ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony appeared on Monday’s ESPN Daily podcast with host Pablo Torre to discuss the 2022 NBA draft.
Let’s take a look at some of the more notable quotes and paraphrases relating to the Oklahoma City Thunder — who own three top 34 picks, including the No. 2 and No. 12.
Givony specifically mentioned that the Thunder – who own multiple draft picks – can essentially do whatever they want with this draft given the luxury of overpaying in trade packs with draft picks and current players that other teams like this is not called Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
Jabari Smith Jr. on Magic
Givony said he thinks the Orlando Magic will call up Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr. as the overwhelming favorite for the overall pick. There has been uncertainty lately as to who will take first place overall, but it sounds like Smith Jr. is still the favorite for arguably the best draft pick in the league.
Which means the Thunder will likely pick…
Chet Holmgren still planned to go to OKC
Givony said he seeded Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren as the No. 2 pick for the Thunder, which is what most have predicted since the lottery ended.
Givony also said he believes Holmgren is his best prospect for the class.
“I absolutely love everything about Chet. And I didn’t do it the first moment I saw him, but he really grew on me so much…
He’s so fluid with the ball. He kicks his ass off. He’s a phenomenal marksman. He put on a show the last day. I love how fearless he is. He is super competent…
Chet Holmgren is the toughest player in this draft in terms of the physicality he is willing to bring and his will to win. And that makes me think he’s going to be a great NBA player.”
Thunder could do anything they want with this draft featuring picks and current players
Givony said that the Thunder having a treasure trove of draft picks basically means they can make that draft whatever they want by overpaying in trades and having players that other teams would like to trade with.
“Then there are other teams that could be looking for promotion – Oklahoma City. They have this treasure trove of picks…
They just got another (first round pick) from Denver. So I think between 2023 and 2027 there are 14 first-round picks that aren’t their own.
And they have players that people like. You have Lu there. You have Kenrich Williams. You have guys like Isaiah Roby. I mean, they have their two potential stars in Shai and Giddey – who they’re not going to trade, and they also have all that cap space that they’re just going to let evaporate if they don’t use it by July 1st…
They can do whatever they want in this draft if they want to go crazy and say, ‘We’re giving you 10 prospective first-rounders to advance to.’ You know who says no to that? That really is the question.”
Players want to win
Discussing the possibility of tanking another season to finish with the top 3 lottery odds for projected No. 1 pick of 2023, Victor Wembanyama, Givony notes that the Thunder have too many good players, to allow this, who are ready to start winning.
Notably, Givony brought up Gilgeous-Alexander, who would be upset about missing the playoffs for a third straight year.