The 2021 NBA Draft is approaching and the Thunder are one of the teams with the most buying power ahead of the event.
And that will likely continue to be the case over the next seven years.
Thunder GM Sam Presti has spent the last couple of seasons tearing apart the Thunder’s core and turning their current assets into future picks. The Thunder have paid the price on the court for that strategy, but have potentially set themselves up for long-term success with the draft capital they acquired.
How many draft picks do the Thunder have? And how did they get so many? Here’s everything you need to know about Oklahoma City’s treasure trove of draft capital for 2021 — and beyond — as their full-fledged rebuild continues.
How many first-round picks do the Thunder have in 2021?
The Thunder have three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. They have their own selection — which has the fourth-best odds of being the No. 1 overall pick — as well as the Celtics’ pick (No. 16 overall) and Heat’s pick (No. 18 overall).
Additionally, the Thunder have three second-round picks, including the 35th and 36th picks. As such, they could be players on the trade market if they want to move up in this year’s draft.
The Thunder also owned the conditional rights to the Warriors’ pick if they fell outside of the top 20. However, Golden State failed to make the playoffs and lost in the NBA play-in tournament. So, Golden State will hang onto their first-round pick (14th-best lottery odds) while the Thunder will get two second-round picks this year from Minnesota and Denver instead.
How many draft picks do the Thunder have over the next seven years?
The Thunder have a whopping 38 draft picks to their name over the next seven years. They own the rights or conditional rights to 17 first-round picks and 21 second-round picks as of this writing. And that doesn’t include the various pick-swap rights they own along the way.
Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the Thunder’s picks in each draft:
|Year||Total first-round picks||Total second-round picks|
The Thunder will be armed with multiple first-round draft picks for at least the next six years — or at least until the team packages them to either move up in the draft or acquire players on the NBA trade market. Expect them to be mentioned frequently on draft night for years to come.
How the Thunder acquired their stash of draft picks
The Thunder built up their stash of draft capital by systematically blowing up their team over the course of a couple of seasons. That said, there were a few particularly impactful trades that netted them extra draft capital.
Paul George trade
The Paul George trade signaled the beginning of the Thunder’s rebuild. He was sent to the Clippers on July 10, 2019, in the wake of Kawhi Leonard’s signing. George gave the Clippers a second star while the Thunder acquired a young player, a veteran scorer and five future first-round picks:
- Paul George
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Danilo Gallinari
- Future first-round picks (2022, 2024 and 2026)
- Future first-round picks from Heat via Clippers (2021 and 2023)
Russell Westbrook trade
The Thunder continued to reshape their roster on July 16, 2019, less than a week after trading George. Houston wanted to move on from Chris Paul, so Presti saw an opportunity to add more draft capital to his stash while replacing Russell Westbrook with a good stopgap starter.
- Russell Westbrook
- Chris Paul
- Future first-round picks (2024 and 2026)
- Future pick swaps (2021 and 2025)
Chris Paul trade
Chris Paul lasted just one season in Oklahoma City. It was a solid one, during which the Thunder vastly exceeded expectations and made the playoffs. But with the team looking to rebuild, offloading Paul made sense.
The Thunder were able to acquire a solid package from the Suns for Paul on Nov. 16, 2020, and they turned those assets into plenty of draft picks. The biggest prize was a 2022 first-rounder.
- Chris Paul
- Abdel Nader
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
- Ricky Rubio
- Ty Jerome
- Jalen Lecque
- 2022 first-round pick (top-12 protected)
Eventually, the Thunder would offload Oubre, Rubio and Lecque to pick up four extra second-round picks.
Four-team Jrue Holiday, Steven Adams trade
Oklahoma City traded Steven Adams on Nov. 24, just over a week after the Paul trade. The Adams deal was a complicated one.
The Thunder took on five players to facilitate this trade between the Bucks and the Pelicans, with their biggest prize being a future first-round pick. Not much came of the deal, but they turned George Hill into a second-round pick while Kenrich Williams played a key role for their squad in 2020-21.
- Jrue Holiday
- 2020 second-round pick (Sam Merrill)
- 2020 first-round pick (R.J. Hampton)
- Steven Adams
- Eric Bledsoe
- Future first-round picks from Bucks (2025 and 2027)
- Future pick swaps with Bucks (2024 and 2026)
- George Hill
- Darius Miller
- Josh Gray
- Zylan Cheatham
- Kenrich Williams
- Future first-round pick from Nuggets (2023)
- Future second-round picks from Wizards (2023) and Hornets (2024)
Danny Green/Al Horford trade
The Thunder wasted little time turning Danny Green into a future asset after acquiring him in a deal that sent Dennis Schroder to the Lakers. How did they do it? They acquired Al Horford’s bloated contract (three years, $81 million at the time of the trade) from the 76ers along with yet another first-round pick.
- Danny Green
- Terrance Ferguson
- Vincent Poirier
- Al Horford
- Draft rights to Theo Maledon
- Draft rights to Vasilije Micić
- Future first-round pick (2025)
Kemba Walker trade
The Kemba Walker trade is the most recent of the bunch. The Thunder once again took on a big contract in the form of Walker (two years, $73 million, including a player option), who largely struggled in two seasons with the Celtics. They sent Horford to Boston, where he had previously been a solid starter and All-Star.
The Thunder received a first-round pick for their troubles — and willingness to include Moses Brown in the trade package.
- Al Horford
- Moses Brown
- 2023 second-round pick
- Kemba Walker
- 2021 first-round draft pick (No. 16)
- 2025 second-round pick
The Thunder made some smaller trades along the way, but these were most responsible for filling up Presti’s war chest of assets. Now, we’ll see how they begin using them: starting with Oklahoma City’s six picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.