The Oklahoma City Thunder, of all teams, know that for small market teams, there's no more effective way to build a contending team than by drafting well, wherever their selections may land. With the arrival of Kevin Durant as the franchise's final impact draft pick during their time as the Seattle SuperSonics, it was imperative for the front office, in their move to Oklahoma City, to continue building around Durant the right way — which, to their credit, they did.

Now in the early 2020s, the Thunder are in a similar spot of building the nucleus of a potential Western Conference powerhouse, thanks in large part to their incredible drafting over the past few years.

With that said, these are the 10 best draft picks for the Thunder franchise ever since moving to OKC in 2008.

(For all intents and purposes of this list, only thee player's contributions while in a Thunder uniform will be taken into consideration. So as great of a player James Harden turned out to be, he'll be docked a few merit points for this list since his best days came following his trade away from the franchise.)

10. Jaylin Williams

It's important to note that there will be a glaring lack of Chet Holmgren on this list. It doesn't seem fair if Holmgren ends up making this list over those who have already played for the Thunder, such as stretch big man Jaylin Williams out of Arkansas.

During his rookie season, Williams slowly established himself as a key rotation piece, and by the end of the year, he was starting for the Thunder, spacing the floor for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. Williams is only 21 years old, so as long as he continues to work on his game, he should remain a valuable piece for the team even as a backup with the impending debut of Holmgren.

9. Terrance Ferguson

In retrospect, the Thunder made a huge blunder when they drafted Terrance Ferguson with the 21st pick of the 2017 NBA Draft — taking him ahead of Jarrett Allen and OG Anunoby, two players who remain quality starters for their respective teams. Ferguson was a wing project drafted by Presti during his time of hyper-fixation on players of this mold, and suffice to say, he did not pan out as well as the Thunder hoped.

But at least for one season, Ferguson played a huge role on a Thunder team that made the playoffs, starting 74 games during the 2018-19 season. Since then, however, he failed to take the next step in his career, disappointedly stagnating during the very next season before crashing out of the league in 2021.

8. Alex Abrines

Alex Abrines didn't come over stateside immediately after the Thunder selected him in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft. But he eventually came over in 2016, giving the post-Kevin Durant Thunder squad a designated marksman to help space the floor for Russell Westbrook.

Space the floor, Abrines did, as he made 219 triples during his 2.5 year stay in Oklahoma City at a 36.8 percent clip. But his Thunder stint didn't end of the highest of notes, as the Spaniard had to go back to his home country after his struggles with his mental health during the 2018-19 campaign.

7. Reggie Jackson

After the Thunder became good in the early 2010s, drafting became an increasingly difficult task. But in 2011, Sam Presti had one more moment of magic in him when he selected Reggie Jackson with the 24th overall pick.

It took Jackson a few years to become a contributor for the Thunder, and by his third season, he believed that he deserved a starting role — an impossibility for as long as Russell Westbrook was healthy. Jackson eventually received his wish when the Thunder traded him away to the Detroit Pistons in 2015 in the deal that brought Enes Kanter to OKC.

6. Jalen Williams

The Thunder's Paul George trade is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only did it net them Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a bonafide superstar who made the All-NBA First Team this past season, it also gave them the pick that allowed them to draft Jalen Williams in 2022. Williams turned heads during the 2022 NBA Draft process, and the Thunder rewarded him by taking him 12th overall after mocks projected the wing out of Santa Clara as a late first-rounder.

It became clear almost immediately that Williams had that “it” factor — incredible feel for the game on both ends of the court and the god-given athleticism to match his skill. Williams quickly endeared himself to the Thunder coaching staff with his hard work on the defensive end, as he and Luguentz Dort took turns in guarding the opponents' best wing player. And then later on, his offensive game came around, even dropping efficiency numbers reminiscent of Shaquille O'Neal.

Only 22 years old, Jalen Williams will be one of the players the Thunder rely on the most in the coming years as their young core begins to mature, resulting in more tangible rewards on the court.

5. Josh Giddey

During the 2021 NBA Draft process, Josh Giddey didn't exactly draw the best of reviews from talent evaluators. In fact, when the Thunder selected Giddey with the sixth overall pick, the ESPN broadcast listed a ton of the Australian guard's purported weaknesses, stopping short of saying that he was weak in every important aspect of what constituted a quality basketball player.

But Giddey's playmaking is unreal, and for his size (6'8), he can see the floor unlike most of his peers at the point guard position. He's also slithery when it comes to maneuvering his way to the hoop, accentuating his preternatural feel for locating the open man. And given his size, he's also an outstanding presence on the boards, the heir apparent to Russell Westbrook's triple-double mastery for the franchise.

It's also important to note that Josh Giddey will just be turning 21 years of age on October 10, making what he has accomplished thus far in his brief NBA career all the more impressive. Giddey figures to be a huge part of the Thunder's bid in the coming years to return to legitimate title contention, and he might be ready to take another leap as soon as next season after his impressive run for Australia during their short-lived 2023 FIBA World Cup stint.

4. Steven Adams

The transaction through which the Thunder acquired the pick that would become Steven Adams remains a traumatic one for the franchise, but at the very least, the New Zealand international made sure that the James Harden trade wasn't a total disaster for Oklahoma City. It didn't take long for Adams to displace Kendrick Perkins as the Thunder's starting center, forming a deadly lob duo with Russell Westbrook, and he was a bruising presence on the interior who made opponents sweat on the offensive glass.

Adams was the Thunder's starting center for a greater part of seven seasons, putting in a shift night-in, night-out as the team's anchor on the defensive end alongside Serge Ibaka. He would go through three core iterations of Thunder playoff teams, forming unforgettable connections with Enes Kanter, Paul George, and Chris Paul along the way.

In seven seasons with OKC (530 games), Steven Adams averaged 9.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. When taking into account their SuperSonics history, Adams only trails Shawn Kemp on the franchise's all-time offensive rebounds list.

3. James Harden

The Thunder franchise, to end the 2000s decade, struck gold year after year in the NBA Draft, their last haul during the decade being James Harden, the talented lefty guard out of Arizona State. Harden, despite coming off the bench, proved that he was a piece the team had to keep for the long haul, as he was a source of instant efficient offense, a future star if his development continued in its trajectory in the early 2010s.

During the 2012 NBA playoffs, Harden was a godsend for the Thunder, a game-changing piece who always swung the game in the Thunder's favor every time he was on the court. The Beard was as crucial as it was gonna get during the 2012 Western Conference Finals, turning the tables on the San Antonio Spurs with his heroics.

Even as James Harden struggled during the 2012 NBA Finals, his potential was tantalizing, and he was becoming too good to keep in a sixth man role. But the Thunder, in the name of saving money, decided to trade away Harden when they couldn't come to terms on a rookie extension, breaking up the vaunted homegrown trio the team had been building alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook before they had the chance to avenge their defeat against the Miami Heat.

Harden then immediately blossomed into one of the best guards in the NBA after the Houston Rockets acquired him, forever dooming the Thunder to a future of what-ifs.

2. Serge Ibaka

When the Thunder selected Serge Ibaka with the 24th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, the 6'10 Congolese-Spanish big man was a project, a raw rim protector with little to no offensive game whatsoever. But Ibaka's defensive prowess was tantalizing. Since coming from overseas, Ibaka made it clear that he was a force to be reckoned with in the paint.

During his second season, Ibaka showed an improved offensive game, as he fashioned himself into a capable shooter from midrange, and by his third year, he was a bonafide Defensive Player of the Year candidate for a Thunder team that made the NBA Finals. Due to how important he was for the team on both ends of the court, the Thunder made it a priority to keep him, essentially choosing him (and Kendrick Perkins) over ponying up what was necessary to keep James Harden in town.

Were the Thunder wrong in keeping Serge Ibaka instead of James Harden? Perhaps not. The Thunder still had a few golden opportunities to win the championship in the years that followed anyway, with Ibaka continuing to play a huge role for the team even as he aged. He eventually stretched his range all the way to the three-point line, and he was a key small-ball piece for when the Thunder pushed the 73-win Golden State Warriors to the brink.

Ibaka also exited the franchise as a hero of sorts, as he brought back Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo in a trade, pieces the Thunder later used to trade for Paul George.

1. Russell Westbrook

The franchise's very first pick since their move to Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook came in as a raw bundle of energy, a two-guard who specialized defensively. Thus, it was a big undertaking when general manager Sam Presti drafted Westbrook with the intention of turning him into a floor general. Westbrook definitely had the athleticism to be a force of nature in this new position, but his feel for the game wasn't exactly as fine-tuned as one would want out of their future point guard.

But Westbrook, through trial by fire, learned the ropes on how to be a point guard in the NBA, succeeding almost immediately as an all-arounder who complemented Kevin Durant exceptionally well. Durant was a monster when it came to scoring from everywhere on the court, while Westbrook was a blur who put immense pressure on the rim.

Russell Westbrook played a huge role in the Thunder's emergence as one of the best contending teams in the NBA in the early-2010s, and in 2016, it seemed like the stars were aligning for a team that was still reeling from the James Harden trade. To cut the long story short, the Thunder ended up blowing a 3-1 lead and Durant in the process, turning over the reins of the franchise to their loyal star in Westbrook.

In the aftermath of Durant's departure, Westbrook became Oscar Robertson reincarnate, finishing his three final seasons with the Thunder with a triple-double average. Forever a beloved figure in Oklahoma City, Westbrook exited the franchise via trade in 2019 as their all-time leading scorer. From an unpolished explosive ball of freneticism to the greatest basketball player in franchise history, Westbrook has come a long way, and he should soon witness his iconic number zero uniform head onto the Paycom Center rafters.