Five NBA draft prospects met with media Thursday to answer questions as they prepare for next week’s 2022 NBA draft. All five players – Keegan Murray, Malaki Brahman, Jabari Smith Jr., Ousmane Dieng and Bennedict Matherin – are expected to be picked inside the top-15.
The Oklahoma City Thunder own three top-34 draft picks at No. 2, No. 12 and No. 34. There’s a decent chance that most of the players who spoke to the media on Thursday will be available for the Thunder to take with one of their top two picks.
The most significant prospect who spoke was Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr., who’s touted to go to either the Orlando Magic or Thunder, which own the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, respectively.
Here’s a look at some of the memorable things the five prospects said about the Thunder during their 15-minute sessions with the national media.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s three-day stay in Oklahoma City
Smith Jr. revealed during his presser that he visited Oklahoma City from June 12 to June 14 and that he will only workout with the Magic and Thunder due to his belief that he won’t fall below No. 2.
“[Thunder general manager Sam Presti] is a great guy,” said Smith Jr. “Great background in basketball. He’s been doing it for a long, long time. So the visit was great. Got to meet the staff, meet the coaches, have some good conversations with him. So the overall visit was just amazing.
“His vision of getting back to where he was with that KD and Russ team. He sees they’re going in the right direction and that’s really promising to me. Everybody around there is just real high on what’s next for this team.”
Smith Jr. also detailed his workout with the Thunder by mentioning that conditioning, shooting, defense and playing off the ball were points of emphasis.
In terms of a potential fit on the Thunder roster, Smith Jr. mentioned Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey would help him out with getting easier outside shots and that he would add length to the starting lineup.
Keegan Murray mentions Thunder forward Isaiah Roby
Murray confirmed that he worked out with the Thunder and surprisingly mentioned Roby when talking about players on the roster.
Roby, who played just the 10th most minutes on the Thunder this past season, confirmed that he worked out with Murray a few times this summer.
“Obviously they’re a young team, but a team that is also built for the future. I think, for me, I’m kind of a guy that feeds off of a good point guard,” said Murray. “So I think that’d be a really cool experience. I think that I can play to my advantage for sure.”
Ousmane Dieng keeping his cards close to the vest
Dieng was very stern and chose his words very carefully during his media availability. When asked multiple times which teams he’s worked out for, the former National Basketball League player refused to reveal the list.
In terms of relationships with Thunder players, Dieng said he doesn’t really know fellow NBL alumni Josh Giddey and has spoken to fellow Frenchman Theo Maledon just a few times.
Bennedict Mathurin’s Montreal ties with Lu Dort
While Mathurin didn’t confirm he worked out with the Thunder, he brought up fellow Canadian Lu Dort a few times during his media availability.
Mathurin grew up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada before moving to Mexico City, Mexico in 2018 to join the NBA Academy Latin America.
When listing off great NBA players from his home city, Mathurin first mentioned the Thunder guard.
“I’m really excited to play against him,” said Mathurin. “He calls me little bro, but I’m gonna show him I’m the big bro.”
Malaki Brahman excited about Thunder roster
Branham confirmed that he worked out with the Thunder and said he’d be excited about potentially being added to the young roster.
“I feel like I can fit well with the young core,” said Braham. “I feel like I can be in there with that young talent.”
The next group of players that will meet with the media include Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe, Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji and Duke forward Paolo Banchero on Friday, June 17. The 2022 NBA draft is scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 23.