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When draft night officially commenced, everyone pictured the Oklahoma City Thunder moving around picks in the draft. No one could’ve pictured them as a pick supplier, however.
With Oklahoma City sitting atop the board at pick no. 16, common speculation rested in Sam Presti targeting up-and-coming bigs in Alperen Sengun or Kai Jones, or potentially swinging for the fence in projects to the tune of Keon Johnson. They opted to not only trade back from their selection but move out of the draft entirely.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder elected to trade pick no. 16 to the Houston Rockets in exchange for the Detriot Pistons’ 2022 first-round pick, and the Washington Wizards’ 2023 first-round pick. Both are to be heavily protected.
With Houston’s newly acquired pick, they opted to select Turkish big man Alperen Sengun. The 19-year-old rookie had garnered a mystique around himself prior to the draft, as the 6-foot-11 big displayed premier passing and interior scoring whilst playing for Besiktas of the Basketball Super League.
Sengun was widely considered to be a late-lottery trade-up option for Oklahoma City, but even with the opportunity to select him at no. 16 — Presti laid down another wild card maneuvering out of the pick.