2021 NBA Draft mock #18: Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Kai Jones
The Thunder control the draft with 17 first-round picks between now and 2026. They could decide to shake things up in 2021 or beyond. If they stand pat with this pick, expect Oklahoma City to be searching for a high upside prospect that could grow with their young core.
Kai Jones is an extremely raw talent. He did not start playing basketball until age 15, but he is a 6’11 big man with the potential to grow into a stretch five. Jones improved significantly during his second season at Texas. He averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 22.8 minutes per game. Foul trouble has been an issue, but the 20-year-old has plenty of tools that will excite NBA teams.
Jones hit 38.2 percent of his 34 3-point attempts this season. That alone will have NBA teams dreaming about his potential to space the floor, protect the rim, and be a plus rebounder. The 6’11 big man will not be ready to contribute as a rookie, but his upside is massive.
The Thunder have to take some risks with their picks. Stockpiling draft choices only makes sense if the organization is going to shoot for the highest upside prospects early. Oklahoma City is happy to grab Kai Jones in the mid-first and attempt to help him reach his enormous ceiling.
Next: No. 19