Recapping a Productive Draft Night
The goal for the Thunder in any draft is to identify and secure players who will add value to the organization both on and off the court. With a trove of draft capital heading into the 2021 NBA Draft, Thunder General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti and staff had the flexibility to pursue just that on Thursday night. By the end of the night, after countless hours of scouting and preparation by the Thunder staff over the past year, the organization welcomed four new players to its roster and to Oklahoma City: Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Aaron Wiggins.
“We felt it was an extremely productive night for us,” said Presti. “We are excited about the players that we were able to add and excited about those guys coming into the program all for individual reasons. They all bring something different, and I think will be positive contributors to the organization.”
With the sixth pick, the Thunder selected Australian guard Giddey out of Melbourne. The 18-year-old comes to OKC after playing with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s NBL where was named the 2020-21 Rookie of the Year. As a 6-foot-9 guard with a touted passing ability, Giddey’s size and versatility coupled with his high-IQ playmaking made him a prospect the Thunder tabbed who could make others better around him.
“He’s somebody that has a lot of room to grow as a basketball player, but already has shown through his experience overseas the ability to impact professional games at a very, very young age,” said Presti. “We’re excited about adding him to the team. He’s just a really good basketball player across the board. Because of his size at 6-foot-9, he can play all over the place, but at every position he plays, he’s making others better and helping you play good basketball which is something that we’re really striving to continue to be represented.”
At No. 18, the Thunder selected Mann out of the University of Florida. The 6-foot-5 guard spent two seasons with the Gators averaging 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 40.2% from behind the arc in his sophomore campaign.
In the second round, the Thunder acquired the draft rights of forward Robinson-Earl at No. 32 from the New York Knicks in exchange for the 34th and 36th picks. The 6-foot-9 big spent the last two seasons at Villanova where he was named 2020-21 Big East Player of the Year.
“He’s a player that we’ve liked for some time. I think he’s a really good fit for our organization,” said Presti. “He’s tough, he’s physical, he’s a cerebral player.”
Rounding out the night, the Thunder selected wing Aaron Wiggins at number 55 from the University of Maryland. The 22-year-old spent three seasons with the Terrapins where he averaged 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists his junior year.
With the selections now made, the names called and the hats donned, the true work begins for both the Thunder newcomers and the organization. The attention now turns to getting the players into the system, beginning the onboarding process and gearing up for Summer League which begins on August 8. Draft night was just the beginning – up next is the opportunity to grow and develop within the organization in order to contribute positively in the future.
“We’re always trying to layer the team at the draft with young players that we feel have the opportunity to plug into our environment, benefit from the people and resources here and ultimately give energy back to the program and create an environment where other people can thrive and get better,” said Presti.
WATCH: Presti Reflects on 2021 NBA Draft