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Inside two weeks of draft night, reports and rumors pertaining to prospective teams and prospects are at full force. That sentiment holds true to Oklahoma City, and their upcoming selection at pick no. 6.
As first reported by The Ringer’s Kevin O’ Conner, he believes that Oklahoma City has two targets in mind at pick 6 — Scottie Barnes, and James Bouknight.
“League sources say the Magic are high on Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fifth pick, while the Thunder prefer Barnes or UConn guard James Bouknight with the sixth selection.”Kevin O’ Conner – The Ringer
This quote happens to be a loaded one, here’s how O’ Conner got to this conclusion.
In the upcoming draft class, a four-man tandem in Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs has formed. When you’re picturing Adam Silver’s first four names off the board — those are the guys. The order in which they’ll be selected is up in the air, but barring no shockers, none of them will be available at pick no. 5.
At pick no. 5 the Orlando Magic have their shot at the board, in a pick that will likely set the tone for the evening. Post-lottery, a two-man duel for the fifth pick emerged between Florida State’s Scottie Barnes and G-League Ignite’s Jonathan Kuminga.
As this report suggests — O’ Conner believes that Barnes will be Orlando’s guy.
Now at pick no. 6, Oklahoma City will take the podium without what rumors suggest are “their guy” in Scottie Barnes.
Now the curveball comes in.
If Oklahoma City has no trade-up option, or no Barnes sitting at their pick, the clear choice from just a few days ago rested in Jonathan Kuminga, but now James Bouknight appears to be in consideration.
Bouknight, age 20, just finished off his sophomore season with UConn boasting averages of 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals in his 15 appearances with the team. His stock has seen a slow uptick in the last month after his impressive pro day left scouts salivating at his potential shot-creating abilities. Plus, at age 20, his potential fit with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has some intrigue.
The Husky guard coming off the board at six would be a shocker as his range in draft selection has varied from pick seven to the early twenties based on who you’re going to.
Even with Bouknight’s clear polarization across analysts, a surprise pick of this caliber would be right up Sam Presti’s alley. Back in 2008, the sheer idea of, the then Seattle Supersonics, taking Russell Westbrook at pick no. 4 in the draft was near laughable. The consensus was if Sam Presti cared for the UCLA product, he could’ve safely traded down a few spots to get his guy. Instead of Westbrook begin taken around his projected range in picks 8 through 10, Presti pulled the trigger. Nine All-Star Selections, one MVP, and a triple-double record later — it’s more than fair to say Presti made the correct choice.
The beauty of Oklahoma City’s draft position is that there is zero pressure to take any particular guy, outside of the top 4, everyone is fair game.
If O’ Conner’s sources are indeed reliable, maybe Presti is willing to roll the dice, and with a bundle of picks 6, 16, 18, 34, 36, and 55 — he’ll have a lot of tries at the table.