OKC Thunder: Five things to know about Aleksej Pokusevski, No. 17 pick in NBA Draft
The Thunder selected 18-year-old Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski with the No. 17 pick in the NBA draft Wednesday night.
The Thunder moved up to the 17th pick by trading Ricky Rubio and picks No. 25 and No. 28 to the Timberwolves. The complete deal has not been announced.
Here are five things to know about Pokusevski:
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Pokusevski is the youngest player in the draft. He was born Dec. 26, 2001.
At 6-foot-11 and 215 pounds, Pokusevski is seen as a multi-year development project who needs to grow into an NBA body. Despite his towering height, Pokusevski is known for his guard-like ball handling and perimeter shooting.
Pokusevski said Wednesday night that Kevin Durant and former Bulls forward Toni Kukoc are the players he looks up to.
The Thunder, unlike contending teams, can afford to wait on Pokusevski to reach his potential.
The Thunder started its rebuild this week by trading Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder, and it's highly unlikely Danilo Gallinari returns next season.
Pokusevski now becomes a building block for the Thunder, around other young players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti is armed with more than a dozen first-round picks through 2026. Even if Pokusevski ends up as a miss, his upside is worth the gamble at No. 17.
Jason Ranne is a listed agent for Pokusevski.
Ranne, a Tulsa native, was hired by the Thunder in 2013 as director of strategic planning. He joined the team after six years with the Wasserman Media Group. Ranne returned to Wasserman in 2015.
He was a four-year guard at Arizona from 2000-04.
Pokusevski has most recently played for Olympiacos B in the second division of the Greek league.
In 11 games last season, he averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. He shot 40% overall and 32% from 3-point range.
Pokusevski moved to Athens at 13 to join the Olympiacos program. He's only made one appearance with the Olympiacos senior team.
Serbia to NBA
Pokusevski was born in Belgrade and grew up in Novi Sad, Serbia, the nation's second-largest city. His family first arrived in Belgrade after fleeing the Kosovo War in 1999.
He'll join an impressive list of Serbians in the NBA, which includes Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bjelica.