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The NBA Draft Lottery is in exactly a week, which could change the future of several franchises forever. This includes the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are entering the third season of their rebuild.
Some teams will experience good fortune with a higher than expected pick, while others will slide down the draft order. As a result, the odds of landing franchise-altering talent will be improved or decreased for the Thunder next week.
With that in mind, it’s all a numbers game and out of the control of the teams involved.
“I think we all need to remember this is random. It’s like rolling dice,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti prior to the lottery last year.
History tells us that the closer a team’s pick is to the No. 1 overall selection, the better the odds of selecting an All-NBA level player. While there’s certainly been superstars taken later in the draft, the chances of taking the next face of the franchise is better closer to the top.
This will be the fourth draft under the revamped lottery odds that were put in place in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Thunder have the fourth and 12th highest odds entering next week with their own and the LA Clippers’ pick respectively.
With the fourth-highest odds, the Thunder’s pick could land anywhere between No. 1 and No. 8 overall. They have a 97.8% chance of landing a pick in the top seven with those odds, which includes a 12.5% chance at the top pick.
Even though Oklahoma City finished with the fourth-worst record in the 2021-22 season, the most likely scenario is that they land the sixth pick (25.7%) based on this positioning. This is the same situation the Thunder were in last year and ended up with the No. 6 pick, selecting rookie phenom Josh Giddey.
With the pick from the Clippers, there’s a 7.1% chance of it jumping into the top four, but more than likely will stay put. Since the 2019 lottery reform, the team with the 12th highest lottery odds has landed the No. 12 overall pick every time. This isn’t surprising, as there’s an 86.1% chance of the pick sticking in that spot.
While the Thunder are entering the 2022 NBA Draft with the No. 6 and No. 12 overall picks as the most likely scenario, they could theoretically do as well as earning both of the top two selections. These outcomes will be decided in exactly a week.
Presti has one of the better scouting departments in the NBA and will find value regardless of where the picks fall, but having the highest possible picks will be key. If Oklahoma City lands a top-three pick, the core of the go-forward roster could start to be solidified.
At this point in the pre-draft process, there seems to be a consensus top five players. The order in which these players could be taken is still unclear, but Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe all have superstar potential at the next level. If OKC is able to earn a top pick on lottery night and then land one of those prospects in June’s draft, it’ll be a step in the right direction.
With that in mind, the combine begins next week and will be followed by workouts and interviews that could drastically change the draft stocks of every player.
The lottery will take place on Tuesday, May 17 in Chicago.