2021 NBA Draft Reactions

Photo courtesy of Owen J. Philips via The F5

Last week was the 2021 NBA Draft! As usual, there were a few surprises, a few no-brainers, and plenty of dapper photos. There was also a wonderful tribute to the late Terrence Clarke, the University of Kentucky guard who tragically died in a car accident at 18 years of age (may his soul rest in peace). 

Before going into my reactions, here is a ranking table with the draft results of the projected top 15 picks (ordered by PSM Rank):

PlayerPre-NBA TeamPSM Rank (Pre-Combine)F5 Rank (Post-Combine)Draft PositionNBA Draft Team
Cade CunninghamOklahoma State111Detroit Pistons
Evan MobleyUSC223Cleveland Cavaliers
Jalen SuggsGonzaga345Orlando Magic
Jalen GreenG League Ignite432Houston Rockets
Jonathan KumingaG League Ignite567Golden State Warriors
Scottie BarnesFlorida State654Toronto Raptors
Jalen JohnsonDuke71520Atlanta Hawks
Franz WagnerMichigan888Orlando Magic
Alperen ŞengünBeşiktaş (Turkey)91016Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to Houston Rockets)
Keon JohnsonTennessee101321New York Knicks (traded to LA Clippers)
Josh GiddeyAdelaide 36ers (Australia)1176Oklahoma City Thunder
Davion MitchellBaylor12129Sacramento Kings
Moses MoodyArkansas131114Golden State Warriors
James BouknightUConn14911Charlotte Hornets
Corey KispertGonzaga151415Washington Wizards
Ranking and results table for the projected top 15 players in the 2021 NBA Draft. PSM Rank compiled by Brandon C. Kesselly on June 9, 2021. F5 Rankings compiled by Owen J. Philips of the F5 on July 28, 2021. Both rankings are averages of various big boards.

Here are the stats of the top 15 prospects, ordered by their final draft position:

Draft PositionPlayerPosition(s)Pre-NBA TeamNBA Draft TeamPTSREBASTSTLBLKFG%3P%FT%
1Cade CunninghamPG/SGOklahoma StateDetroit Pistons20.16.23.51.60.80.4380.4000.846
2Jalen GreenSGG League IgniteHouston Rockets17.94.12.81.50.30.4610.3650.829
3Evan MobleyCUSCCleveland Cavaliers16.48.72.40.82.90.5780.3000.694
4Scottie BarnesPFFlorida StateToronto Raptors10.34.04.11.50.50.5030.2750.621
5Jalen SuggsPGGonzagaOrlando Magic14.45.34.51.90.30.5030.3370.754
6Josh GiddeyPG/SGAdelaide 36ers (Australia)Oklahoma City Thunder10.87.47.41.10.50.4270.2930.691
7Jonathan KumingaSF/PFG League IgniteGolden State Warriors15.87.22.71.00.80.3870.2460.625
8Franz WagnerSF/PFMichiganOrlando Magic12.56.53.01.31.00.4770.3430.835
9Davion MitchellPG/SGBaylorSacramento Kings14.02.75.51.90.40.5110.4470.641
11James BouknightSGUConnCharlotte Hornets18.75.71.81.10.30.4470.2930.778
14Moses MoodySGArkansasGolden State Warriors16.85.81.61.00.70.4270.3580.812
15Corey KispertSFGonzagaWashington Wizards18.65.01.80.90.40.5290.4400.878
16Alperen ŞengünCBeşiktaş (Turkey)Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to Houston Rockets)19.08.72.71.31.80.6460.1900.812
20Jalen JohnsonPFDukeAtlanta Hawks11.26.12.21.21.20.5230.4440.632
21Keon JohnsonSG/SFTennesseeNew York Knicks (traded to LA Clippers)11.33.52.51.10.40.4490.2710.703
2020-21 stats for the projected top 15 prospects, ordered by NBA Draft position. Swipe right to see full table.

And now, my reactions.

Consensus Picks: Cade Cunningham and…Franz Wagner?

Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State) being the top prospect of this class is a cold take. It’s practically become a tautology. Ironically, Franz Wagner (Michigan) was accurately ranked both by myself and everyone else. The Orlando Magic took him off the board as the 8th pick, joining his brother Moritz in Florida.

It’ll be interesting to see Cunningham play with Jerami Grant and Killian Hayes. The Oklahoma State guard averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists before being drafted. He was identified as a skilled shooter, defender, and playmaker. Will he get that treatment in Detroit? Meanwhile, Wagner (12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists) will be mixing it up with Dwayne Bacon and Terrence Ross. What on earth will that rotation look like?

Is Josh Giddey a Redeemed Ben Simmons?

Adelaide 36ers’ Josh Giddey became the National Basketball League’s 2021 Rookie of the Year, after leading the Australian league in assists at just 18. He’s a 6’8” guard with a high basketball IQ. He’s a decent scorer and rebounder, but not a great shooter. Because of this, it’s hard not to compare him to another high-assist Australian player: Benjamin David Simmons.

Simmons was the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year, led the league in steals in the 2019-20 season, and is an All-Star, All-NBA, and All-Defensive talent. He has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists across 275 NBA games. He’s also 5/34 (14.7%) in 3-point shots throughout those games, 0/2 in 34 playoff games, and shoots under 65% from the free throw line. Giddey averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists before being drafted, shooting 29/99 (29.3%) from deep. Sure, he’s not great from long range, but he’s willing to shoot the ball so far. He’s taken, and made, more shots in one NBL season than Simmons in four NBA seasons. I hope that translates to the NBA for his sake, lest he joins Simmons in the Hall of Memes.

Teams Bought High on Ziaire Williams, Josh Primo, and Chris Duarte

Photo courtesy of Owen J. Philips via The F5

I’m not sure what happened with Ziaire Williams (Stanford), Josh Primo (Alabama), and Chris Duarte (Oregon), but they seemed to impress teams enough to improve their draft positions. Williams (10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists), Primo (8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists), and Duarte (17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists), were not projected to be lottery picks at all. Bleacher Report, ESPN, and Tankathon ranked Primo at 39, 26, and 51, respectively, while they ranked Williams at and Duarte at 20, 19, and 16. I had Williams ranked at 20 but hadn’t ranked either of the others. Even Owen Phillips’ average had Williams at 22, Primo at 30, and Duarte at 19. And yet, the New Orleans Pelicans took Williams 10th, the San Antonio Spurs took Primo 12th, and the Indiana Pacers took Duarte 13th. Either they had really good workouts or they were better than originally projected.

What’s Up With the Warriors?

“2013 Golden State Warriors” by RMTip21 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After a two-year Playoff hiatus, the Golden State Warriors are anticipated to be back at full strength. During that time, they’ve added two lottery picks this year, Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite) and Moses Moody (Arkansas), as well as James Wiseman last year. They also picked up Otto Porter Jr and Nemanja Bjelica this summer. How will the dynasty’s new roster function?

With Klay Thompson’s anticipated return, Moody (16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists) may have to split minutes with Jordan Poole, for example. Moody shot 35.8% from the 3-point line last year, compared to Poole’s 35.1%, but the latter both shot and made more shots from deep. Similarly, Kuminga (15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists) might get even less playing time, competing with Bjelica to enter the rotation behind Draymond Green. Bjelica is a better 3-point shooter, and the Warriors heavily value spacing. What will the final rotation look like?


What about you? What are your thoughts after last week’s NBA Draft? Let me know!

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