Thunder Rumors

Draft Notes: Fit Vs. Value, International Prospects, Top PGs, More

In their latest mock draft for (Insider link), Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo provide two paths — Givony makes each pick based on the team’s biggest need, while Woo chooses the player who would be the best value at that spot.

For example, at No. 1, Givony has the Hawks taking Donovan Clingan, arguing that one of the league’s worst defenses would benefit from adding the draft’s best rim protector, while Woo views Zaccharie Risacher as the choice for Atlanta, since both he and Givony have the French forward ranked as the best prospect in this year’s draft class.

There are several spots where the best fit and best value overlap, including at No. 2 (Alexandre Sarr to the Wizards), No. 4 (Reed Sheppard to the Spurs), No. 5 (Matas Buzelis to the Pistons), No. 6 (Stephon Castle to the Hornets), and No. 12 (Nikola Topic to the Thunder).

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In another Insider-only story for, Givony and Woo highlight 20 draft prospects who excel in specific areas. For instance, while Givony and Woo consider Kentucky’s Sheppard to be the best spot-up shooter in the 2024 draft class, ESPN’s duo names UConn’s Cam Spencer as the best pull-up shooter and Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht as the best movement shooter. On the other side of the ball, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn is viewed as the best defensive play-maker, UConn’s Castle is recognized as the best on-ball defender, and Risacher is identified as the best off-ball defender.
  • While top prospects Risacher and Sarr and potential lottery picks Tidjane Salaun and Topic have gotten plenty of attention leading up to the draft, there are several other international prospects worth getting familiar with, according to Givony, who provides a primer on a handful of others who could hear their names called on June 26 or 27, including French wing Pacome Dadiet, Spanish point guard Juan Nunez, and Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic.
  • In an interview with Cyro Asseo de Choch of HoopsHype, Djurisic said he has been told his game is similar to that of seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson and likened himself to a “less athletic, taller Anthony Edwards.”
  • Referring to UConn’s Castle as one of the biggest risers in the pre-draft process, Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports ranks the reigning national champion No. 1 among point guards in this year’s draft class, followed by Topic at No. 2. Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Providence’s Devin Carter, and Pitt’s Carlton Carrington round out Peek’s top five point guard prospects.

Thunder Could Make Serious Run At Hartenstein

Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein pumped up his value this season during his walk year. They’ll have competition for his services and the Thunder are viewed as the main threat, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post.

Hartenstein made approximately $9.25MM this season and he’ll get a huge raise this summer. The Knicks hold his Early Bird rights and can offer a maximum of about $72MM over four years.

That might not be enough to keep Hartenstein, who started 49 regular-season games after Mitchell Robinson was injured and all 13 of the Knicks’ postseason contests. One recent report said the 26-year-old could receive $80-$100MM on a new deal from a team with cap room.

The Thunder will have around $35MM in cap space. While Rookie of the Year runner-up Chet Holmgren manned the middle for the Thunder, Hartenstein could provide a different element.

Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer recently noted that Hartenstein would help OKC with his rebounding, screening and passing. Rebounding was a major issue for the Western Conference’s top seed.

The Thunder will soon need to make some major salary commitments to keep its strong young core intact, so they make take a different approach with Hartenstein. Citing a source, Bondy suggests OKC might offer a short-term deal, perhaps two years, with a high salary. That would provide both OKC and Hartenstein with long-term flexibility.

OKC could go with a bigger starting lineup, sliding Holmgren to the power forward slot, or use Hartenstein as their main frontcourt reserve.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, Malone, Nuggets’ Draft, Wolves

The Wizards could have interest in Josh Giddey if the Thunder decide to move him this summer, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic suggests on his Game Theory Podcast (hat tip to Rylan Stiles of Inside the Thunder). Vecenie notes that Washington general manager Will Dawkins, a former Oklahoma City executive, was heavily involved in the process when the Thunder drafted Giddey with the sixth pick in 2021.

Vecenie doesn’t place a high price tag on Giddey, theorizing that OKC could get the Wizards’ No. 26 pick and a future second-rounder in return: “That feels like it is about the price point, to be honest with you, for where Giddey is right now and where the playoffs ended with him, this feels like a reasonable offer for Giddey.”

The third-year swingman has been a starter since his rookie season, but he was ineffective in the second-round series against Dallas. Giddey averaged just 12.6 minutes per game and connected at 43.2% from the field and 18.8% from three-point range as the Mavericks dared him to shoot. Giddey will be extension-eligible this summer, but the Thunder may opt to trade him rather than committing to another long-term salary with so much young talent on the roster.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • During an appearance on the Jim Rome show, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said there have been discussions about trading the 28th pick (video link from Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports). Malone responded, “You can never have enough shooting” when asked about team needs, and although he said Denver has the league’s best starting five, he expressed concern about that group being overworked again.
  • Bennett Durando of The Denver Post offers his insight into players the Nuggets are projected to take in various mock drafts if they hold onto their first-round pick. ESPN and Yahoo Sports both have Denver selecting Dayton center DaRon Holmes II, whom Durando describes as a versatile big man capable of protecting the rim and spacing the floor. Other mock drafts give the Nuggets Duke center Kyle Filipowski, Indiana forward Kel’el Ware, Creighton wing Baylor Scheierman and California wing Jaylon Tyson.
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune examines the debate over whether the Timberwolves should keep the core of their current roster together or try to shake things up with an offseason trade.

Draft Rumors: Risacher, Buzelis, Salaun, Carter

Zaccharie Risacher could be the first selection in this year’s draft, but most American fans aren’t familiar with the French forward’s game. Risacher sought to clear up some of the mystery in a Zoom session with the media this week, writes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports.

The 19-year-old plays for JL Bourg in the LNB Pro A league, where he impressed scouts with his soft shooting touch and 6’8″ frame. He’s a career 40.7% three-point shooter during his three-year career in France and connected at 56.1% from beyond the arc in this year’s playoffs, often with NBA scouts and executives in attendance.

“I think my best skill is probably my shooting ability. I’m really comfortable with it and I know it’s not perfect, I still got a lot of work to do. But that’s the part of my game I feel like is my best skill that I have,” Risacher told reporters. “And the part of my game that I need to work on is probably my dribbling ability, the way to handle contact with dribbling. But I know I can do it. I will say that’s the next step.”

Hughes notes that Risacher is projected to go to Atlanta with the No. 1 pick in the latest mock drafts from Yahoo Sports, ESPN and The Ringer. He’s listed as the second selection by The Athletic and Bleacher Report.

Risacher mentioned Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Jayson Tatum and Ray Allen as players he studied while developing his game. He’s also considered to be a high-level defender, so whoever drafts him won’t be getting a one-dimensional player.

“I take pleasure in [impacting] both sides of the court. [I like] defending small guards, big guards, big men,” Risacher said. “I think that’s something that I can like translate in the NBA.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis is under consideration by teams in the top five, sources tell Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Wasserman has Buzelis going to San Antonio at No. 4 in his latest mock draft, noting that the team should be able to fill its need for a point guard with the eighth pick. He hears the Spurs are interested in Providence guard Devin Carter, who may get the edge over Nikola Topic because of Topic’s ACL injury.
  • Wasserman also hears that French forward Tidjane Salaun, who has been rising up draft boards, will hold a pre-draft workout with the Thunder, who have the No. 12 pick. That’s in addition to sessions with teams in the top 10 such as the Spurs, Pistons and Trail Blazers.
  • Following a report that Carter has received a promise from a team in the lottery, Rylan Stiles speculates in a Sports Illustrated article about which club might have given that promise, writing that the Grizzlies and Thunder both have incentives to add Carter.

2024 NBA Draft Picks By Team

The Spurs and Trail Blazers were among the winners on last month’s draft lottery day, with the results on May 12 ensuring that both teams would have a pair of lottery picks in 2024. San Antonio received Toronto’s top-six protected first-rounder when it dropped to No. 8, while Portland was assured of receiving Golden State’s top-four protected first-rounder when it remained at No. 14. Both clubs’ own picks are in the top seven.

Besides being the only NBA teams to control two lottery picks this year, San Antonio and Portland have something else in common — they’re the only two clubs that own more than three total 2024 draft picks. In addition to No. 4 and No. 8, the Spurs have Nos. 35 and 48, while Portland has a pair of early second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 40) to go with its No. 7 and No. 14 picks.

Many of this year’s draft picks have changed hands at some point, with only 24 of 58 total selections held by their original owner, but they’re still a little more evenly distributed than usual. A year ago, 11 teams controlled three or more picks at this time, whereas this year only seven clubs hold more than two picks apiece.

In addition to those seven teams with three or more picks, 13 more clubs own a pair of draft selections, while another nine control one apiece. That leaves just a single NBA team without a draft pick this year: the Nets. Brooklyn traded both of its 2024 picks back in 2021, sending out its first-rounder in a package for James Harden and including its second-rounder later that year in a Sekou Doumbouya salary dump. The Nets could still trade into this draft, but for now they’re the only team on track to sit it out.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2024 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 58 selections by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • San Antonio Spurs (4): 4, 8, 35, 48
  • Portland Trail Blazers (4): 7, 14, 34, 40
  • Washington Wizards (3): 2, 26, 51
  • Memphis Grizzlies (3): 9, 39, 57
  • Utah Jazz (3): 10, 29, 32
  • New York Knicks (3): 24, 25, 38
  • Indiana Pacers (3): 36, 49, 50

Teams with two picks:

  • Houston Rockets: 3, 44
  • Detroit Pistons: 5, 53
  • Charlotte Hornets: 6, 42
  • Sacramento Kings: 13, 45
  • Miami Heat: 15, 43
  • Philadelphia 76ers: 16, 41
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 17, 55
  • Orlando Magic: 18, 47
  • Toronto Raptors: 19, 31
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 23, 33
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 27, 37
  • Denver Nuggets: 28, 56
  • Boston Celtics: 30, 54

Teams with one pick:

  • Atlanta Hawks: 1
  • Chicago Bulls: 11
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 12
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 20
  • New Orleans Pelicans: 21
  • Phoenix Suns: 22
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 46
  • Golden State Warriors: 52
  • Dallas Mavericks: 58

Teams with no picks:

  • Brooklyn Nets

Draft Rumors: Buzelis, Clingan, Dillingham, Topic, More

Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN recently updated their top-100 list, with several new tidbits of information on prospects ranked in the top 25 (subscription required).

Sources tell Givony that G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis “will work out for almost every team in the top five.” As Givony writes, teams are intrigued by Buzelis’ size, skills, versatility and long-term upside.

They don’t control a top-five pick, but sources tell Givony that Chicago — Buzelis’ hometown team — watched the 19-year-old in a private workout in Los Angeles “early in the pre-draft process.” The Bulls have explored the viability of moving up from No. 11 overall if the price is right, according to Givony, who adds that head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is very familiar with Buzelis and his game (they’re also both Lithuanian).

Here are some more rumors and updates from Givony and Woo:

  • ESPN previously reported that rival teams think the Bulls, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers could be interested in moving up to select UConn center Donovan Clingan, whom Givony describes as a “top-three prospect who might experience a minor drop on draft night because teams that are in the Nos. 3-6 range already have starting centers in place.” The Thunder and Jazz are also viewed as teams who could consider trading up for the 20-year-old. Clingan is still in the Hawks‘ conversation at No. 1, while Atlanta has also explored the possibility of trading down, Givony reports. The Blazers, who recently hosted Clingan for a private workout, are viewed as the big man’s floor at No. 7 overall.
  • Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, the No. 7 prospect on ESPN’s board, is targeting a mid-June return following an ankle injury, sources tell Givony. That means the 19-year-old will likely only have time “for a handful of workouts” before the first round begins on June 26. Dillingham is on the radar of teams drafting in the top 10 who need a point guard, according to Givony, who suggests trades might need to transpire for him to go early.
  • Nikola Topic, long considered a probable lottery pick, was recently diagnosed with a partially torn ACL in his left knee, as ESPN reported on Wednesday. However, he has only dropped one spot — No. 9 to No. 10 — on ESPN’s latest update, with Givony pointing to Topic’s age (he turns 19 in August) and upside (he was once in consideration for No. 1) as reasons why the Serbian guard is unlikely to have a drastic fall. The Spurs (No. 8), Jazz (No. 10), Thunder (No. 12) and Trail Blazers (No. 14) are viewed as potential landing spots for Topic, depending on how his medicals are evaluated.
  • According to Woo and Givony, Tenneesee wing Dalton Knecht, who comes in at No. 8, has drawn “strong interest” from every team selecting in the 6-10 range (Hornets, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Jazz). French forward Tidjane Salaun, the No. 9 prospect on ESPN’s board, is expected to draw suitors in the 4-14 range.
  • G League Ignite wing Ron Holland, who ranks No. 11, has either worked out for or will work out for the Heat (No. 15) and Lakers (No. 17), per ESPN. Providence guard Devin Carter recently worked out for the Lakers as well, and his range is expected to be anywhere from No. 8 to No. 15. According to Woo, “playoff-caliber teams” will likely have interest in Carter, 22, if they decide to trade up.
  • Back-to-back college Player of the Year Zach Edey, who ranks No. 16, has an upcoming workout with the Lakers, but it’s possible he could land quite a bit higher than No. 17. According to Givony, the Grizzlies, Jazz, Bulls, Thunder, Trail Blazers and Heat are viewed as viable landing spots for the Canadian big man, who recently worked out for his hometown Raptors as well. Toronto (picking at No. 19) is viewed as Edey’s floor.
  • The Grizzlies and Kings are among the lottery teams with interest in Colorado’s Tristan Da Silva, per Woo. An older prospect, the German combo forward is viewed as a player who can contribute right away but has a lower ceiling than younger players in the class, Woo adds.
  • Givony and Woo have more information on the possible ranges of several other potential first-round picks. The whole article is worth checking out for those who subscribe to ESPN+.

Will They Make Run At Patrick Williams?

As Bulls forward Patrick Williams heads into restricted free agency, look for the Thunder to make a run at him, The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry reports. A league source tells Mayberry that Oklahoma City has “great interest” in the 22-year-old.

Williams, who has failed to live up to his draft billing as the No. 4 pick in 2020, would give the Thunder more size at power forward. Oklahoma City’s stash of draft picks could entice Chicago to negotiate a sign-and-trade with the Thunder. Williams was limited to 43 games this season due to a foot injury.

  • In his latest player report card, The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto evaluates the forgettable half-season that Gordon Hayward spent with the Thunder. Hayward is headed to unrestricted free agency and Mussatto opines that the forward might be looking at veteran’s minimum offers the remainder of his career.

Thunder Will Have Roster Flexibility

  • The Thunder had an overload of players on their roster last offseason but that won’t be the case this time around, Rylan Stiles of notes. Oklahoma City will have four open standard contract roster spots available with Gordon Hayward, Bismack Biyombo, Mike Muscala and possibly Lindy Waters III (club option) headed to free agency. They will also have at least one two-way spot available with Olivier Sarr tearing his Achilles late last season. He’s expected to be out all of next season.
  • Cason Wallace exceeded expectations in his rookie season with the Thunder, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Wallace, the No. 10 pick of last year’s draft, appeared in every game and make the All-Rookie Second Team. He also shot 41.9% from 3-point range and displayed strong defensive skills.

Ousmane Dieng Could Be Missing Piece

Ousmane Dieng could be the missing piece to the Thunder‘s rotation, according to Rylan Stiles of Dieng, a 2022 lottery pick, has spent the bulk of his first two NBA seasons in the G League with the Oklahoma City Blue. He appeared in just 33 games with the Thunder this season.

“Like every young player, he has so many things to work on,”  Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “When we drafted him, he was almost like a year young for that draft. We kind of knew that his timeline and his pathway would maybe be different, certainly from [Jalen Williams] because Dub was somebody coming in that we thought could get on the court sooner. But [Dieng] has responded pretty well. I’m pleased with him. I think he’s made some big strides here.”

  • The Thunder own the No. 12 pick of the draft via Houston and optimally, they’ll find a way to trade back in what’s considered a weak class, Stiles opines in a separate story. They might be able to add to their stash of future assets and still find a contributor.

Fischer’s Latest: Hartenstein, Thunder, Claxton, Valanciunas, Cavs

There are few – if any – NBA free-agents-to-be whose stocks improved more in the postseason than Isaiah Hartenstein, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who suggests the Knicks big man has a case to be considered the best center on the free agent market this summer.

Nets big man Nic Claxton, widely viewed the top option at the position, is considered likely receive at least $20-25MM annually, according to previous reports. Fischer says there’s a belief around the NBA that Hartenstein could end up in that neighborhood too, with league executives and cap strategists speculating he might sign for $80-100MM. The Knicks would be limited to offering up to $72.5MM over four years using their Early Bird rights.

According to Fischer, the Thunder are the possible Hartenstein destination mentioned most frequently by team executives, despite the fact that he seems “incongruent” with the playing style they established en route to the No. 1 seed in the West this past season. Fischer suggests Hartenstein’s ability as a passer and screener to bring a new dimension to Oklahoma City, while his rebounding would improve one of the league’s worst teams in that area.

Hartenstein almost signed with the Magic before joining the Knicks, Fischer notes, but it’s unclear whether Orlando would still be a fit, given Moritz Wagner‘s emergence in the frontcourt during the last couple seasons and Jonathan Isaac‘s return to health. The team also rebuffed trade offers for Wendell Carter at February’s deadline, Fischer adds, which indicates he’s part of the plans going forward.

The Pistons are another team with cap room that has been frequently linked to Hartenstein over the years, per Fischer, but it’s unclear whether new head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon will share that interest or whether Detroit will be in the market for a center this summer.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Addressing Claxton’s free agency, Fischer says that NBA personnel have “long prepared” for the 25-year-old to remain with the Nets. If the two sides are able to reach an agreement between the end of the Finals and the start of free agency, it would improve Hartenstein’s leverage on the open market.
  • Pelicans big man Jonas Valanciunas is another starting-caliber center on track for unrestricted free agency this offseason, but league executives don’t anticipate a huge payday for the Lithuanian, forecasting a deal in the range of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (approximately $12.9MM), Fischer writes.
  • The Cavaliers don’t seem motivated to listen to trade inquiries on any of their core four of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley, sources tell Fischer. It’s unclear if that will change later in the offseason — if Mitchell signs an extension to remain in Cleveland, it’s possible that Garland would seek a change of scenery. For what it’s worth, head of basketball operations Koby Altman has stated publicly that he doesn’t anticipate making “sweeping changes” to the roster in the coming months.