The 2021 NBA Draft went off rails after the third choose. Whereas the Toronto Raptors had been unanimously projected to take Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs at No. 4, Masai Ujiri and co. opted for one more huge, robust ahead in Florida State’s Scottie Barnes as an alternative.
That set the stage for a draft that was filled with surprises. Nobody thought Josh Giddey was an choice for the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder at No. 6. Davion Mitchell going to the Sacramento Kings at No. 9 caught everybody off guard. It was legitimately surprising to see the Spurs go for Josh Primo at No. 12.
Learn our reside draft grades if you wish to compensate for the motion. It goes with out saying that: a) the draft is all the time a crapshoot, b) it takes a number of years to really assess how a staff carried out within the draft.
I’ve been doing this lengthy sufficient that I keep in mind giving the Timberwolves an A for taking Jarrett Culver and the Suns a D for taking Cameron Johnson in 2019. That definitely doesn’t look good now because the Wolves are reportedly making an attempt to maneuver on from Culver after two poor seasons, whereas Johnson was only a essential piece on an NBA Finals staff. Once more, these items requires time.
There’s some worth in instantaneous reactions to the draft if solely to see how they age over time. Suns followers certain felt higher in regards to the staff “reaching” on Jalen Smith within the 2020 lottery after the success of Johnson. We’ll see how that one performs out down the highway, too. For now, let’s once more overreact to what noticed on draft evening and provide you with what feels just like the winners and losers within the warmth of the second.
6 winners within the 2021 NBA Draft
The Magic’s latest draft historical past has not been significantly spectacular (we nonetheless love Cole Anthony!), however it certain appears like they hit this one out of the park by grabbing two gamers within the high 5 of our huge board.
Suggs fell into the Magic’s lap after the Raptors opted for Barnes. Whereas we view Suggs as extra of a supercharged complementary guard relatively than a real lead engine, he’s unquestionably an superior younger expertise so as to add to Orlando’s rebuild. Suggs joins an enchanting backcourt in Orlando that additionally contains Anthony, RJ Hampton, and Markelle Fultz. Suggs, Anthony, and Hampton all really feel like combo guards, whereas Fultz is one of the best of the bunch at touching the paint however is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in January. The match can be fascinating, however Suggs appears like a fairly secure wager to be a productive professional for a very long time as a fast and highly effective 6’4 guard who brings it defensively, thrives in transition, and is at the least competent (and perhaps higher than that) within the dribble-pass-shoot areas of his talent set.
Wagner can be a little bit of a redundant match on a roster that already contains Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke, however we love his sport. Wagner says he’s grown to just about 6’11 and confirmed great defensive versatility in his two years at Michigan. His three-point shot is the clear swing issue — he hit 34 % at Michigan on stable quantity, but appeared to lose confidence after a couple of misses — however it is a nice choose at No. 8 in our humble opinion.
The Hawks picked at No. 20 and No. 48 and got here away with two of the top-10 gamers on our board. In fact we’re going to mark them down as a winner.
Jalen Johnson has an excellent attractive mixture of pace, energy, and passing. He thrives together with his open ground ball dealing with, and will instantly give the Hawks a brand new dimension in transition. He additionally has all of the instruments to be an excellent defensive participant. Johnson is a clunky match within the halfcourt as a result of he’s a non-shooter, however it’s completely price taking a flier on his expertise at this level within the first spherical.
Cooper is solely one of the best shot creator on this class. Sure, he’s small (6’1, 180 kilos) and didn’t shoot nicely at Auburn. He’s additionally certainly one of two freshmen within the final 30 years to common 20 factors and eight assists per sport in a serious convention, with the opposite being his new teammate Trae Younger. From this attitude, the bogus NCAA investigation that restricted him to 12 video games actually damage Cooper’s draft inventory. He might not get an enormous alternative instantly with the Hawks since he can’t play alongside Younger, however on the plus aspect ATL received’t have to vary their scheme when Trae goes to the bench. Cooper is so good at entering into the paint, discovering open teammates as a passer, and drawing fouls. It was wild to see him slip into the late second spherical. Learn our profile on Cooper right here.
In Daryl Morey’s first draft as chief of the Sixers final yr, he landed what we thought of to be a serious steal by taking Tyrese Maxey within the early 20s. He did it once more this yr, nabbing Jaden Springer at No. 28.
We had Springer as a lottery-level prospect. He’s the youngest American participant on this draft, however turned in a productive season within the SEC as a freshman at Tennessee. Springer is a monstrous on-ball defender who can actually get after smaller opposing guards. It appears like he didn’t present all the pieces he might do offensively with the Vols, however a) he nonetheless led the staff in scoring, and b) he hit 44 % of his threes on low quantity. He’s among the finest long-term bets on this class for his level of assault protection and off-ball offense.
The Sixers additionally picked up Charles Bassey and Filip Petrusev in spherical two. Both might turn into a pleasant backup heart choice behind Joel Embiid.
Evan Mobley is the type of prospect proficient to go No. 1 general in most years. To get him at No. 3 is a boon for a Cleveland staff that badly wanted a expertise infusion of this stage.
In our eyes, Mobley is probably the most versatile huge man to hit the draft in a very long time. He ought to be capable of play the 4 subsequent to Jarrett Allen early in his profession earlier than changing into a full-time 5 as he provides energy to his body. His capability to play a number of pick-and-roll coverages defensively and act as an unselfish passer on offense ought to do wonders for this time round Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro. If he three-point shot develops and if he’s ready so as to add muscle whereas sustaining his quickness, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him ultimately find yourself as one of the best participant within the draft.
There was no higher place for Barnes to finish up than Toronto. The Raptors have an extended historical past of doing an ideal job creating their younger gamers. Barnes has numerous instruments to work with due to his size, motor, defensive versatility, and playmaking. He additionally must develop his taking pictures, ball dealing with, and vertical pop across the basket if he’s going to succeed in his full potential.
Toronto and Miami really feel like one of the best greatest locations for a tools-y younger participant to go and develop their abilities. Barnes ought to be grateful he landed north of the border.
Cade Cunningham is that dude. Sufficient mentioned.
4 losers within the 2021 NBA Draft
OK pay attention: Gregg Popovich and the remainder of the Spurs’ braintrust is aware of extra about ball than me or anybody else with the audacity to lob criticism at them. It’s simple to see the logic behind the Josh Primo choose. San Antonio wanted to take an upside swing after compiling a stable roster of younger gamers that lacks top-end star-power. There’s a case to be made for Primo as a excessive ceiling choose: he’s tremendous younger (he began taking part in for Alabama as a 17-year-old), he’s quick, he has severe bounce, and he hit 38 % of his threes. He could also be an excellent NBA participant at some point.
There’s additionally nothing about Primo’s season at Alabama that instructed he ought to be a lottery choose. He struggled to learn the ground, ending with extra turnovers than assists. His deal with is shaky, he lacked ending craft, he was usually overpowered defensively, and he didn’t present the power to play by way of contact. Greater than something, Primo is only a uncooked participant who’s prone to want numerous time earlier than he’s able to contribute on the NBA stage. We didn’t have him as a top-30 participant within the class.
You’ll be sensible to belief the Spurs over me, however this certain appears like a shaky choose a day after the draft.
The Kings had been reportedly fascinated about taking Wagner at No. 9, however the Magic scooped him up one choose earlier. Sacramento nonetheless had numerous good choices on the board, however they went with a questionable one (in our opinion) by choosing Davion Mitchell out of Baylor.
Mitchell skyrocketed up draft boards after serving to lead the Bears to the nationwide championship. He has an excellent fast first step, he’s an ideal on-ball defender, and loved large taking pictures enchancment in his final yr at school. He’ll additionally flip 23 years previous earlier than he begins his rookie yr and didn’t flip right into a high-level NBA prospect till late in his profession. His huge taking pictures leap feels prefer it could possibly be exaggerated (he solely hit 64 % of his free throws), he’s one of many smallest gamers on this draft, and he isn’t significantly superior as a passer.
He’s additionally only a bizarre match for a roster that already has Tyrese Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox. The Kings would have been higher off going with Moses Moody on this spot in our opinion. We’ll see the way it works out.
One factor that grew to become clear throughout the draft: there’s an enormous disconnect between how the blogboys like myself see the draft in comparison with how groups see the draft.
The beginner consensus had Primo at No. 35 general and the Spurs took him at No. 12. The beginner consensus had Cooper at No. 12 and he went No. 48. The beginner consensus had Springer at No. 10 and he went No. 28. The beginner consensus had Jared Butler at No. 17 and he went No. 40. The beginner consensus had JT Thor at No. 20 and went No. 37. The beginner consensus had Chris Duarte at No. 27 and he went No. 13. You get the purpose.
We’ll see the way it works out! That’s why the draft is a lot enjoyable. I definitely have loads of hits and misses scattered all through my years of overlaying the draft, as will anybody working within the league or making educated guesses as a passion. It’s simply clear that folks outdoors of the league and other people inside the league worth various things (or, as a sensible man mentioned, perhaps the NBA simply lacks creativeness).
The Warriors’ veteran core
We didn’t just like the James Wiseman choose final yr, or the Jonathan Kuminga choose this yr. We love the Moses Moody choose. Regardless, it’s exhausting to see how three gamers 20 years previous or youthful are going to assist the Warriors’ capitalize on the rest Stephen Curry, Draymond Inexperienced, and Klay Thompson’s prime.
Possibly the Warriors are saving up for a giant transfer. They nonetheless must discover a staff that values their younger guys as extremely as they do. There was a report that the Warriors rejected Philadelphia’s counteroffer for Ben Simmons that requested for Wiseman, Andrew Wiggins, each lottery picks this yr, and two future firsts. That looks as if quite a bit to supply for Simmons, however Simmons additionally looks as if he would have been a pleasant match with Golden State’s veteran core.
The Warriors nonetheless want a serious expertise infusion to be a legit title contender. It’s exhausting to anticipate Thompson to single-handedly push them there on condition that he’s missed two full seasons due to two main accidents since we final noticed him on an NBA court docket. It’s exhausting to anticipate Wiseman to make enormous leap given how a lot he struggled as a rookie.
Golden State’s possession mentioned they had been ‘lightyears forward’ of the remainder of the league once they had been at their peak. We’ll see if that also holds true whereas Curry and Inexperienced enter the twilight of their prime.