The Oklahoma City Thunder may have ended the 2020-21 season near the bottom of the Western Conference with a disappointing 22-50 record. However, it can’t be denied that the team still possesses one of the best young cores in the league as of the moment.
In the 2021 NBA Draft, general manager Sam Presti added more talent to his roster as he acquired a total of four promising prospects. He also replenished his treasure cove of picks as he made a draft night trade by sending the No. 16 overall pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two future first-round draft picks.
Seeing things from a long-term perspective, the moves that they made will greatly impact their future as they look to build a talented squad with the young pieces that they have moving forward.
Here are the draft grades for each of the picks that the Oklahoma City Thunder have made in the recently-concluded proceedings:
Oklahoma City Thunder 2021 NBA Draft Grades
Josh Giddey: A-
Presti and company surprised the rest of the league as they used their No. 6 overall pick to select a playmaker in Josh Giddey out of Australia. The youngster took a different route compared to his peers as he balled in the NBL for the 2020-21 season where he averaged 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 7.6 assists in 28 games for the Adelaide 36ers.
Giddey will definitely have to get his body stronger in order to compete against bigger and more athletic guards in the NBA. However, the potential that he previously showed while playing in a grown man’s league at the age of 18 was able to convince the Thunder that they can invest their future in him. With the level of talent that he possesses, the Melbourne native will surely form a dangerous backcourt duo alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the years to come.
Tre Mann: B+
The Oklahoma Thunder added another playmaker in former Florida standout Tre Mann with the 18th overall pick in the first round. The 20-year-old took a huge leap in his sophomore campaign last season with the Gators as he normed career-best numbers of 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 24 appearances.
With his arrival, Mann will be bringing his excellent shotmaking ability to a Thunder side that had a tough time shooting the ball last season. His addition definitely addresses an area of need for the team but it will also create a logjam at the point guard position as they already have a good number of playmakers as of the moment. Mann certainly has a ton of upside but the Thunder will now have to find ways to balance out their roster before the start of the upcoming season.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2021 NBA Draft Grades: Second round
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: B+
The team’s front office went to work once more as they executed a draft night trade with the New York Knicks in order to acquire an under-the-radar talent in Villanova’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl with the 32nd overall pick. In his two years of playing in the Big East, the power forward was able to rack up numerous accolades as he averaged 15.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 25 appearances for the Wildcats last season.
After playing for a decorated coach in Jay Wright, Robinson-Earl has emerged to be a do-it-all type of player who can serve as a reliable role player at the next level. With his 6-foot-9 frame, he can switch between playing as an SF or a small-ball PF and will certainly bring an added versatility and defensive prowess to a young Thunder squad next season.
Aaron Wiggins: B-
Oklahoma City concluded their draft haul with the selection of Maryland wingman Aaron Wiggins with the 55th pick in the second round. The 22-year-old had a three-year stint with the Terrapins and served as a regular contributor for the squad as he notched 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 31 appearances last season.
With his 6’5 frame and 6’10 wingspan, Wiggins has the potential to make an impact on both ends of the floor for the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, he will still have to work on getting a consistent jumper if he wants to thrive in the NBA. After signing him to a two-way contract, the team is hoping that they can further develop his game in order to get more value out of him in the years to come.