OKLAHOMA CITY- After some wheeling and dealing on draft night, the Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Serbian big man Aleksej Pokusevski.
Sam Presti moved up eight picks to get his man, dealing recently acquired point guard Ricky Rubio with picks number 25 and 28 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Pokusevski averaged 9.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season playing for Olympiacos B in the Greek second league.
Standing seven feet tall, Pokusevski possesses all the offensive skills to thrive in the modern NBA. He is projected to be an excellent passer in the NBA, and he should be able to help space the floor for his young Thunder team.
With a 7 foot 3 inch wingspan, Pokusevski also fits Presti’s mold of lengthy players to help provide a defensive challenge.
There are concerns about Pokusevski’s small frame, weighing in at only 202 pounds, but as the youngest draft eligible player the Thunder will hope he will grow into his body.
Before the draft, many projected Pokusevski as having a ton of boom or bust potential. Oklahoma City are well positioned to take the gamble as Presti has accumulated a plethora of first round draft picks over the next six years to rebuild the franchise.
The draft caps off a hectic few days for Presti, who has been hard at work reshaping the Thunder roster since the moratorium was lifted Monday afternoon.
Chris Paul was moved to the Phoenix Suns after just one season in Oklahoma City, with the Thunder receiving Ricky Rubio as a part of a large package for the veteran point guard. Rubio will not play a single game in an Oklahoma City uniform, instead returning to Minnesota where he started his NBA career.
Dennis Schröder was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for veteran Danny Green and pick number 28 in the 2020 draft (the pick packaged with Oklahoma City’s 25 pick to move up in the draft).
Presti shook up the NBA world again hours before the draft began.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Thunder would ship Green to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for the 34 pick in the 2020 draft and a first round pick in the 2025 draft.
Oklahoma City added a point guard early in the second round in Theo Maledon from ASVEL in France. Maledon is comfortable running an offense, and decisive with the basketball.
His biggest knock is his lack of high end athleticism, but Maledon could play a big role in the Thunder offense alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with Rubio moving on to Minnesota.
Pokusevski won’t have long to get acclimated to his new team now that he knows his NBA future. The sprint to the Dec. 22 start date is on for the entire 2020 draft class in what will undoubtedly be another season filled with unique challenges.