Top 2022 draft prospects offer multiversal options for Thunder


Hollywood has been obsessed with the multiverse lately.

From the culmination of decades of Spider-Man to Sam Raimi’s Dr. Strange sequel and the meteoric rise of Daniels’ Anywhere Anywhere, the concept of billions of infinite universes made up of parallel realities has captivated the audience.

The idea that painstaking decisions can turn into thousands upon thousands of alternate realities.

Right now, that’s exactly what Thunder general manager Sam Presti is up against. The idea that his June 23, 2022 decision alone could cataclysmically alter the Oklahoma City timeline.

Oklahoma City clinched the second overall pick in Tuesday’s 2022 NBA Draft lottery. The Thunder didn’t run away with the first pick, which landed in the hands of Orlando’s John Hammond, but they certainly did.

Fists were pumped and woos were had as, one by one, Oklahoma City closed in on their first pick in franchise history.

In all likelihood, Presti and the Thunder have three real options at No. 2, despite plenty of other Multiverses waiting on the horizon with return potential.

Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. are the likely options at number two, and they offer a multiverse for the Thunder.

Smith, a 6-foot-11, 249-pound sniper with a frame built for defense, offers the clearest and most transparent future universe.

Smith shot 42 percent on three from 5.5 attempts at Auburn, and probably has the purest shooting form from a top-tier prospect we’ve seen in decades. It’s projectable and translatable, and there’s no doubt next to current OKC guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey that he would thrive.

The universe in which Smith wears Thunder blue offers a lifetime of Giddey assists, pick-and-pop games with Gilgeous-Alexander, and the possibility of him becoming a star.

But Smith’s biggest question mark is his ceiling. While he’s certainly the best fit on Thunder’s current roster, he may never project to be an All-Star caliber player, something OKC likely needs so far up in the draft.

Enter Paolo Banchero.

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Paolo Banchero, 2022 NBA Draft

Banchero, at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, offers guarding skills packed into a huge NBA-ready frame. He’s an elite creationist with footwork that will make any NBA scout drool.

He’s an offensive machine whose defensive woes are overblown, and he’ll likely be a star in the league.

But Banchero’s form next to SGA and Giddey should not be ignored. The pairing probably limits the three talents of the trio.

A universe in which Banchero is drafted by OKC doesn’t bode well for either or both of Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander. Although all three are capable passers, there isn’t much on the ball to do.

Giddey fits the Banchero timeline better, but Gilgeous-Alexander is probably a better fit due to gravity and natural scoring ability.

And finally, Chet Holmgren.

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Holmgren offers a bit of both timelines. A unique 7-footer that offers legit rim protection and inside-scoring ability, coupled with guarding skills, 3-point shooting and potential upside creation, there’s nothing to miss. do not like.

Holmgren fits perfectly with OKC. The Thunder needs everything it has, and vice versa. He can fulfill an indispensable role right now and develop all the way.

Holmgren’s Thunder universe is full of possibilities. Various queues and list configurations branch out in all directions. The victories are had and the answers to the questions.

Giddey is allowed to thrive. Gilgeous-Alexander can stay dominant with a likely backup option. And Presti is thrilled with Holmgren’s work ethic and can-do attitude. Holmgren’s timeline currently seems to be the best fit overall.

Ultimately, however, the Orlando Magic will take out one of the Oklahoma City Multiverses just before their own decision.

The NBA draft will take place on Thursday, June 23.


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