Over the past couple of seasons, Sam Presti has kept the Oklahoma City Thunder very active during free agency, the NBA Draft, and at the trade deadline. At this point, the Thunder have stockpiled a ton of draft picks to put themselves in great position to make a variety of moves, but it all just depends on what direction they want to take and how much they’re willing to give up in order to make this happen.
With the 2021 NBA Draft right around the corner, a logical move would be for them to trade up in the draft (they’re currently at No. 6) so they could take Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick. It’s unclear if the Detroit Pistons would be willing to bite on whatever the Thunder are throwing out there in a trade, but it doesn’t hurt to make a play for that top pick.
Let’s take a look at two reasons the Thunder should trade up in this year’s draft to pick Cade Cunningham.
He would form an elite backcourt with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
The Thunder already have a young star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the roster, and trading up to get Cunningham would form one of the most dynamic young duos in the NBA. Drafting Cunningham would take some of the load off SGA and give OKC two young studs to take on playmaking duties, which would help diversify their attack and make them extremely dangerous.
On the other side of the ball, they’d also have a big, defensive-minded backcourt with two guards who are great rebounders for their position. Between Cunningham and SGA, they’ve got a wide array of skill sets to go along with size, youth, and athleticism that could form the next great backcourt of the NBA.
He has a high All-Star ceiling
Now that Oklahoma City has strung together a ton of draft picks and trade assets, it would only make sense for them to use that to their advantage by trading their way up to the top pick to select a high quality point guard with lots of promise and All-Star potential. With Cunningham’s speed and athleticism, he perfectly fits the mold of their youth movement and gives them their point guard of the future who could take them to the next level.
His court vision, high basketball IQ, and overall feel for the game are attributes that separate him from the other point guards in this year’s draft. Thunder GM Sam Presti may feel like he’s jumping the gun with this move, but this could also be an opportunity for him to draft the next generational talent in the NBA. This kind of move is why he has been stockpiling picks.
It would seem foolish for him not to even consider adding Cade Cunningham to this Thunder squad. With this move, the Thunder would inch closer to getting back into the playoffs while building a young and exciting team that’s poised for postseason stardom. Oklahoma City would also have the next superstar of the NBA who could eventually lead them to the promised land.