Who should Thunder take with No. 2 pick in 2022 NBA Draft? Best fits next to Josh Giddey and Shai GIlgeous-Alexander

The Oklahoma City Thunder go into Thursday’s NBA draft armed with two picks in the lottery and No. 34 overall to add more top talent to their young roster.

They defied odds in the draft lottery to climb to No. 2, and in a class with a clear consensus in the top three – all vying for the No. 1 overall pick – they are in the enviable position of making their decision reasonably hitable for them by choosing from two players instead of three.

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The three players expected to be in the top 3 include Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, all of whom have star potential and above all address the Thunder’s greatest need – size.

Armed with two dynamic backcourts in Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder are flush with guards but are in dire need of a big man to complement their game at both ends of the parquet.

With veterans Derrick Favors and Mike Muscala returning next season alongside 20-year-old project Aleksej Pokusevski, the Thunder need both size and goals on the inside.

Last season, they were one of the worst pick and roll teams in the league, finishing 24th in points per possession from the roll and 28th in points per possession from the ball handler.

NBA DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT: Jabari Smith Jr.

According to FanDuel, Smith is the #1 favorite on the Orlando Magic, which would leave it up to the Thunder to decide on Banchero’s polished skills or Holmgren’s generational unicorn potential.

Holmgren, who has a 7-foot-1, 195-pound frame and boasts a 7-foot-6 wingspan, provides the Thunder with instant rim protection while showing his enticing skills with the ball in his hands, especially when it comes to Shooting from deep is sure to have Sam Presti’s attention.

Here’s what TSN’s Draft Expert Kyle Irving said about the Gonzaga product in his latest mock draft.

The Thunder already have their future backcourt in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey and this choice gives them much needed distance and edge protection at Holmgren.

Holmgren fits Oklahoma City’s tendency to target players of size and length, and alongside Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey he will be able to play an offensive role as a post-threat and secondary scorer.

Holmgren will also help bring the thunder to the ground, but most importantly it’s his defense that will be beneficial for this rebuild of the OKC roster.

Shooting stands out at Holmgren as the Thunder were one of the worst teams in the league last season, shooting the league’s worst 43.0 percent from the field.

NBA DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT: Chet Holmgren

They weren’t much better from beyond the arc either, ranking last in the 3-point percentage despite having seventh-most tries in the league. You take them, just don’t make them.

With Smith or Holmgren off the table at No. 2, the Thunder don’t have to look far for another big elite man, with Paolo Banchero considered by many to be the best talent in the draft.

Banchero’s combination of size, skill and finesse would attack the Thunder in an instant, with the 19-year-old capable of making buckets from dribbling in isolation and being a gifted playmaker at his position, taking some of the load off Giddey and Gilgeous -Alexander.

NBA DRAFT SCOUTING REPORT: Paolo Banchero

Per TSN drafting expert Kyle Irving:

What makes Banchero special as a player is his dual ability to threaten defense as a goalscorer and playmaker.

At 6’10 and 250 pounds, Banchero is a walking disproportion because he’s too fast and fluid for bigs, but he’s too strong and physical for guards.

MORE: Could Paolo Banchero have been an NFL QB?

When Magic is tempted by the positive side of Holmgren and leaves the Thunder to choose between Banchero or Smith, their decision might get a bit more complicated.

Jabari Smith Auburn Tigers

Smith would immediately give them the shooting they desperately need, connecting 42 percent of his 3-point shots last season while playing solid defense inside and showing his ability to switch to the perimeter.

That being said, Banchero’s all-around skills, passing, and creation seem to be a better fit for the Thunder’s existing guards.

The only other player in the draft who could make the top 3 pick is Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, but given the Thunder’s need for a big man, it’s hard to see them in one of the consensus top 3 drop by.

When you factor in the needs of the franchise, their penchant for player development, and patience to rebuild, Holmgren makes the most sense on paper for the Thunder.

Until then, OKC will wait with bated breath for the Magic to make their choice.

The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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