The 2021 NBA Draft is approaching and the Thunder are one of the teams with the highest purchasing power before the event.
And that will likely continue to be the case for the next seven years.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti has spent the past few seasons tearing apart the Thunder’s core and turning its current assets into future picks. The Thunder have paid the price on the court for that strategy, but have potentially prepared themselves 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 draft capital treasure for 2021, and beyond, as its full-blown rebuilding continues.
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How many first-round picks do the Thunder have in 2021?
The thunder has three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. They have their own pick, which has the fourth best chance of being the No. 1 pick overall, as well as the Celtics pick (No. 16 overall) and the Heat pick (No. 18 overall).
Additionally, the Thunder have three second-round picks, including the 35th and 36th picks. As such, they could be players in the commercial market if they want to move up in this year’s draft.
The Thunder also possessed 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 entry tournament. Thus, Golden State will keep its first-round pick (14th best lottery odds), while the Thunder will get two second-round picks this year from Minnesota and Denver.
How many draft picks will the Thunder have over the next seven years?
The Thunder have a whopping 38 draft picks for your name over the next seven years. They have the rights or conditional rights to 17 first-round teams other 21 second-round picks at the time of writing this article. And that doesn’t include the various selection trade 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 picks for at least the next six years, or at least until the team packages them up to move up in the draft or acquire players in the NBA exchange market. Expect them to be mentioned frequently on draft night for years to come.
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How the Thunder acquired their reserve of draft picks
The Thunder built up their reserve capital in the draft by systematically blowing up their team over the course of a couple of seasons. That said, there were some particularly impressive deals that allowed them to raise additional working capital.
Paul George Exchange
The Paul George trade marked the beginning of the Thunder’s rebuilding. He was shipped to the Clippers on July 10, 2019, following the signing of Kawhi Leonard. George gave the Clippers a second star while the Thunder acquired a young player, a veteran scorer, and five future first-round picks:
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Danilo Gallinari
- Future first round elections (2022, 2024 and 2026)
- Future Heat first-round picks via Clippers (2021 and 2023)
Russell Westbrook Trading
The Thunder continued to reshuffle their roster on July 16, 2019, less than a week after trading George. Houston wanted to ditch Chris Paul, so Presti saw an opportunity to add more draft capital to his stash as he replaced Russell Westbrook with a good provisional starter.
The rockets receive:
- Chris paul
- Future first round elections (2024 and 2026)
- Future selection changes (2021 and 2025)
Chris Paul swap
Chris Paul lasted only 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, getting rid of Paul made sense.
The Thunder were able to acquire a solid package from the Suns for Paul on November 16, 2020, and they turned those assets into many draft picks. The biggest prize was a first round from 2022.
The suns receive:
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
- Ricky Rubio
- Ty jerome
- Jalen lecque
- 2022 first-round pick (top-12 protected)
Eventually, the Thunder would eliminate Oubre, Rubio and Lecque for an additional four second-round picks.
Four-team Jrue Holiday and Steven Adams trade
Oklahoma City traded Steven Adams on Nov. 24, just over a week after Paul’s trade. The deal with Adams was complicated.
The Thunder signed five players to facilitate this trade between the Bucks and the Pelicans, and their biggest prize is a future first-round pick. Not much came out of the deal, but they made George Hill a second-round pick, while Kenrich Williams played a key role for his team in 2020-21.
- Jrue vacation
- 2020 second-round pick (Sam Merrill)
- 2020 first-round pick (RJ Hampton)
- Steven Adams
- Eric Bledsoe
- Future Bucks first-round picks (2025 and 2027)
- Future selection changes with Bucks (2024 and 2026)
- George Hill
- Darius miller
- Josh gray
- Zylan cheatham
- Kenrich williams
- Future Nuggets first-round pick (2023)
- Future second-round picks from Wizards (2023) and Hornets (2024)
Danny Green / Al Horford trade
The Thunder wasted little time making Danny Green a future asset after acquiring him in a deal that sent Dennis Schroder to the Lakers. How they did it? They acquired Al Horford’s bulky contract (three years, $ 81 million at trade time) from the 76ers along with another first-round pick.
- Danny green
- Terrance ferguson
- Vincent Poirier
- Al Horford
- Theo Maledon Rights Project
- Vasilije Micić Rights Project
- Future first-round pick (2025)
Kemba Walker Trade
The Kemba Walker exchange is the latest of the bunch. The Thunder again took on a big contract in the form of Walker (two years, $ 73 million, including a player option), who struggled heavily in two seasons with the Celtics. Horford was sent to Boston, where he had previously been a solid starter and All-Star.
The Thunder received a first-round pick for their problems and a willingness to include Moses Brown in the trade package.
MORE: Qualifying the Celtics and Thunder on the Kemba Walker trade
- Al Horford
- Moses Brown
- 2023 second-round pick
- Kemba walker
- 2021 draft first-round pick (No. 16)
- 2025 second-round pick
The Thunder made a few smaller trades along the way, but these were primarily responsible for filling Presti’s asset war chest. Now, we’ll see how they start to use them: starting with Oklahoma City’s six picks in the 2021 NBA Draft.