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NBA Rumors: Thunder Tried to Trade Up for Evan Mobley in 2021 Draft

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 19, 2022

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly attempted to trade up in the 2021 NBA draft to select Evan Mobley.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski revealed the Thunder's unsuccessful negotiations on his podcast: 

"Last year they tried to move up, tried to get up to three for Evan Mobley. I think if the Thunder had the No. 1 pick last year, they would have taken Mobley. He was there at three; they could not pry him out of Cleveland.

"And I think Oklahoma City has learned, and most teams learn, like, every year they're going to say, there will be teams at one, two and three, and I'll say it because teams will tell me, 'Hey, we're going to see what the pick is worth in the marketplace. We're going to listen. We're going to see how people value it.'

"But it is rare when somebody trades out of there. For all the picks the Thunder have ... Koby Altman knew what he had [in Mobley]. I don't think Sam Presti could have offered enough to get him out."

The Thunder had the Nos. 6, 16 and 17 picks in the first round of the 2021 draft. They selected Josh Giddey with the sixth selection, traded Alperen Sengun's rights at No. 16 to the Houston Rockets and added Tre Mann a pick later.

It's possible, if not likely, the Thunder offered all three of those picks to move up three slots and select Mobley, who was an instant game-changer this season in Cleveland. The USC product averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on his way to narrowly finishing second in the Rookie of the Year race behind Scottie Barnes.

The Thunder will have the No. 2 selection in this year's draft and almost certainly will focus on a frontcourt player. Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero are widely considered the top three players in this class; Holmgren and Smith better replicate what Mobley could have brought to the table in Oklahoma City, so don't be surprised if they're the players most often linked to the Thunder. 

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