The Thunder’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti couldn’t discuss much in terms of player acquisitions and transactions after the conclusion of the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday night. Before announcements could be made, trades must be made official and follow the formal NBA process. However, after the dust settled following a whirlwind of a draft night and trades became final, the Thunder emerged on Thursday with several new additions to the roster with the goal as always to generate value for the organization, present and future.
On Thursday, Thunder fans got a glimpse at how this goal translated with the acquisitions of Aleksej Pokuševski, James Johnson, Admiral Schofield, Vit Krejčí and Vincent Poirier to the roster.
In a draft-night trade with Minnesota to obtain the rights of the No. 17 pick, the Thunder acquired 7-foot Serbian Aleksej Pokuševski. The forward spent last season playing in Greece for Olympiacos where he posted extremely well-rounded numbers for a player at his size – 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists making him one of the most intriguing players in this year’s draft class. At just 18 years old, Pokuševski, or Poku as he is also known, was among the youngest players in Wednesday night’s draft and yet already touted professional experience from his time in the EuroLeague with Greece.
Originally from Novi Sad, Serbia, Pokuševski has spent the last five years in Greece playing for Olympiacos and moved his way up to play in Greece’s second division by age 18. In addition to his rare size and versatility, the international prospect explained after the draft that Oklahoma City gained more than just his physical attributes as a player.
“I know I'm going to bring energy,” said Pokuševski. “Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it 100 percent and work to help the team, whatever that means.”
The Thunder’s trade with Minnesota also included the acquisition of 11-year NBA veteran James Johnson. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists last season for the Timberwolves.
In addition to Pokusevski and Johnson, the Thunder also acquired Admiral Schofield from Washington on Thursday as well as the draft rights from the Wizards to Vít Krejčî, the No. 37 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft.
Schofield completed his rookie campaign with the Wizards where he appeared in 33 games and averaged three points, 1.4 rebounds and 11 minutes. In addition, the 23-year-old also saw 33 games (all starts) with the Wizard’s G-league affiliate the Capital City Go-Go where he posted 16 points, 5.5. rebounds and 2.2 assists in 30.9 minutes.
Prior to the NBA, Schofield was a standout at the University of Tennessee where he ranked seventh in program history in three-pointers made and career field-goal percentage. Under head coach Rick Barnes, the Illinois native helped propel the Volunteers to the NCAA Sweet 16 in his senior season.
Across the Atlantic, Krejčî spent last season playing for Casademont Zaragoza in the Spanish ACB, Basketball Champions League and Spanish Cup. The 20-year-old, 6-foot-8 guard grew up two hours outside of Prague, Czech Republic before leaving at age 14 to play in Zaragoza, Spain, roughly 200 miles west of Barcelona. In the 2019-20 season Krejčí averaged 3.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 9.2 minutes in his 37 appearances.
In a separate transaction on Thursday, the Thunder received 7-foot center Vincent Poirier from the Celtics as well as cash considerations in exchange for a protected 2021 second-round draft pick. The French native averaged 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 5.9 minutes per game in his rookie season. During his four appearances with the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G-League affiliate, Poirier notched 16.3 points, 9 rebounds, 2.3 assists while swatting away a team-best three blocks per game.
After a draft night unlike any other in NBA history, Presti and the Thunder’s front office navigated the uncharted waters confidently focused to continue building on the path of repositioning and replenishing the organization for the ultimate goal of long-term success.
“It's a continuation of the things that we've talked about since last summer, which is continually trying to reposition the team after 12 years of extremely high performance results, and ultimately continuing to try to replenish our flexibility and tools for us to continue to build a platform for an elite team going forward but full well knowing that that's going to take time,” said Presti on Wednesday night following the draft.
Some of the Thunder’s new players took to social media to express their excitement for the opportunity ahead of them in Oklahoma City. Schofield wrote in a caption on Instagram, “Excited for the opportunity! Let’s work! #ThunderUp”
Krejčí also shared a message to the organization in an Instagram video saying, “I’d like to thank the OKC organization for putting their confidence in me,” said Krejčí.
“I’m happy to be a part of this great organization and I’m ready to get to work.”