Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti shocked a lot of people on Thursday night. With the 6th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Presti selected Josh Giddey, an 18-year-old Australian who played 28 games with the National Basketball League’s Adelaide 36ers earlier this year.
Some Thunder fans were disappointed and even upset with the pick considering James Bouknight and Jonathan Kuminga, both highly touted prospects, were still on the board. Kuminga went at 7th and Bouknight fell to 11th, but in retrospect, it’s hard to be surprised that Sam Presti picked a younger, lesser known international player as opposed to some of the flashier, more well-known college prospects.
Presti has a knack for taking the road less traveled. He did it in 2008 when he picked Russell Westbrook with the 4th overall pick in the draft, a choice that many critics considered off the wall. He did it again the following year when he chose James Harden with the 3rd overall pick. Neither Westbrook nor Harden was really expected to become a star, and they both have been top 10 players at different points in their careers.
Still, it’s hard to get a gauge on what’s going on in Presti’s mind. As the Thunder heads into their 13th season, I still have very little idea what his overall plan is concerning OKC’s rebuild. One thing I do know, though, is that Sam Presti is an incredible basketball mind, and while I don’t always agree with him, he typically gets it right.
That brings us to Josh Giddey. A 6-foot-8 point guard, Giddey is tall for his position, and he uses that to his advantage. He’s an excellent ball-handler, a supreme passer, and the fact that he will play his first NBA preseason game before he celebrates his 19th birthday means he has plenty of time to grow and improve as a player.
Regardless of how you feel about the pick, it’s way too soon (it’s been ONE DAY!) to decide whether or not the pick was a good one. As far the Thunder’s rebuild goes, it appears it could be longer than a lot of fans would like, but the fact is that Sam Presti is concerned with contending for a title, not settling for mediocrity for years to come. With that being said, Josh Giddey seems like the type of guy that could easily develop into a solid role player on a championship caliber team over the next couple of years, and that’s exactly what the Thunder wants to happen.
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