft will surely come handy since the 2021 Draft is considered to be one of the deepest ones in recent years.
Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers (2019)
It was one busy summer for the Thunder in 2019, when George forced himself out of Oklahoma City after just recently signing an extension with the franchise. Instead of trying to repair their relationship with the two-way superstar, Presti saw this as another opportunity to bring in a massive collection of future assets.
That trade proved to be a game-changer for OKC since it also gave them Gilgeous-Alexander, as well as Danilo Gallinari. But like the Westbrook scenario, OKC also acquired a bounty of assets including first-round Clippers picks in 2022, 2024, and 2026, as well as first-round Heat picks in 2021 and 2023, and the right to swap first-round picks in 2023 and 2025.
OKC trades Jerami Grant to Denver Nuggets (2019)
Grant wasn’t the promising two-way player that he is today, back when he was serving as role player for the Thunder. The Nuggets, however, wanted him bad and gave up a 2020 first-round pick for his services. OKC, of course, willingly obliged.
The Nuggets turned that pick to Immanuel Quickley but traded him to the Knicks on draft day.
Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns (2020)
While CP3 made the Thunder relevant again, both parties understood that it’s not the direction they want to take. OKC sent Paul and Abdel Nader to the Suns in the offseason in exchange for Kelly Oubre, Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and a 2022 first-round pick.
They flipped Oubre for another first-rounder by dealing him for the second time to the Warriors.
Danny Green to the Philadelphia 76ers (2020)
Each time the Thunder gets a hold of a veteran player, it’s almost guaranteed that they will eventually trade him for future assets. Case in point: just like what they did with Hill on Thursday.
The Thunder took in Green from the Lakers in that Dennis Schroder trade. Since they would have no use for an aging shooter, OKC did not mess around and found other contenders willing to take him in, for the price of a first-rounder, of course.
The Sixers, who are in need of shooters and a chance to unload Al Horford, took the bait and sent the veteran center, a protected 2025 first-round pick, a 2020 second-round pick, and the rights to Vasilije Micic to the Thunder for Green, Terrance Ferguson, and Vincent Poirier.