The unpredictable 2021 NBA Draft is finally here.
The top of this year’s draft may follow the chalk — there was a clear top four on most teams’ draft boards — but it is thrown wide open after that, and people around the league expect a flurry of trades (we have already seen a couple with the Nets and Suns, and Cavaliers and Timberwolves all striking deals based around guards). This could be the wildest draft in years, and in it there are players who can change the fortunes of teams. There is a lot on the line.
This 2021 NBA Draft Tracker will have it all, a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with an analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.
No. 1 Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, 6’8″ point guard, Oklahoma State. The consensus top pick in this class, he has an all-around game — a tall primary ball handler who can run the offense and set up others, or take over a game scoring. He is a fluid athlete that naturally plays at different speeds. He’s an improving shooter (43.8% from 3 last season) and the potential to be an elite defender. He is the kind of playmaking guard the Pistons need to go with their young core and the only real question is if he can be a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA. If so, Cunningham profiles as an All-NBA level player.
No. 2 Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, 6’5″ guard, G-League Ignite. Green is going to be able to get buckets in the NBA. He’s an elite athlete (maybe the best in this class) who can get to the rim and finish, but also has a good-if-inconsistent jumper that will make him as a threat on pull-ups and threes. Green averaged 17.9 points a game and shot 36.5% on 3s going against men fighting to earn a paycheck in the G-League bubble, and he got better as the games went on. He has star potential in the NBA if he finds a consistent shot.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
As has been rumored throughout the day, the Washington Wizards are sending Russell Westbrook back to his native Los Angeles to play for the Lakers in a trade that will send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick back to the Wizards. This move could/should make the Lakers better in the regular season, especially if LeBron James or Anthony Davis miss time, but it poses some challenging questions come the playoffs. The Wizards gain some depth and flexibility, allowing them to put players they like better around Bradley Beal (who doesn’t want to be traded).
The Washington Wizards have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook, 2024 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and No. 22 tonight, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
No. 3 Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, 7’0″ center, USC. He has the build, athleticism, and skill set to be a dominant modern NBA center. His strength right now is on defense, where he is an athletic shot blocker and rim protector who also can defend a smaller guard/wing in space on the switch. On offense, he has good handles for a big man who can create for others and, if his shot continues to improve, will be able to score inside and out. Has to get stronger, was pushed around in college at times and is about to start going against much more physical players. A lot of potential here.
No. 4 Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes, 6’8″ forward, Florida State.The first surprise of the night, but he had been climbing draft boards fast in recent weeks because of his potential. He profiles as the prototypical switchable defensive wing so vital in the modern game: Strong, long (7’2″ wingspan) and can guard anyone from a point guard to a small-ball five. Offensively he has the tools, but it all comes down to if he can develop a steady jump shot, especially a 3-pointer (24.7% in college from 3). He’s got good handles and can pass (he played some point for the Seminoles) but he needs that jumper, right now he is not a threat from the midrange or 3.
No. 5 Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, 6’5″ guard, Gonzaga. He has the potential to be an elite offensive initiator in the NBA, the kind of point guard who is a smart floor general, can score when needed, and is a versatile defender. Plays an aggressive, attacking style. He showed off a well-rounded game leading Gonzaga last season and, with an improving jumper (it needs to be steadier), could do the same at the NBA level. This is a team that already has Markelle Fultz on the roster (he has evolved into a decent point guard) and drafted Cole Anthony last year, but Suggs has the potential to be much, much more than either of them and the rebuilding Magic were smart to grab the guy with all that potential.
No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey, 6’8″ wing, Australia. A surprise pick this high, he was expected to go later in the lottery but had been rumored to have been climbing boards late. He averaged 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists a game last season for Adelaide, playing against men in the Australian league — and did it at age 18. He’s a bit of a project — his jumper has a ways to go, his handle and footwork need work, he’ll have to adjust his change-of-speed moves to the NBA game — but has the high-end potential of being a secondary scorer in the league.
No. 7 Golden State Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga, 6’7″ forward, G-League Ignite. Two-way wings are in high demand around the league and the Warriors may have just landed themselves an elite one in Kuminga, if he develops. He has No. 1 pick talent, but is raw, especially on defense and with his decision making — how well that fits with the win-now Warriors remains to be seen. Kuminga averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game going against men in the G-League bubble last season at age 18. He is athletic, long (7-foot wingspan), a great cutter and finisher at the rim. He has to bring his jump shot and defense around, but if he does this could be a steal for Warriors, if they keep him around.
No. 8 Orlando Magic (via Chicago): Franz Wagner, 6’9″ forward, Michigan. Potential 3&D wing, if he can develop a steady 3-pointer. He’s experienced, having played in Europe before going to Michigan, he’s a strong defender on ball or off (however will need to get stronger to slow other NBA wings). He shot 34.3% from 3 last season but was inconsistent from deep. If his shot comes around this is a quality pick for a future rotation player.
No. 9 Sacramento Kings: Davion Mitchell, 6’3″ guard, Baylor. One of the best defenders in this draft, he can step in and help the Kings right now on that end. What spiked his draft stock was the improvement in his shooting last season, he hit 44.7% from 3 and was a key reason Baylor won a national championship. Mitchell also showed some secondary playmaking skills, allowing him to be plugged into in a variety of lineups. His offensive game will need work to thrive at the NBA level, but he has a reputation of a strong work ethic.
No. 10 Memphis Grizzlies (via New Orleans): Ziaire Williams, 6’7″ wing, Stanford. The Pelicans made this pick but it was going to Memphis as part of an already agreed to trade. This is a pick about the future and the Grizzlies’ ability to develop players. Williams has the potential to be a quality shot creator and maker at a position of need in the league. He is a smooth athlete with fantastic handles. He can be a difference maker. He’s also got a ways to go to get there. He has to get much stronger (he struggled with the physicality of the college game) and he’s got to smooth out his jumper and make it a consistent weapon. It’s tough to take much away from his year at Stanford, when he was away from the team for a stretch (death in the family). This is a roll of the dice by Memphis, betting on his upside.
No. 11 Charlotte Hornets: James Bouknight, 6’5″ wing, Connecticut. Bouknight is an athletic and versatile shot creator, one of the best pure scorers in the country with tremendous craft to his game. He can finish at the rim with the best in this class. He helped his draft stock tremendously at the NBA Draft Combine because the question about him has been his shooting (29.3% from 3 last season), but at the combine he looked like one of the best shooters in this class. Has the potential to be a high-level two-guard and second scoring option in the league for a long time, if he can reach that ceiling (and improve his defense).
No. 12 San Antonio Spurs: Joshua Primo, 6’5″ guard, Alabama. He is the youngest player in the draft and a development project, but he has all the tools (and the size) that teams are looking for on the wing. He has a 6’11” wingspan, is athletic and bouncy, still has a soft touch on his shot, and should be able to defend one through threes in the NBA — once he develops his body and game. He had a good combine, which helped his stock. This is going to take a little patience, but the Spurs have been drafting and developing guys like this for years.
No. 13 Indiana Pacers: Chris Duarte, 6’6″ guard, Oregon. One of the best pure shooters in the draft, he hit 42.4% on 3-pointers last season with defenses keying on him. He can score on spot-ups, coming of dribble hand-offs, or off the bounce. He has solid handles and passing, and brings offensive versatility. Not at lock-down defender but hustles on that end and plays smart. Spent four years at Oregon and is 24, not a lot of upside compared to younger players in this range, but he can help Rick Carlisle and the Pacers now.
No. 14 Golden State Warriors: Moses Moody, 6’7″ wing, Arkansas. He projects as a 3&D wing, one with a 7’1″ wingspan who can guard multiple positions. As a scorer he took and made a lot of contested jump shots at Arkansas (opposing defenses keyed on him, despite him playing off ball) which could bode well for his ability to hit more open looks in the spaced out NBA game. However, not everyone is convinced about his shot and the same is true of his focus and intensity. High floor, he should be a solid rotation player at least.
No. 15 Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, 6’7″ wing, Gonzaga. Arguably the best pure shooter in this draft, hitting 44% from 3 last season on more than six attempts a game. Incredible range, and deadly on the catch-and-shoot if his feet are set. He is a good passer who will keep the ball moving against rotating defenses, and he can put the ball on the floor a little. He is older, played four years at Gonzaga, and doesn’t have the high-end ceiling of some others. Also not a great on-ball defender but solid as a team defender. Can help right away.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Oklahoma City Thunder are sending the No. 16 pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two heavily protected future first-round picks.
Source: Rockets gave up future first-round picks owed by Wizards and Pistons to get No. 16.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 30, 2021
No. 16 Houston Rockets: Alperen Sengun, 6’9″ power forward, Turkey. The hipster pick coming into the draft, he fell down the board farther than expected. He won the MVP of the Turkish league at age 19, dominating with both scoring and rebounding. He is an old-school big with an ability to score inside with either hand, and he draws a lot of fouls. He’s a good passer and could develop into a player who can be the hub of an offense with the ball at the elbow. Needs to develop a jumper. The biggest concern is on defense, he doesn’t have the foot speed to guard modern fours and isn’t big enough to defend centers on the block. A lot of questions on that end of the court.
No. 17 New Orleans Pelicans (via Memphis): Trey Murphy, 6’8″ wing, Virginia. The Grizzlies made the pick but it is part of an already agreed to trade that will have Murphy in the Big Easy. He is a real 3&D prospect on the wing. He’s got good size and strength, moves his feet well, and can switch onto guards and not get overwhelmed. On the other end of the court, he shot 43.3% from 3 and has an impressive shooting form. He was a late bloomer physically, which means he played a lot of guard growing up and carries those skills with him now.
No. 18 Oklahoma City Thunder: Tre Mann, 6’5″ guard, Florida. A fantastic shooter with range — 40.2% from 3 last season — he also has good handles and can get into the lane, where he has an impressive floater. His stepback jumper is NBA ready. Not a great playmaker for others, but improving. Not a great athlete by NBA standards, which will be an issue on the defensive end, but he has a role in the league as a shooter who can put the ball on the floor against a poor closeout.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Knicks have traded the No. 19 pick in the NBA Draft to the Hornets in exchange for a heavily protected 2022 pick that sees the protections decrease in value over the next few years.
The Knicks are trading the 19th pick to Charlotte for a future first-round pick, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
No. 19 Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, 6’10” power forward, Texas. Charlotte is addressing its need at center by trading for Mason Plumlee and now drafting Jones as the big of the future. Jones is one of the best pure athletes in this draft — he is a force of nature in transition, and has the potential to be a rim-running beast in the NBA. His potential may even be higher on the defensive end, he is already a good shot blocker/rim protector and has the athleticism to switch on the perimeter and stay in front of smaller players. He came to the game late, picking it up in the Bahamas at age 15, there is a lot of upside here once his decision making and acumen for the game pick up.
No. 20 Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson, 6’8″ forward, Duke. This is a gamble on Johnson’s upside by Atlanta. He has the playmaking skills of a guard and plenty of athleticism, and he’s a very versatile defender, he’s just raw. He has to improve his jump shot and his decision making — he made aggressive passes in college that led to turnovers — but if he can be developed he is the kind of playmaker every team is searching for.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Knicks have traded the No. 21 pick to the Clippers in exchange for the No. 25 pick and a future second.
Clippers will send No. 25 to New York and a future second, per source. Clippers are targeting Keon Johnson at No. 21. https://t.co/FRWvThyVpM
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
No. 21 Los Angeles Clippers: Keon Johnson, 6’5″ wing, Tennesse. Any questions about the best pure athlete in this draft were answered when Johnson set an NBA Draft Combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap. He’s aggressive and plays hard, he can help defensively some now on ball, but he’s also raw on offense and a bit of a project for the Clippers. Very high ceiling because of his athleticism, but can he get there? Could see G-League time next season, not a lot of minutes to go around on the Clippers.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Lakers had already traded the No. 22 pick to the Wizards in the Russell Westbrook deal, now the Wizards have traded the player taken with that pick, Isaiah Jackson, to the Pacers as part of a trade for Aaron Holiday. The Wizards also get the No. 31 pick as part of that trade.
Isaiah Jackson is being traded to Indiana, sources said. https://t.co/vHIsDBj8fE
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
No. 22 Washington Wizards: Isaiah Jackson, 6’10” center, Kentucky. While the Lakers officially made this pick, Jackson the pick belonged to the Wizards as part of the Westbrook trade, and they turned around and traded Jackson to Indiana as part of a trade for Aaron Holiday. One of the best athletes in this draft, he has real potential to develop into a paint-protecting force on one end and a rim-running finisher on the other. He excels when he gets to use that athleticism running the floor, finishing, or flying in from the weak side as a shot blocker. He’s got to get a lot stronger, he’s got to work on his fundamentals and finishing, bottom line his game still needs a lot of polish, but the potential is there.
No. 23 Houston Rockets: Usman Garuba, 6’8″ forward, Spain. Arguably the best defender in this draft, and his 7’3″ wingspan helps with that. Played a large role last season for Real Madrid, one of Europe’s powerhouses, where he was asked to guard point guards and occasionally switch on to bigs and bang inside with them, and he proved he could do both. Potential All-Defensive Team player in a few years, but he has a lot of work to do on the offensive end. Can pass well in transition, but does not have a scorer’s mentality, or much of a jump shot, and he is not a strong finisher around the rim.
No. 24 Houston Rockets: Josh Christopher, 6’5″ guard, Arizona State. He was a volume scorer for the Sun Devils with good athleticism and the ability to hit tough shots — he could become an off-the-bench bucket getter in the NBA, if he refines his game. Good handles, knows how to change speed, is quick with the ball, is dangerous in the open court and is a strong finisher at the rim. Shot 30% from 3 in college and his decision making is questionable — because he can make tough shots he takes a lot of them. He wasn’t efficient, but if he cleans that up there’s a role for him in the NBA.
No. 25 New York Knicks: Quentin Grimes, 6’5″ guard, Houston. Powerful combo guard who uses that strength and good handles to get off his shot. He has developed a solid 3-pointer (40% last season) and has a nice stepback. At his best in transition and is a strong passer in the open court. Needs to get better and more focused on the defensive end, has to become more consistent with his jumper, but could develop into a solid rotation player.
No. 26 Denver Nuggets: Nah'Shon Hyland, 6’3″ guard, VCU. He goes by “Bones.” A combo guard with a score-first mentality, strong handles, a good first step, and deep shooting range, all of which makes him an attractive pick as a potential microwave scorer off the bench — something the Nuggets might need with Jamal Murray out much of next season. Bones had a strong showing at the combine and his 6’9″ wingspan means he can guard ones or twos at the next level. Not a great facilitator, needs to get stronger, but he’s a player with potential.
No. 27 Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Thomas, 6’3″ guard, LSU. A steal by the Nets this deep in the draft. The guy can just go get buckets, one of the best pure scorers in the draft (side note: those kind of players thrive in Summer League, he could dominate in Vegas). He’s an old-school, isolation scorer who has a knack for getting defenders off balance. The problem is he’s a ball stopper on offense and not a good or focused defender. He just scores, but could become an old-school microwave sixth man kind of player.
No. 28 Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Spinger, 6’4″ guard, Tennessee. Tenacious, physical defender with quick hands, he’s able to bother guards, but he can’t guard NBA threes and fours. He uses his strength and physicality on drives and was able to bully ball his way to the rim, where he is a good finisher, however it’s much tougher to play that way at the NBA level. Needs to develop a better jump shot. One of the younger guys in the draft, good upside, but a bit of a project.
No. 29 Brooklyn Nets: Day'Ron Sharpe, 6’11” center, North Carolina. The Suns made this pick but it goes to Brooklyn as part of the Landry Shamet trade. A big who brings energy and hustle, he is a beast on the glass (on both ends) and is maybe the best passing big in this class. He sets a quality screen and has good hands, making him a potential pick-and-roll, rim-running big. There’s question about his defense at the next level, and his fit. He’s a project, but he will work hard and has some interesting skills.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Utah Jazz have traded the No. 30 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 40 pick this year and two future first rounders.
Memphis is sending No. 40 and two future seconds to Utah for No. 30, source tells ESPN. https://t.co/YACkZgjerK
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
No. 30 Memphis Grizzlies: Santi Aldama, 6’11” forward/center, Loyola of Maryland. He comes from Spain where he played at a higher level than the Patriot League of the NCAA (he dominated that conference). He has a great feel for the game and can do a little bit of everything on offense, he’s got good handles, can drive, and shot 36.8% from 3 last season. The questions are about his strength and athleticism at the next level, he wasn’t tested or really pushed in college, can he hang with NBA players? If he can he can be a role-playing big.
No. 31 Washington Wizards (via Milwaukee and Indiana): Isaiah Todd, 6’10” power forward/center, G-League Ignite. A top high school recruit, he struggled some against pros in the G-League, but still shows promise as a floor-stretching big. His best skill is shooting, he shot 36% from 3 for the Ignite and could be a dangerous pick-and-pop screen setter who can roll to the rim and finish. He’s got good athleticism. The problem is he looks for his shot a lot and takes contested long twos rather than pass out, his feel for the game is questioned by scouts. Defensively he has tools but has to get stronger and tougher. Prefers to live on the perimeter, not go inside.
No. 32 New York Knicks: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 6’10” forward, Villanova. Players coming out of Jay Wright’s program the past few years just know how to play smart basketball and fit in as quality role players, and Robinson-Earl should fit that mold. He’s a versatile, well-rounded player who can be physical in the paint or switch onto smaller players on the perimeter and hold his own. Offensively can spot up, set picks and roll to the rim, he can handle contact and score inside. Not an elite athlete, but should be a solid NBA role player.
WE HAVE A TRADE:
The Orlando Magic have traded the rights to the No. 33 pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second round pick and the all important cash considerations.
The Clippers acquire Ohio's Jason Preston at No. 33 for a future second-round pick and cash, per source. https://t.co/IngimNGOXV
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
No. 33 Los Angeles Clippers: Jason Preston, 6’4″ point guard, Ohio. The Magic made the pick but it is going to the Clippers via a trade. Classic facilitating point guard with an impressive feel for the game. Uses his big frame and a change of pace to create passing angles, and he is one of the best passers in this draft. Good catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter (39% last season), but he struggles to shoot off the bounce. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards, will he be able to create the same space for passing? Also, the athleticism is a concern on the defensive end.
No. 34 New York Knicks: Rokas Jokubaitis, 6’4″ point guard, Lithuania. The Thunder made the pick but it is headed to the Knicks via a trade. This is a draft-and-stash for New York as Jokubaitis has already signed to play for Barcelona next season. He’s played off the ball mostly in Europe but does have handles and a nice midrange game. If he can develop a trustworthy 3-point shot, especially off the dribble, he becomes more dangerous on offense. There are questions about his level of athleticism and with that ability to defend at the NBA level, but some scouts are big fans.
No. 35 New Orleans Pelicans: Herb Jones, 6’7″ wing, Alabama. He has the frame (7-foot wingspan) and athleticism to be a prototypical NBA wing. He uses that athleticism best on defense where he is disruptive and switchable onto multiple positions. On offense, he is fantastic in the open court and as a finisher working off the ball. The challenge is his shot — he is not much of a 3-point shooter (although improved some his senior year) and isn’t much better from the midrange. Not a great shot creator for himself. If he can just develop a steady corner 3 he becomes much more valuable.
No. 36 New York Knicks: Miles McBride, 6’2″ point guard, West Virginia. The Thunder made the pick but it is headed to the Knicks via a trade. He has NBA quickness and athleticism, shot 41.4% from 3 last season, can knock shots down off the catch or the bounce, and he’s a quality on-ball defender who moves his feet well, and he’s got a 6’8″ wingspan to help make up the difference. He also hit tough shots with the Mountaineers, generally a good sign at the next level. He has the potential to be a quality guard off the bench — and maybe more — in the NBA.
No. 37 Charlotte Hornets: JT Thor, 6’10” power forward, Auburn. The Pistons made the pick but it has been traded to the Hornets. Thor is very raw, a development project for Hornets, but he has all the tools to become a very good modern stretch four. He is long, athletic, can protect the rim or defend fairly well on the perimeter, and he has a good looking 3-point shot (but hit 29.7% last season). He has to get stronger and refine his skills, but the upside here is huge. Could spend time on a two-way or in the G-League.
No. 38 Chicago Bulls: Ayo Dosunmu, 6’5″ guard, Illinois. One of the best players in college last year, scouts are less sold on how well his skill set fits in the NBA. Averaged 20.1 points a game, is efficient in the pick-and-roll, works hard on defense, but he doesn’t have one elite skill. Also, a solid midrange shooter but not a great from 3-point range, and his shot is a little funky looking. This is a pick that a high-character, hard-working guy can figure it out in the NBA.
No. 39 Sacramento Kings: Neemias Queta, 7’0″ center, Utah State. He was born and started his playing career in Portugal before coming to Utah State. He’s got a big NBA body (250 pounds) with a 7’4″ wingspan, he is a force defensively in the paint (he could be fantastic in drop coverage). Moves well for someone his size, although there are questions about whether his foot speed will be good enough at the NBA level, especially if he gets pulled out on the perimeter. Can finish around the rim on offense but not do much else.
No. 40 Utah Jazz (via Memphis and New Orleans): Jared Butler, 6’3″ point guard, Baylor. Good pick this deep for a team without Jamal Murray for much of next season. The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament, Butler led the Bears to a national championship. Tremendous handles and has good lateral movement, he is able to create space and score, plus he can create for others. He’s got a versatile offensive game, although not considered a great finisher at the rim. Works hard on defense but is pretty average on that end. Could be a scoring guard off the bench.
No. 41 San Antonio Spurs: Joe Wieskamp, 6’7″ wing, Iowa. Could be a steal this deep in the draft. An elite shooter, one of the best in this draft, he hit 46.2% from 3 last season and is deadly on the catch-and-shoot. He impressed at the NBA Draft Combine showing off unexpected athleticism, and he has an NBA frame with a 6’11” wingspan. He can put the ball on the floor but needs to improve there. Real concerns are on the defensive end, where that athleticism doesn’t seem to translate. If the Spurs can develop his feel for the game (and they are historically great at it) this could be a great pick, big shooters are very valuable.
No. 42 Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Livers, 6’7″ forward/wing, Michigan. One of the best spot up shooters in this draft, having hit 41.3% from 3 last season and he was above 40% from beyond the arc his last three years in Ann Arbor. He can put the ball on the floor and drive past a closeout, and he makes good decisions. Decent on-ball defender. Has the potential to develop into a sharpshooter at the NBA level, but after four seasons at Michigan how much better will he get?
No. 43 Portland Trail Blazers: Greg Brown, 6’8″ forward, Texas. The Pelicans made this pick but traded the rights to the Trail Blazers. Brown is maybe the most explosive athlete in this draft, but also one of the most raw players in this draft. This is a multi-year development project for Portland (likely a two-way or G-League player at first). That athleticism makes him an impressive dunker and finisher at the rim, and he can be an intimidating shot blocker coming from the weak side. He has to get stronger, has to develop a jump shot, improve his handles, and gain better defensive awareness. But the potential John Collins style of player (not as good, but that kind of athletic impact in the paint) is there, and the Blazers bet on it.
No. 44 Brooklyn Nets: Kessler Edwards, 6’8″ forward, Pepperdine. Potential to become a 3&D wing at the next level. He’s got the build with a 6’11” wingspan and he has the athleticism, he showed real potential as an on-ball defender. He’s become a good catch-and-shoot guy from 3 at Pepperdine. He’s got to get stronger and show he can defend NBA wings, and he needs to develop his handle so he can do more than just shoot, but he’s a good prospect for Nets at this point in the draft.
No. 45 Boston Celtics: Juhann Begarin, 6’6″ wing, Guadeloupe. A former Basketball Without Borders standout, he played for Paris in France’s second division last season. Fantastic athlete with a 7-foot wingspan and NBA frame, he is a force in transition (but not as good a finisher at the rim as you’d think). However, he’s just raw right now and needs a lot of development — improved shot, improved handle, decision making, feel for the game. Likely will spend time in the G-League. A roll of the dice by the Celtics that they can develop him over a few seasons.
No. 46 Toronto Raptors: Dalano Banton, 6’9″ wing, Nebraska. Born and raised in Toronto, he becomes the first Canadian-born player drafted by the Raptors. A tall ball handler with fantastic passing skills, he sees the floor well and can make all the passes. Uses his change of pace well, but a great athlete by NBA standards and there are questions about his ability to create space to make passes, or defend, at the next level. Also not a great shooter (24.7% on 3-pointers last season).
No. 47 Toronto Raptors: David Johnson, 6’5″ point guard, Louisville. Great size for a lead guard and has a 6’10” wingspan. Good handles and a very willing passer, he is particularly strong in the open court or transition, where he can find teammates or score on the drive. He’s an active defender. His shot is improved (38.6% from 3 last season) but still not steady, especially off the bounce, and he can be a bit turnover prone. Has to get stronger. Makes sense as secondary playmaker/spot up shooter, could carve out that role at next level.
No. 48 Atlanta Hawks: Sharife Cooper, 6’1″ point guard, Auburn. Could be a real steal this late in the draft. After missing the first half of the season (thanks to the good ol’ NCAA and their love of psuedo amataturism), he averaged 20.2 points and 8.1 assists a game for Auburn. Probably the best ball handler in this draft, with a nice change-of-pace, which he uses to get to the rim and draw fouls. He’s an excellent passer. The concerns are two-fold: He needs to improve his jump shot (22.8% from 3 last season) and he’s not tall or wildly athletic, so can he defend at the NBA level?
No. 49 Brooklyn Nets: Marcus Zegarowski, 6’2″ point guard, Creighton. His calling card is his 3-point shot, he hit better than 42% from beyond the arc the last two seasons. He can knock it down off the bounce or on a catch-and-shoot. Also plays a high IQ game. The challenge is he is not an explosive athlete at the NBA level and there are concerns about his ability to create space to get off his shot, and his ability to defend at the next level (he’s not making up for any defensive deficiencies with height). The Nets are going to give him a chance.
No. 50 Philadelphia 76ers: Filip Petrusev, 6’11” center, Serbia. He played two seasons at Gonzaga, was the WCC Player of the Year as a sophomore averaging 17.5 points and 7.9 assists a game, but withdrew from the draft last year and played professionally for Mega in Serbia where he was league MVP. He is a floor-spacing five who shot 46.2% from 3 last season, and he’s a good finisher at the rim. Potential as a pick setter who can pop out or roll. The big concern is defense. Petrusev is not not a top-level NBA athlete, not explosive, has to get stronger but is expected to struggle to get stops at the next level.
No. 51 Los Angeles Clippers via New Orleans and Memphis: B.J. Boston, 6’7″ wing, Kentucky. His physical tools — impressive athleticism, 7-foot wingspan — made him a top recruit and is why NBA teams are interested. He is also a project. The upside is his athleticism and handles allow him to get into the lane or create space on the perimeter. However, has to get a lot stronger, he struggled with the physicality of the college game and that is about to get tougher. Has to improve his 30% 3-point shot. He has the $1 million moves and the 5¢ finish, and that has to change to stick at the next level.
No. 52 Detroit Pistons: Luka Garza, 6’11” center, Iowa. Has been one of the best and most acclaimed players in college basketball the past couple of seasons. Incredibly strong and uses that, a lot of crafty moves, and a soft touch to score around the basket. He also shot 44% from 3 last season, which helps his NBA stock. He’s not athletic by NBA standards and that will be an issue both in getting off his shot and particularly on the defensive end at the next level. He scored a lot in the post in Iowa, but he’s not going to get those touches in the NBA.
No. 53 Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey, 6’10” center, Western Kentucky. He was a higher-level prospect as a freshman, went back to college, tore his ACL, and now is seen as a bit of a development project. He has good size (7’3″ wingspan) and impressive athleticism, he has potential as a rim protector and force in the paint if he can add some muscle and improve his foot speed. Very raw on the offensive end and will take time to develop. Could be a rim-running center in a few years.
No. 54 Milwaukee Bucks via Pacers: Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6’11” center, Seton Hall. He lived for a while in Georgia (the country, not the state) but mostly grew up learning the game in the United States. NBA frame and decent athleticism, can grab the board and lead the break, and is a good passer. Can shoot from 3 but is not consistent. Real issues on the defensive ends, struggles to guard more athletic fours and isn’t big enough to slow fives in the paint. Could stick in the league if he finds a steady jumper.
No. 55 Oklahoma City Thunder: Aaron Wiggins, 6’6″ shooting guard, Maryland. He has an NBA frame (6’10” wingspan) and was a strong shot creator in college. Has a good pull up jumper and shot 36% from 3 his junior season, plus he can get to the rim on drives. Puts in good effort on defense. Just never blows scouts away, kind of a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Impressed enough in workouts to get drafted but may spend a year on a two-way to show he can develop into an NBA player.
No. 56 Charlotte Hornets: Scottie Lewis, 6’5″ wing, Florida. This is a bet that Charlotte can develop a jump shot and help Lewis find a better feel for the game. Lewis has plenty of athleticism (42-inch vertical at the combine) and an NBA frame (7-foot wingspan). All that has made him a pretty good defender already. The problem is the offensive end of the court, where he has no jump shot and he just doesn’t seem to have a feel for where to be or how to react. If the Hornets can develop that in the G-League, then they may have a nice rotation player.
No. 57 Detroit Pistons via Charlotte: Balsa Koprivica, 7’1″ center, Florida State. Born in Serbia, he played high school ball for a season with Cade Cunningham. Koprivica spent the last two seasons with the Seminols, averaging 9.1 points per game he sophomore season, and he was efficient scoring around the rim. He has an NBA frame, but wasn’t on a lot of teams draft boards. A long shot to make the roster, but could be a defensive specialist.
No. 58 New York Knicks: Jericho Sims, 6’10” center, Texas. NBA build and athleticism as a center, he is a strong defender and has grown into an offensive role as a Longhorn. He’s not a high-flying shot blocker, more of a big body who knows where to be to get in the way and be disruptive, but he was a good rim protector in college. Can he do that at the NBA level? On offense he can rim run and finish around the basket, but that’s about it. Not a shooter. He’s not a sexy pick with a lot of upside, but he has the chance to become a solid NBA role player with some development.
No. 59 Brooklyn Nets: RaiQuan Gray, 6’8″ forward, Florida State. Physically strong, but doesn’t just play bully ball, he has some craft and finesse to get off his shot. Solid defender who can hold his own in the post and switch pretty well on the perimeter. Can drive the lane and finish. He has to develop a jumper on offense and learn to play bigger than he is on defense, if he can do that he could be a small ball five in the league. But there is a lot development to do to get there.
No. 60 Milwaukee Bucks via Pacers: Georgios Kalaitzakis, 6’7″ guard/wing, Greece. A draft-and-stash pick who will likely continue to play for Panathinaikos in the Greek league. An attacking slasher with the ball in his hands, he can get inside, score and draw fouls. Shows some potential as a playmaker. Not an elite athlete at the NBA level. Has to develop a better shot, improve his decision making, and get stronger.