Thunder to Participate in Tuesday’s 2021 NBA Draft Lottery

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor |

There are hundreds of touchpoints each year that will impact the trajectory of the Thunder as a franchise. The vast majority of those moments are within the organization’s control, but on Tuesday night, there will be an annual NBA event that is all up to chance.

At the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery (7:30 p.m. CT, ESPN), the ping pong balls will bounce and will reveal the Thunder’s selections in the 2021 NBA Draft, which will be held on Thursday, July 29. The Thunder will be represented at the lottery by Nazr Mohammed, who played for the Thunder for three seasons and now serves as both a pro scout for the Thunder and the General Manager of the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the OKC Blue.

The Thunder will have the position of two first round selections revealed during the lottery, with possibilities ranging far and wide through the draft order. The results of the lottery will play a role in how the Thunder builds the team moving forward, but the organization’s focus is on being methodical and diligent in its response to the outcome.

“Anytime you're in the lottery it means really being able to accept the reality that you don't really control anything at all,” said Thunder General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti at his end of season press conference on May 20. “That's one of the things that we've learned over the years here since we've been in Oklahoma City. You can't control chance. Usually chance and good or bad luck shows up in like moments or events, and over the course of time what you hope is that skill kind of represents itself over a longer time horizon.”

“We do control how we think and we do control how we react, and that's really the thing we have to focus on because over a period of time, if we stay consistent with our goals, if we stay consistent with our focus and our plan, I really believe good things will happen and we'll achieve our goal of having a sustainably excellent team in Oklahoma City again,” Presti added.

In addition to the two aforementioned picks, the Thunder will have the number 16 overall selection, which it received along with guard Kemba Walker in a trade with the Boston Celtics last week. In the second round the Thunder will select at 35, 36 and 55. All of those selections provide opportunities for the Thunder to land a high-impact player, but also serve as assets to be utilized in whichever way the organization sees fit.

“The draft is littered with good players, and they very rarely go one, two, three, four, five in order,” said Presti at that May 20 press conference. “I think it's clear that for the most part the wisdom of crowds has it so that the odds are better toward the top of the draft, for obvious reasons, and the odds get significantly declined as you move back through the draft, but there's always players.”

With 6 of the 60 selections in this draft and 14 more first round selections over the impending five drafts, the Thunder has incredible flexibility moving forward. Whether the Thunder makes all of those selections or not, the team will be focused on how it incorporates players into its program.

In addition to any newcomers, the Thunder thinks holistically about the human beings within its walls, so players are both treated with the same care and held to the same standards regardless of where they are selected. From there, each person can embark on their growth and development journey as they attempt to establish their career in the NBA and with the Thunder.

“Drafting players is one aspect of it,” said Presti. “Keeping them healthy, developing them, figuring them out personally as well as from a skill standpoint and putting them in a position to thrive and excel over time is a whole other equation that I think sometimes gets overlooked.”


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