ESPN grades the Thunder’s offseason, questions some draft trades

All in all, in the eyes of ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t have a poor offseason.

After suffering some poor luck in the NBA draft lottery, both losing out on the chance to get the pick of the Houston Rockets and seeing their own selection drop one to No. 6, the Thunder did well to recover. Pelton gave OKC a B grade.

“The Thunder decided to slowly stay the course on their rebuilding project. Oklahoma City added three more future first-round picks through trades, taking back veterans Derrick Favors and Kemba Walker (the latter quickly waived with a buyout) and sending the pick that came with Walker to Houston for two future ones.”

Favors, who was acquired at a time in which the Thunder had no centers, will take Al Horford’s spot as a veteran big but likely will not play as large of an on-court role as Horford did.

Walker, now on the New York Knicks, was acquired by OKC in the trade that shipped Horford and Moses Brown to the Boston Celtics. The Thunder’s return for that was the first-round pick and getting rid of Horford’s contract.

Pelton liked those deals, but wasn’t a huge fan of the draft-day ones. The first-round pick received from the Celtics, No. 16 in the 2021 draft, was traded during the draft to the Houston Rockets for two future picks. They also gave up the 34th and 36th picks to move up to No. 32.

“At some point, the Thunder will have to consolidate picks, and the value they got in sending out both No. 36 and No. 34 to move up just two spots to draft Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 32nd was a bad sign. I also wonder whether Oklahoma City might have been better off just keeping the 16th pick and drafting the promising Alperen Sengun.”

Pelton sounds like he didn’t love those, but looking from a broader lens, this gives him some concern about the value of future Thunder picks. This treasure chest of picks are the main calling for OKC — they have dozens of them over the next six years, but cannot roster all of them. At some point, some will be traded. What will their value be?


An internal debate: Will the Thunder be competitive this season?