Giddey’s Thunder face big call as ‘bidding war’ threatens to shake up NBA Draft: Talking Points
NBA draft day is here and there will be chaos even before the first overall pick is called out, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is expecting a trade frenzy.
“Trades are the new free agency this time of year,” he said on ESPN on Thursday [AEST].
“We are seeing fewer and fewer high-impact players going into free agency, they’re signing extensions.
“I think you’re going to see teams with multiple draft picks and knowing their best chance to improve is not going to be in July in free agency, it’s going to be around the draft with trades and we’re going to see a lot of them.”
It only adds an extra element of intrigue ahead of what already shapes as an interesting draft class.
With that in mind, foxsports.com.au has picked out four of the most interesting team storylines to follow in Friday’s draft.
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1. OKC have an exciting core in Giddey and SGA... but what comes next?
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti is never the type to shy away from making a bold swing. He does things his own way — take last year’s shock selection of Australian Josh Giddey with the sixth overall pick.
Few experts could understand the move at the time but now it looks a masterstroke after the 19-year-old put in a record-breaking rookie season for the Thunder.
In Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City now has two key cornerstones to build its future around. The question is, who comes next?
Presti is keeping his cards close to his chest, even telling reporters at his pre-lottery press conference in May that his “biggest superstition” is not revealing his superstitions.
It is no secret though that the Thunder look set to take Chet Holmgren with the second overall pick.
“My sense has been that Chet Holmgren was the focus for Oklahoma City, Sam Presti all along and this grand experiment that the Thunder are in the middle of — as many as 17, 18 first-round picks over the next five years — it was vital for them to get in the top three,” NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’.
“To stop drafting in the middle and getting number two — getting a potential franchise-changing player in Holmgren — really moves their process along. They’ve already got a good young nucleus — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey was outstanding last year.”
All the Thunder need now is some length and rim protection and they will get that in Holmgren, who will feast off Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander’s playmaking.
It is his defence more than anything though that will be a prized asset for the rebuilding Thunder.
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What Oklahoma City does with its 12th pick, on the other hand, is more of a mystery and could seriously shake up the draft.
Several NBA insiders reported the Thunder is looking to move up from this pick, with Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams and draft picks possible assets to include in a trade.
Should the Thunder trade up, they are reportedly keen on Jaden Ivey, whose explosiveness and 3-point shooting could against lift the ceiling of Oklahoma City’s offence.
The Sacramento Kings are the most likely landing spot for him with the fourth overall pick, although Ivey did not seem to share their enthusiasm.
“It wouldn’t be the worst option,” he told reporters.
Hardly the response Sacramento would have wanted, so a trade could be on the cards if the Kings feel like Ivey is not the right option if he is not buying into their system.
The other option for the Thunder, if available, is to swing for the fences and take a gamble on the high-upside Shaedon Sharpe.
Sharpe himself is shrouded in mystery after sitting out his lone college season but was ranked the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2022 class by ESPN after his final high school season.
Both Sharpe and Ivey have plenty of upside and with so much draft capital, the Thunder can afford to take a risk without giving up too much in the long-term.
The fit though is a bit tricky alongside ball-dominant guards in Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, yet another factor for Oklahoma City to weigh up ahead of Friday.
2. How could the future of Beal and Dame impact Washington and Portland?
The Ringer’s Chris Vernon predicted on the latest episode of ‘The Mismatch’ podcast that this is going to be a ‘wild’ draft.
Already, there has been a trade between Portland and Detroit, seeing the Blazers finally start to deliver on their promise to put Damian Lillard in a position to succeed.
And that is far from the only moves that will be made before then, with John Collins, Dejounte Murray and Matisse Thybulle among a host of players who could be at new teams by Saturday.
The Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers are two teams to keep a particularly close eye on as they make key decisions to determine what roster they build around Bradley Beal and Lillard.
The Blazers have already taken a step towards doing that in striking a deal to land Jerami Grant but they are not finished according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
He reported on Thursday that Portland is looking to trade its No. 7 pick for Toronto forward OG Anunoby.
The Blazers’ front office needs to put a stronger team around Lillard so he is in a position to win and those two would certainly help.
As for Washington, Beal has reportedly turned down his $33.8 million player option for next season and plans to become a free agent, with a long list of teams waiting to snap him up.
Regardless of whether Beal stays or goes (and at the moment he appears to be leaning towards the former), the Wizards would be better off taking a swing than opting for the safe route.
They have the 10th overall pick, although Washington is also reportedly considering moving up and trading for Sacramento’s No. 4 pick, which would bring Ivey into the mix.
3. Could the draft help the Kings end 16 years of misery?
It has been 16 long years since the Sacramento Kings last made the NBA playoffs. Mike Brown has officially been introduced as the new coach but Sacramento needs more.
Damontas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox could be foundational pieces in a successful team but neither are suited to being true No. 1 options.
It begs the question, what does Sacramento do with its highly-desired No. 4 pick?
Taking Ivey seems unlikely seeing he has hardly shown much excitement about the idea of joining Sacramento and the Kings have enough guards as is.
The Sacramento Bee reported last week that a “bidding war” has broken out for the Kings’ pick, with NBA insider Wojnarowski revealing further details on ‘NBA Countdown’.
“That No. 4 pick that the Sacramento Kings hold is very much in play,” Wojnarowski said.
“There are a lot of teams trying to get deals done with Sacramento so they can move up to select Jaden Ivey. That’s teams close to them in the lottery — Detroit, Indiana, who are five and six, the New York Knicks at 11, the Washington Wizards at No. 10 and even some teams outside of the lottery.”
The Kings have all the power and they know it too, with Wojnarowski reporting Sacramento’s asking price is “going to be significant”.
“If they’re going to move that pick, I think they expect that they’re going to get a lot in return,” he added.
With that in mind, this could be Sacramento’s chance to add a key piece or two that could finally put the franchise in a position to make the playoffs.
A trade inside the lottery could also open up the opportunity for the Kings to take a chance and draft a prospect with high upside.
4. Zion looks ready to go... so who is the right piece to put around him?
The Pelicans are almost in a position to contend for a championship.
Zion Williamson is looking fit and ready to dominate again, forming a tantalising trio alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.
Even without Williamson, New Orleans pushed the Phoenix Suns all the way to six games in the first round and could be on the brink of something special.
With that in mind and the eighth overall pick locked in, is this a chance for New Orleans to take a risk in the hope it pays off?
If available, that has to be Sharpe. The 19-year-old enters this year’s draft as the biggest mystery.
Sharpe was ranked the No. 1 high school recruit for the class of 2022 by ESPN but did not go on to play a single game of college basketball.
It had ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz declaring: “There has never been an NBA draft prospect quite like Shaedon Sharpe”.
“Sharpe’s evaluation by NBA decision-makers will have a higher-than-usual degree of difficulty,” the pair wrote.
“He will never be a bigger mystery than he is at this moment. Sharpe’s size, frame, explosiveness, dynamic shot-making and overall scoring instincts make him one of the most talented wing prospects in this draft class, as he possesses everything NBA teams look for at his position, with considerable star power to grow into over the long term.
“There’s a reason he was considered the consensus No. 1 player in his high school class.”
There is a reason it makes sense for the Pelicans too, who already have tremendous depth and can afford take a gamble on Sharpe and allow him to develop at his own time.