2021 NBA Draft Reactions
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):
|Player||Pre-NBA Team||PSM Rank (Pre-Combine)||F5 Rank (Post-Combine)||Draft Position||NBA Draft Team|
|Cade Cunningham||Oklahoma State||1||1||1||Detroit Pistons|
|Evan Mobley||USC||2||2||3||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Jalen Suggs||Gonzaga||3||4||5||Orlando Magic|
|Jalen Green||G League Ignite||4||3||2||Houston Rockets|
|Jonathan Kuminga||G League Ignite||5||6||7||Golden State Warriors|
|Scottie Barnes||Florida State||6||5||4||Toronto Raptors|
|Jalen Johnson||Duke||7||15||20||Atlanta Hawks|
|Franz Wagner||Michigan||8||8||8||Orlando Magic|
|Alperen Şengün||Beşiktaş (Turkey)||9||10||16||Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to Houston Rockets)|
|Keon Johnson||Tennessee||10||13||21||New York Knicks (traded to LA Clippers)|
|Josh Giddey||Adelaide 36ers (Australia)||11||7||6||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Davion Mitchell||Baylor||12||12||9||Sacramento Kings|
|Moses Moody||Arkansas||13||11||14||Golden State Warriors|
|James Bouknight||UConn||14||9||11||Charlotte Hornets|
|Corey Kispert||Gonzaga||15||14||15||Washington Wizards|
Here are the stats of the top 15 prospects, ordered by their final draft position:
|Draft Position||Player||Position(s)||Pre-NBA Team||NBA Draft Team||PTS||REB||AST||STL||BLK||FG%||3P%||FT%|
|1||Cade Cunningham||PG/SG||Oklahoma State||Detroit Pistons||20.1||6.2||3.5||1.6||0.8||0.438||0.400||0.846|
|2||Jalen Green||SG||G League Ignite||Houston Rockets||17.9||4.1||2.8||1.5||0.3||0.461||0.365||0.829|
|3||Evan Mobley||C||USC||Cleveland Cavaliers||16.4||8.7||2.4||0.8||2.9||0.578||0.300||0.694|
|4||Scottie Barnes||PF||Florida State||Toronto Raptors||10.3||4.0||4.1||1.5||0.5||0.503||0.275||0.621|
|5||Jalen Suggs||PG||Gonzaga||Orlando Magic||14.4||5.3||4.5||1.9||0.3||0.503||0.337||0.754|
|6||Josh Giddey||PG/SG||Adelaide 36ers (Australia)||Oklahoma City Thunder||10.8||7.4||7.4||1.1||0.5||0.427||0.293||0.691|
|7||Jonathan Kuminga||SF/PF||G League Ignite||Golden State Warriors||15.8||7.2||2.7||1.0||0.8||0.387||0.246||0.625|
|8||Franz Wagner||SF/PF||Michigan||Orlando Magic||12.5||6.5||3.0||1.3||1.0||0.477||0.343||0.835|
|9||Davion Mitchell||PG/SG||Baylor||Sacramento Kings||14.0||2.7||5.5||1.9||0.4||0.511||0.447||0.641|
|11||James Bouknight||SG||UConn||Charlotte Hornets||18.7||5.7||1.8||1.1||0.3||0.447||0.293||0.778|
|14||Moses Moody||SG||Arkansas||Golden State Warriors||16.8||5.8||1.6||1.0||0.7||0.427||0.358||0.812|
|15||Corey Kispert||SF||Gonzaga||Washington Wizards||18.6||5.0||1.8||0.9||0.4||0.529||0.440||0.878|
|16||Alperen Şengün||C||Beşiktaş (Turkey)||Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to Houston Rockets)||19.0||8.7||2.7||1.3||1.8||0.646||0.190||0.812|
|20||Jalen Johnson||PF||Duke||Atlanta Hawks||11.2||6.1||2.2||1.2||1.2||0.523||0.444||0.632|
|21||Keon Johnson||SG/SF||Tennessee||New York Knicks (traded to LA Clippers)||11.3||3.5||2.5||1.1||0.4||0.449||0.271||0.703|
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
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?
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!