OKC Thunder: Will the 76ers get the Thunder's draft pick?
The Thunder sits 33-22 at the all-star break, the sixth seed in the Western Conference and tied for the 11th-best record in the NBA.
We don’t focus much on that latter standing. Maybe we should.
As part of the Jerami Grant trade with Philadelphia in November 2016, the 76ers get the Thunder’s first-round draft pick in 2020. But that pick is top-20 protected.
Which means if the Thunder finishes with one of the league’s 10-best records, the 76ers get the OKC draft pick. If the Thunder finishes outside the top 10, it keeps the pick.
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And lo and behold, the Thunder is tied for 11th with the Dallas Mavericks.
The Jazz are seventh at 36-18, the Heat eighth at 35-19, the Rockets ninth at 34-20, the Sixers 10th at 34-21 and then the Thunder and Mavs at 33-22. Just behind OKC is Indiana, at 32-23.
So the Thunder could go up or down rather easily.
What are the ramifications of losing the pick to the 76ers? Well, clearly you want the draft pick. The Thunder has Denver’s first-round pick this season, but that figures to be in the high 20s – the Nuggets have the NBA’s fifth-best record at the break.
If OKC gets to keep the pick, then it must send Philadelphia the Thunder’s second-round pick in both 2022 and 2023. Some speculate that those two second-round picks could be even more valuable than the Thunder’s first-round pick in 2020, for two reasons:
1. The 2020 draft class is considered rather weak;
2. Either 2022 or 2023 could be the year the NBA again allows 18-year-olds (those whose high school classes have just graduated) to enter the draft. When that does occur, that first year will be a virtual double draft, with the talent of those who have been out of high school a year plus the talent of those just out of high school.
So either way, it’s not a calamity for the Thunder or the Sixers.
The No. 20 pick in the NBA Draft has often produced a quality player – Josh Okogie, Caris LeVert, Delon Wright, Tony Snell and Evan Fournier this decade; Eric Maynor, Jameer Nelson, Speedy Claxton last decade.
Of course, the Thunder could end up with the No. 19 pick. The hit-it list is not any deeper at 19 but more impressive – Kevin Huerter, John Collins, Malik Beasley, Gary Harris, Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley in the 10s; Jeff Teague, Zach Randolph and Jamaal Magloire in the ‘00s.
So you can find good players drafting 19th or 20th.
If the Thunder loses that pick, it will impede the rebuild that is coming.
But it comes with good news. It means the Thunder keeps a couple of second-round draft picks, one of which could be quite valuable. And it means the Thunder will have had a strong finish to an NBA season that has been quite the pleasant surprise.