OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder chose Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night. And then the intrigue began.
In Holmgren, the Thunder got a versatile 7-footerwho was a second-team Associated Press All-American in his only college season. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds and ranked fourth nationally with 3.7 blocks per game for the Zags.
Who is joining Holmgren wasn’t clear as the first round got rolling. A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the New York Knicks had traded the No. 11 pick — 19-year-old French forward Ousmane Dieng — to the Thunder, reportedly for first-round picks.
Dieng played for the New Zealand Breakers last season and averaged 8.9 points and 3.2 rebounds. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been finalized.
The Thunder then took Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams at No. 12 pick. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 18 points and 4.2 assists last season as a junior. He’s the first Santa Clara player picked since Steve Nash was selected 15th overall in 1996.
Holmgren, a graduate of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis, shot 61% from 3-point range and 39% from 3-point range last season — the kind of efficiency that could help a Thunder team that ranked last in the league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and scoring last season.
His skill could help him be effective as he works to add to his slender 195-pound frame.
He will join a young core that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Darius Bazley and Tre Mann. Alexander averaged 24.5 points last season.
Giddey, last year’s No. 6 overall pick, was a second-team All-Rookie selection last season. Dort is one of the league’s best defensive players when healthy. Bazley is an athletic wing player and Mann was an explosive scorer off the bench. Gilgeous-Alexander, the oldest player in that group, is just short of his 24th birthday.
The Thunder hope Holmgren eventually can help them regain some of the glory from the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook era. The Thunder went to the Western Conference Finals four times with that duo and the NBA Finals once. The Thunder have not won a playoff series since Durant left and have missed the playoffs the past two seasons. They went 24-58 last season.
The franchise has had success early in drafts in the past, selecting Durant No. 2 overall in 2007, Westbrook No. 4 overall in 2008 and James Harden No. 3 in 2009.
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.
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