According to a new list of draft-day trade ideas, the Oklahoma City Thunder could potentially acquire the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft from the Minnesota Timberwolves, giving them an opportunity to use that selection on Illawarra Hawks point guard LaMelo Ball.
As explained by Bleacher Report on Wednesday, Ball has recently emerged as the leading candidate to get picked first overall in this year's draft, which is scheduled to take place on November 18. However, the outlet noted that if the Timberwolves hang on to their No. 1 choice and use it on Ball, the 19-year-old might turn out to be an "awkward fit" in the same backcourt as D'Angelo Russell, given that both of them are ball-dominant players with well-documented deficiencies on the defensive end.
Citing a members' only article from ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Bleacher Report pointed out that some league executives believe the Thunder could be one of the teams willing to trade up and make Ball the first overall choice. To this end, the publication recommended a deal that would allow Oklahoma City to get the No. 1 pick and incoming second-year guard Jarrett Culver in exchange for their No. 25 selection and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the latter of whom enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore pro in the 2019-20 campaign.
"The cost is steep, but OKC might view Ball's distributing and deep shooting range as more face-of-the-franchise material than Gilgeous-Alexander's all-around game. Culver, last summer's sixth overall pick, helps cushion the blow, and the two new guards would team with Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley to lead the Thunder into their next chapter."
As the Thunder's starting shooting guard in 2019-20, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 19 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists and shot 47.1 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from three-point range, per Basketball-Reference.
Although the Thunder have several upcoming picks they could use as trade fodder, Bleacher Report speculated that these assets might not be that useful for the Timberwolves, who are hoping to "build a winner" around Russell and two-time All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns. The outlet wrote that Gilgeous-Alexander may be a more "natural fit" alongside the two stars, with his versatility making him an ideal third man in the team's pecking order.
The Thunder is not the only team rumored to be planning to move up for a chance to select Ball, possibly at first overall. The Detroit Pistons, who will be picking No. 7 in next week's draft, are reportedly interested in the youngster, who has recently been training nearby and had recently organized a basketball camp for local children.